Tag Archives: Habanos S.A.

Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: Cigars Smoked (Part 2 of 2)…

For some of the previous posts on this trip to the Iberostar Grand Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica, please use the following hyperlinks:

“Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: A Beautiful Escape in Montego Bay…”

“Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: Fun In The Sun…”

“Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: Food Fit For a King…”

“Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: Pirate Beach Party and Local Flair…”

And so, continuing on from my previous post about cigars from this trip

6.  Trinidad Fundadores.  Dic 2009 “OUS”.  Now this one was a bit of an experience to be had!  Had a loosely-packed foot, dark ligero-loaded head upon cutting, and some soft spots throughout that became more pronounced as the cigar progressed, due in part to the format interacting with the conditions that day (29 C and 79% RH, 19 kph wind, and right poolside).  Heavy residual salty taste and feeling in my mouth and nose at the start of this cigar, from snorkelling with Erin in the Caribbean Sea earlier.

But a perfect draw on this cigar.  It had a wonky burn to start, but with a slightly firm ash (1-1/2″ groups).  Not much smoke off the foot “at idle”, but loads of smoke when drawn on.  Heavy tones of leather and dark tea, saddled onto toasted tobacco.  Hits of shortbread cookies and honeydew melon – that’s right, folks, honeydew melon in there too!  LOL.

It held up very well in the heat and the humidity overall – the wrapper had some slight unravelling near the end of the experience.  No harshness or sour tinges, right to the stubby end.  A solid 93; would have perhaps been slightly higher if not for the slight construction and burn issues.

An elegant and classy smoke to start that particular day for me.  And to lead me into an ass-kicking afternoon of drinking triple-tequila margaritas.  Had a dinner reservation that night for 8:30 pm, but instead, went up to the room at 6:15 to have a nap prior to, and instead slept right through until 6:30 am – aside from having Erin shove my ass over in bed at 11 pm after she spent the evening reading.  LOL.

7.  RA Gigantes.  Nov 2013 “MUL” – from a gorgeous box found during my Feb-Mar 2015 trip to Havana, Cuba.  Enjoyed this with “Wata” and local Blue Mountain coffee.  And nope, that’s not a typo – it’s “Wata” down there, with an “a”.  Not “water”.  “Wata”.  As I was told, “It’s spelt as it’s said”.  LOL.  Awesome.

As for the cigar itself, it had flavours of cherry-red coffee beans, nougat, cooked red apples (a slight deviation from the atypical “RA flavours” of “stewed fruit”), and with strong molasses and wet leather tones.  Lots of relights.  Could have been much better if not for burn issues – 87 points.

Other notables…

RA Extra 2011 EL.  Ago 2011 “RUE”.  Okay, I guess.  Not the best one I had, but lots of tones of burnt brown sugar and leather, with some molasses.

Partagas Lusitania.  Dic 2009 “STA”, Czar’s PSP stick.  Awesome.  Just awesome.

Diplomaticos No. 2.  Jun 2008 “EMA”.  A perfect match for Grey Goose screwdrivers.

Trinidad Robustos T.  Jun 2009 “OUS”.  Kinda uninspiring that day, but my palate was zapped from spicy and strong foods, coffee and drinks from that morning and the previous day.  Still pissed that these were discontinued so early into their release by Habanos S.A. though.

And lastly…

The resort itself had a nice little cigar lounge there, Hemingway’s.  While I didn’t actually bother to visit it for a smoking experience, I did know it was there and wanted to check it out; it appeared to almost always be staffed during normal hours, and had a pleasant-enough looking selection (which did mostly appear to be legitimate stock, rather than some of the fake cigars being peddled by some of the shops in the resort’s plaza area).  The staff seemed attentive too, but it was just too nice of weather outside and such a gorgeously-designed resort for me to sit inside and smoke.

Perhaps on a future trip I’ll check it out more.

Cheers all.

Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: Cigars Smoked (Part 1 of 2)…

For some of the previous posts on this trip to the Iberostar Grand Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica, please use the following hyperlinks:

“Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: A Beautiful Escape in Montego Bay…”

“Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: Fun In The Sun…”

“Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: Food Fit For a King…”

“Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: Pirate Beach Party and Local Flair…”

So, as I’ve done with previous trips, instead of doing full-on reviews, here’s a bit of an abridged version of what cigars smoked well, and where they were seeming to perform for me when on this trip last spring to Jamaica.  The smoking weather was comparatively perfect at a slight plus-or-minus variance of 28 degrees Celsius and 74% RH right at the mid-afternoon point daily almost.  And, as an added plus, the resort itself was a smoking-friendly resort (which I worry about a bit, when looking at resorts or hotels in “Americanized” locations in the Caribbean), and I smoked on our room’s terrace relaxingly, as well as quite a number of cigars being smoked poolside, with ashtrays supplied by staff, and no funny looks or questions about the “stinky cigar smoke” from either staff or other resort guests.  Frankly, when I did puff away, most were intrigued, and not a single nasty look or comment was noted (nicely enough).

