‘Tis The Season To Place An Order

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At the end of November, those of us who are pretty good at getting Christmas shopping under way usually start giving the holiday season some thought and for the cigar lovers in our life, it couldn’t be a better time of year.  NOW is the time to order.  I know many lovers of Cuban cigars who open their Christmas gifts on an annual basis and receive wonderful boxes of Cubans which get stashed away in humidors and smoked through the year, love this time of year.  Whats not to love??   I’m thinking that the first brand to Consider would be Cohiba, and why not, Cohiba cigars are made with the finest tobacco leaves Cuba has to offer and the care in construction is second to none.

For those who are very special in your life, you may want to order something from the Behike line, some of Cohiba’s newest vitolas which come in ring gauges of 52, 54 and 56.  These cigars, which were launched in 2010, became the buzz with smokers world wide and then smoke shops had a lot of difficulty keeping them in stock.  The dust has settled, production is consistent and now more and more cigar smokers can tell you tales of their “first Behike” with great adoration.

Partagas, a Cuban cigar brand established in 1845 is one of the world’s most popular Cuban cigar choices with many cigars in all sizes.  Speak to anyone who smokes Partagas and they’ll tell you that, although they love Cuban tobacco, they’ll opt for this brand every time.  If you know someone who wants a special occasion cigar, order a few Partagas Lusitanias, rich rich tobacco flavor with notes of wonderful dark chocolate, cedar and espresso which pairs up beautifully with Rum, a single malt Scotch or an after dinner Cappuccino.

Montecristo, yet another old Cuban brand, has a reputation as being one of the classic Cuban cigar choices for Aficionados who love a full flavored cigar any time of day.  Consider ordering the Montecristo No. 4, arguably the world’s most popular cigar for someone who only has an hour or under of smoking time or maybe the Montecristo No. 2, a torpedo shaped masterpiece which is the standard in the Montecristo brand.

Romeo y Julieta, named after Shakespeare’s love story is another great choice to give at Christmas.  The Romeo Churchill could very well be the cigar that smokers think of first when that brand is mentioned.  An incredible complex and easy to smoke cigar that has become very consistent in years past.  Strict attention is spent on construction and those who love these longer cigars always have them in stock.  As you age this cigar you get rewarded with wonderful flavors of cedar and coffee.

With so many choices to consider when ordering loved ones Cuban cigars, read through the different brand descriptions here in the Vancouver Cigar Company’s site and pick for yourself what you believe may be right for you and the cigar smoker in your life.

Romeo y Julieta Short Churchill

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There’s something about the Romeo y Julieta Flavor profile that is so consistent, you really CAN count on that flavor to be there whenever you light one up.  Today’s picture was taken this past September on a golf course called Dakota Dunes just outside of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  Initially I thought that I’d choose another picture because the condition of my golf glove but the cigar was so good that I felt that there was no way I wouldn’t include it in today’s entry.   Tom and Sid were my golfing buddies that day, the wind was howling, making the game a bit interesting and the cigars burned very unevenly but the taste was incredible.  Lets get back to the Romeo profile with this incredible cigar. Spice, leather and cedar to start and then the flavor evolution begins into the first third.

As I started writing this today I actually went to the humidor and lit one of these Short Churchills, about 1/2 an inch has burned so far and the cigar is settling in nicely.  Slight draw resistance, which I believe is perfect, and pre-light draw was giving me notes of black tea and wild hay.  I seem to be tasting a bit of tea in the first few puffs, that is also part of the Romeo taste in that the tobacco blend contains Cuban tobacco leaves which will give you quite an herbal experience. With just under an inch of this cigar gone and the ash holding firmly I’m getting a sweet musky taste.  THIS is what separates Cuban cigars from Non-Cubans, it’s muskiness.  It is also the most identifiable characteristic in Cuban tobacco.

At 4.78 inches long and a ring gauge of 50, we’re almost looking at a Robustos but that small amount of length will prevent us from labeling it with that classification.  I gotta say though, it sure feels the same, its the 50 ring gauge that gives you that sensation.  Still in my first third and sweet coffee is now making an appearance with a musky leather finish.  With the white ash holding firmly, I set this short Churchill down in the ashtray and marvel at the way organic Cuban tobacco leaves can give us such a ride.

