Tag Archives: Havana House

Another BOTL Reviews the LFDC Siboney 2014 RE Canada…

Well, yet another friend, Simon, has done a nice review for his “House of Cuban Cigars” blog with LCDH Montreal, on the La Flor De Cano “Siboney”, the Regional Edicion for 2014 for Canada.

I had the chance to take part in a pre-release review tasting panel back in November 2014, hosted by Roger and others from Havana House (the official Canadian distributor for Habanos).  While the tasting for the cigar itself did not go well, it was still a treasured experience…

Cigar Review – La Flor de Cano Siboney 2014 RE Canada, Sep 2014 “OEP” box code; Final Score – 82

In talking with Simon and a few others in the following months since that tasting, we’re hoping for better things with that cigar.  Hell, maybe they slightly tweaked the blend for boxes that were still being produced when we did that initial pre-release tasting, or perhaps we just got a fairly sour box from the onset of production.

Simon’s review can be found here:

Flor de Cano Siboney Exclusivo Canada

No idea if the box codes match up or not, or if there’s a distinct difference there, leading to the fairly different overall impression.  I do notice from his pictures that his box sampled from is box # 171 – decently far-enough removed from our pre-release box # 0000, but it does depend a bit on the box / factory code as well (mine was Sep 2014 “OEP”).  I do note that he also mentioned the sourness, and while it wasn’t pleasant at all back in November, it sounds like it’s not a detriment in Simon’s tasting.

So, sounds like they’re improving a bit, which is definitely a needed must.  I hope they do continue to evolve positively, as they are a nice format for wintertime smokers in Canada.

Cheers all.

EDIT / ADDITION: In discussing this further with Simon, I was curious about the final market pricing for these. When I did the pre-release tasting in Havana back in November, we were told that the plan at the time was for an MSRP pricing of $18 or $19 CDN per stick, factoring in taxes and such for the Canadian market. Even then at the tasting, we thought that price was damn well too high, putting it past the pricing for some regular production minutos that are already well-reputed, and can be great ROTT or with some extended aging time. Well, it sounds like the current / actual pricing on this is a ghastly $24 CDN per stick!!!!!!!!!!! That’s insane!!!! As Simon mentioned, that’s too damn expensive, and now puts it only a couple dollars shy of a regular production robusto (I think a RASS is only $26). That’s absurd, especially for a little minuto.

Hopefully they VASTLY improve then, so that these are able to be moved, and don’t just simply gather dust on store shelves for 8 or 9 plus years.

Cigar Review – La Flor de Cano Siboney 2014 RE Canada, Sep 2014 “OEP” box code; Final Score – 82

So, when down at last week’s Encuentros Partagas, I and a number of other Canadian bloggers, vendors, and passionate consumers got to participate in an invite pre-release tasting panel of the “new” 2014 Edicion Regional for Canada, the La Flor de Cano Siboney.  I say “new” in that it’s the 2014 RE, yet it still hasn’t been released to market (expected release date to the Canadian market, per Havana House personnel there at the event, puts the release date somewhere in the January-February 2015 timeframe).

A few weeks before we went down for this event, I was able to get teed up with Damarys and Roger from Havana House (the official Habanos distributor in Canada), and they were generous in their invite details and planning in letting myself and a number of other Canadian travellers to participate in this event.  No matter the outcome of the cigar tasting, Roger and others there were generous hosts, and we had a great roundtable discussion on some various points that afternoon.  It was nice to see a number of the other ladies and gents there that day, including seeing Jose Lugo again after a number of years (formerly with Havana House in Canada).

But for the cigar – it wasn’t a good day…

Our tasting took place in the Piano Bar room at Club Habana, in the Miramar area west of Havana.  I’ve gone to Club Habana before but mostly for shopping trips to the LCDH store there to see Jorge and load up on Monsdales, or to have a beach-side lunch with the international menagerie of trouble-makers.  But for this private tasting event, the Piano Bar room made for a great setting – ornate carvings and artwork throughout, giant Caribbean full-frame throw-open windows, and a beachfront view.  The tasting setting could not have been in a more tranquil and wonderful setting.

