The Tease Is Over… Partagas Serie E No. 2… Available In Canada

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I was at a gathering of cigar smokers last night where the Partagas Serie E No 2 was handed out and smoked by many of Vancouver’s Aficionados.  EVERYONE was impressed with Habanos’ new release from Partagas and, although a young cigar, the new Duke ( factory name ) performed like a cigar that had been sitting in a humidor for a few years.  One question I asked everyone was whether or not this tasted like a young cigar, to which no one gave me an affirmative. Balance was the first word used to describe this 54 ring gauge, 5 1/2 inch cigar that had no one flavor jumping to the forefront.  Strength with subtlety, which must be very difficult to attain, was most used when those in attendance described their smoking experience of this new release.

A lot of people were comparing the Serie E No 2 to last year’s Partagas Serie D Especial Edicion Limitada 2010 and this is really what we want to see Cuba give cigar smokers around the globe, a cigar going into regular production that mirrors the flavor and experience of a special edition cigar.  Being able to stop by a cigar shop and have something this special on a regular basis is what we’ve been waiting for since the beginning of 2011, when this cigar was presented at the Habanos Festival in Havana.

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A new innovation in the packaging of this year’s release is a flap that is used to separate the cigars  in the unvarnished box and a lithographed piece of paper on the box’s exterior to make the identification of this series more identifiable in cigar shops.

Whats most exciting is the fact that this cigar tastes great today and will only get better as they age, which I predict could make this larger ring gauge cigar a big seller for Partagas and a staple in humidors world wide.

Hoyo De Monterrey Palmas Extra

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Light up a Hoyo de Monterrey Palmas Extra, taste the wonderful flavors that HDM makes available, think about what you just paid for a cigar of this quality and you’ll ask yourself if you’ve just rubbed a magic lamp and a kind and generous Genie made this all happen.  Probably not, although there are times when I wish it was that easy.  From time to time, if you shop around and make yourself aware of the great deals available, you can find hidden gems in a store that offers Cuban cigars for sale.  This is just what happened a few years back when I went to “The Vancouver Cigar Company” and decided to see what $12 would buy.

I remember tasting my first Palmas from HDM and thinking that it was a great cigar for the money and then I left a few in the back of my humidor and forgot about them.  They were hiding under some Montecristo Edmundos that I was aging so I wasn’t even aware that I still had them.  Being fortunate that my memory is starting to slip only really works out for the better when I stumble across hidden gems like this.

This “Cremas” has a 40 ring gauge and 5 1/2 inches long, making it yet another great cigar to smoke when time doesn’t permit you to enjoy something larger.  An hour is what you’ll get from this cigar but don’t assume that just because it is a bit smaller that you’ll be smoking a milder cigar.  Spicy is going to be the first word that pops into your head as soon as you light this one up.

I’ve been smoking a lot of Romeo y Julietas lately and this morning’s cigar, although having a definite HDM profile, reminded me a bit of the spiciness that you taste in a Romeo.  Of course it wasn’t identical in flavor but this is a cigar that seasoned cigar smokers will enjoy.  Spice, cedar and dark chocolate with subtle hints of strong coffee are the notes that reveal themselves as this cigar burns along.  There was no magic Genie, just a forgotten cigar that aged for a few years .

Romeo y Julieta Cedros Deluxe No 2

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At 5 1/2 inches long and a 42 ring gauge, this Romeo y Julieta Cedros Deluxe No 2 should give you over an hour smoking time of some of the smoothest Cuban tobacco from Romeo y Julieta.  Easily very underrated,  these Coronas comes wrapped in a very thin sheet of Spanish cedar, giving not only a beautiful presentation to the cigar but infusing the taste of cedar to the already complex Romeo flavor profile which many of you are familiar.

Here again is a perfect cigar for someone just introduced to the passion of smoking Cuban cigars because of it’s mild to medium strength with a slightly nutty finish and notes of cedar throughout.  Halfway through this cigar you may even notice a sweetness developing that becomes somewhat illusive depending on how fast you smoke a cigar.  Because of this cigar’s gentle approach, I found myself waiting as long as my patience would allow between puffs, since the real beauty with this cigar appears with the coolest possible flame.