Second third gone and pepper now appears with dark wood notes coming into the picture, no harshness, every puff being smooth as silk.  This is a world class cigar, I mean I love the Romeo y Julieta Churchill and I’ve smoked hundreds of them but for a shorter format this Short Churchill is one of the great cigars that Cuba puts out today.

Partagas Serie P No.2

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When deciding which Cuban cigars to buy, there are a lot of factors that should be considered.  I try to keep my humidors balanced with cigars that I smoke at different times of the day so I try to stock up on many cigars with different strengths, varied flavors and of course I stop in at “Cigar Aficionado” to see how they’ve rated last year’s top 25 cigars ( this cigar earned their # 4 spot for 2011 ).  The cigar in the above picture is a Partagas Serie P No.2 that was purchased in the spring at The Vancouver Cigar Company.  The box code was OGA Nov 11, so this was a younger cigar that had been sitting in the humidor for about 5 or 6 months.  It seemed like a good enough time as any to light the first one so on a road trip with a buddy, I clipped the cap, torched the foot and let the games begin.

In my humble opinion, the biggest taste difference between Cuban and Non-Cuban is muskiness.  Non-Cubans that I’ve smoked seem to taste a bit sharper and can come at you with a Katana edge of attitude and relentlessness that keeps you wondering if you should install a gentle steam machine in the corner of your man cave you can hang your head in front of which will help you curtail the burning sensation in your sinuses as you smoke these lower priced alternatives.  There are so many theories concerning the reasons why Cubans seem to be easier to enjoy and are have a softer and more gentle greeting to the senses but we’ve gone through this before and certainly a topic that could take paragraphs to cover.

The reason why I felt it was necessary to mention the comparison between Cubans and Non-Cubans was because as soon as I started smoking this Partagas, I was met with some of the sweetest Cuban tobacco smoke I can remember.  From time to time I’ve smoked P 2’s that thrilled me with their balance and variance of flavor that left me wondering why they don’t get an annual number 1 rating, but this cigar rolled at the end of last year, still needed some time to ferment and come into it’s own.  It didn’t make for an unpleasant experience, I feel that learning how a cigar can taste as it travels through it’s journey from young to vintage can only help us to get to know more about the complexities of tobacco’s fermentation in a humidor.  Ain’t life grand!

Instead of the usual white pepper that I often taste with this Piramides, I was met with a soft earthiness and sweet toasted tobacco that was accentuated with cedars and cream for the majority of the cigar.  Evolution of flavors were more subtle from third to third, which I attributed to the cigar’s youth.  One, which is more mature, will give you the roller coaster of flavors we all love in a quality Cuban such as this but even as I smoked this cigar at the beginning of the day, I found that I had made the right choice when pairing it with coffee, cream and sugar as we drove down the road.

Cohiba 1966

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Turn the clock back to July 28 of this year and you’ll experience the night I smoked this cigar and took this picture.  Since time travel isn’t yet an everyday practice on our planet, you’ll have difficulty achieving that little trick so you’ll simply have to take my word for it.  Oh yeah, it was the night of my birthday, that’s why I remember that night so vividly and this cigar I was smoking.

Make sure you have a few hours to commit to the enjoyment of this 6.6 inch, 52 ring gauge Canonazo Especial ( factory Name ), since it will take at least that long to smoke it from start to finger burning finish.  The construction was impeccable, draw had a slight resist and the wrapper was dark and slightly oily, I knew I was in for a rich experience.

First few puffs were shockingly strong and I knew I would have to wait until the cigar burned for at least half an inch before it would settle down to reveal it’s first third’s flavors.  You will not be seeing the flavor profile of Cohiba’s classic series, what is absent is the Cohiba grassiness and herbal qualities.  Instead you will be hit full on with dark dark chocolate, strong coffee and no shortage of woods as you move into the second third.  Even at a year old, I expected to see a complex evolution of flavors as the cigar burned but a relative sameness from third to third told me that this was a fine cigar but still young and in need of another year to settle down.

Something tells me that, like the 2004 Cohiba Sublime, this Edicion Limitada will come to achieve legendary status with Aficionados around the world.  The Sublime is now almost priceless, as rare as it gets and I see no need to assume that the Cohiba 1966 won’t have the same kind of future.