1.  Quai d’Orsay Imperiales.  Oct 2012 “MUR” coded.  Enjoyed this with a Bacardi 8 & Coke, then with some Red Stripe beers.  Smoked well.  Lots of light cedar wood, cream, loads of vanilla bean, almost a hint of sweet almond nuttiness, and a heaping of refreshing citrus zest.  Delicious, with a wonky curve too.  Solid 94.  What a start!

2.  La Gloria Cubana Medaille d’Or No. 2.  Ago 2008 “TEB”.  Light black tea base tones.  Light herbal / floral essences waving in and out.  Rosemary with roses.  Then, carnations and dill almost (wasn’t sure if I was hallucinating in the heat or not, LOL).  Very fragrant combos.  Waves of dried cut grass in there.  EXACTLY what I love about nicely aged LGC sticks – like a spring breeze a day after the lawn was cut, and the yard work was satisfyingly done.

Excellent draw.  The ash held on in one-inch groups, but was very lightly compresses and easy to flick off.  Razor-sharp burn, no need for relights aside from one cosmetic touch-up.  A solid 93-point smoke.  Not an overly “filling” cigar, per say, or potently flavourful in an overpowering style, but an extremely nuanced and mature-tasting smoke, with a subdued finesse…PERFECT to start that particular day off.

3.  Ramon Allones Superiores LCDH Release.  May 2012 “MUR”.  An awesome mid-day smoke.  This one seemed a bit more muted than previous I’ve had, but I have high hopes for this particular box code.

4.  QdO Corona.  Ago 2008 “TEB” coded.  Like most of these cigars, another one of Czar’s HQ / PSP offerings.  This one was slightly tight with a restrictive draw – due, in part I think, to me accidentally leaving it out of my travel humidor during the evening before, and sucking up a bit more humidity than I like to store my sticks at (62% RH).  That said, potent flavours of leather, orange zest, and rich demerara sugar.

Mild burn issues throughout (again, like the slightly tight draw, something that’s tied in with over-humidifying it), and needed multiple touch-ups and relights.  Could have been better and was a bit unfortunate.  An 86.

5.  Cohiba Siglo IV.  Oct 2013 “POU”.  Wow – what an ugly cap this thing had.  This was enjoyed wholeheartedly with several piña coladas with double-shots of Appleton 12-year dark rum…and I enjoyed every minute of it.  Unfortunately, this cigar was one with another slightly tight and restrictive draw, and thin whispy smoke therefore.

That said, it had STRONG flavours of smokey honey and lemongrass tea, damp hay, and some buttered toast.  Rich flavours, but a bit of a paradox in that there’s just slightly closed-in about them.

I was thinking this may also be because this cigar is just not quite ready yet (just over a year-and-a-half old; baby-aged for Cohiba almost).  Will be amazed to see what these are like at 3- and 5-years, and how they may develop then.

More to come on this…

Cheers all.

Cigar Review – SCDLH Oficios LCDH Release, Dic 2005 “FJN” box code; Final Score – 86

I had a nice little experience smoking this cigar, even if the cigar itself wasn’t my favourite of recent times.  A co-worker of mine, she being also into cigars mildly on-and-off for years, had found a fairly local cigar retailer near our workplace, on a local native band’s reservation.  I’ve known of this retailer for some years now (being a company that many online international cigar enthusiasts purchase from), but did not realize it had a very decent private lounge with some extraordinary comfy leather seating.

So, one particular “long change” off (where we have a 24-hr period off of work, as we switch from days to our night shift), her, I, and another co-worker who occasionally enjoys cigars, we all went to this retailer to enjoy a couple of hours, tucked away enjoying our hobby away from the end-winter temperatures (though it was a decent enough and sunny day).  It was nice, as I was able to do some fairly decent window-shopping, and purchased a bunch more non-Cuban sticks to bring down as unique treats to Cuban friends during my Feb-Mar Havana trip (it’s something I like to do, as they’re generally unable to get stuff from off their own island like that).

Anywho, when we were perusing their walk-in for Cuban cigars, I came across these San Cristobal De La Habana sticks from their LCDH Release series.  SCDLH is a very recent brand in the Habanos S.A. portfolio, only being born in 1999, and made to commemorate Christopher Columbus, and using the original name for Havana itself.  All of the brand’s main cigars are named after the old forts that guard the harbour entrance into Havana – El Morro, La Fuerza, La Punta, and El Principe.  The La Casa Del Habano Release series, made somewhat exclusively for the chain of international stores selling Habanos cigars, was sort of brought about in 2004 to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the brand, when the El Morro was included into a commemorative special humidor release along with 3 new sticks -Oficios, Mercaderes, and Muralla.  These new three were re-released in 2006 until 2011 as a special LCDH Release series, in a special box and with a secondary LCDH band, with some of the original-release boxes of these coming out in late 2005, as this box of Oficios was.

These piqued my interest when I came across them due to the box date and relative nice condition of the cigars, lovely dark wrappers, and just as a nice change of pace for me (I really like the La Fuerza, and also keep a good stock now of La Punta, but these special one’s [LCDH sticks] haven’t just been on my hit list).

