Cuban Cigars As Gifts…. The Cardinal Rule

Ask any father, uncle, brother, grandfather or maybe your sister what would be the perfect gift at Christmas and some, not all, but some might simply say, ” Oh, a few cigars would be fine!”.  How can you argue with someone who knows what they like and know what they want?

The Bolivar Coronas Gigantes resting in the picture would be an excellent choice, with it’s full flavor of leather, earth and tobacco that will be sure to satisfy anyone who has enough time to enjoy a 7 inch long, 47 ring gauge Churchill.

Time, as you all know, catches up with us at this time of year and calling Trevor at “The Vancouver Cigar Company” would be a good idea in these next few days.  Other suggestions would be Cohiba, Montecristo or Romeo y Julieta, as these brands have proven to be some of the finest choices to give at this time of year.

2010 ER Juan Lopez Seleccion No 4

Because I haven’t smoked this cigar yet, I’m not really sure I can call this a cigar review…. Maybe more of a show and tell…. Well…… Bring and brag might be more suitable..The big problem I have is one of lack of patience regarding my need to let this cigar age versus my need to smoke it right away.  The last Juan Lopez ER I smoked was back in 2008, the 2006 Juan Lopez Obus ER from France.  That was a Piramides I picked up from Trevor at “The Vancouver Cigar Company” and after 2 years of aging, was a very special cigar indeed.

This 6.1 inch, 52 ring gauge torpedo looks and feels like the French cousin and I have to admit, I’m going to have a tough time holding on to it for a while.  I guess I could always smoke it, then go pick up a few more and let them sleep.

The Juan Lopez brand was started in Cuba in 1876 by Juan Lopez Diaz, using tobacco from the Vuelta Abajo.  Special care is used in their construction and their medium to strong flavors are complex with subtle notes of beans, woods and leather.  People who smoke these are usually very devoted to the brand and some smoke Juan Lopez cigars exclusively.

A big favorite of mine is the Juan Lopez Seleccion No 2, a Robusto that has a pleasant “Old School” Havana taste that reminds me of sitting in Havana taverns with Salsa music played by a lively band.

Hoyo de Monterrey – Double Coronas

A few years back I found myself standing at the counter of ” The Vancouver Cigar Company” beside a gentleman who was buying a box of Hoyo de Monterrey Double Coronas.  I had also been over to the humidor and had picked 3 HDM Epicure No 2’s, we had something in common.  I asked him if he also enjoyed my pick of the day to which he answered yes but added ” more is better “… I knew he wasn’t commenting about the number of cigars I was about to pay for, it was the size !

That comment stayed with me, so after a few months I went back and picked up a few HDM Double Coronas to see for myself if his statement had any merit.  As always, I found that Trevor keeps a close eye on the humidors in the shop and the DC’s were in beautiful condition… You wouldn’t believe how some shops treat the Cuban cigars they sell, I’ve seen completely dried out cigars with cracked wrappers for sale..  This past summer I’ve even found a shop on the prairies that were selling Punch Coronations that were riddled with little holes…… Think about it ! Buying Cuban cigars from a shop where people CARE about their product makes all the difference.

What I found with this 7.6 inch, 49 ring gauge Prominente was the journey it takes you on from mild creaminess evolving into a nutty sweet coffee then finishing with a spicy beany final third.  This is not a cigar you’d expect would burn quickly, you better have at least 2 hours on your hands in order to give it sufficient attention.  Some consider this DC to be a perfect morning cigar and I have to agree because of it’s gentle approach which never gets harsh in the least.

I still believe that one of the best Cuban Robustos is the HDM Epicure No 2 but if you have a bit more time to enjoy a fabulous DC the Hoyo de Monterrey Double Coronas is what you should experience.

Bolivar B2- Bravo

Havana House has again delivered to Canadians a fine Regional Edition, the Bolivar B2.  This pyramid ( My favorite shape ) has received a lot of hype and after sitting in my humidor for a few months I finally broke down last night and tried one.  I was not disappointed in any shape, way or form with the taste, construction or how it compared with Regional Editions we’ve seen from Bolivar in the last few years.  Anyone familiar with the Bolivar Simones we saw a few years back will remember the quality they put into that Edition and this year’s contribution left a better impression by leaps and bounds.

I have to say that Bolivar is a brand that is always in my humidor. The Royal Coronas and Belicosos Finos are very consistent but if the B2 was produced annually I believe that I’d have to introduce another humidor staple.  This 6.1 inch 52 ring gauge pyramid once clipped offered only slight draw resistance so I felt I could expect an easy smoking experience.

The Bolivar brand has, what I consider, to be one of the most earthy flavor profiles but maybe because this was a young cigar, I was initially hit with more espresso in the first third than usual.  I kept thinking of a smoother version of the Belicosos Finos and the fact that this is a bigger cigar led me to remember all of the larger ring gauge cigars I’ve smoked in the past and that they were so much more pleasant than their smaller cousins.