I firmly believe that Spanish Cedar is Cuban tobacco’s best friend.  Quality humidors are lined with this wood and can greatly assist in the aging process of fine cigars.  Inside one of my humidors I have quite a potent cedar aroma and this is where I store and age cigars of a woody nature.  It has enhanced the flavor of many cigars I’ve picked up from “The Vancouver Cigar Company”, their bundle Churchills in particular.

Hoyo de Monterrey Petit Robusto

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The only reason why the battery is in the picture is to show the size of the cigar.  I saw a friend yesterday who gave me a few of these petit robustos and the first thing that came to mind was how pretty these little guys are.  I’ve always maintained that HDM has one of the most beautiful Cuban cigar bands and matched with this 4 1/8 inch, 50 ring gauge cigar gives you a real visual treat.  I’m a big fan of the Epicure No 2 and the Double Coronas from this brand but this smaller brother of the Epicure does not exactly resemble the former of the two.  Where the Double Corona starts off with mildness, the Petit Robusto seems to behave in the same way but gradually moves into a great medium strength cigar with the same sort of flavor profile that HDM is known for.

This brand has a rich Cuban history, starting in 1865 by Don Jose Gener y Batet, when he acquired one of the finest pieces of land in the Vuelta Abajo and registered the HDM name.  Translating from Spanish to English, this name means “The Hole of Monterrey”, which pertains to the concave land favored by tobacco growers.  Shelter, rich soil and hard work transformed this company into a giant in the Cuban Cigar industry and by 1958 this company produced 13% of all Havana cigar exports.

Something to consider when thinking about ordering a box of these Petit Robustos is the price and how competitive it is for the quality of cigar you are getting.  This is a lunchtime cigar, a middle of the day cigar and one that will give you an impressive glimpse into the history of this prestigious Cuban brand.  I really do believe that we are in the middle of a golden era of Cuban cigar manufacturing and production.  Cuba, although staying relatively steady with cigar sales world wide, seems to be putting an intense effort in insuring that their product climbs ever higher in quality.  This IS the time to be stocking up and aging your favorite Cuban cigar since they are tasting great, even while young, so aging should bring this generation of Cuban cigars phenomenal results.

Ramon Allones Extra- Edicion Limitada 2011

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Anyone who loves Cuban tobacco will surely recognize the name Ramon Allones from some of the great cigars this brand has given us like the Specially Selected, one of the world’s finest and most popular Robustos and the massive Gigantes which is a classic Double Corona with unique flavors that have won the hearts of countless aficionados.  Ramon Allones has presented many Regional Editions but this year will mark the first time this respected Cuban brand will deliver an Edicion Limitada and with a unique white and gold band accompanied by a second gold and black band, we should have a cigar that is very special to smoke and age.

Of all of the Regional Editions this brand has given us, my favorite would have to be the mighty Phoenicio that was distributed to Lebanon a few years back.  That hard to get cigar was worth all the effort taken to acquire and as years go by, that one gets mellower and sweeter in the humidor.  This size, a 44 ring gauge and 5.6 inches long was a regular production cigar for Ramon Allones but was discontinued in the 70’s.  I smoked few cigars back then so this will be a great opportunity to get used to a new size and blend from this brand.  An interesting thing about the releases for this year is that the majority of new cigars from Cuba have quite a bit bigger ring gauge so this will be an opportunity to taste a different kind of blend.

I have to admit that I have a real passion for aged cigars but in the past few years I’ve seen new cigars that were wonderful as soon as they showed up.  I really do believe that we are in a golden era of Cuban cigars so this vitola could be stunning as soon as it gets into our cigar shops and even better after a few years of aging.

Sancho Panza Belicosos In The Morning

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Sancho Panza Cuban cigars were first originated by Emilio Ahmsted in 1852 which makes this an old established name in Cuba.  These cigars were named after the servant of Don Quixote, the title of the book written by Miguel de Cervantes in 1605.  There is a spot in my heart for cigars named after literary figures like Romeo y Julieta and Montecristo, I guess it is the romance along with the great taste of Cuban cigars that I have so much passion for.