Reviewed Cigar:  San Cristobal De La Habana Oficios LCDH Release

Box Date:  Dic 2005

Factory / Manufacture Code:  FJN

Packaging:  25-count varnished natural box

Price per cigar:  $14.41 CDN (brick & mortar local retailer)

Length:  5 3/8″, or 135 mm

Ring Gauge:  43

Format:  Dalias cortas / Corona

Weight:  Didn’t weigh this particular stick

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  This was a nice looking box.  The presentation on these in the darkly varnished “boite nature” boxes are a nice change from SCDLH’s generally blah looking light-yellow-and-white semi-dress boxes.  The box varnish is a pretty close match to the secondary LCDH bands on these sticks.

This cigar was pretty nice looking.  Fairly dark and marbled wrapper, light oils on the wrapper leaf, and with just a slight imperfection to the finishing of the triple-wrapped cap.  The construction and weight in hand was fairly nice, with the cigar being somewhat solid but without any overly hard spots.

After a cut and taste at cold, just one main hit – molasses, and loads of it.  Fingers crossed

Opening Impressions:  Definite tones of rich, aged tobacco.  Loads of smoke when puffed on, but only slight wisps on its own.  A bit more restrictive on the draw than I’d like once lit.

First Third:  Into the first third, the molasses sways ever so lightly in and out, mostly leaving just a rich tobacco tone.  Maybe a bit of hay and wet leather around the fringes.

I was having this with an XO brandy – can’t remember for the life of me what the brand of it was.  I’m not a huge brandy drinker, though I do like the occasional touch, especially around the Christmas holidays.  I grew up with a Dutch mother (and my wife loves that, as I “came trained” as she likes to say), and a typical goodie that we always had floating around the house over Christmastime was “brandy beans”.  Great little candies – a dark chocolate, banana-shaped “bean”, filled with a half teaspoon or so of brandy liquor inside.  So, as a pre-teen kid, I remember scamming the whole box on multiple occasions, and REALLY enjoying my Christmas holidays!

Second Third:  Into the second third, not much more really.  The molasses tones really waved back into the latter recesses of the aftertaste.  The rich tobacco tone was there, but it was ever so faint.

This was turning into a bit of a hot-air generating blah.

Final Third:  Into the final third, a little bit of redemption.  The hay and dark leather came back a bit, and a wet woody tone came into play, almost sweet but a bit mangy at the same time.

I noticed at about the mid-way point on the cigar, and it became really prominent in the last third, that my tongue was starting to get a tingle.  This cigar was becoming very tongue tingling, almost like a nicotine sting on the tongue, but without a heavy nicotine hit though.  Almost like that residual feeling on your tongue from some Novocaine at the dentist’s office.  Kinda weird.

Maybe some tinges of an anise flavour in there too?  Was that part of the tingling I was getting?  Hmmmm.

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  This cigar wasn’t overly complex.  I was hoping for something special, considering I do like the heavy molasses and leather I get from other SCDLH sticks.  This wasn’t overly complex, but also kind of showed some faint dark brown sugar tones right near the end.  The leather was there a bit, but it became over-ridden by a carbon / pencil lead finish in the last third too.

Nothing special.  Are these past their prime?  Was it the brandy overpowering the stick?  Was it another example of a cigar that didn’t draw too much attention for its flavours upon release, and now aged, has simply become an aged cigar with not much to offer?  I’m not sure – perhaps its a combination of all the above – as I didn’t delve into these on original release.

I’m sure there might be fans of these.  While a nice change, and the looks and such checked all the right boxes, the flavours just weren’t there for me.  Not a throwaway, though, so I may have to give another stick a try again in the future.

At the very least, good time spent in a nice spot with great co-workers.

Final Score:  86

Total Smoking Time:  1 hour and 18 minutes

Date & Time Smoked:  March 11th, 2015; lit up at 1:05 pm, done at 2:23 pm

Paired Beverage:  XO brandy

Last Meal:  McDonald’s Big Mac combo, 11:55 am

Smoking Conditions:  In an indoors lounge at a very comfy 20-something, and very well ventilated, but 6 degrees Celsius and 59% RH outside.

Thanks for reading my review.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.

Cigar Review – Ramon Allones Mille Fleurs, Nov 2002 “EAR” box code; Final Score – 92

As I carried on in the same evening from my previous review on the H. Upmann Monarch tubos, I took a quick rest inside the house (the winds were picking up), and then with my wife joining me in the hot tub, I got to enjoy Round 2 of my cigars that night, a stellar example of a Ramon Allones Mille Fleurs.

I love Ramon Allones.  Yup.  That I do.  So, I figured I’d enjoy this stick, regardless of….gasp…being a dreaded “machine-made” variant.

Okay.  I tried to say that with a straight face.

I personally don’t get the disdain that some have for certain machine-made cigars.  Granted, I definitely have a grumpy experience with some of the “lesser brands”, or “cheap and cheerfuls” as many refer to them as well.  But a machine-made can still be a beautiful thing.  While it misses that certain human-touch in its artistic quality, if the tobacco itself is good, it can still be a top-notch experience for a relatively inexpensive cost.

