Tag Archives: cigars

Travelling Again to the “Island-South-Of-Miami”…

So, I’m off once again to Havana, Cuba, for the Encuentros Partagas.  No doubt, I’ll have lots of pictures and updates to come here upon my return, and some nice new reviews and tastings too hopefully.

Fingers crossed – let’s keep my jail-free streak going!!!!

Nov 2015 Encuentros Partagas poster

Cheers all.


Havana Trip, Feb-Mar 2015: Yolanda “Custom Jars” Coming Soon…

So, as I described in one of my earlier posts on my Havana trip last month, Yolanda, the custom roller / “house roller” from LCDH Melia Habana, mentioned something to me.  She’s apparently going to be coming out shortly with her own “custom jar” for her custom cigars.

Yolanda Medina is a lovely lady.  In her upper 60’s now, she’s been rolling at the LCDH store at the Melia Habana hotel for about 18 years, and has been rolling cigars for an astonishing 48 or so now.  Starting rolling at age 19 at the H. Upmann factory, she’s well renowned for her past experience as a roller, as well as a former production manager from both the Romeo y Julieta factory and the Partagas factory.  She’s been the house roller at the Melia Habana LCDH since 1997, and she’s well renowned for that.  And, she herself is a former Guiness World Record holder, for rolling one of the world’s longest cigars in the mid 80’s sometime, before Cueto came to fame recently for doing the same.  I think it’s fair to say that she’s in the big league of custom rollers that cigar enthusiasts flock to Havana for.  Herself, Jorge Lopez Leal (from Club Habana, and of “Monsdale” fame), Reynaldo from Conde de Villanueva, Cueto from the El Morro shop, and also formerly Hamlet from RyJ (when he was rolling there) – they’re all amazing rollers who are some of the most courteous and excellent “faces” for Habanos cigars.

On this past trip, I snagged myself a bundle of her custom piramides, her signature roll.  Those are what she’s most well-renowned for, and what she said she rolls 2-to-1 compared to all the other formats she rolls combined, I was told.  (And, as Alex, a good Canadian BOTL and usual fellow-traveller has told me before, she’s usually sold out of them, and he’s always in a bind to get those specifically, as they’re his favourites from the island).  Though, her custom 898’s / dalias are slowly but surely catching up, and she gifted me with one of those to try when I visited her that day – it definitely hit the spot for me as a late-morning start with a nice cappuccino.

But anyways, she’s in the works with coming out with a custom jar, if you can call it that.  As she explained to me, and as the below pictures show, it’s a wooden jar.  She stated that it was her intent and continuing-want to do a ceramic jar instead.  But the jar as-shown perfectly fits a 25-bundle of her custom 898’s / dalias, or will also fit about 19 of her custom piramides.  The wooden container is currently at a cost of $150 CUC’s, but she’s trying to negotiate a better price through the manufacturer to make it much more feasible, and back down to well inside of a two-digit cost she said.

Through the assistance of Fred, a Chinese businessman she’s had a long-standing customer friendship with, she was able to get LCDH’s and/or Caracol’s permission to be able to offer these custom wooden “jars” at her rolling table in the Habana Libre shop.  So, she made planning arrangements with a Chinese manufacturer, also with the assistance of Fred, to have the jars made – with her initial intent of ceramic jars, but her agreeing to be open to the wooden / cedar jar (as shown above) as a bit of a prototype.

As we chatted, she was right in the midst of rolling a 500-stick order for Fred of custom robusto extras, and said she would be going to China in April for a few weeks to visit him, and would hopefully be finalizing the jar arrangements.  She said she was planning on going back to her original want for a ceramic jar instead, but might still take an initial production-run of some of these wooden ones.

She said it’d likely all be sorted out over this spring, and would likely have ready stocks of them in hand by mid- / end-summer – plenty of time, hopefully, to have it sorted out prior to the next Encuentros Partagas festival in the upcoming fall.  I myself am looking forward to seeing the final results of these later on this fall hopefully.  And, will likely be loading up on more of her custom piramides and dalias too.

Cheers all.

Nothing like some great cigars and great times with fellow BOTL’s…

Had the opportunity a week or so ago now to get together with some good friends / BOTL’s at the pad of one of them, and we shared some great cigars and times.  We had the chance to go over some of the Havana hijinx, which a couple of them missed out on this year.