The day itself was the exact opposite however.  Prior to the tasting event, while at a great lunch at a new-to-many-of-us paladar in the Playa neighbourhood, the torrential rains had begun.  It became an exercise in Cuban perseverance to obtain a private cab to the function, with the weather what it was, with the driver not even having a clue what or where Club Habana was, and with me and my travellers having to explain to him in our poor and broken Spanish (due to him not speaking a lick of English).  Then the amazing feat of 1950’s vehicles maneuvering through flooded streets truly began – driving in those conditions, never before have I felt such an urge to put on a seatbelt in vehicles that just simply don’t often have them.

These conditions, super rainy, humid and damp, actually began a number of days previous to the tasting.  It was an incredibly constant and rainy couple of days, and with the cigars barely a month-and-a-half young, no doubt led to the tasting being what it was, unfortunately.

This was obviously the first of these, and one of only a very few handfuls of LFDC cigars I’ve even smoked.  I don’t really have a “brand profile” for these in mind, so I’d like to think it was as neutral of a one-up tasting for this cigar that I was able to do, without this being a fully-blind tasting.

Reviewed Cigar:  La Flor de Cano Siboney, 2014 RE Canada

Box Date:  Sep 2014

Factory / Manufacture Code:  OEP (we were informed that these cigars were rolled at the old Montero factory.)

Packaging:  25-box, semi-boite natural box, numbered boxes (box # 0000 of 2000)

Price per cigar:  Expected Canadian retail price quoted to be in the $18-$19 per stick range

Length:  4 3/8″, or 110 mm

Ring Gauge:  42

Format:  Minutos / shortened petit corona

Weight:  Unknown (felt extremely light for the size)

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  I was handed my sample by Roger of Havana House, and was also given a tasting sheet, and we were off to the races.  This particular had a somewhat rustic-looking wrapper.  Nice, mild Colorado colour tones, but missing what I like to see with this tone of wrapper – it was lacking a good sheen of oily richness.  Overall though, the cigar itself was actually quite beautiful for how small it was.

This cigar was a very firm cigar.  The cigar, for it’s size and light weight, was extremely firm with a well-packed foot.  After clipping the head, taking some cold draws, and gaspingly, not in a good way, the draw was incredibly easy for how tight and firm the cigar itself was.  All of us at the tasting were somewhat taken aback by this.  Raisin flavours at cold.

Opening Impressions:  After a lighting up and initial draws, the opening had an easy burn and draw.  Very light wispy smoke.  Not viscous in it’s consistency on the palate at all.  Sour tinge.  Wrapper didn’t want to get going.  Touch up with the torch a bit, and keep on carrying on.

First Third:  Into the first third, the story continued along, unfortunately.  Thin smoke.  Big, giant, gaping expanses of smokey mouthfuls when pulled on, but faint wispy smoke.  As one of the other gents stated, “much ado about nothing”.  Sour raisins.  Some white peppery notes in the background.  Very flat finish on the palate.

Looking for something to be hopeful there, we were all unfortunately getting very similar hits of one main element – sour raisins.  A bold, strong flavour, but with no underlying complexity or “goodness” about it, and something that just landed flat on the palate without a carrying-tune of accompanying flavours or viscous, creamy smoke.  Not what any of us were hoping for or expecting.

A few relights / touch-ups, but the burn was quite nice overall – wasn’t actually burning like it was a “wet” cigar.

Second Third:  Into the second third, getting a fairly big nicotine hit.  Continuing with the one-note sour raisin core.  Tart, potent, and too much strength for the lack of depth.  One gent said it very well – take the label off, and this seems like a cheap, power-bomb, non-Cuban cigar.  Tangy coffee tinge sliding in and out ever so mildly.

At the start of the second third, I really tried to slow down my smoking of this cigar.  Some tasters really noted that the cigar “seemed to burn itself”.  My example didn’t seem too bad in that respect – I honestly wanted it to be done sooner, in that it was such a bold sourness and unfavourable tasting cigar.  So, I did my damnedest to slow down my smoking it, to almost smoke it like a PL Montecarlos or a LGC MdO 1 or 3, etc., to try and “weaken” the flavour profile somewhat, and to make it more palatable.

Nope.  Then…

Final Third:  Further nope.  Just couldn’t do it anymore.  Had to set it down to die.  Honestly, if not for the tasting / review, this thing would have been chucked into oblivion within the first 10 minutes or so, only into the beginning third.  This cigar was simply too harsh, nicotine filled, and heavy-handed strong with a sour single-note song to play.

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  This LFDC Siboney just either isn’t ready, or isn’t blended right.