This stick is a beautiful example.  A cigar from one of the multitude of trades that I’ve been able to do with great BOTL Chris / “chanceschmerr”, a fellow CF member who’s across-the-pond at a special navy offi-sure school right now, this was a special cigar he sent for me to enjoy.  These RA Mille Fleurs are cellophane-wrapped lovelies which he snagged from a nice little shop in Andorra on a past mission rest-stop.  These are solely machine-made sticks which were discontinued in 2005.

Reviewed Cigar:  Ramon Allones Mille Fleurs

Box Date:  Nov 2002

Factory / Manufacture Code:  EAR

Packaging:  25-count dress box of cellophane-wrapped cigars

Price per cigar:  Unk. (traded stick)

Length:  5 1/8″, or 129 mm

Ring Gauge:  42

Format:  Petit corona

Weight:  9 grams / 0.3 oz

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  The overall tobacco quality and finish on this cigar wasn’t bad.  A smaller stick, I’m impressed that something like this can be done as efficiently as they are with the type of older machines that Cuba has.

Nice wrapper colour, and no soft spots throughout the cigar itself.  With a this machine-made stick, I noted that the cap had a fair bit of a wrinkle / crease to it, and the triple-cap was horribly sloppy.  As these machine mades are hand-finished, it’s a bit of a sloppy finalizing, though the rest of the wrapper was applied very well, and the band was finished well (and I love the older / smoother / less-refined RA bands too).

The cello had a nice very slight yellowing to it, and the foot (as can be seen in the below pictures) showed that the bunch was packed amazingly tight on one side, but fairly loose and with holes on the other.  Again, no soft spots or issues there, but just an example of how a machine-made stick can’t have that artistic-finishing quality that human hands can.

After a cut and at cold, not too shabby.  Slight caramel sweetness, a bit salty, and with a fragrant aged tea tone.

Other construction notes?  Wife was sporting a new(er) bikini – me likey!

Opening Impressions:  A wonderfully aged smoke.  This thing just started right in.  Caramel flan tones to start – caramel, creme brulee, vanilla, breadfruit doughy-ness.  Loving it.

First Third:  Into the first third, light leather with burnt caramel edge.  Not a lot of the stewed fruit aspect that I normally get in Ramon Allones’ sticks though.  Some brown sugar, hay, and well-aged toasted tobacco.  Very refined toasted tobacco tones coming through full volume.

Second Third:  Into the second third, a lot of the same.  Swaying back and forth with the burnt caramel, and bready, toasted tobacco.

Final Third:  Into the final third, creme brulee coming to the forefront again.  Vanilla, burnt / carmelized brown sugar, and bready goodness.  Almost a bread pudding kind of flavour tone (you know – that traditional kind of bread pudding, made with eggs, milk, bread chunks, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, etc.); just wonderful.

Still unfortunately not getting the heavy stewed-fruits / Christmas fruitcake tone that I so love with RA.  Kind of wished it was there, but this stick, for its fair size, was still giving me lots of performance value.

A good cigar to go along with a great view.  😉

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  This cigar burned impeccably well for me too.  Burn was relatively razor sharp, and did not require any relights that I recollect.  The aged refinement that this cigar had was wonderful.  The slightly perfumy, aged, toasted tobacco tone throughout, along with the tag-team of a caramel, creme brulee hit, made this just a great little cigar to enjoy.

I know Habanos has got rid of machine mades.  While I don’t necessarily disparage that, it would be nice if this Mille Fleurs blend was still offered in a handmade.  Hell, even if a handmade, “luxury” version of the RA Mille Fleurs was offered perhaps as an RE from a cunning distributor, I think it’d be quite a hit – I’d LOVE to see that done, a box of 25 cellophane wrapped sticks to bring back that vintage look, and in a size format where a 25-count box wouldn’t make it beyond the reach of many.

Dollar value, these are excellent – inexpensive machine-mades can definitely be worth an addition into someone’s smoking stock, provided it was a good quality run.  Though these are all discontinued, the fairly extensive age on any remaining at vendors will make it well worth the search.  That perfumy aspect of nice aged cigars are a great taste to experience.

Final Score:  92

Total Smoking Time:  42 minutes

Date & Time Smoked:  February 18th, 2015; lit up at 8:58 pm, done at 9:40 pm

Paired Beverage:  Havana Club Anejo 7 Anos and Coke

Last Meal:  Haddock and chip dinner w/ coleslaw, 5:20 pm

Smoking Conditions:  In the hot tub, continuing chilly and fairly windy night, -12 degrees Celsius and dropping rapidly, 68% RH

Thanks for reading my review.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.

Cigar Review – H. Upmann Monarch tubos, Unk. pre-2007 code; Final Score – 91

Yup – another delayed review.  Deal with it peoples!  😉

And getting into some of these delayed reviews, we have this specimen, an H. Upmann Monarcas / Monarch tubos.  The actual name of this stick is a Monarcas, however, the old-style aluminum tubos have Monarch on them – surprise, surprise, Cuba isn’t 100% clear on what something is.  Hell, I myself am not 100% on what the box code was on this particular stick, but I’m guessing 2006-early 2007.  These came from a mixed sampler purchase from December 2007, and at the time, I noted that these were from a pre-’07 (must have been something that the retailer stated to me at the time of purchase).  The band as found on these was only started on various H. Upmann sticks in 2006, and these cigars were eventually discontinued in 2009.

