2009 Canada Regional Edition – Vegas Robaina “Petit Robaina”

vr-canada

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.

A Nice Comparison

tryout

Another road trip with my friend Tom earlier this month and that only means one thing, a lot of cigar smoking in the car.  We were on our way from Vancouver to Edmonton, which is in no way a short drive, but it is one of the things we love doing the most.  A car is the best place, in our opinions to enjoy a cigar, and my travel humidor was packed to the lid.  A cigar I had been aging in the humidor for a few months was the H Upmann Sir Winston, this was going to be lit and compared to a big favourite of mine, the Vegas Robaina Don Alejandro.  These are two mighty cigars that were bound to get some time in the ring against each other, it was only a matter of time.

I’ve been giving a lot of attention to the Don Alejandro lately since the guys at The Vancouver Cigar Company are sitting on an amazing box, the next time I go in I’ll see what the date is on the bottom of the box, usually that detail is the first thing I look at when buying cigars.  Something tells me that the cigars in question are only about a year or so old, no matter, they taste incredible.  The Don Alejandro presented us with a small amount of resistance on the draw and the Sir Winston was almost a wind tunnel, I like both options.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when tasting these two cigars back to back, I felt that there would be loads of leather in both cigars but the Don Alejandro won hands down in that part of the competition.  The Sir Winston initially revealed a lot of woods in it’s profile and so did the Vegas Robaina but the Don Alejandro’s cedar notes were sweeter.  One thing I forgot to mention was that the Sir Winston was from a box dated in the fall of 2011 so it was a little older which I thought would mean that it would be loaded with sweetness but no, we sere finding no shortage of dry and powdery dark chocolate and rich coffee.  Still the Vegas Robaina was sweeter.

As the two cigars burned and the miles went by we started to notice that theH Upmann was gaining in strength into the final third while the Don Alejandro kept a pretty even keel and kept it’s smoothness with every puff.  I kept thinking about the dry bean flavours present in the Upmann and how I thought that the Don Alejandro would be so similar but these were two very different cigars.

So you may be wondering which cigar won our approval?  I had so much more hope that the Sir Winston would clobber the Robaina and outclass it by a long shot but this day would reveal a completely different outcome.  It was the Don Alejandro that offered more complexity and evolution as the cigar burned.  It also seemed smoother into the last inch, which is usually my favourite part of any cigar.  The Sir Winston simply didn’t evolve as much and stayed on the same flavour track for the time it was burning.

Would I buy both cigars again and try this test another day?  Sure, as a matter of fact we can’t wait for another trip!

Vegas Robaina-Don Alejandro

Don In A Tree

A few days back I stopped in at The Vancouver Cigar Company and Trevor directed me over to a few new boxes of cigars that had just arrived.  I usually get wrapped up in the excitement of Cuba’s annual releases of ER’s and EL’s, who can blame me, but this time I concentrated on a box from Vegas Robaina, Don Alejandro a 7.6 inch X 49 ring gauge,  very attractive Double Coronas or Prominente ( Factory  Name ).  The special edition cigars make a lot of waves every year and collectors all over the world will not balk at spending a premium to collect and age boxes of these rare and sometimes hard to get cigars while the regular production Cuban cigars, like the Don Alejandro in this case, will sit on the back burner in people’s minds.  I’ve said before and will always maintain that almost every Cuban handmade cigar with the right amount of age will surprise and dazzle lovers of Cuban cigars, regardless of it’s band.  This box of Don Alejandros had a 2011 stamp on the bottom and Trevor mentioned that Havana House, the official distributor of Cuban cigars in Canada, has been sending The Vancouver Cigar Company some very special boxes lately.  One look at the slightly oily and smooth wrappers on these cigars told me that this could be one of these boxes and I felt very lucky to be the first person to pick a few cigars from this presentation of 25

After clipping the head of this Don Alejandro I tested the draw and found only a slight resistance which is perfect in my opinion.  Because these cigars had been resting for going on two years I wasn’t surprised to taste a total absence of ammonia,  only slight hints of black tea and very subtle notes of dark chocolate.  After lighting this rather large and impressive cigar I was initially met with a cedar and toasted tobacco based profile but this only stayed present, and with a bit of an attitude, for a short time before notes of bittersweet chocolate started to accompany this woody taste when the cigar settled down into a more medium strength smoke.  This mellower flavor presentation lasted well through the first third, it continued to show a cedar based flavor profile but evolved into a very sweet cigar with no shortage of honey and milk chocolate.

