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EDICION LIMITADA 2012 PARTAGÁS SERIE C No.3.

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A few days ago I met a few friends at the Vancouver Cigar Company, set up a few tables, lit a few cigars and played some cards.  After standing in front of the new humidors for what felt like an eternity, I opted for the Partagas Serie C No. 3.  It was the first time I lit one of these up and wasn’t sure what to expect.  There are many Partagas cigars from Cuba with different sizes and shapes, from the full flavored Serie D No. 4 down to the slightly milder Serie P No. 2, a wonderful torpedo with a strong following.  I’m a big fan of the recent Limitadas from Partagas, their Serie D No 5 released in 2008 was, and still is, an incredibly rich, full flavored petite Robusto.  The Partagas Serie D Especial Edicion Limitada 2010 is now performing at a peak with nicely aged, three year old cigars.  With all of these Partagas Special Edition cigars doing so well, I had no reservations when reaching for the Serie C No. 3.

Since smoking this cigar, I’ve gone online and checked out a few reviews and noticed that there are mixed descriptions of this Edicion Limitada’s strength.  Some consider it to be a real powerhouse yet, and maybe this was just because of a certain box we were smoking from,  but my friends that night all were in agreement that this was a medium strength cigar.  Easy to smoke, was what I kept hearing and, I have to agree, that this cigar started it’s first third being slightly on the milder side of medium.  Right away I detected notes of hay, leather, cedar and black coffee, this was a very nice Partagas, easily keeping up with the Special Editions from recent years.  The favors intensified into the second third and became very delicious but still that easy approach appeared with every puff, it was also behaving very nicely with a steady even burn.

What struck me about the Serie C No. 3 is how good the cigar is today, it has only had a year to age but has become a cigar you can smoke and offer friends right now.  No doubt this will become a great cigar in 5 years time as well, but it is refreshing to taste something this good this young.   Cuba has recognized the enthusiasm that follows the marketing of these Special Editions and certainly put in the time and effort to produce cigars of extraordinary quality.  Its always exciting to try these double banded cigars each year as they are released.

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Bolivar Royal Coronas

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Well since we’re on the topic of Salmon fishing in the Vancouver area, I may as well continue on… The above picture shows that as I was tying a, still to be sculpted,  muddler minnow with a brass cone head to help the fly scream towards the bottom of the river where the fish like to stack up this time of year.  Yesterday, once again was Coho day ( Silvers for our American readers ), and I’m glad I stayed up a bit late the night before tying flies.  Coho like to be a bit aggressive and territorial so when one of these flies enters the fish’s neighborhood, they come out and attack.  This is the part of the day when your heart starts beating wildly.

Well, long story short, I caught them, bonked them, cleaned them, brought them home, filleted them and had a great meal with a lot of fresh fish left over to give friends and family.  OK, lets forget about the fish and address the picture for a minute and discuss the amazing cigar I lit up at around 9:30 that night.

Last summer I went to “The Vancouver Cigar Company” and picked up a few cigars from Trevor.  I’m not exactly sure what I selected that day since it WAS over a year ago but I DO remember getting a few Bolivar Royal Coronas.  For some reason I decided to leave one in the humidor and the other night I decided it was time to light it up.  I’m guessing that the Robusto was as least 3 years old and the time had come to taste one of my favorite cigars again.

After clipping off the cap, I found that the draw was perfect with a lot of air flow going through the cigar.  A bit of a tea and a dusty grassy flavor was revealed in the pre-light draw.  A bit of spice was present in the first few puffs but I knew this cigar would settle down once it burned for a few minutes.  I wasn’t disappointed in the least when it started to mellow and reveal the Bolivar flavors of cedar and coffee that I was expecting.  This particular 50 ring gauge, 4.8 inch Robusto was considerably more balanced than a lot of RC’s I’ve smoked in the past which is, I’m sure, because of the time I took letting it rest and mature.

I think my favorite age for cigars is the magic 3 year period.  I know that the tobacco matures for a few years before the cigars are rolled and after 3 more years in a humidor you get all those great flavors without the ammonia which we taste in a young cigar.  I’ve been looking under boxes in cigar stores lately for a purchase that has a touch of maturity and in the future I’ll be speaking more of this 3 year concept of mine.

Bolivar B2 On The Road

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A few days back as my friend, Tom, and I were driving back from Alberta, we decided to smoke a few cigars together and our first choice for the day was the 2010 Canadian Edicion Regionale from Bolivar, the B2.  I bought a few last fall and smoked one right away, then let the rest age for a while in the humidor.  What a great idea that was, a year can make a huge difference for a young cigar and this one turned into a wonderful smoke.

