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.

Montecristo Regata…Perfect Medium Strength, Mid-day Cigar

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A Montecristo that is catching on with many new smokers is the Open Series Regata, the smaller brother of the Montecristo No. 2 with a tapered head, a 46 ring gauge and 5.3 inches long.  The high quality filler tobacco and smooth, slightly oily wrapper will start off being a bit spicy in the first few puffs but will settle down into a sweet, almost creamy coffee and toasted tobacco profile into its first third.  Halfway into the cigar, a bit more cedar is introduced and then this cigar ends with a steady medium strength that is perfect smoking for a crisp autumn day.

When the “Open Series” from Montecristo was first introduced in 2009, a lot of die hard Monte smokers lined up to buy and finally taste the new cigars that many people were talking about.  Initially the series was met with mixed reviews because the old regulars were expecting an experience similar to the Edmundo and Monte No 2, what they were met with was a flavor profile that didn’t have the strength and maybe the complexity that they were used to.  This was exactly what Habanos expected but weren’t aiming to get the old guard on board, their intention was to introduce a new line of cigars that new smokers could become attached to.

It worked.  Many new cigar smokers are now lining the bottoms of their humidors with the Open Series, whether it be the Regata ( my favorite), the Master, the Eagle or the Junior.  These cigars are the perfect mid day cigar because of their gentle approach and smooth finish that doesn’t overpower the palate with strong flavors of pepper or strong cedar finishes that stay with you for the rest of the day.  Let the Cohiba or Partagas big boys be your companion as you smoke the last cigar of the day.

Montecristo No. 4

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The above picture reveals a Montecristo No. 4, which is a Mareva ( factory name ) and at a 42 ring gauge and 5 inches long.  This will give you a medium to full body, Cuban, handmade cigar that will give you up to an hour of great flavors which are creamy, earthy and complex.  Leather and coffee are two more notes that race to the forefront in the first third that carry through till the end of the cigar.  As this cigar gathers some momentum during and into the second half, beany flavors such as, vanilla, cocoa also come into the profile, giving this compact and elegant cigar a complexity that makes it a classic Cuban that has earned the title of being the most smoked Cuban on the market.

Like most, if not all Cuban cigars, this cigar needs a bit of age to realize it’s full potential and at least 3 years in the humidor is strongly recommended.  These will still smoke, burn and draw well when they’re young but tend to be a bit of a powerhouse that will make you stand up and pay attention if smoked hot and quickly.  With everyday life speeding up for all of us, a Mareva like this one is the perfect size for a short time out with a cigar and a glass of rum.

With popularity and proven quality also comes the danger of running into counterfeiting and copying this cigar.  This is where one should be extra careful in insuring that you get these cigars from a reputable dealer.  The vancouver Company gets it’s cigars from the Canadian distributor, Habanos.  This is as real as getting them from La Casa Del Habanos in Havana and in most cases more safe than Havana shops.  I hate to say it but I feel more secure buying Cuban cigars from my favorite cigar company in Vancouver than pretty much anywhere else.

Always consider that websites that sell Cuban cigars at an unrealistic low price.  Do a bit of homework and see for yourself that there is a middle ground, as far as price goes and if you can buy these more popular brands at a fair price or a little under the norm, you’ll probably be fine… But…… Let your experienced palate be the judge !!  Fake Montecristos simply taste one dimensional and bitter, nothing at all like the real thing.

Partagas Serie P No 2

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If you’ve ever smoked a Montecristo No 2, you’ve probably held the beautiful Piramides in your hand, tasted it’s fine flavors and allowed the cigar’s flavor profile to linger on your tongue and remarked to yourself that you are enjoying one of Havana’s finest contributions to the world.  Its no wonder that the Montecrsto brand has developed such a loyal following with aficionados around the world and stayed very high up in favorite cigar polls with many magazines and web sites year after year.  I think that there is something special about the classic shape of a Piramides with a pointed end and 52 ring gauge, it’s heftiness and bold flavors are the most sought after with countless enthusiasts.

The Partagas Serie P No 2, in the picture above, is also reaching the same status as the Monte with loyal fans that take great pride in their discovery of an alternative to the aforementioned torpedo.  The Piramides in the picture above was rolled in December of ’05 and I don’t have to tell you what 6 years in a carefully managed humidor will do to a cigar of this quality.  A few months back I was able to find a person selling 1/2 a box of these and I was racing across town to insure that I would be able to buy them before he changed his mind and sold them to the next guy.  This is something that many cigar smokers should try to do if they have the time, hunting out and locating aged cigars so more can be learned about Cuban brands that have a few years under their belt.  Good luck and happy hunting.

The typical Partagas profile tends to be a bit herbal and grassy with bold flavors of wood and strong black coffee which is very present in one of Partagas’ biggest sellers, the Serie D No 4.  The “D 4”,  as many enthusiasts know very well,  is a classic Robusto that defines much of what Partagas initially intended to give the world in a strong full bodied, after dinner cigar.  I’ve smoked boxes of them and, although these can deliver a punch, years in a humidor can result is some of the sweetest flavors you’ll ever find in a cigar of this size.

In wrapping up, I also want to mention that rather than smoking the same cigar or the same brand every time you light up, a full knowledge of all of what Cuba has to offer in it’s world famous product can be a life long passion that is rewarding and very satisfying.  I don’t know any wine enthusiast that only drinks one brand of red or white wine out of France or California.  It is the variety that gives us more to enjoy, more to learn and share with fellow cigar smokers you know.