Was / is that a shame?

Reviewed Cigar:  H. Upmann Monarca / Monarch tubos

Box Date:  Unk. (2006 to early-2007 stick)

Factory / Manufacture Code:  Unk.

Packaging:  Tubos from 25-count dress box

Price per cigar:  Approx. $20.00 CAD per stick (part of a tubos sampler from online retailer)

Length:  7″, or 178 mm

Ring Gauge:   47

Format:  Julieta No. 2 / Churchill

Weight:  16 grams / 0.5 oz

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  This cigar was pretty darn nice.  Colorado rosado wrapper, fairly smooth and silky-thin wrapper leaf.  The foot itself looked somewhat loosely packed, however there were no soft spots to the cigar, and it felt fairly hefty and well-packed in hand.

What’s also nice is that this came in the older, plain-aluminum tubes.  Sooooo much nicer than the newer weird and ugly dark-green painted ones for H. Upmann.  These older matte-finished plain-aluminum ones have a nice tone of dark green paint for labelling, and the added touch of the embossed H. Upmann logo on the threaded end-cap make it just a nice presentation all-round.

After a cut and having a taste at cold, very nice.  Some honey, extremely light cinnamon, and fresh cream at cold.  Interesting.

Opening Impressions:  Not bad.  A razor-sharp burn to get it going, and decent amounts of smoke once going.  Some nice creamy and shortbread tones in there.

First Third:  Into the first third, I picked up on some flavours of Sir Winnie, but it was a bit introverted through this first third.  Definitely loads of rich tobacco in this Churchill.  I’m generally only partaking in some other H. Upmann vitolas (Sir Winnies, Magnum 46, Mag 50 sometimes, and the occasional No. 2), so this one has been near and far to me.  Definitely more toasty tobacco and woodiness through it.  The creamy and shortbread tones began pulling back some.

Second Third:  Into the second third, this is where it opened up for me.  Toasted tobacco tones.  Some light cedar essences in there, almost a different kind of cedar though – almost like the aroma you get in a dried-out cedar-lined dry sauna.

Started to get a slight bit more edge and more “heat” to the flavours. Perhaps a pink or white pepper edge added to it; almost like a red-pepper-jelly fading in and out of the honey and shortbread sweetness.

Final Third:  Into the final third, the body built up more, getting into the medium-full range, and I started really getting that mongrel version of Sir Winnie.  Dirty, dank, wet shortbread cookies, hints of bread and some toasted nuts.  Lost the honey and cream aspects completely.  If not for knowing how aged it was, part of me would have guessed it was a younger cigar, for some of the mangy youthful aspects kicked in.

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  This cigar was so-so for me.  The burn was impeccable – razor-sharp, and not needing any relights, even considering the humid and breezy smoking conditions.  I really started getting more and more of a peppery version of a Sir Winnie – though part of me longed for a more creamy and refined Sir Winnie, looking at the same band.

This is a slightly stronger, less refined, more “mangy” version of a Sir Winnie, in my opinion.  So, with so few cigars left in the H. Upmann profile, was it wise to have this cut from the portfolio?  Definitely, its always a shame to see any cigar get the axe, as every single cigar has it’s fans.  That said, I don’t overly disparage the thinking behind it, as two Churchills in the same brand, with fairly limited selections, wasn’t likely of the greatest business sense.  I mean – how hard would it be to play second fiddle to the Sir Winnie too?!?!?!?

It was a nice experience overall, and generally pleasant smoke.  I won’t be searching out any further samples in the future likely, but I did enjoy the well-aged toasted-tobacco aspects of this stick, and the overall construction, burn, appearance and packaging all saved the score on this stick despite my palate not overly agreeing with the experience.

Final Score:  91

Total Smoking Time:  1 hour and 5 minutes

Date & Time Smoked:  February 18th, 2015; lit up at 6:20 pm, done at 7:25 pm

Paired Beverage:  Havana Club Anejo 7 Anos and Coke

Last Meal:  Haddock and chip dinner w/ coleslaw, 5:20 pm

Smoking Conditions:  In the hot tub, but a fairly chilly and breezy night, -10 degrees Celsius and dropping rapidly, 72% RH

Thanks for reading my review.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.

Cigar Review – Ramon Allones Phoenicio RE Libano, Sep 2008 “TEB” box code (Box # 1889 of 6000); Final Score – 97

Well, since my post-Cuba wrap-up from my Havana trip in Feb-Mar has drawn so much of my time, I’ve got a bit of a backlog of formal reviews to get posted.  This one especially, I’ve been chomping at the bit to get done.  Easily, my best cigar ever to date, at least since I’ve been “keeping score” so to say and recording my reviews in a Cigar Dossier since about 2008 or so.