The pre-light draw from this 6 inch, 52 ring gauge torpedo was a full on barn yard with cedar notes and dry hay.  I remember growing up on a farm and the taste reminded me of what it smelled like whenever hay bales were around, usually the end of July was when the baling took place.  First third was like heaven with more hay, cedar and leather coming through in a very balanced way.

As this cigar entered into the second third, we detected that there wasn’t a real evolution of flavors taking place but a real beauty that held firmly until the final third started revealing some change.  Bitter chocolate was now becoming part of the profile which became considerably stronger as we finished this cigar.  Strength was something that we were commenting on as we smoked this Piramides, I love a very strong cigar, I love smoking them to the very last finger blistering half inch and I was in Heaven with the B2.

I can’t stress enough that you can have a cigar behave one way when young and then move into a very different direction after a lot of the initial presence of ammonia is gone.  Very real and distinct flavors start to emerge as the cigar slowly ferments in your humidor, the first few years see the most change then start to slow down after five years goes by.  The B2 may be one of the best cigars Bolivar has produced, don’t get me wrong, I love all of the cigars in the Bolivar line but this one is the best I’ve seen from them in a long time.

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.

A Few Cigar Smoking Tips

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What we have in the picture above is a beautiful Bolivar Royal Coronas sitting on a box of matches I was given this past Christmas.  First of all, this particular Bolivar is one of the most consistent cigars that I’ve run into when it comes to burn, draw and flavor.  For some reason this cigar seems to taste the same every time I light one up and It has an earthy, full bodied profile that the blenders at Bolivar have no problem duplicating whenever they produce this Robusto.  TIME AFTER TIME !!

The box of matches is in the picture to remind you that, unlike paper matches which have a lot of wax that flavor a cigar in all the wrong ways, wooden matches have more of a natural taste that is more suited to cigar smoking.  Cigar boxes from Cuba often contain, along with the cigars, a thin Spanish cedar sheet that is used to flavor the cigars when storing and aging but these sheets can also be ripped into thin strips and used to light a cigar.  Spanish cedar does not introduce any odd flavors to a cigar and tends to give you only a great toasted tobacco taste that will get you on your way to a great smoke.

The typical one dollar lighter you can get at your corner store is NOT recommended when lighting a cigar because of the gaseous taste they tend to give a cigar.. And Zippos…… Forget about it… That one is just a festival of petroleum that you DON’T need when smoking Cuban tobacco.  Zippos have played, and continue to play, a part in the American smoking landscape but save them for lighting cigarettes and you’ll be fine.

The last issue I want to address is the flame temperature when smoking a cigar..  I was riding home to Vancouver last weekend from a golf tournament with a good friend and we were comparing a Montecristo No 2 with a Diplomaticos No 2 as we sped down the road.  That was a great experiment and I don’t have to remind you that tasting two different cigars back to back is the best way to learn about the different profiles of Cuban cigars.  Getting back to the temperature of a cigar’s flame, we had a stopwatch app running on my Iphone and we were waiting a minute and 30 seconds between puffs.  The flames were cool and the cigar smoke was sweet and full of beautiful subtle notes but, I have to say, a minute and 30 seconds feels like a lifetime when you’re watching a Cuban burn in your hand..

These are only but a few things to keep in mind when smoking a Cuban cigar…. More to follow……..

Aged Bolivar Belicosos Finos

I thought that with a fresh palate and a coffee after breakfast, an Aged Bolivar Belisosos Finos would be the way to start the day.

I have a friend, Charley, who is a cigar smoker and a traveller who ran into a bit of trouble with his humidor full of cigars that wasn’t maintained properly when he was out of town.  He brought it over and asked if I’d take a look at things and bring these slightly dry cigars, both Cuban and Non-Cuban, back to life while he went out of town again.  After about 2 months I thought I’d try one of these favorites from Bolivar, and knowing that this is about an 11 year old cigar, I couldn’t wait another day.

This 5.5 inch long, 52 ring gauge torpedo shaped cigar ( campanas ) started off being full of flavor but incredibly smooth and mild as it revealed the typical Bolivar earthiness that I love but I knew this wouldn’t last long as this cigar would probably get a bit stronger.  Sure enough, as I was well into my first third and enjoying this to the fullest I started to detect the spiciness that I usually get from a Belicosos Finos.

