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.

‘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.

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.

Cohiba Behike 56

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Cohiba’s release of the Behike line last year was easily the most anticipated event for ANYONE who has ever tasted and loved cigars from Cuba.  The 52, which is a sweet and balanced cigar, thrilled the powers that be in Cigar Aficionado, enough so to see them vote it the cigar of the year in 2010.  I loved that cigar when I first tried it and believe that it must have been a very difficult task when they have so many cigars to choose from.

The Cohiba Behike 54 had a more powerful approach than the 52 with it’s complex profile of milk chocolates and coffees but still had something subtle about it that made me wonder about the Medio Tiempo leaf used in it’s filler and exactly what it does to the taste.  The medio tiempo leaf which appears, sporadically, was used up until the early 1960’s in regular Cuban cigar production but hasn’t been seen until this new Cohiba line was introduced.  I would love to A/B the same cigar first WITH the leaf and then WITHOUT.. That would be a fantastic test to participate in some day…

Yesterday was my first experience with the Behike 56 and it was a whole different ball game compared to the two smaller sizes.  First of all the sheer size of the cigar is impressive, with its big ring gauge, and flawless construction.  A gorgeous caramel wrapper that had a slight oily sheen had me feeling that this was going to be an event to remember for months to come.  The pre-light draw had flavors of hay and moist earth with a slight barnyard taste.. It was time to reach for the matches.

This cigar’s size introduces a whole new way to smoke a cigar.  More air is needed to move through more tobacco and so the amount of suction required to keep the flame even is maybe more suited to someone with more size.  It is a large man’s cigar, plain and simple.  Nothing wrong with that, there are many men with dimensions that are quite suited to a stogie of this size.  I say, go for it!!

The first few puffs were mild but I could tell that the sweetness I remember from the Behike 52 and 54 were present, so there were some fine flavors of the other two cigars coming through right from the start.  It didn’t take long to see the complexity that so many people speak about when they review this cigar, the first third’s profile revealed, hay, sweet milk chocolate, slight amounts of cedar and sweet creamy coffee.  It was a great complex cigar that revealed balance and building strength.

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This cigar was smoked during a drive from Banff, Alberta to Vancouver.. We had hours to spend in the car as we gleefully drove down the road, smoking many Cuban cigars.  More reviews will follow this post.

The Behike 56’s second third built in strength and showed the flavors changing, in a subtle manner, from sweet coffees and chocolates to a more intense experience that revealed darker and richer chocolate with stronger hay notes and more wood.  This is a roller-coaster cigar in that it will give you more than most Cuban cigars are capable of, it simply has more tobacco rolled in it’s filler, the finest wrapper that Cuba has to offer and an approach to a cigar’s blend that stands alone in the Cuban cigar industry.

The final third was enjoyable and powerful but the nicotine tingling on my lips told me that this is still a young cigar that needs more time to age and settle down.  Does that mean that I’m recommending that you don’t smoke it yet?  No, not at all !  To experience ALL that a cigar has to offer is what I believe we’re all after with this passion and the Cohiba 56 should be smoked and enjoyed at every stage of it’s life !

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.

Cohiba Behike 56

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The most anticipated cigar to come out of Cuba in a great many years is in the Behike line from Cohiba, last year was the first year that these beauties were available to cigar aficionados and because of the great demand, they were a bit hard to get a hold of.  The cigars come in three sizes; the Behike 52 (ring gauge ), which won Cigar Aficionado’s cigar of the year, the Behike 54 which was a bit more robust and had an impressive full bodied taste, and finally pictured above the Behike 56.

I have tasted the first two mentioned and every word printed about the smaller of the three was true and then some.  The Behike 52 had a sweet, medium strength profile that had me mesmerized from first puff to the last finger burning draw that impressed me so much.  I was glad that the 52 got all of the recognition that it received because it was one of the best cigars I had ever smoked.  I was able to experience the Behike 54  last September on a drive to Edmonton with a good friend and we passed it back and forth as we tried to identify all of the rich flavors present in it’s profile. The 54 gave a different performance than the 52 in that it had a bit more punch and darker chocolate flavors were definitely present.

I was gifted this Behike 56 in the picture a week ago and I’m not sure exactly when I will be lighting it up.  I was with my friend, Tom, for the first 2 Behikes we tried and I can’t leave him out for the final in the trilogy.  We’re planning a golf trip to Ontario next week and I’m thinking that it will be the perfect time to let this one show us what its made of.  The Medio Tiempo leaves that sometimes appear at the top of the tobacco plant are rolled into the filler of these three cigars which was the selling point that, in a way, justified the price of these cigars.  These upper leaves are somewhat rare so these cigars sell at a bit of a premium.  If you believe that the inclusion of these leaves are the only reason for the price, you would be mistaken since the care taken when constructing these cigars is very high and the look of these cigars will tell you that probably only the best rollers get the chance to assemble these gems.

The Vancouver Cigar Company has been able to get these three cigars since they were introduced and Trevor will be able to help you choose which one would be best for your taste.  My humble opinion would be……. Try all three !

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.

Cohiba Esplendidos…

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I watched a movie not long ago and noticed that this one character would smoke cigars, which appeared to be a Cohiba Esplendidos by my guess… If it were so and an individual would want to appear dignified, powerful and show great taste, then why not a cigar of this stature, a better prop could never be found.

As I look at the above picture, I remember moments smoking these cigars when conditions were right and I would have a cigar who’s time had come and a perfect balance of hay, pepper, dark chocolate, cedar and coffee dance together on your palate as this Julieta No 2 burns down in a wonderful symphony.   It is very hard to get better cigars than this very popular 7 inch by 47 ring gauge Churchill from Cohiba.

