2009 Canada Regional Edition – Vegas Robaina “Petit Robaina”

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2009 saw the release of a Regional Edition cigar for Canada, the Vegas Robaina- “Petit Robaina”.  July first being Canada’s birthday seemed to be the right day for me to snap this quick picture and finally get down to trying this cigar which I’ve kept in my humidor for a few years.  This is a 52 ring gauge cigar with a length of 4.3 inches long, perfect for those with a penchant for somewhat of a Robusto size Cuban, only slightly thicker.

This particular cigar has an amazing looking colorado wrapper and firm construction.  After clipping the cap I found the draw to be just a tad tight but not enough to be an issue, the pre-light draw was pure milk chocolate with a black tea finish.  First third was initially revealing a spicy cedar which didn’t evolve from puff to puff until I let the cigar rest for at least a minute and a half, then more flavours like dark coffee and subtle sweet chocolate appeared.  This isn’t the usual Vegas Robaina flavour profile I’m used to, I’ve been noticing that the flavours this cigar is revealing are similar to some of the Regional Editions I’ve been smoking lately, more spice and less predictability.

Second third is now opening up and I’m tasting a bit more of what I’m used to tasting from Vegas Robaina, honey, a bit of leather and again a subtle milk chocolate.  This cigar’s grey ash is downright stubborn, even a slight tap is pretty much ineffectual, I guess its time to see how long it can hold on.  This is yet another entertaining aspect of smoking a quality Cuban cigar, I usually try to see if I can keep an ash intact for at least a third.. Sometimes I’m successful and some times I end up wearing a generous amount of ash, usually the latter is the result.

At the 50% mark this cigar is becoming a bit more complex.  The spicy cedar is still very present but now along with the cedar I’m tasting very slight hints of vanilla and a darker chocolate.  Again I’m noticing that as the cigar rests in my ashtray between puffs, my patience is rewarded with honey and chocolate. Since many Cuban cigars are hand rolled, we smokers sometimes run into burn issues but this Petit Robaina has a razor sharp burn line and great clouds of smoke from puff to puff.

Final third, which us usually my favourite part of a cigar, is becoming more complex.  The spicy cedar is still very present but a sweet dark chocolate, some slight nuttiness and leather are now being the major contributors to the flavour profile.  The strength of the cigar is surprisingly of a medium character, not over powering or bitter in any way.  This tells me that Not smoking this cigar when I got it a few years back was the right decision.  However difficult it may be to let Cuban cigars rest in a humidor, the rewards of being stubborn and letting them age is almost Always the way to go.

Habanos Specialist Exclusive San Cristobal Torreon Jar

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A Easter Sunday without a cigar on the back deck just wouldn’t be right so I’m thinking that since this is a special day, then a special cigar is warranted.  This Geniales, or Robusto Extra appeared on shelves of Habanos Specialty shops in 2013 but this cigar which came in a beautiful pale yellow jar with an ashtray top was initially released in 2012.  Once again I’m relieved that The Vancouver Cigar Company’s status has been changed so it’s loyal patrons can have access to cigars which are usually reserved for La Casa Del Habanos outlets exclusively.

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This will be a cigar that will last a while since it has a length of 5.9 inches and a ring gauge of 54, I’m expecting 1 1/2 hours of smoking time Easy!  Initial thoughts on construction were nothing short of amazement.  Perfect feel through the length of the cigar, smooth colorado claro wrapper, exquisite triple cap and after clipped this cigar, although firm, had a perfect effortless draw.  Pre-light draw revealed a mild mild flavour of hay, woodiness and subtle barnyard notes with a hint of black tea on the finish.  With two wooden matches I toasted the head and then ran into no trouble at all with getting this cigar lit.  First few puffs were very entertaining, I thought for a moment I was smoking a Trinidad with it’s cedar and spice but that was tamed down within a  few moments when a beautiful muskiness appeared letting me know that I was now smoking pure Cuban Heaven.

Cedar and honey seem to be prevalent in the first third, slight powdered chocolate appear as well but very slight.  I’m enjoying every puff and have to remind myself that when I hurry and smoke quickly a lot of the subtlety gets lost in the flavour profile, I have to take my time and keep the flame cool.  Quite often I enjoy letting a cigar rest in my humidor for at least a few months before lighting but this cigar has all of the maturity and smoothness of a cigar way beyond it’s youth.  The burn is razor sharp and I’m seeing that the second third is now letting me taste a bit of black coffee notes mixed with cedar and honey. None of the spice that I detected early on has re-appeared, only a sweet cedar base which is stubbornly staying in the forefront.