Montecristo Puritos… Small And Smooth

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The picture above shows an interesting toy that came from Germany back in the 50’s.. The 1950’s, to be more exact..  It is a tiny dog with wobbly legs that stands on a small wooden piece of cut dowel.  Underneath the toy is a wooden button that you push and the dog wobbles and dances as the legs relax and tense with every push.  You have to understand that this is a small toy that fits nicely in a child’s hand so that should give you some idea of the size of the cigar that leans against this contraption.

The Montecristo Puritos is a small cigar with a ring gauge of 26 and a length of 4 1/3″.. Like I said, small.. When I first started smoking Cuban cigars I had no idea about strength, size or anything and always assumed that the larger ring gauge cigars packed more of a punch so I would usually opt for a small ring gauge cigar and found that these little guys could be a bit mean when they wanted.. Not so with the Montecristo Puritos, in fact these are some of the sweetest tasting and easy to smoke cigars you can find.

This is the perfect cigar for a short ride in the car or a quick smoke after breakfast.  I wouldn’t say that you’ll be getting a very complex flavor profile because I believe that there is just so much room inside one of these little cigars and not a great variety of tobacco leaves go into it’s construction.  That being said, you’ll be very surprised, as I was ,a few years back when I started buying them.  Flavors of leather and subtle cedar are present and as you sit back and enjoy one of these little Montecristos don’t expect any form of harshness because you won’t find it. These are as smooth as can be.

When I started experimenting with cigars of this size, I ran the gamut of brands and with what was available in this size and I can honestly say that Cuba produces some very surprising results with cigars so small.  Cohiba, Romeo y Julieta and  Partagas also produce cigars with the same dimensions and each brand will amaze you with, what I consider to be, feats of magic!

Montecristo A…. The Big Daddy

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Since we’re talking about Montecristos lately, I felt that maybe it was time to pay homage to the biggest Montecristo of them all. The Montecristo A is the biggest Monte out of Cuba at 9 1/4 inches long with a ring gauge of 47. Think about it, this is almost the same ring gauge as a Robusto but 4 1/4 inches longer ! I can easily get 2 hours of smoking from a Robusto, when I take my time, so you can only imagine the evening ahead of you after you light up one of these majestic wonders. Plan on sitting back and whatever you do, don’t make any plans for at least the next 3 or so hours.

This gran corona will not start with intense strength, instead you’ll notice it building in intensity in a very slow curve. This is an earthy Montecristo, subtle and leathery, with all of the bean flavors gently evolving in a very mellow manner throughout. Different large cigars coming out of Cuba will vary in strengths but the “A” is one of the richest contributions that Habanos gives us without ever getting harsh in the process.

People are sometimes wary of a large cigar because they will often equate a larger cigar with a stronger cigar but the Montecristo A is one of the milder Montecristos available. One of my favorite things to do is to hand out a few different cigars to my friends as we sit down and spend time comparing the different profiles and strengths. The “A” almost always surprises everyone with it’s gentle approach and elegant performance.

Montecristo- A Cuban Legend !!!

For all of the entries I’ve written for this blog, it has occurred to me that I haven’t really spent as much time on Montecristo Cuban cigars as I could have.. I guess it may have something to do with the fact that these are one of the most popular cigars in the world and I assume that everyone knows all about them… I’ve certainly smoked many of them and have had some of the greatest smoking experiences with a Monte in my hand but, when I think of it, there are probably some folks who have yet to try one.

First of all, make sure that you have an authentic Monte since these are counterfeited in Cuba and sold in packaging that looks like the real thing with bands that will fool even the most experienced aficionado…  The Montecristo No 2 is copied and sold to many many tourists who visit Cuba each year but these are some terrible tasting cigars that in no way resemble the real thing.  The No 2 is a beautiful torpedo measuring 6 1/8 inches long with a 52 ring gauge.  It feels great in the hand and is one of the most consistent cigars coming out of Cuba today.  A few years back it was so popular that every cigar factory in Cuba was pushing them out to keep up with world demand but the consistency and quality took a bit of a dive and Habanos took a brave stand and cut back on production so the quality of years gone by would return.

The Montecristo No 4 is a legend in itself.  This 5 inch cigar with a 42 ring gauge is THE most popular Cuban cigar period!!  It probably has something to do with the size, definitely has something to do with the taste and anyone who knows anything about Montecristo will be able to tell you great stories about the No 4’s they’ve smoked..

A few years back in 2008 Monte came out with an Edicion Limitada called the Sublime.  This was, for me, Montecristo raising the bar for flavor and construction that impressed lovers of Cuban cigars the world over.. This is a very difficult cigar to find these days, if you have a few in your humidor, you are a very lucky smoker indeed.

Other Montecristo staples are the Edmundo, a classic robusto that improves GREATLY with a few years in the humidor.  The tubos are a smaller ring gauge cigar that is great for a day out on the boat or the golf cart.. I guess the grandfather of them all would be the Montecristo A.. With a 47 ring gauge and 9 1/4 inches long, you’ll be enjoying over 2 hours of smoking bliss with medium Montecristo flavors that will dazzle you from third to third..

A bold move taken a few years back from Montecristo, was to come out with their Open Series.  This featured cigars that were considerably milder and that were targeting the new smoker who wanted a mellower smoke.  There are 4 sizes available but my favorite is the Montecristo Open Regata with a sweet and slightly fruity profile that is a great morning cigar..

A lot more can be written today about Montecristo but I’ll save it for another entry.. There are new cigars from Montecristo introduced this year at Havana’s Habanos Festival and after I get my hands on one, I’ll write a review.