Though I slowed my smoking rate for it right down, the 40-minutes it took me to go through the first two-thirds of this stick was a long voyage.  It unfortunately wasn’t worth the time investment.

The sour raisin tones, non-Cuban twang, and other aspects of this made for a quite unpleasant cigar for us.  As of now, this is a definite no-go, for me at least.  Granted, I freakin’ hate trying to make a sure guess when a cigar doesn’t even have 6 months of age on them.  However, when such a treat in Havana-cigar-smoking is smoking cigars with 6-weeks or less of age on them, such wet cigars like fresh-from-the-rolling-table customs, it’s also hard for me to think it’s 100% the cigar’s lack of performance.  Maybe it just simply is not a good blend.  As it currently sits, the blend, if that’s what it is, frankly sucks.  I smoked quite a number of other sticks that week, with lots of age and none, and everything smoked how it should, wet and humid conditions or not.

I’ll give it another go in 6 months.  For whatever reason, I just can’t completely write it off – most Canadian RE’s have been quite great, with some very well reputed (Boli Simones and B2’s, VR Anniversarios, etc.).  I’m truly hoping that it was just a bad couple sticks that we (all) had, and is perhaps a too-fresh or too-wet thing, and not a bad-blend thing.  So, I’ll try another one in 6 months or so.

As it currently stands, I gave it an 84 at the event, but upon further thought and re-reading my own review, it only maybe deserves an 82 – and I believe I’m being generous there.  But honestly, if not for the overall strength of it, and hoping that it could perhaps develop into an 86-89 cigar in the future maybe, I indeed would have chucked it at the one-third point, and only given it a 76-80.  Frankly, this cigar, blend improvement or not, does not have much of a future I’m guessing.

It’s a minutos.  It’s going up against other minutos and perlas, such as Party Short, RASSC, Monte 5’s, SCDLH El Principe, Trini Reyes, etc.  When you have that kind of a flavour variety, and for such reasonable prices, why in the hell would you pay the Canadian expected market prices of $18 to $19 a stick?!  IF this cigar improves in either blend or performance in very short time, with this thing focused on those looking for a very short cigar for a quick little flavour bomb in colder-weather-months, it’s STILL going to be a hard sale unless that price point is changed.  Hell, one of my favourites, the RA Extras EL 2011 retail for roughly $22 CDN a stick.  With a special vintage-look band.  And aged / special EL tobaccos being used.  And a much larger smoke (probably about double the overall amount of tobacco used per stick).  Why in the hell would anyone want to pay $18 to $19 a stick for this cigar, in normal boxes, with nothing special to offer, and seemingly with such a bad blend???

Gawd, fingers crossed, I’d love to see this succeed.  Cigar smoking in Canada, much less the world, doesn’t need any more shots across the bow to dissuade any interested newfound smokers – tasting this cigar as a new smoker, you’d think all us cigar veterans are crazy.

I also want to stress that a bad review of the cigar does not reflect my opinion of the event itself, or of Havana House graciously hosting us all.  We had a great time nonetheless, and Roger and the other Havana House and H S.A. personnel there also were courteous in doing a little sit-down to answer some of our various questions about the RE program and such.  So, I truly hope that when I do a revisit of this cigar in six months’ time or so, I’m able to eat crow on this review, and it scores much better.

Final Score:  82

Total Smoking Time:  40 minutes

Date & Time Smoked:  November 20th, 2014; lit up at 4:40 pm, done at 5:20 pm

Paired Beverage:  Mojitos

Last Meal:  “Tic-Tac Boquitas”, hamburger-bacon-and-onion and shrimp-and-blue-cheese bocazas, 2:10 pm

Smoking Conditions:  Super humid, windy, rainy, 26 degrees Celsius, 92% RH

Thanks for reading my review.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.