I was sent this sample with some surprise.  During last Christmas, I “cigar bombed” a number of good BOTL’s – guys and gals worldwide that I’ve done trades with in years gone past, and whom I really enjoyed our trades, but for whatever reason, it had been a while since we last traded – so I sent out some assortments of fresh custom cigars from Cuba.  So, with this cigar reviewed in particular, it came to me from Emil / “Tropical Doc” down in Florida.  He and I have talked and traded cigars for about 5 years or so now, but it had been nearly 3 since our last trade.  So, at Christmastime, I bombed him down a package with about a 1/2 dozen or so miscellaneous Cuban customs, some specific favourites of mine.  Then, in January, I opened up my mailbox to find a package containing this…

So, yes Emil, you’re a force to reckon with, and not to be outdone!  LOL.

He sent me the above, along with some party favours / promo material from his new lounge he’s started up.  As if he didn’t have enough on his plate, LOL, he’s taken on this new venture.  I highly encourage you to check out his webpage here at www.havanatranquility.com, and visit his lounge if you can, if you’re in the area.  After meeting him in Havana last month, I can gladly say he’s one of the most enthusiastic and passionate guys for cigars, especially for someone that’s not directly in the main industry (until starting up his lounge now).  My plans are to take a swing by next spring when next down in Florida with the family.

In the meantime though, this piddly little cigar would have to do!  I picked it first out of the cornucopia he sent me, as I’ve heard lots about it, and was very interested in it.  Emil was also kind enough to pass along some “product shots” of it’s kin-folk…

The Phoenicio was a nice, hefty sublime.  This particular sample was the first coming out of box number 1889 out of 6000.  These cigars were made to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Phoenicia Trading, the importer for Lebanon.  A Phoenico, made for Phoenicia – yup, it gets more confusing.  This particular variant was from the 2008 release, when there were 6000 boxes made, with 30-sticks per box.  They proved to be so popular and well-reputed, that they created a re-release in 2009, with 15-cigars per box and 3000 boxes produced of that variant, though it apparently hasn’t been as well-regarded of a smoke.

But, this one being from 2008, I was looking plenty forward to it.

Reviewed Cigar:  Ramon Allones Phoenico, 2008 RE Libano

Box Date:  Sep 2008

Factory / Manufacture Code:  TEB

Packaging:  30-count varnished box, numbered boxes (box # 1889 of 6000)

Price per cigar:  Unk.

Length:  6 1/2″, or 164 mm

Ring Gauge:  54

Format:  Sublimes / Double robusto

Weight:  20 grams / 0.7 oz

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  This cigar was constructed so damn impeccably.  I love a cigar that hits all the good aspects of construction (no soft-/hard-spots, good fill, nice foot, pungent aroma, etc.) and also has a wrapper that’s dark and “marbled” in appearance, showing the oils within and on the wrapper leaf.  This cigar was all of that.

Beautiful band, beautifully oily and marbled wrapper, strong aroma, great format, heavy and sturdy cigar, and then, upon clipping the cap, a slight divot (revealing great construction/roll within), and just the perfect slightly resistive draw.

At cold, strong cherry and molasses notes.  Strong woodiness.

Opening Impressions:  Upon lighting and initial puff, just enthralled.  Thick, creamy smoke, and big puffs of it.  Sweet, rich – like a sugar-coated dank forest floor.

First/Second/& Final Thirds:  Fuck me.  This was just a DAMN EPIC CIGAR.  I didn’t take detailed notes – I remembered to take some pictures, and that was about it.  I got lost in the cigar itself – those are the BEST cigar experiences, in my opinion!  I just remember the overall experience of the cigar, but not so much the individual aspects / thirds of it.

It had huge, bold flavours.  I noted that my wanted RA flavour-tones were all there at some point – Christmas fruitcake, molasses, rich carmelized brown sugar, stewed dark fruits (prunes, cherries, blueberries?), dark and damp rich woods (that forest-floor oak tone), and an almost sweet, bready, cookies-and-rich-coffee tone.


This cigar just hit home run after home run, puff after puff.  Loads of smoke on every pull, and thick, viscous, coat-your-palate-good smoke at that.  That unsweetened-whipping-cream sort of palate-coating goodness.  This cigar was just a flavour-laden stick, with a size format that, while on the larger-side of what I enjoy, actually made it all that much better – and that I wish lasted another hour or so!

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  What else can I say?????

A box of these (which is no doubt in the higher realm of pricing due to slim availability now) is on the short-list for me now.

To me, these don’t need anymore age at all.  I would be interested to see what they do over the next 5 and 10 years though, but if I had a box in hand, they wouldn’t last 1/2 that long I don’t think!!!

Final Score:  97

Total Smoking Time:  1 hour and 36 minutes

Date & Time Smoked:  February 19th, 2015; lit up at 9:00 pm, done at 10:36 pm

Paired Beverage:  Havana Club Anejo 7 Anos and Coke

Last Meal:  Can’t remember – didn’t make note of it

Smoking Conditions:  In the hot tub, light breeze, -19 degrees Celsius, 92% RH

Thanks for reading my review.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.

Cigar Review – Por Larranaga Picadores, Jun 2014 “PUO” box code; Final Score – 88

Well, this review is much delayed.  I had the chance to smoke one of these new PL Picadores back in early February.  This was sort of both a celebratory and a remembrance smoke – celebratory in that it was after graduation from my “coach officer” course, and remembrance in that it was also just after the one-year anniversary of my Dad’s passing.  So, time to enjoy a new release cigar then.