Our gracious host for the evening had a lacklustre bar set-up though, LOL…



Some great cigars were traded back and forth, and I had the chance to enjoy some of the following:

Monsdale, Nov 2014 roll – from the recent Cuba trip, of which I brought a bunch of these for the various attendees. Enjoyed this with some lovely Chianti, and in between some Pizzaiolo gourmet pizzas (the Godfather, and the Soprano).

Cohiba Robusto, Oct 2013 “BTO” – gifted this in kind from our generous host for the evening. Really got into this bad boy, drinking a Coke while smoking this, quite a noted powerhouse experience for this El Laguito rolled stick. Big, bold flavours – very interested to see what this production run ends up smoking like at about the 3-5 year mark.

I was also gifted a couple of other stellar sticks from the gents that night – a 2007 QdO Panatela, a 1970’s cello-wrapped RA Topper, and a lovely smelling Partagas 898.

A great night. No muss, no fuss; just a few nice cigars, great drinks, awesome BOTL’s, and awesome times.

Cigar Review – RyJ Coronitas en Cedros, Nov 2007 “URO” box code; Final Score – 91

So, I’ve got my first review here for this blog.  Since I decided to get this blog off the ground and running, I’ve been thinking over what cigars I’d like to review first.  No pretentiousness, no pressure, minimal bells-and-whistles, and just about the cigars themselves.  Well, I picked my initial three that I’m going to do, and it’s all about simplicity and roots for me – Romeo y Julieta Coronitas en Cedros, RyJ Romeo No. 2 tubos, and Montecristo No. 4.

These three cigars were among my main introduction to cigars back in ’97 when I first got into fine Habanos.  I didn’t know or care enough at that time to make any detailed notes or whatnot on what I was smoking, so I’m not 100% sure exactly what were my actual first cigars.  But I do remember that these three were always in there for me at the start, with the two RyJ sticks being my main ones at the time.  Then, after stepping away from cigars in 2002 when I quit smoking cigarettes, and once I got back into cigars in 2004/2005 or so, these three were my main ones to get started with again.  They were my comfort smokes.  Inexpensive and not overbearing, these RyJ cigars were my first box purchases in the late 90’s, and again in 2005.  And, as I’ve said before to people, these three varieties of cigars will always have a place in my humidor.  That cherry element with the RyJ profile, and the light chocolate and coffee-with-cream elements in Montecristo, just worked so well for me and my palate at the time.  But, it’s actually been a while since I smoked any of these particular RyJ, so let’s see how it rolls along…

On to the review:

Reviewed Cigar:  Romeo y Julieta Coronitas en Cedros

Box Date:  Nov 2007

Factory / Manufacture Code:  URO

Packaging:  25-box, standard dress box

Price per cigar:  $3.95 USD (online vendor, 2008)

Length:  5 1/8″, or 129 mm

Ring Gauge:  40

Format:  Petit Corona

Weight:  Forgot to weigh this one particular cigar first, but they average about 7.5 to 7.6 grams

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  This cigar comes from a box I bought in 2008, and is from one of the first orders that I started keeping a log of my purchases to track box codes, prices, retailers, etc.  As I mentioned earlier, while I don’t smoke a lot of these anymore due to changes in my tastes over the years, I still will keep (good, hand-picked) boxes of these in my humidors.  These are always good for a core hit of RyJ flavours for me, and the presentation of these are always nice.

A cedar-wrapped cigar always has an added bit of presentation appeal to it.  Up until 2002, these Coronitas en Cedros cigars were machine made (along with many others in the cheaper end of the RyJ lineup) so I have no doubt that the decision to cedar-wrap them was to both help with the visual appeal of usually-unappealing-looking machine-made sticks, and to also impart additional cedar aromas and flavour.  I also remember these being cellophane sleeved back in the late 90’s when I had them then, and part of me is nostalgic for that too.

This particular smoked cigar was very nice.  Quite stellar looking honestly, when you consider the inexpensive nature of the cigar, and the crap that can come out from the RyJ lineup as well.  One decently annoying vein down the one side though.  This cigar’s wrapper was a very lush reddish-tinged Colorado maduro – my pictures hopefully illustrate that well (no photo trickery in my pictures, as I’ve stated here in the About My Reviews page).  Slightly veiny and bumpy, the triple-cap and construction was quite nice overall.  The cigar is decently firm as well, with nice bunching and construction showing at the foot.

