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.

Cohiba 1966


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.

Ramon Allones Extra- Edicion Limitada 2011


Anyone who loves Cuban tobacco will surely recognize the name Ramon Allones from some of the great cigars this brand has given us like the Specially Selected, one of the world’s finest and most popular Robustos and the massive Gigantes which is a classic Double Corona with unique flavors that have won the hearts of countless aficionados.  Ramon Allones has presented many Regional Editions but this year will mark the first time this respected Cuban brand will deliver an Edicion Limitada and with a unique white and gold band accompanied by a second gold and black band, we should have a cigar that is very special to smoke and age.

Of all of the Regional Editions this brand has given us, my favorite would have to be the mighty Phoenicio that was distributed to Lebanon a few years back.  That hard to get cigar was worth all the effort taken to acquire and as years go by, that one gets mellower and sweeter in the humidor.  This size, a 44 ring gauge and 5.6 inches long was a regular production cigar for Ramon Allones but was discontinued in the 70’s.  I smoked few cigars back then so this will be a great opportunity to get used to a new size and blend from this brand.  An interesting thing about the releases for this year is that the majority of new cigars from Cuba have quite a bit bigger ring gauge so this will be an opportunity to taste a different kind of blend.

I have to admit that I have a real passion for aged cigars but in the past few years I’ve seen new cigars that were wonderful as soon as they showed up.  I really do believe that we are in a golden era of Cuban cigars so this vitola could be stunning as soon as it gets into our cigar shops and even better after a few years of aging.

Cohiba 1966..New Release For 2011


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.

Partagas Serie D No 5 For 2011


The world of cigar aficionados is always interested in new and exciting developments from Havana in how it gives all of us new cigars to smoke each year.  Some cigars brands are a big big hit like Cohiba and when you have cigars that are made from the first pick of all of the tobacco in Cuba, it doesn’t take long to understand why you’ll have a gigantic success story on  your hands, a simple taste of these great cigars will solidify your belief in their superior product with the black and yellow bands.

The same can be said for Romeo y Julieta, Montecristo, Trinidad and many others too numerous to mention but today we’ll be directing our attention towards Partagas and their new cigar for 2011, the Partagas Serie D No 5.  Once again we’ll be getting a smaller cigar with a burn time that is more suited for today’s busy smoker but if the 2008 Serie D No 5 is any indication as to how this year’s new Partagas performs then we’ll be tasting a fantastic cigar that will satisfy any smoker that enjoys the Partagas flavor profile.

This new “Petit Robusto” from Partagas is 4.3 inches long and has a ring gauge of 50 which, if you take your time and smoke slowly, should last over an hour.  The thing I love about shorter cigar is that as they burn down they stay smoother and less harsh than their longer cousins… Less time- less tar build-up and a tastier cigar in the final third.  The first year that the 2008 Serie D No 5 from Partagas came out, didn’t see a lot of attention and there were reviews I read that didn’t give the cigar a real thumbs up but a few years in the humidor revealed a cigar that was of world class taste and performance.  The ’08 became complex and balanced which gives me cause to believe that we may be seeing the new 2011 addition needing a few years to settle own and come into it’s own.

Either way, young or aged, I am looking forward to tasting this new Partagas, stocking up on a few to place at the bottom of my humidor, and waiting a while.. It’s always a fun experiment and sometimes you can have treasure stockpiling in your perfect cigar resting place.

Hoyo De Monterrey Short Piramides 2011


Hoyo de Monterrey is one of the Cuban brand of cigars that I love the most. with it’s complex and rich profile that gives you an abundance of flavors that are considered to be the reason why this is one of the biggest success stories in Cuban cigar marketing.  The various sizes from HDM satisfy every cigar smoker’s needs from the stately double coronas, the ever popular Epicure No 2 and now the 2011 introduction of the Hoyo de Monterrey Edicion Limitada Short Hoyo Piramides.

Once again, we are seeing that the world trend in cigar smoking is moving in the direction of the shorter cigar that takes less time to smoke but in this case we’ll be given the pleasure of tasting some of Hoyo de Monterrey’s finest tobacco, aged for at least two years and the wrapper leaves coming from the Tapado which is shade grown black Cuban tobacco.

The dimensions of this short Hoyo Piramides is 5.3 inches and a ring gauge of 46, which should give you an hour of smoking, compared to the longer amount of time it takes to smoke a Montecristo No 2. This year’s Edicion Limitada will be shipped in boxes of 10, which seems to be yet another movement of making the price of a box of Cuban cigars that much more affordable for the consumer.

There’s no question that this is one of my favorite brands from Cuba and I, for one, can’t wait to sample this new introduction to the Hoyo De Monterrey family.

Romeo y Julieta Escudos LE 2007


At 5 1/2 inches long and a ring gauge of 50, this gordito from Romeo y Julieta, which came out in 2007 is smoking these days like the “Rockstar” that many aficionados said it would become.  There’s nothing like a few years under a cigar’s belt to make it taste wonderful and balanced.  In 2007 this cigar was very spicy and the opinion was that it needed some time to settle down.  The “Duke” was the same kind of cigar in that, when young, would blow your head off with nicotine but now being smooth as silk.

Last year, Romeo y Julieta introduced the “Wide Churchill” and the world of cigar smokers all agreed that this new movement of a bigger ring gauge cigar in a slightly shorter format was what they were waiting for.  Time seems to be of the essence these days with cigar smokers in that they are looking for a cigar that will last for about an hour or so, but didn’t want a cigar with a smaller ring gauge.  If this is the direction that we are heading in, I’m good with that since I believe that a wider ring gauge quite often will give you a more complex and richer smoke.

These Escudos are still available for a fair price and if you want to try a cigar that is balanced, medium to strong and very ready to show the world it’s true potential.