These are beautiful cigars.  A nice format (Hermosos No. 4 – a slightly thinner and longer robusto-range format), pleasing 25-stick dress-box packaging, and a great brand/blend for aging.  PL are known for their caramel-and-spiced-tobacco tinged profile that just excels at the 5-year-plus mark.  These also have an interesting looking red-white-and-gold band, a noticable but tasteful difference in the band design from the standard and long-lasting dark-gold-with-white-text band that PL has sported for years.

Reviewed Cigar:  Por Larranaga Picadores

Box Date:  Jun 2014

Factory / Manufacture Code:  PUO

Packaging:  25-count dress box

Price per cigar:  $20.56 CAD each (LCDH Toronto)

Length:  5″, or 127 mm

Ring Gauge: 48

Format:  Hermosos No. 4 / Corona extra

Weight:  Did not weigh this particular stick

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  This cigar was constructed very nicely.  Darker leather-toned wrapper, mild crinkling from the bunching underneath, a nice mild oily sheen to the wrapper, and a very pleasantly bunched foot.  The colour differences of the various filler tobaccos were quite noticable at the foot as well, looking like a cigar’s variant of the yin-and-yang symbol.

Fairly flat headed cigar; nice well-defined triple cap.  Construction feel was quite nice.  A pleasant firmness, no overly hard or soft spots.  Everything seemed just right in the construction of this stick.

After a cut and at cold, very nice.  Mild caramel tinges at cold, some leather, and a sweet almost clove spiciness.

Opening Impressions:  Quite nice, but definitely closed in.  Decent amounts of smoke.  Slightly rooty/woody tinge on the tongue (almost like anise).  Rich toasted tobacco, sweet spices (nutmeg, cloves).

First Third:  Into the first third, I got hits of burnt brown sugar, fading in an out to a caramel tinge.  Very faint.  Definitely getting youthful / slightly sour tones already.  Trying to smoke this as slowly and patiently as possible.

Second Third:  Into the second third, a lot of the same.  Not much happening here.

Final Third:  Into the final third, getting hints of coffee and leather.  Some smokey cedar wood coming into play.  Lots of the caramel tinge fading in and out, but surrounded by a tangy youthful tone.

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  This cigar, this blend, will be great down the line if this cigar is any representation of what’s to come.  At this young of a stage, it shows that PL profile there, even if it’s only waiting in the wings.  I was actually expecting a bit worse for these, but I’m pleasantly surprised to see how tame these are currently (even though the blend is definitely restrained right now).  I’m planning to smoke a few more samples in Havana next week if I can, and take it from there.

To me, with a 4-6 year wait time to allow these to fully mature and sit well, I’d love to see these become as amazing as PLPC’s do with that level of age on them.  I’m very excited for these in the future – probably just going to pick up a couple of boxes and see how things progress.

Final Score:  88

Total Smoking Time:  1 hour and 35 minutes

Date & Time Smoked:  February 5th, 2015; lit up at 9:35 pm, done at 11:10 pm

Paired Beverage:  Havana Club Anejo 7 Anos and Coke

Last Meal:  Club sandwich and fries, 1:00 pm

Smoking Conditions:  Fairly chilly in a buddy’s garage, 0 Celsius inside the garage, 54% RH (not great temps or conditions for smoking, but a bit better in than out, at -16 Celsius outside)

Thanks for reading my review.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.

Cigar Review – Cohiba Robustos Supremos EL 2014, Sep 2014 code; Final Score – 94

Well, here we have it.  The donkey-cock LE extraordinaire!!!!

Damn this cigar is huge.  Is it bad when, as a man, you’re starting to feel emasculated looking at a cigar like this hefty???  I love me a good Cohiba (especially when they’re super fresh, or nice and aged).  Hell, going against the norm, I frequently like the EL releases.  But this thing is ridiculous.


Go to a zen place.

Open up my mind to the possibilities.

Some of us were graciously gifted some of these when in Havana back in November for the Encuentros Partagas.  Ironically, like is typical with Habanos S.A. lately, being that this cigar is a 2014 edicion limitada release, OF COURSE they wouldn’t actually have been available yet when we arrived in Havana at the tail end of November.  But, a few mastercases of these were spotted in the last few days, and while I deleted (D’oh!) the picture from my iPhone upon my return to the frozen north, I believe the Sep 2014 UME code is what they were, with the mastercase showing number “X of 66” or so with that code.  And, these have been starting to flow out to the worldwide markets the last few weeks finally.  Yup – right on time, H S.A.

I’ve got a couple of these Cohiba EL RS’ though, and this’ll be my first one.

Please be gentle, EL’y, it’s my first time…

Reviewed Cigar:  Cohiba Robustos Supremos EL 2014

Box Date:  Sep 2014

Factory / Manufacture Code:  Unk. (lost the damn code, but I think it was UME or something like that)

Packaging:  Comes packaged in a varnished slide-lid box of 10-cigars

Price per cigar:  Gawd awful (this sample was graciously gifted)

Length:  5″, or 127 mm

Ring Gauge:  58

Format:  Frankenstein’s version of a magnificos / honkin’ fat robusto

Weight:  15 grams / 0.5 oz

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  This cigar…was damn right gorgeous.  Dark, Colorado maduro wrapper.   No veins, no imperfections.  Stunningly marbled-looking wrapper with a lovely oily sheen.