These cigars are made from the best leaf from the Vuelta Abajo tobacco region and rolled by some of the best torcedores in Cuba, I have never had any sort of draw or burn issues with this cigar.  This is the type of cigar that is usually first in line to become counterfeited and copied by very inferior replicas that taste terrible and leave you wondering what sort of barely flammable ingredients were included in the production of these fakes.  Do whatever you can to make sure you get the real Esplendidos , go online and study the sometimes very subtle differences in appearance of both cigar AND packaging.  Also remember that these cigars cost a bit more than other premium Cuban cigars, so if you’re offered these at an extremely slashed rate then you’ll be heading into dangerous territory.

I’ve noticed that Vancouver Cigar is offering boxes of 10 Esplendidos at a %40 discount this summer.  This is a great price for authentic Cuban cigars…

Are You Sure It Is A Real Cohiba

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By clicking on the above picture you’ll be sent to “The Vancouver Cigar Company” page where REAL Cohiba cigars are proudly advertised and believe me when I tell you that Cuban cigars are an extremely high end product that are produced by the finest cigar brand in Cuba today.  If you have ever smoked a real Cohiba and have ever looked at the beautiful band that adorns each Cohiba you’ll know that what you are looking at in the picture is nothing but a pathetic attempt at counterfeiting a great product.  I’ve shopped in Dubai and have seen watches that are perfect knockoffs of Rolex, Cartier etc.. They are beautiful and difficult to catch if you aren’t up on all of the subtle nuances that differentiate a copy from the real thing.  With this in mind, the above picture gets funnier and funnier.

What isn’t funny is the fact that so many passionate ,  albeit gullible,  cigar smokers go to Cuba each year and come home with lacquered boxes of fake Esplendidos and believe that they’ve really gotten a deal.  Well, maybe if they compare the $50 they spent instead of the $500 that a real box of Esplendidos costs, they may actually believe that they’ve gotten a real steal…. Funny how the word STEAL is so appropriate in this case.  Just last week I was on the golf course and was gleefully puffing away on a Cohiba Siglo I as I was talking to a guy that was telling me that his $2 Fauxhiba was such a good deal and that he was a pretty smart shopper..  I just didn’t have the heart to tell him that what he knew about cigars could be fit on the head of a pin.  I didn’t believe that it was my place to tell him what a fool he was and that there was a good chance that he was smoking floor sweepings and banana leaves all wrapped up with a passable wrapper which included a botched effort of a Cohiba band…  He was actually enjoying his cigar and I left it at that.

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The above picture is of a band from a Cohiba Siglo I and you can easily see the beautiful raised gold letters and the THREE lines of white squares above the word Cohiba.. I have to say though that the light in the picture is quite yellow and the yellow on the band looks to be quite orange but is considerably more yellow in real life……. Hey, only a minute detail.  The top picture actually features the letters in the word Cohiba being segmented and not solid.. that’s got to be funny if it weren’t so tragic….

I was given a few Fauxhiba Esplendidos a few weeks back and after tasting the first few sad puffs I tore the cigar open and found that there were leaves in the cigar that were quite green and very moist.. The cigar kept going out and just wouldn’t burn so I had to do it…. I held a match under one of the mystery leaves and it tried to burn but the aroma coming off the leaf reminded me more of the smell I’d find in a campfire on the prairies.. I’ve been smoking tobacco all of my life and I’ve never smelled that smell from any tobacco leaf……

When going to Cuba please remember that you’ll be approached my many many people trying to sell you cigars but you have to keep in mind that their very extensive counterfeit industry in the country floods the streets with terrible cigars on a daily basis… I’m sure millions are sold annually but don’t fall for any of the stories..  Even in Cuba authentic cigars can still cost a fair bit of money in the Government stores but are at least one third or less than you’ll pay at home….. Still a great deal…….  If you’re like me and go to Cuba rarely, wouldn’t you like to know that the cigars you bring back home are real and worth aging in your humidor… For me its a no brainer !!!!

Be careful out there !!

Cohiba Siglo V

This morning I was given 2 of these beautiful Cohiba Siglo V tubos from a friend that just came back from Havana..  My buddy has been smoking cigars for years and knows the difference between the real thing and something you buy off the street from someone offering a deal thats too good to be true.  We’ve smoked many a Cuban together and so I offered him an espresso and talked him into spending an hour on the deck so we could light a couple of these up and enjoy the sunshine.  Yes, believe it or not, we DO get the odd sunny day in vancouver at this time of year.

This lonsdale whose factory name is a dalia is 6.6 inches long and has a ring gauge of 43.  Although a bit young, this cigar was a lot smoother than I had expected and upon lighting revealed the usual Cohiba spice and grassiness.. For the most part, I like to smoke a Cohiba at the end of the day after a big meal and often paired with a dark Havana Club but the Siglo series is a tad milder and can be smoked first thing in the morning..

I kept the flame cool and found that chocolate and vanilla were present throughout the whole cigar.  I kept thinking that letting this elegant long cigar age for at least a year would result in a considerably smoother smoking experience but was struck with the mild Cohiba flavors.  I was most of all impressed with the fact that maybe this Tubos might even have a nicer taste than the cabinet Siglo V’s I’ve smoked in the past.  Could be something to do with the fact that it is surrounded by it’s own cedar strip in the tube and the cigar’s complete isolation.

The second Siglo V I was given this morning will NOT see a flame for at least a year.. This one tasted great but I know my patience will be hugely rewarded.