The Sancho Panza Belicosos in the picture above is probably the most perfect morning cigar for enthusiasts who love a cigar after breakfast.  The mild subtle flavors work well with coffee and sunshine out on the deck.  As I was smoking this cigar I couldn’t help but think that this would also be the perfect cigar for new smokers to try.  The profile is a bit herbal and grassy and is really quite mild until the second third when the flavors start to build in strength.  Notes of cedar will also tingle on your tongue as will a nutty flavor that becomes a bit creamy and sweet.

Once again I have to say that a cigar with a 50 ring gauge is quite pleasing and the 5 1/2 inches will guarantee that you’ll be smoking this fine mellow cigar for over an hour.  I’m a big fan of the Bolivar Belicosos Finos but the shape is the only thing that these two torpedoes have in common.  The Bolivar is robust and full of rich flavors that seasoned aficionados gravitate towards but the Sancho Panza may not give someone with a full appetite for power and strength, what they are looking for.  Don’t let that steer you away from choosing one of these mild to medium strength cigars, we all need a cigar to match the moment and an early morning smoke with Sancho Panza could be just what you’re looking for.

Tinidad Robusto Extra.. A Special Occasion Cigar

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Other than the slight tear in the wrapper ( which was inconsequential ), any guy would look at this picture above and say that yes, all is right in the world.  The weather reached a high of around 24 Celsius, which isn’t bad for the tail end of September in Canada, the wind conditions were favorable for cigar smoking on the course, we were with good friends and the “Swaneset Links Course” was in terrific shape.  I’m not sure I shot my best game but it didn’t seem to matter.. Nothing mattered!

The Trinidad Robusto Extra seemed a bit tightly rolled, which gave me some concern but after I clipped the pig-tail end I realized that the perfect draw revealed that this cigar was rolled with patience and great care.  The burn was very very even and needed no touch-ups at all until I set it down to rest.  These are very special cigars !

The more Trinidads you smoke, the more you’ll recognize their distinct flavor profile which includes vanilla woods and white pepper.  This is a spicy smoke right from the start, it builds in strength and should be considered a full flavored cigar but never becomes harsh, even at the end of the final third.  Anyone who is familiar with the Trinidad Reyes, would probably agree that this Robusto Extra has just a bit more variances in it’s profile than it’s smaller cousin.  It costs a bit more but you have to agree that as soon as you light one up, you’ll see where the extra money went.

This 50 ring gauge, 6 1/8 inch long masterpiece is the perfect, “Special Occasion” cigar and always having a few on hand means that you’ll be ready to experience the finest smoking experience that Cuba has to offer.  This cigar also ages very gracefully and will reward you with a smoother and smoother profile the older it gets.

Cohiba 1966..New Release For 2011

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My last mention of the new cigars released by Habanos for 2011 is the Cohiba 1966, aptly named for the anniversary of Cohiba cigars.  This Edicion Limitada was the belle of the ball this past February when it was showcased at the Habanos Festival in Havana.  Aficionados from around the world all agreed that this new cigar for 2011 won in taste and performance when compared to the other releases introduced this year.  Does this mean that the new cigars from H. Upmann, Partagas and Hoyo de Monterrey were not met with enthusiasm?  No, not at all, its just that when stacked up against the other brands, Cohiba was a shining star, plain and simple.

Each year when tobacco leaves are chosen for Cohiba, this brand gets first pick of the finest leaves harvested and aged, it has been that way since the brand was introduced.  These cigars are totally made by hand using tobacco leaves from the plantations of San Juan y Martinez and San Luis in the Vuelta Abajo area of Cuba and aged for a minimum of 2 years.  I’m guessing that the finest rollers were asked to roll this Edicion and small quantities were produced, making this release an exciting prospect considering it’s rarity and quality.

This cigar, having the commercial name of Cohiba 1966 has the factory name Canonazo Especial and measures at a 46 ring gauge and a length of 6.5 inches which is a bit smaller in diameter and length than the Cohiba Esplendidos but I feel that the smoking experience should easily be as elegant. This new Edicion will come, once again like the other new releases this year, in boxes of 10 which will make it affordable and available to more lovers of Cuban cigars world wide.

