14 Great Minutes With A Cohiba Mini

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The title of this entry mentions that you can have 14 great minutes with Cohiba… That IS if you take your time and smoke slowly.  Maybe if you are very very patient you may get 15 minutes out of this little cigar but that may have to mean that you will smoke it right down to the very last 1/8th of an inch, which may be a bit of a trick since these are very very small cigars..

See Pic below:

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I, like many other cigar smokers, tend to not pick these when I’m at the smoke shop because of the vast selection of Cuban cigars available and I’m a big fan of the larger ring gauges.  Give me almost any Robusto or Churchill and  I’ll be happy but time can be of the essence on any given day and then what do you do?  Well for starters, a first rate cigar can and will burn for over two hours or longer which is too much time for a lot of circumstances in our lives, so the next best thing is to search out something that will satisfy your taste buds and lasts for a short period.  This is where the Cohiba Mini comes into the picture.

I’ve smoked many of the small cigar that come from Cuba and have been quite pleasantly surprised with the taste of something so small.  I’m a fan of the Puritos from Romeo y Julieta, Partagas makes a great purito as well but when I first tried a Cohiba Mini, I was surprised beyond belief.  I’m not sure actually why I was surprised because Cohiba gets first pick of all of the tobacco harvested each year in Cuba, their cigars are of the highest quality, so why not the Minis?  They are very very tasty !

What is funny though, is the short time that these little cigars burn.  Like I said before, fourteen minutes can really be dragging it out.

A Very Pretty Churchill

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Yesterday, as I was leaving for a round of golf, my friends were frantically honking their horn outside as I ran to the humidor to get a cigar for the day on the course.  I can slightly remember thinking that the one I chose was a good looking cigar but other things were on my mind, like my torch, my golf shoes, my cigar cutter, my lucky golf cap, my lucky green repair tool, my cel phone, my wallet and the keys.  Everything in place, I locked up, loaded the clubs into their car and avoided all of the harassment they were giving me about making them wait the whole 1 1/2 minutes all of that took.

We teed off at 3:40 PM which meant that we got a nice price for twilight and the round was progressing nicely but the wind was blustering on the front nine so I decided to light the cigar on the back nine when things quieted down a bit.. Sure enough, the wind subsided and on 11 I pulled the cigar out.  This is a bundle cigar from the Partagas factory but something seemed a bit odd about it’s construction… It was perfect in every way !! Now that’s a bold statement if I ever heard one but as I kept looking at this Churchill, I was becoming more and more entranced on it’s sheer beauty.. It reminded me of the Cohiba Bekihe 52 I smoked last year in that the wrapper, which was slightly redder than the Cohiba, was perfect as was the meticulously applied triple cap.  There was a smoothness to the look of the cigar and I felt compelled to take a picture of it with my cel phone ( not the greatest camera BTW ) in the setting sunlight.

I felt bad that I had selected this cigar for a day of golf, this would have been better suited for a long drive in the car but maybe smoking a Churchill with buddies on the course is not really a bad choice.  My game sagged a bit on the back nine because of the fact that I was distracted a bit with this cigar so I lost a few bucks but what a great evening….  The cigar burned slowly, I took my time and actually lasted for the rest of the round… I even felt compelled to take a quick shot of the last inch after I got home..

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Romeo y Julieta Escudos LE 2007

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At 5 1/2 inches long and a ring gauge of 50, this gordito from Romeo y Julieta, which came out in 2007 is smoking these days like the “Rockstar” that many aficionados said it would become.  There’s nothing like a few years under a cigar’s belt to make it taste wonderful and balanced.  In 2007 this cigar was very spicy and the opinion was that it needed some time to settle down.  The “Duke” was the same kind of cigar in that, when young, would blow your head off with nicotine but now being smooth as silk.

Last year, Romeo y Julieta introduced the “Wide Churchill” and the world of cigar smokers all agreed that this new movement of a bigger ring gauge cigar in a slightly shorter format was what they were waiting for.  Time seems to be of the essence these days with cigar smokers in that they are looking for a cigar that will last for about an hour or so, but didn’t want a cigar with a smaller ring gauge.  If this is the direction that we are heading in, I’m good with that since I believe that a wider ring gauge quite often will give you a more complex and richer smoke.

These Escudos are still available for a fair price and if you want to try a cigar that is balanced, medium to strong and very ready to show the world it’s true potential.

A Cigar To Save And Savor

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The significance of the picture above is about the comedy that can exist in perspective and also a few do’s and dont’s… We’ll start with the Do’s..