Well into the halfway mark and over an hour of smoking this Double Corona I started to taste leather in this cigar’s profile, I became transfixed on every puff since I’m used to seeing a cigar with this size become a bit predictable but there were smooth transitions from sweet chocolates to honey, cedar and leather, convincing me that this was one of the best cigars I’ve smoked this year.  I’m a big fan of the Vegas Robaina Famosos, Unicos and Clasicos, I really do love the quality of the tobacco in this line and it’s very distinct taste but the experience of this Don Alejandro was starting to tower over all of my previous memories of smoking this brand.  Final third left me in a bit of a trance-like state, the strength ramped up predictably but the sweetness continued and never really left the flavor profile to the end.  Wow!

If you’re at all curious about this cigar and wish to try a few from this particular box, I’d strongly suggest contacting The Vancouver Cigar Company in the very near future to find out how many are still available.  I’m rarely this rabid about a cigar but I was very pleasantly taken by surprise and thought I’d write a few words about this experience.

Vegas Robaina-Unicos

Unicos

Many Piramides or Torpedo shaped cigars with a 52 ring gauge and just over 6 inches of length thrill smokers with millions consumed annually.  There is something about the shape of this cigar, it’s tapered head and how it feels in your hand as you watch it burn.  Montecristo No 2’s could be the most popular Cuban cigar in this shape, H Upmann has a wonderful torpedo, as does Cohiba with it’s Piramides Extra, the first figurado ( 54 Ring Gauge ) in it’s regular line, but pictured above with it’s elegant band is the Vegas Robaina Unicos.

This Piramide first was produced by by Habanos SA’s line, Vegas Robaina, in 1997.   You’ll taste notes of leather in the pre-draw, then after lighting, this medium to full flavored cigar becomes full of earthy woodiness accompanied with a sweet creamy finish.  I’ve found that instead of a very pronounced evolution, third to third, this cigar seems to have a steady flavor profile that will reveal subtle bean flavors from time to time, making this cigar very enjoyable.

The Vegas Robaina brand, established in 1997, currently produce the Unicos, the Famosos and the Don Alejandro.  Discontinued cigars from this brand are the “Clasicos”, a Lonsdale which is 6.5″ long by 42 ring gauge, and the “Familiar” which is just a bit shorter at 5.6″.   These two sizes will be missed by many and currently there are smokers who are stocking up on boxes of both since this premium Cuban brand ages so well.

This brand was named after the farmland of Alejandro Robaina, whose family has been producing tobacco in the renown Vuelta Abajo since 1845.  Alejandro assumed the role of manager of the family plantation in 1950 then for decades went on to raise tobacco leaves which become wrappers for many premier Cuban brands.  Alejandro died in April of 2010, his plantation is now run in the same tradition by his grandson, Hiroshi.

Aged Vegas Robaina Clasicos

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Anyone who smokes cigars, collects cigars, ages cigars, tirelessly fusses over the humidors will truly appreciate the cigar I want to direct my attention to today…  This is a Vegas Robaina Clasicos from 1999, over a decade old and a beautiful handmade Cervantes that is of bold medium strength with a perfectly balanced profile of creamy taste, spicy woody notes and dark chocolate.   I’ve only smoked one from this box last year, so although I can remember that this was a superlative cigar, the exact flavors will have to be re-visited tonight to be able to explain their true identity.

Here is one reason, again, to keep a log of all Cubans smoked and record your experiences from cigar to cigar… Well… I’m not sure why I don’t keep a log, I think its because I know I’ll be smoking more cigars and that I’ll be able to expand on my cigar experience as the years go by… Plus… I’ve never had the urge to write down all of the information as I’m smoking a cigar. I do try to keep all of the bands and frame them because as time goes on my den is going to be a tribute to all of the cigars I’ve had.

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