The earthy profile, like I usually see in the Royal Coronas presented itself from time to time during the continuation into the second third.  Coffee was still present but slight milk chocolate appeared from time to time as did slight notes of vanilla which told me that this was a balanced cigar for it’s youth.  As I finished this Regional Edition I found myself tasting a slightly milder cigar than I had originally expected but the fullness of taste left me feeling totally satisfied.

Romeo Y Julieta

The tin of cigars I was given a few days ago from my brother-in-law is pictured above but not Cuban but from The Dominican Republic.  I’m normally a Cuban lover and prefer the flavor coming from that island than the neighboring countries but a few things caught me off guard.  These small cigars, about the size of a perla, were quite enjoyable but not in the same category as their Cuban cousins.  I guess I’m a bit of a magpie when it comes to shiny objects and this box was an example of fine packaging and I had to take a pic and save it in my cigar files.

I’ve smoked some wonderful Romeos in the last few years and one of my favorites is the Romeo Y Julieta Churchill .  The British statesman smoked so many of this size that the Cuban cigar producing giant named a cigar in his honor.  It is one of the biggest selling Churchills coming out of Cuba today and for many reasons.  The flavor profile present in this cigar can be dependable in that it delivers a very consistent set of flavors that come through from cigar to cigar.  Consistency in the construction is second to none and when aged, these churchills are nothing short of inspiring to lovers of this size.

Others worth noting from this brand are the Romeo Y Julieta Exhibicion No 4, the Romeo Y Julieta Short Churchill, ALL of the Romeo Tubos and the newest from the line, the Romeo Y Julieta Wide Churchill..

This will be a brand that will be in my humidor as long as I smoke Cuban cigars.  Cigar smokers who are familiar with this brand have probably had a long history with them and that is why they sell in great numbers world wide.

Partagas…….. Strength, Taste And Elegance

The picture above reveals the richness of color that appears on the Partagas bands used today.  The ever satisfying Partagas Serie D No. 4 and the stately Partagas Lusitanias are only but two that I could fit into the picture but if I had to only choose 2 from the extensive line, these would be my first choices. The Partagas 8-9-8, named after the way they are packed into the boxes, have been a bit mild these days but still have all of the grassiness, tea and spice that this cigar used to reveal..

I have mentioned before how impressed I am with how the Partagas Serie D No 5 has developed since it was released as a LE in 2008.  IF you can get your hands on one of these you’ll find all of the Partagas flavors coming together in a very balanced blend that will leave you wanting more.

When I first started smoking cigars I stayed away from those that were said to be strong and developed a great relationship with Fonseca and a few others but I now know that learning HOW to properly smoke a Cuban will always give you an acceptable puff that doesn’t irritate in any way.  Patience is the KEY.

I now have a few Partagas Serie P No 2’s at all times since I discovered how fine this Piramide is rolled, blended and tastes…. There are so many more Partagas cigars that deserve mention in this entry….. I’ll get to them…. Stay tuned!

Hoyo de Monterrey

In Cuba in 1865 Don Jose Gener y Banet, a Spanish Immigrant, bought some of the best land in the Vuelta Abajo for growing tobacco and started the Hoyo de Monterrey line of cigars.  Since then Hoyo de Monterrey have been very popular around the world with cigar aficionados and to this day the brand is one of the biggest sellers…… With good reason!

From the HDM Double Coronas to the petit robusto, Hoyo de Monterrey have rolled full flavored, spicy, medium strength cigars that simply define what people around the world consider to be some of the finest Cubans available.  The HDM Churchill is one of the most loved Churchills you can get and coming up with a 50 ring gauge and 4.8 inches is one of the most popular and tasty Robustos, the Epicure No 2.

The Hoyo de Monterrey Petit Robusto is one of the best sellers in the line due to the fact that the size is now becoming a favorite with newer smokers who are after the classic flavor in a size that doesn’t take as much time to smoke.. In my humble opinion they are all winners and should all be sampled.

Vegueros Especiales No 1

I located a box of these very good quality cigars with a 1999 date stamped on the bottom and decided to buy a couple.  Since I can’t remember the last time I had smoked one I thought that it would be a good time to revisit the experience with a cigar with 11 years time sitting in a humidor.  I first felt the cigar up and down and felt no hard spots which told me that care was taken when rolling this long Panetela and, as I expected, the draw was perfect.

This is, by Cuban cigar standards, a young cigar which was released by Habanos SA in 1997.  The cigar was rolled for years  ( since 1961 ) before the international release but only smoked in Cuba at special occasions, where they were handed out.  Tourists, coming to Cuba, had the ability to buy these but they were a bit of a secret for those lucky few who could get their hands on them.  The name, Vegueros, is named for the harvesters of the tobacco leaves in the fields.

At 7.6 inches long and a ring gauge of 38 you get at least an hour or more of fine Cuban taste.  These Panetelas have a slight citrus flavor but have a lot more going for them.  Somewhat grassy and earthy notes will also tantalize your taste buds as the cigar goes from third to third but if you’re looking for a constant evolution of tastes you may not find it here.  Instead what you find is a very smooth tasting cigar that gets slightly stronger in taste as you reach the final third.

I think I was lucky to find this cigar with this much age, I’ll probably go back and pick up a few more and, oh yeah one more thing……. Very affordable!!!!!