2011 H. Upmann Royal Robusto

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While we are on the topic of new cigars in my last few posts, I’m very excited about giving a brief mention to H. Upmann and their contribution to this year’s new releases with the H. Upmann Royal Robusto.  We all have our favorite Cuban cigar brands and on any given day you can run into a cigar that is aged just right, the smoking conditions are just right and then it happens… You are having the perfect cigar moment and you’re telling yourself that you’ve just found your favorite new Cuban, this is the one, this cigar is the best you’ve ever smoked and all is well with the planet.  Tomorrow you go to the same corner of the humidor, light up a cigar from the same box and all is different.  Do not be alarmed, our palates change but one thing for me does not.

With all of the Cuban cigars I’ve had the great fortune to light and savor I believe that H. Upmann has given me the finest flavors and great cigar smoking experiences, so I have to say that I simply can’t wait for their new Royal Robusto to be shipped out to The Vancouver Cigar Company.  The dimensions of this cigar is a 52 ring gauge and 5.3 inches long, which actually makes it an Edmundo rather than a robusto but all the better since I love a large ring gauge cigar.  Once again we’ll be looking at 10 cigars per box which tells me that since there are only 5,000 boxes produced, Habanos will be spreading them out to all of the La Casa Del Habanos outlets world wide.

I’ve written extensively about my love for the Magnum 48, the appreciation of the Magnum 50 and the medium flavored Magnum 46 but to get the chance to see if H. Upmann can achieve the same standards with the Royal Robusto always has me feeling that this is one of the world’s most satisfying passions.  The tobacco used in this new release is from the finest leaves in the Vuelta Abajo zone of the Pinar del Rio region of Cuba.  This should tell us that the finest quality whole leaf tobacco will be blended, rolled and then tasted to insure that we will be getting exactly what Habanos has in mind for seasoned aficionados as well as new smokers.  Those starting off smoking Cuban cigars should set their sights on H. Upmann for it’s medium flavored, complex but balanced flavor profile that will never disappoint.  The H. Upmann coronas junior was a cigar that helped me appreciate Cuban cigars, had the best room aroma and paired so beautifully with rum…so… I’m counting the days until I can get my hands on the Royal Robusto.

Partagas Serie D No 5 For 2011

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The world of cigar aficionados is always interested in new and exciting developments from Havana in how it gives all of us new cigars to smoke each year.  Some cigars brands are a big big hit like Cohiba and when you have cigars that are made from the first pick of all of the tobacco in Cuba, it doesn’t take long to understand why you’ll have a gigantic success story on  your hands, a simple taste of these great cigars will solidify your belief in their superior product with the black and yellow bands.

The same can be said for Romeo y Julieta, Montecristo, Trinidad and many others too numerous to mention but today we’ll be directing our attention towards Partagas and their new cigar for 2011, the Partagas Serie D No 5.  Once again we’ll be getting a smaller cigar with a burn time that is more suited for today’s busy smoker but if the 2008 Serie D No 5 is any indication as to how this year’s new Partagas performs then we’ll be tasting a fantastic cigar that will satisfy any smoker that enjoys the Partagas flavor profile.

This new “Petit Robusto” from Partagas is 4.3 inches long and has a ring gauge of 50 which, if you take your time and smoke slowly, should last over an hour.  The thing I love about shorter cigar is that as they burn down they stay smoother and less harsh than their longer cousins… Less time- less tar build-up and a tastier cigar in the final third.  The first year that the 2008 Serie D No 5 from Partagas came out, didn’t see a lot of attention and there were reviews I read that didn’t give the cigar a real thumbs up but a few years in the humidor revealed a cigar that was of world class taste and performance.  The ’08 became complex and balanced which gives me cause to believe that we may be seeing the new 2011 addition needing a few years to settle own and come into it’s own.

Either way, young or aged, I am looking forward to tasting this new Partagas, stocking up on a few to place at the bottom of my humidor, and waiting a while.. It’s always a fun experiment and sometimes you can have treasure stockpiling in your perfect cigar resting place.