After clipping the head, the draw was just a bit more free-flowing than I like to see for a petit corona.  Almost too wind tunnel-like.  Taste at cold?  DAMN!  Huge hits of a sweet cinnamon, lots of rich cedar wood, and a light fruity sweetness (not quite cherries, but a sweet bite of a juicy red apple perhaps?)

Opening Impressions:  After a lighting up and initial draws, the draw was actually just perfect when lit.  As soon as the flame and heat hit the tobacco, it firmed up enough to let the draw restriction be just spot on for smoking.  As it was a cool and damp night, and I was stepping into the hot tub to enjoy this, I’ve got no doubt that the heat combined with the high humidity in the air to slow the restriction up on it.  The body / density of the smoke wasn’t as thick and viscous as I usually like, but there was a light silky wispiness to it on the mouth-feel.

First Third:  Into the first third, this thing started to hit its stride right off the bat.  BAM!  Flavours of sweet cinnamon candy, with some sugary butter cookies there on the edges as well.  Rich, dense cedar wood, with a core fruity sweetness.  Still not getting my cherry tinge though…

No relights needed in this third; burn was going very well.  Smoke was getting a bit lighter almost in its density, but just right in the volume of the smoke itself.

Second Third:  Into the second third, and got what I was looking for – cherries.  Although, not the usual “stewed-fruit” cherries that I usually get (think of cooked cherries in a saucepan – cherry pie filling, but without all the sugar and fake stuff).  I was getting more of a spicy cherry, with that cinnamon edge and woody sweetness.  Almost like…hmmm…

Needed a slight cosmetic relight at the start of the second third.  Burning well.  Very humid in the air, especially sitting in the hot tub.  Trying to figure out the “what is that flavour peeking around the corner” aspect, while laying back and watching the night sky, the jetliners and satellites floating by on a crisp and super-clear starry night.  Kids in bed, soaking a severely injured leg since the stitches are all now out (stupid mistake on my part just over two weeks ago), and enjoying a nice strong drink.  Past the midway point on the cigar, needed an actual full-on relight.  A few more puffs, hitting the middle stride of the second third, when…


Full-on flavour, and it was a winner – dark, bittersweet chocolate, cedar smokiness, and all highlighted by a strong, unsweetened cherry aspect with a brandy richness to it.  Think…chocolate brandy beans, those Christmastime chocolate goodies filled with booze.  But filled with cherry brandy instead!  That’s what I was getting – a smoked cherry-brandy-filled chocolate brandy bean candy.  Not overly complex – very bold, in-your-face flavours.  But a great profile for this cigar for me, and very enjoyable.

Last Third:  Into the last third – the chocolate pulled back a bit.  Still had the faint cherry brandy aspect there, but mixed with more of a rich old leather tone, in there with the cedar aspect, and some fragrant but light toasted tobacco tones.

Now, I will state here that usually a laugh to myself a little whenever anyone, or myself for that matter, uses “toasted tobacco tones” in describing a cigar’s flavour (LOL – seriously dumbass?  “Toasted tobacco tones” on a lit cigar?!?!  Fucking DUH!!!).  But it really was in play here.  Kind of how actual toasted-bread smells one way, but tastes another, and how that’s different from plain untoasted-bread – how toast has that sweet, lightly charred, baking flour simplicity that warms your belly.  Well, this “toasted tobacco” was letting me know it was nearing the end, that the sweeter tones were leaving the mix, but that it had been an enjoyable experience.  Well worth the smoke.

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  This is how I remember and think of these.  Cedar, unsweetened stewed cherries, and light leather, with hints of candy / chocolate goodness.  The cherry brandy and chocolate brandy bean flavours were a bit surprising, but very welcome as well.

This was great.  Aside from a few relights into the final third as well, which I definitely attribute to the excess humidity, this was great.  Didn’t nub it exactly, but came pretty close for this cigar…

I was a bit back and forth on the score for this, as it’s not an overly complex flavour profile, but it brought a lot to the table for what it is, and showed the marca’s blend characteristics in spades.  Very happy with this smoke, all things considered.

Final Score:  91

Total Smoking Time:  1 hr and 1 minute

Paired Beverage:  Havana Club Anejo 7 Anos and Coke Zero

Last Meal:  Three-cheese lasagna Hamburger Helper, 4 hrs previous

Date & Time Smoked:  September 22nd, 2014; lit up at 9:27 pm, done at 10:28 pm

Smoking Conditions:  Cool, clear night, faint breeze, 7 degrees Celsius, 89% RH

Thanks for reading my review.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.