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.

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.

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.

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.

Por Larranaga Panetelas

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To say that I was shocked about the flavor of this smallish cigar would be an understatement, but this short filler Panetelas from Por Larranaga has been, and is continuing to be, a beautiful cigar experience.  Smaller than a Mareva, this Veguereto ( factory name ), measures in at 5 inches long and with a ring gauge of 37.  I’m usually one who goes to the humidor and reaches for a larger ring gauge cigar, simply for the complexity, but I’m finding this cigar to be a lot more complex than I had anticipated.

First third revealed leather and cedar notes but there was something nutty about the flavor profile.  Second third, which I am almost finished as I type this, brought in full on hazel nut mixed with pure honey.  WOW !! I love surprises like this.  I believe that this cigar was completely hand rolled in Feb of 2010 and can’t help but wonder what a few more years of age will do to the performance of this beauty.  I thought that the fact that this is a short filler would give me a very flaky ash but it is holding firmly for over an inch long.  The draw DOES offer a bit of resistance but I’m getting clouds of sweet creamy smoke and any unevenness in the burn, when left alone, seems to auto-correct and carry on quite evenly.

Another thing that I like about this little winner is the price.  $7.42 CDN is a steal for something that offers almost an hour of prime smoking but I AM a slow smoker, I love a cool flame.  The longer I wait between puffs, the creamier and sweeter this cigar gets.

I believe that I have just found my new favorite small ring gauge cigar.  Perfect medium body cigar to have in the morning with coffee, not overpowering or too bold to smoke so early in the day.

Order a box, they are difficult to obtain but if you are lucky enough to buy some of these you’ll be taken on a journey that will blow you away!!!!!

Cuban Cigars to Look Forward To…

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The new year brings so much promise with all of the releases we’ve been seeing lately.  I, for one can’t wait to get my hands on some of the shorter cigars that are now available.  One that really catches my interest is the new H. Upmann in the Half Corona.  3 1/2 inches and a 44 ring gauge.  The price will be great for the quality we’ll be getting, if you have a chance to order a box do it!! The Cohiba 1966, last year’s release is getting rave reviews and no one is disappointed with construction and flavor quality.

The larger ring gauge Montecristo Grand Edmundo Edicion Limitada 2010 is still available and with almost 2 years of aging is now smoking like a dream.  Although the movement is towards shorter cigars, this Canonazo is very popular with experienced Cuban cigar lovers with it’s powerful blend of tobacco which reveals very dark chocolate and coffees.

Hoyo de Monterrey’s Short Piramides Edicion Limitada for 2011 is a bit milder and sweeter with a 5.3 inch, 46 ring gauge, factory name “Forum”.  This cigar will still reward a patient smoker with close to an hour and a half of leathers and flavorful cedars in a cigar the same size as the Montecristo Regata.   This figurado will come in boxes of 10, which is another new sales formula Cuba is giving us.  I like the option of buying a box of 10 cigars, you can mix things up a bit and stock your humidor with a few different brands.

The picture above is a H. Upmann No 2, a cigar that’s been with us for a few years now, the one in the picture still proudly bears the older style band.  With all of the new cigars coming on to the market I still have a hard time turning my back on the cigars that I’ve been smoking this past couple of years and this Upmann will ALWAYS be in my humidor.

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.

Cuban Cigars And Coho Salmon

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Yesterday was a day spent out in the Fraser Valley standing beside the Dewdney slough and it’s tributaries, the Coho salmon are pouring in and happy fishermen were everywhere.  The day was sunny but there was a bit of a cold wind and I knew that as I got all of my fishing gear together so I felt that there was no need to show up with a Behike just to see it get abused by wind.  The Quintero Breva in the picture was all I needed to keep my happy at the end of the day, when this picture was taken, but I would have been happier if I would have noticed the cigar ash on the fish.

We live in a fishing dream in Vancouver since there are opportunities for catching Salmon 12 months a year in our rivers.  What still has me surprised is the fact that there are times when I’m the only one out on the banks of  a river that is located only a few miles out of the city.  I’m not complaining but I feel that if people knew how easy and affordable it is to catch and eat these great fish, a lot more people would be doing it.  No matter, I have a few very close friends that join me and go out many times a year.. We have great days together..

This is Doug…

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As you can see, this fish has an adipose fin close to the tail so this means that this “wild” Coho has to be released.  Young salmon smolts, raised in hatcheries will often have this fin removed which makes them easy to identify when they are adults.  This fish was caught on the fly, using a rolled Muddler Minnow.  There’s nothing like the excitement that can be gotten by hooking into a nice sized salmon with a fly rod,  Doug and I have been doing this for years.

Juan Lopez Seleccion No. 2

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So the first thing you may notice about the picture above is that we were shooting from the blues when playing golf at Stuart Creek this summer in Alberta.  A beautiful golf course situated in the mountains near Banff Alberta and some of the lowest scorecards I’ve seen us mark all year, which probably had to do with the wine we were drinking the night before.  The second thing you may notice in the above picture is that there is an un-banded Robusto proudly perched and burning with a nice grey ash.

There was a bit of a mystery surrounding this cigar when I bought the box last summer since I was told that the cigars, I picked up from a friend, were in a Juan Lopez Seleccion No. 2 SLB but were un-banded.  Here is where it gets a bit sketchy because Juan Lopez started putting bands on the Selecction No 2 in 2005 and its been that way ever since.  What I didn’t know was the age of the cigars I bought until last night when I phoned my buddy to find out that they are from 2003, he simply didn’t put them in the right box when he decided to sell them to me.  I found this news to be very exciting.

I found something else very interesting about these cigars and it reminds me about something Aaron, the owner of “The Vancouver Cigar Company”, told me last year when he said that he likes smoking cigars that sit in a humidor with a little less humidity than 71, where I like to keep mine.  He said that he finds that smoking cigars that are in a humidor around 66 to 69 to have a very nice effect on their flavor.  Interestingly enough, I’ve been smoking these Juan Lopez cigars from a humidor that usually sits at around 68 and I’ve noticed that the flavor is quite exceptional.

The more damp these cigars are, the more bitter they taste and I was beginning to become quite frustrated with these aged Robustos.  I actually discovered this by accident and then I started doing more reading online about a humidor’s humidity levels and it’s effect on the cigars it holds.  Sure enough, I’ve found that too much moisture will cause the cigar to burn hotter, or at least feel that way, and the taste is altered in a negative way.  Right now as I type away, I have one of these Robustos burning and the flavors are rich and dry, like a dry wine.  The complexity and the evolution of this Seleccion No 2 is giving me a number of different flavors from cedar to a dark coffee and, from time to time, a small amount of Cinnamon.

When young, the Juan Lopez will give you enough strength to consider this to be an after dinner cigar paired with a single malt or Cognac but as it ages, you may want to consider simply water to keep your palate clean and rinsed to taste the subtle flavor notes available in this great Robusto.