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.

Juan Lopez-Edicion Regionale-Asia Pacifico 2010

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Juan Lopez started this brand in the 1870’s and although not a lot of cigar smokers know great amounts about these cigars, true followers of the Lopez brand gravitate towards the vitolas as a go-to cigar when they want rich and powerful taste from the tobacco used from the Vuelta Abajo region of Cuba.  These are a very consistent cigar made from long filler and totally hand made.  Last year Juan Lopez released a Piramides to the Asia Pacifico region and this torpedo was met with enthusiasm from lovers of this size cigar with the dimensions being a 52 ring gauge and 6 1/8 inch in length.

This cigar felt slightly spongy from head to foot with no hard spots or lumps to deter from a good draw and after the head was clipped, a very slight amount of resistance revealed that this would be a cigar that would be easy to smoke.  The pre-light draw revealed slight amounts of musky earth and a grassy herbal taste that I love.  This is a very exciting moment for any cigar smoker, the moment when you are given a subtle preview of the cigar’s character which leaves you wondering what the future will bring.

First few puffs were, as usual with almost every Cuban cigar, a bit tart with pepper coming through as the main contributor to the flavor.  Not unlike the Juan Lopez Seleccion No. 2, this torpedo let me know that I was in for a wild ride of flavors and strength unsuited for the faint of heart.  I’m not saying that this cigar had power that almost any cigar smoker would have a problem with, I’m only telling you that this was a full flavored, in your face reminder that smoking a cigar slowly will coax the very best out of the tobacco.

Entering into the second third, I was reminded that Cuba must pay a lot of attention to the construction of these Limited and Regional releases, since the construction of of what I was smoking was perfect in every way.  An even burn and great draw that gave me clouds of billowing smoke, was so enjoyable to experience especially since this cigar needed no touch-ups whatsoever from start to finish.  Pepper, cedar and a very strong espresso stayed with me as I approached the moment when I set the nub down to rest, not a cigar who’s flavors vary greatly but one which built in strength without ever being bitter or harsh.

As I smoked this wonderful No 2, I kept thinking about how lucky I am to be living in a country where these hard to get cigars are available.  “The Vancouver Cigar Company”, founded and ran by very experienced smokers and lovers of Cuban tobacco, help me immensely with all I need whenever I’m looking for a Cuban cigar that is a bit tough to find.