Back from Havana in one piece…relatively…

So, another trip to Havana has come and gone.  Lots of ups and downs, some food poisoning and weather issues, some interesting news tidbits and a very few nice finds.  More posts will come in the following days, but here are some of my highlights…

  • Epic boxes to be found of some common production stuff.  Still too few and far between, but some great gems could be found.  Not much love felt lately for many cigars and brands outside of the “big stuff” (Montecristo, especially the Open line, Partagas, tons of RyJ, HdM, fair amount of Trinidad, etc.)
  • Almost nothing found of outside-of-the-norm or vintage stuff, aside from a few partial boxes or hidden gems.
  • NO appearance of new RE’s or LE’s that I saw anywhere, until finding a newly-arrived-but-not-yet-opened mastercase of Cohiba Robusto Supremos at a LCDH on the last day of the festival week (bad business move by H S.A. yet again – why skip out on a busy week for cigar fans with the festival?!!?!)
  • Higher-than-normal appearance of tobacco beetles being found in production boxes at the LCDH’s.
  • Minimal amount of tobacco available to custom rollers still being felt.
  • LOTS OF RUM!!!!
  • Next to no Cubita coffee to be found, no Cafe Serrano at all (a shame, being that’s my favourite), but some other miscellaneous brand was found everywhere, but explained to me by a couple of store clerks as Cuba’s “no-name brand” and best to steer clear of.
  • A great visit, graciously organized and assisted by Nino Munoz, for us to see the ladies and gents of the Lung Kong Society in Havana, where we brought a number of gifts to help them in proceed of the funds raised during this past summer’s Toronto MegaHerf IV.
  • Two new series of exclusive jars from San Ramon Producciones to be released in February 2015 during the next Habanos Festival, and which will be discussed here in full detail later this week.
  • A special tasting event was held courtesy of Havana House for the 2014 RE Canada, the LFDC Siboney.  It’s due to be released February or so, and it does not look favourable as it currently stands.  A full review will be up later on this week (now completed and can be found here).
  • A new friend and fellow Havana-goer from Canada, David, has exposed us all to the newfound joys of both normal David (which is a term I use loosely, LOL) and then “Drunk Dave”.  Many hijinks were had.  David, I think I may still have some of your money in my pants pocket.
  • MUCH higher prevalence of the “money exchange scam” being run.  It’s always been occurring at the Cadeca exchange at the Varadero airport, in moderate amounts.  But, travellers in my group, myself included, noticed it going on everywhere and very constant and consistently, including even at the Cadeca exchange AT the Hotel Nacional!  That’s usually a very safe place, especially as “cigar central” during these weeks, but it was definitely prevalent more than usual this week.
  • Some great times shared again with Nino, Rob Ayala and other Aussie, Canadian, Euro, American, etc. FOH members, Rob Fox, Amir Saarony, Hamlet, Jose Candia, La China, etc., meeting again with Jose Lugo, and a chance to finally meet up with a number of other notables (Bart, Aussie “Motorhead-Lemmy”, some more Havana House and H S.A. people, etc.).  One great thing is that the overall group of us managed to make everyone’s favourite “one-eyed cat” jazz club, otherwise known as the “Irish Embassy”, into the “Commonwealth Consulate”, as nearly every night it seemed the various menagerie of us managed to pack into that sweaty little spot.  As always, great times were had.
  • Got to help Hamlet sell some boxes at the Partagas LCDH, as he was busy prepping for the closing gala.  Got to go through bunches of Sir Winnies, Mag 46’s, La Fuerza’s, etc.  Even, when he got tied up and spinning with so much going on, starting picking out boxes for various people in the store, with Hamlet then giving final approval of the boxes I picked.  Just a fun time, and unique to have me picking out boxes for others, with Hamlet 100% happy and approving of my picks, with his usual drawl of, “Mang, now that’s a nice box, buddy!”

So, more will be forthcoming later on this week.  Needless to say, by the attached photo, I did find enough to fill my luggage at least, LOL.  Bit of a hit by Customs on this end though, but still a well-worth-it stockpile.  A selection of some of the goods:

  • Hotel Nacional ashtrays for myself and some friends
  • Couple boxes of Partagas Culebras
  • Glorious box of SCDLH La Fuerza
  • Partial box of Montecristo EL 2010 Grand Edmundos
  • Partial box of H. Upmann EL 2012 Robustos
  • Monsdales, Monsdales, and more Monsdales!!!
  • A couple choice customs from other miscellaneous rollers
  • Partagas “Serie Club” 10-pack, as the “premium leader in the small cigar market“, LOL, or so the badly-translated H S.A. propaganda from the opening dinner would have us believe
  • More aged Cohiba Siglo V’s from 2005 that I managed to hunt down and scoop up
  • Custom jar for a good friend
  • And, last but not least, just a wee bit of rum

Still fighting off the hangover recovery from the overall toll that the week takes on me.  Definitely not as young as I used to be.

Better start training the body and mind for the next event then!

Cheers all.