The cigar is the H. Upmann Magnum 48 that was introduced as an Edicion Limitada in 2009.  I’ve done so much on this cigar that I hope any of you aren’t getting tired of it but I DO know that any of you who are familiar with the cigar will agree, that you can NEVER be tired of smoking them and hearing about their rate of improvement as they age can never be boring.  This was one of my favorite cigars in 2009, I smoked many, hung on to a few then smoked them in 2010 and at this point in 2011 I’m presently concentrating of acquiring more to savor over the next few years.  Its a very worthwhile experiment !

One of the Big don’ts in the picture is the gas lighter, in this case one that needs about a gallon of fuel, and the reason why these should be avoided around cigars at all costs.  The odor and subsequent taste of lighter fluid intermingling with the fabulous and varied flavors in Cuban tobacco is a pairing you should never experience.  You wouldn’t throw an extravagant dinner party and use diesel fuel for your fondue flame, cigars can have a delicate and subtle profile that doesn’t need to be destroyed by the not so subtle effects of burning a petroleum product.  Purists will use either thin strips of burning Spanish cedar or simply choose wooden matches, to first toast the foot of the cigar and then light it.  A butane torch is also a tasteless flame which works fine.

In closing I want to mention that, although I’m going to stay on the same path of buying and aging more of the H Upmann Magnum 48, I’ll probably wait another year before telling you, once again, how they’ve evolved in the humidor.  After 2 years they are rich, full bodied, balanced and a great smoke, next year they’ll have even more to say.

Partagas 165 Pre-Release

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Now and then you run into a cigar that is difficult to acquire and then the question is, do I smoke it or hang on to it forever.  Well, I was lucky in that I was able to get my hands on a few of these and decided to smoke one right away and hang on to the other.  A friend of mine was in Havana last November and attended the Dinner that was given to launch the Partagas 165 Aniversario.  That night many cigars were given out, some with bands like the one in the picture and many that were un-banded.  I was lucky enough to get my hands on both.

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Since my Spanish is non-existent, I had to look up on the ‘net what Encuentro meant and I got Encounter, which tells me that, like my buddy said, these were handed out to friends of Partagas.  Hmmmm, I’m guessing that these are rare indeed.. Well, let’s get down to the cigar and how it tasted..

The size of the cigar was very close to a Churchill and so I’m guessing that it was around 6 1/2 inches long and about a 47 ring gauge.  Nice reddish brown wrapper and gave off the most wonderful barnyard smell.  The first few puffs told me that this was a young cigar with a whole lot of spice and continued like that for about the first inch or so, but settled down to a smaller amount of spice and more of a balance of cedar and hay as the cigar burned down.  This one will need at least 6 more months in the humidor to lose a bit of it’s youth.

As I smoked, I was a bit confused about the profile because nothing about this one reminded me of any Partagas cigar I’ve had yet.  What I really kept thinking was that I was tasting a Bolivar Belicosos Finos, which made a lot of sense because Bolivar is rolled in the partagas factory.  Hmmmm, quite puzzling but very very tasty and very much the Bolivar spiciness that we get from that shorter torpedo.

I’m very happy to have these cigars and will be hanging on to them for a while but if any of you can shed any light on this cigar, I’d really love it if you could leave a comment and tell me your thoughts.. Thanks.

La Flor de Cano Selectos

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At 5.9 inches long and a ring gauge of 41, today’s cigar that deserves some attention is the Selectos from La Flor de Cano.  I believe that finding affordable cigars from Cuba is a lot of fun and there are truly a lot of hidden gems out there that can cost you $10 or under which sounds like fun to me.  The pre-light draw from this Cristales, I have to admit, doesn’t reveal a lot other than a bit of draw resistance, not too bad, a bit of cedar and a faint note of black pepper that has my curiosity at attention.

First puff tells me that this will be a bit on the mild side but, hey, this is the morning and with my coffee, I think I should have an interesting experiment ahead of me.  I’m a fan of the Cuban cigars from Jose L. Piedra when I want an everyday cigar and although this is reminding me of their line, I believe that this cigar tastes a bit richer with a more pronounced woody taste.  Creaminess is also coming to the front, which adds to the relaxing nature of a good cigar.  I’ve always maintained that allowing a cigar’s flame to cool down a bit between puffs releases the best flavors, so as I went to the kitchen, just now,  to refresh my coffee I let this cigar sit idly for over 2 minutes which then rewarded me with a bit of spice in the next puff which I wasn’t expecting at all.  Good things DO come to those who wait.