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Entering the final third I’m tasting a darker woodiness in the flavour profile, the sweetness is slowing down now and a darker coffee is elbowing it’s way into the forefront.  Stubborn ash finally fell away and a perfect cone appeared, telling me once again how much care was given during the construction.  Since the Ligero leaves from the top of the tobacco plant burn more slowly due to more mineral content,  their presence in the center of the cigar gives you this cone effect when your ash falls off.  The end of this Robusto Extra’s life in the final third is as enjoyable as the first and second, no harsh flavours and no nicotine buzz.  The sweetness I experienced in the beginning is still there when I let the flame cool,  so much is revealed when you take your time.

Only 2,000 of these jars were released, this cigar will not last long on the shelves since I’m of the belief that collectors will be buying up most of what they find in shops around the world.  I feel lucky to be smoking this cigar and lucky that the weather is allowing me to have a perfect smoking experience!

H.Upmann Connoisseur A at Vancouver Cigar’s Anniversary Party

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This upcoming Saturday, April 12, the Vancouver Cigar Company will be celebrating it’s first anniversary at the Autoform location.  This isn’t the first cigar theme event that has been held at Autoform, this past year has witnessed many such gatherings and the attendance seems to be growing.

So far the replies and confirmations from Vancouver cigar lovers reveals that this Saturday’s party will be the biggest yet.  Vancouver Cigar will be handing out to all in attendance an exciting new cigar from H. Upmann, the Connossieur A.  Shipments of this new Cuban cigar are finally now appearing at Habanos Specialists and La Casa del Habanos cigar shops worldwide.  Nothing, in my opinion, pairs better with a great Cuban cigar than a beautiful Scotch Whiskey so Saturday will also be seeing Vancouver Cigar giving samples of two fine single malts, a 10 year old Highland Park single malt and The Macallan Gold.

My curiosity got the better of me and I decided to smoke one of these cigars this afternoon,  I know I’ll smoke one again in a few days but I want to see if there’ll be any differences in flavours the second time around.  A great aroma came out of the slide lid box and I noticed this is a very well made cigar with a smooth wrapper and a firm feel throughout.

After clipping the cap I was pleased to see the draw was perfect and pre-light notes were of a light fresh hay, barnyard and subtle notes of black tea.  This Genios size cigar, 5 1/2 inches long and a ring gauge of 52 is marketed to those who want a larger ring gauge but at a manageable length for a slightly shorter smoking time.

First third started off with white pepper and wet cedar mixing with bean notes of chocolate and vanilla.  This cigar started off in a very complex manner, the first third made this a very exciting cigar to smoke, it was sweet and reminded me more of a hybrid between a Magnum 50, a bit of H.Upmann No 2 and the ’09 release of the Magnum 48.  I love sweet notes in a cigar,  usually you’ll get this with a younger cigar and H. Upmann will deliver this more often than not.  This cigar, because of the great draw and proper humidity in the Vancouver Cigar Company’s humidor, gave off great clouds of sweet smoke.  The aroma in the room was also pure classic Cuba. When this cigar burned to the halfway mark, the sweetness continued but then a leather and woody profile entered into the smoking experience, bean flavours appeared less frequently and the final third settled into a powerful cigar with loads of attitude.  I’m guessing that it’s due to it’s age, this Connossieur A from Upmann will continue to smoke well and impove daily, a young cigar can also give the smoker dizzying effects from generous amounts of nicotine but I saw no reason to be concerned with this cigar giving anyone any trouble as far as thats concerned.

This Saturday will be a great celebration with good friends, cigar aficionados trading opinions about an exciting new release from Habanos and the Vancouver Cigar Company showing their gratitude to a loyal following by hosting yet another wonderful event at Autoform.

A Nice Comparison

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Another road trip with my friend Tom earlier this month and that only means one thing, a lot of cigar smoking in the car.  We were on our way from Vancouver to Edmonton, which is in no way a short drive, but it is one of the things we love doing the most.  A car is the best place, in our opinions to enjoy a cigar, and my travel humidor was packed to the lid.  A cigar I had been aging in the humidor for a few months was the H Upmann Sir Winston, this was going to be lit and compared to a big favourite of mine, the Vegas Robaina Don Alejandro.  These are two mighty cigars that were bound to get some time in the ring against each other, it was only a matter of time.