An older cigar will have a more pronounced front, middle and finish.. The front being the first flavor you get as you take a puff. The middle is the second taste you have in your mouth and the finish is theh long lasting taste you have in your mouth after you’ve blown the smoke out.. Sometimes a finish can last a very long time.. A younger cigar will have a more subtle middle and finish so those who prefer aged cigars will get used to the three dimensional approach their older cigars supply.  What a treat!

There was the spice throughout that I love from this cigar but a certain smoothness that accompanied the spice and woodiness stayed well into the final third and this one was smoked right down to the nub….

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.

3 BIG Favorites

Anyone reading this blog and following it for the last few months will probably know of my passion for the 3 Cuban Cigars in the Picture.  I’ve written about them before and have described my love for these 3 and for all of the various reasons.

The first cigar on the left is the H. Upmann Magnum 48.  This limited edition cigar came out last year and I believe that by contacting Trevor at “The Vancouver Cigar Company”, you can still probably get a box of these at a reasonable price.  At 4.3 inches long and a ring gauge of 48, you’ll get a flavors of all of the beans, including vanilla, chocolate and loads of coffee.  This was a BIG seller last year and anyone lucky enough to get their hands on a few more of these will have treasure in their humidors as long as they can hold on to them without smoking them… But, hey, what’s the point?? We’re on earth to enjoy them, aren’t we?

The second heavy hitter is the Trinidad Robusto Extra.  The biggest cigar of the three comes in at a generous 6.1 inches and a 50 ring gauge and delivers all of the finest Trinidad flavor that has ever left the rolling rooms at El Laguito.  Remember, Trinidad cigars were handed out as diplomatic gifts, like their older cousins Cohiba.  A wonderful quality with perfect construction and even burn and well worth every penny you spend on them.

Also sitting in the picture with a 50 ring gauge and 4.8 inches of Cuban beauty is the Bolivar Royal Coronas.  This Robusto is one of the cigars that many older experienced Aficionados reach for when picking a cigar to compliment a heavy meal with earthy and complex flavors that are very very consistent from cigar to cigar.  These are very well priced for what you are getting and, for that very reason, many smokers ALWAYS have these on hand for either special occasions or a beautiful evening smoke.

Choosing either one of these great great cigars will remind you as to why we are so passionate about Cuban cigars in the first place.

Bolivar Royal Coronas Tubos

What we have here is a very beautiful Bolivar Royal Coronas in a very attractive tube that has kept to the great Bolivar standard of excellence.  From time to time a cigar brand will introduce a packaging gimmick that will detract from the product itself and leave the consumer wondering what the point of the change was in the first place.

I’m a fan of cigars in tubes because of the ease of carrying and storing in a pocket when you go out at night, or in a tackle box on the lake or in a pocket of your golf bag.  This instance proved to fans and devotees of the Bolivar brand to be a big plus with the taste as well.  The Robusto still has the beautiful earthy full flavor that we’ve come to know through the years but a certain mellowness also came in these Robustos that took a few of us by surprise..

I have a few of these in one of my humidors and I really want to leave them for 10 or 15 years to see how they age and develop as time goes by.  Right out of the box they were great and I can only see impressive changes to come with this edition!

Bolivar Royal Coronas For Breakfast

I woke up this morning ( no this isn’t going to be the lyrics of a blues song ) and went over to the humidor to see which cigar will accompany my morning coffee.  Cigars in the morning wake me up good and proper, that’s just how it is.  I guess it must have something to do with the fact that I smoked a lot of cigarettes with coffee in the morning when I was a cigarette smoker and that habit of nicotine and coffee stayed with me after I started smoking cigars exclusively.

As I looked into the box of goodies I saw many cigars that I just couldn’t light up, just yet, and so the Bolivar Royal Coronas was my morning choice.  I’ve touched on this cigar a few times before in this blog and I have to admit that of all the Cuban cigars I love, this one has got all of the others beat hands down with consistency.  Time after time I see this robusto is constructed perfectly.  I mean it, I’ve NEVER ran into a bad one and I’ve smoked boxes of them.  Maybe I lead a charmed life, maybe the Bolivar cigar gods smile down on me whenever I light one up but I’ve had very very good luck with them.

The one thing that is also present when I smoke them is their earthy flavors.  I run into the usual leather and woody flavors but moist earth is ALWAYS present and that’s the thing that I get with this cigar.