La Flor de Cano is a brand that had it’s early beginnings in the late 1932 when Juan Cano Sainz hired a cigar maker to roll cigars on his kitchen table.  Sales started to build and so did the size of his company when a second roller was hired.  By using high quality tobacco the company continued to grow and gain popularity until bigger and bigger warehouse and factory space was needed.  After moving a number of times, Juan finally built his own factory, hired 300 workers and started producing over 5 thousand cigars daily which were exported out of Cuba to many countries.  By 1942, La Flor de Cano, H. Upmann and Partagas were the top selling cigars in Spain.  During world war II, the cigar business in Cuba really started to take off when the US military started to buy Cuban cigars for around $70 per thousand.  Smaller companies like LFDC were only offered $50 so Juan had no interest in the proposition until a persistent British military representative finally agreed on $90 per thousand.  Money was pouring in which makes me appreciate stories like this with such humble beginnings.

The second third of this cigar is starting to build in strength, which is always welcome, and I’m noticing that now a  bit of a citrus flavor is coming into the flavor profile but still quite subtle.  Another 2 minutes of rest and chocolate with a bit of leather also appears……  a very even burn and under $10?????   I’m loving it..  I have to run and will not be able to tell you how this story ends today but if you can get your hands on a few of these cigars from La Flor de Cano, DO NOT HESITATE!!!!

Rafael Gonzalez Panetelas Extra… Affordable and Tasty

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My favorite place to smoke a cigar is in the car and this sunny Sunday morning saw me driving back home from Vancouver Island with a new friend, the Panetelas Extra from Rafael Gonzalez.  I consider myself to be a Canadian who has an unquenchable thirst for the knowledge that comes from smoking ALL of the cigars available to us from the great country of Cuba.  With that thirst for this kind of knowledge and experience comes the cost of these fine cigars, and in a lot of cases, leaves many wondering how it is possible to account, at the end of the fiscal year, for spending as much as we do but when you enjoy something as much as cigar smokers love beautiful Cubans it all seems easy.

Whats even easier is finding a cigar from Cuba under ten dollars and realizing that you’ve just discovered a real gem that you look forward to smoking again and again.  This is how I felt this morning when I reached for my torch and toasted the foot of this 5 inch, 37 ring gauge Panetelas Extra.  I won’t go into a complex description of how the flavor profile took me on a journey from vanilla into the world of chocolate and ending with strong coffee notes, what I will tell you is that I found this little cigar to be slightly on the sweet side with notes of honey, toasted tobacco and a bit woody.  I found nothing to be harsh or unpleasant about this cigar from Rafael Gonzalez but relaxing and smooth for something that cost so little.

So in wrapping up this post, I wonder about the possibility of continuing my search for low priced Cuban cigars and getting into a habit of only smoking cheap cigars…… Not even close !  I still want to taste them all and taste many many cigars that will set me back a few precious dollars because that’s what I’ve become but I’m also open to the idea that great taste doesn’t have to leave you wondering about your fiscal responsibility and whether or not you need professional help from a financial guru.. I will though, continue to buy this particular cigar that gives me more than an hour of great flavor.

H. Upmann’s Recent Consistency

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One of the things I love about the H. Hpmann brand is that in 1844, the whole cigar line came from the generosity of Herman Upmann when he started to give out cigars in decorated boxes as promotional items for his banking firm.  As years went by he became more and more involved in the cigar business and was awarded with gold awards from different international expositions.  The gold awards are still represented on the brand’s cigar boxes which, in my mind, still is very deserving when you consider that aficionados world wide are saying that Upmann cigars are entering into a golden age because of the quality of their tobacco and construction.

Consistency is everything and that is why I chose the H. Upmann No 2 in the picture above, these torpedos have been getting a great reputation as of late and there’s yet another reason to stock up on something that will enable you to start off with an already great cigar when aging in your humidor.  I happen to like the taste of a young cigar as well as aged and I have, in the past, as well as fabulous young cigars had a box or two of young cigars that were not that great to begin with.  What happens next is that you decide to hold on to them for a few years in anticipation of their improvement after further fermentation and although the cigar will improve and mellow, you still may not get the desired effect when, after all,  a cigar is of average quality when you first get it.

H. Upmann, in the Jose Marti factory, makes many sizes and shapes that are fitting for all circumstances in your day to day cigar smoking needs, from small tubos to a sizable Julieta No. 2.  These cigars will give an aroma in the room that is classic, rich and beautiful and will remind you of years gone by when you first became exposed to Cuban cigars.  I smoked more Upmanns during my visit to Cuba then any other cigars and I can tell you that their aroma takes me back with lightning speed.