I’ve been giving a lot of attention to the Don Alejandro lately since the guys at The Vancouver Cigar Company are sitting on an amazing box, the next time I go in I’ll see what the date is on the bottom of the box, usually that detail is the first thing I look at when buying cigars.  Something tells me that the cigars in question are only about a year or so old, no matter, they taste incredible.  The Don Alejandro presented us with a small amount of resistance on the draw and the Sir Winston was almost a wind tunnel, I like both options.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when tasting these two cigars back to back, I felt that there would be loads of leather in both cigars but the Don Alejandro won hands down in that part of the competition.  The Sir Winston initially revealed a lot of woods in it’s profile and so did the Vegas Robaina but the Don Alejandro’s cedar notes were sweeter.  One thing I forgot to mention was that the Sir Winston was from a box dated in the fall of 2011 so it was a little older which I thought would mean that it would be loaded with sweetness but no, we sere finding no shortage of dry and powdery dark chocolate and rich coffee.  Still the Vegas Robaina was sweeter.

As the two cigars burned and the miles went by we started to notice that theH Upmann was gaining in strength into the final third while the Don Alejandro kept a pretty even keel and kept it’s smoothness with every puff.  I kept thinking about the dry bean flavours present in the Upmann and how I thought that the Don Alejandro would be so similar but these were two very different cigars.

So you may be wondering which cigar won our approval?  I had so much more hope that the Sir Winston would clobber the Robaina and outclass it by a long shot but this day would reveal a completely different outcome.  It was the Don Alejandro that offered more complexity and evolution as the cigar burned.  It also seemed smoother into the last inch, which is usually my favourite part of any cigar.  The Sir Winston simply didn’t evolve as much and stayed on the same flavour track for the time it was burning.

Would I buy both cigars again and try this test another day?  Sure, as a matter of fact we can’t wait for another trip!

Vegas Robaina-Don Alejandro

Don In A Tree

A few days back I stopped in at The Vancouver Cigar Company and Trevor directed me over to a few new boxes of cigars that had just arrived.  I usually get wrapped up in the excitement of Cuba’s annual releases of ER’s and EL’s, who can blame me, but this time I concentrated on a box from Vegas Robaina, Don Alejandro a 7.6 inch X 49 ring gauge,  very attractive Double Coronas or Prominente ( Factory  Name ).  The special edition cigars make a lot of waves every year and collectors all over the world will not balk at spending a premium to collect and age boxes of these rare and sometimes hard to get cigars while the regular production Cuban cigars, like the Don Alejandro in this case, will sit on the back burner in people’s minds.  I’ve said before and will always maintain that almost every Cuban handmade cigar with the right amount of age will surprise and dazzle lovers of Cuban cigars, regardless of it’s band.  This box of Don Alejandros had a 2011 stamp on the bottom and Trevor mentioned that Havana House, the official distributor of Cuban cigars in Canada, has been sending The Vancouver Cigar Company some very special boxes lately.  One look at the slightly oily and smooth wrappers on these cigars told me that this could be one of these boxes and I felt very lucky to be the first person to pick a few cigars from this presentation of 25

After clipping the head of this Don Alejandro I tested the draw and found only a slight resistance which is perfect in my opinion.  Because these cigars had been resting for going on two years I wasn’t surprised to taste a total absence of ammonia,  only slight hints of black tea and very subtle notes of dark chocolate.  After lighting this rather large and impressive cigar I was initially met with a cedar and toasted tobacco based profile but this only stayed present, and with a bit of an attitude, for a short time before notes of bittersweet chocolate started to accompany this woody taste when the cigar settled down into a more medium strength smoke.  This mellower flavor presentation lasted well through the first third, it continued to show a cedar based flavor profile but evolved into a very sweet cigar with no shortage of honey and milk chocolate.

Well into the halfway mark and over an hour of smoking this Double Corona I started to taste leather in this cigar’s profile, I became transfixed on every puff since I’m used to seeing a cigar with this size become a bit predictable but there were smooth transitions from sweet chocolates to honey, cedar and leather, convincing me that this was one of the best cigars I’ve smoked this year.  I’m a big fan of the Vegas Robaina Famosos, Unicos and Clasicos, I really do love the quality of the tobacco in this line and it’s very distinct taste but the experience of this Don Alejandro was starting to tower over all of my previous memories of smoking this brand.  Final third left me in a bit of a trance-like state, the strength ramped up predictably but the sweetness continued and never really left the flavor profile to the end.  Wow!