An EXTREMELY flat head punctuated this cigar.  Construction feel was quite nice.  A pleasant firmness, with just an ever-so-slight soft spot at the foot.

The new Cohiba wrapper is sported on this guy, and with the double bands, there’s a lot of real estate taken up by shiny gold things.  Also, the one construction flaw that I found (and I had to really look) was that the bands had just ever-so-slighty-too-much glue on them, and they were stuck fairly firmly onto the wrapper where the seams on the bands were.

After a cut and at cold, mmmmmm!  Tones of those Dutch windmill cookies – they’re like a gingerbread cookie, with a healthy dose of nutmeg and other sweet spices in them.  This cigar at cold was those.  Though the draw at cold was definitely pretty free-flowing and not as restrictive as I would have liked it to be, the flavour at cold was wonderful.

What WASN’T wonderful was CUTTING THE FUCKING CIGAR!!!!  Wow, what a clusterfuck that was.  I like my Xikar double-guillotine cutters.  Well, this cigar, with its giant 58 ring gauge did NOT want to get cut.  I really needed a giant punch cutter for this thing.  While I managed to do it without destroying the head of the cigar or my sanity, it was a bitch of a time to cut the giant flat head on this thing and not cut too much off, which would have made it a complete wind tunnel.

Opening Impressions:  Quite nice.  Faint wisps of smoke from the lit foot, just to let you know it’s burning, but then LOADS of mildly creamy smoke with each puff.  A profile of EXTREMELY rich, toasted tobacco, with some sweet spices laying on the sidelines a bit.

First Third:  Into the first third, I realized what a brute this thing was, in many ways…

First, on the draw, it is a REALLY awkward feeling to draw on it – you feel like you’re going to dislocate your jaw or accidentally bite your lip, or something stupid like that; it really is that uncomfortably strange feeling.

Secondly, even with my big mitts, this looks like a giant cigar in the hand, and has some definite heft to it.  Hell, the bands seem like they were researched and strategically placed there by some engineering wizards, as holding this thing by the bands feel like a comfortable centre of gravity, and thereby ensuring you won’t sprain your wrist by simply holding this cigar aloft.

And lastly, this thing is powerful.  Definitely medium-full, and with a spicy kick in there.  Not necessarily a nicotine bomb, but definitely with all cylinders in overdrive.

Meaty, robust flavours continued.  Rich tobacco, gingerbread-like windmill cookies, sweet spices.  Some richly tanned leather in there too.  Some coffee goodness on the fringes.

Second Third:  Into the second third, and the crescendo kept building.  A lot of the same flavours were still there, but adding in some rum cake almost.  The burn was quite impeccable too, for how large a cigar this was, and how many variables can come into play to potentially lead to a wonky burn, especially in such a young cigar.  The draw was nicely firmed back up, voluminous smoke, nicely creamy texture on the palate.  Damn.

I started to think about how this reminded me of a cross between a 1966 and an RA Extra, two LE’s that I LOVE!  However, I was also thinking of how uncomfortable it was to smoke – made me feel all “duckface” every time I took a puff.  Gawd, my poor camera, LOL…

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Final Third:  Into the final third – finally!  Wow.  Chocolate and raisin tones come into play.  No more coffee or leather.

Not a single note of youthful harshness to it.  I know all the tobaccos used in the EL program have “been specially aged at least 2 years for fulfillment of the most discerning aficionados”, blah, blah, blah.  But, this is probably the first time that I’ve smoked an EL cigar, with less than 6 months of “box age” to it, and there have been no youthful harshness to the cigar.

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  This cigar, this blend, is just simply magnificent.  It works so damn well.  And I hate it, because it’s so damn uncomfortable to smoke!

Cohiba-esque, it is not.  There’s no honey, lemongrass, hay, etc., etc.  But it’s probably the best EL I’ve ever smoked with 6 months or less age on it.  This was simply an amazing smoke.

I won’t be buying any.  It’s just too uncomfortable to smoke.  Hell, if this were another piramide or canonazo / 1966, I’d scoop up more boxes than my precious RA Extras that I enjoy so much.  This could really REALLY turn into something with time.  It’s SOOOOO damn smokable and approachable now, but I am curious to see the progression at 3 and 5 years from now.

Final Score:  94

Total Smoking Time:  1 hour and 40 minutes

Date & Time Smoked:  January 4th, 2015; lit up at 6:15 pm, done at 7:55 pm

Paired Beverage:  Huff Estates’ 2012 Pinot Gris white wine, and followed by Early Acres Estate Winery’s “All Night Long” 2008 Merlot / Cabernet Franc (VQA Ontario wines)

Last Meal:  Medium chicken wings and cheesy garlic bread, 5:50 pm

Smoking Conditions:  Warm and cosy in the heated garage “man cave”, 21 degrees Celsius, 87% RH

Thanks for reading my review.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.