If you’re at all curious about this cigar and wish to try a few from this particular box, I’d strongly suggest contacting The Vancouver Cigar Company in the very near future to find out how many are still available.  I’m rarely this rabid about a cigar but I was very pleasantly taken by surprise and thought I’d write a few words about this experience.

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.

Vegas Robaina-Unicos

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Many Piramides or Torpedo shaped cigars with a 52 ring gauge and just over 6 inches of length thrill smokers with millions consumed annually.  There is something about the shape of this cigar, it’s tapered head and how it feels in your hand as you watch it burn.  Montecristo No 2’s could be the most popular Cuban cigar in this shape, H Upmann has a wonderful torpedo, as does Cohiba with it’s Piramides Extra, the first figurado ( 54 Ring Gauge ) in it’s regular line, but pictured above with it’s elegant band is the Vegas Robaina Unicos.

This Piramide first was produced by by Habanos SA’s line, Vegas Robaina, in 1997.   You’ll taste notes of leather in the pre-draw, then after lighting, this medium to full flavored cigar becomes full of earthy woodiness accompanied with a sweet creamy finish.  I’ve found that instead of a very pronounced evolution, third to third, this cigar seems to have a steady flavor profile that will reveal subtle bean flavors from time to time, making this cigar very enjoyable.

The Vegas Robaina brand, established in 1997, currently produce the Unicos, the Famosos and the Don Alejandro.  Discontinued cigars from this brand are the “Clasicos”, a Lonsdale which is 6.5″ long by 42 ring gauge, and the “Familiar” which is just a bit shorter at 5.6″.   These two sizes will be missed by many and currently there are smokers who are stocking up on boxes of both since this premium Cuban brand ages so well.

This brand was named after the farmland of Alejandro Robaina, whose family has been producing tobacco in the renown Vuelta Abajo since 1845.  Alejandro assumed the role of manager of the family plantation in 1950 then for decades went on to raise tobacco leaves which become wrappers for many premier Cuban brands.  Alejandro died in April of 2010, his plantation is now run in the same tradition by his grandson, Hiroshi.

Diplomaticos No. 2 ………..2007

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This past Christmas proved to be great for the humidor.  Your peers, for the most part, will see you as their dear friend who is usually smoking and situated downwind,  inevitably missing out on all of the significant events occurring in their general vicinity.  I’m often very happy downwind from the crowd and think as they may, I DO know one thing and that is, sometimes as often as twice a year they all know that I’m real easy to shop for.  The picture above is a quick shot of a great Christmas gift, a Diplomaticos No 2 from 2007,  the month I’m not aware of but since we’re now looking at a cigar that is going on 6 years of age the month didn’t mean too much to me.

As you probably already know, the Diplomaticos brand was introduced in 1966 as a more affordable option to the Montecristo line in the French market.  The two brands had cigars that were identical in size, both numerically named from 0ne to five and both rolled at the Jose Marti factory.  Any suspicions that the two lines may be similar in flavor and you’d be on to something, although I believe that Montecristo has considerably bolder flavors but there are similarities.  Needless to say, its great to witness what was initially intended to be a secondary line become a respected brand and offer a high quality handmade Cuban cigar to any enthusiast.

The No 2 in the picture was a finely constructed piramides, it was clear that it had been aged properly and after the head was clipped the pre-light draw tasted of hay and tea.  After smoking this cigar for at least a third, I found that there was a predominate taste of cedar throughout but as the eventual bean flavors appeared, they came in with a certain boldness that really did remind me of the Montecristo profile.  The biggest difference was that the Diplomaticos was a bit milder but in no way anything below a medium strength cigar.  I have another of these and will probably give it another year in the humidor, I’m sure it’ll only become a finer cigar.

Sadly the Diplomaticos line is quickly disappearing, only the No 2 is in current production and no one is sure how long this final size will continue to be available, this is one cigar you want to have in your humidor.  If you have the ability to also purchase any of these cigars other than the No 2 I would highly recommend you to stock up.  They’re affordable today and will be valued collector’s items in the near future.

‘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.