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‘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.

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Romeo y Julieta Short Churchill

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There’s something about the Romeo y Julieta Flavor profile that is so consistent, you really CAN count on that flavor to be there whenever you light one up.  Today’s picture was taken this past September on a golf course called Dakota Dunes just outside of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  Initially I thought that I’d choose another picture because the condition of my golf glove but the cigar was so good that I felt that there was no way I wouldn’t include it in today’s entry.   Tom and Sid were my golfing buddies that day, the wind was howling, making the game a bit interesting and the cigars burned very unevenly but the taste was incredible.  Lets get back to the Romeo profile with this incredible cigar. Spice, leather and cedar to start and then the flavor evolution begins into the first third.

As I started writing this today I actually went to the humidor and lit one of these Short Churchills, about 1/2 an inch has burned so far and the cigar is settling in nicely.  Slight draw resistance, which I believe is perfect, and pre-light draw was giving me notes of black tea and wild hay.  I seem to be tasting a bit of tea in the first few puffs, that is also part of the Romeo taste in that the tobacco blend contains Cuban tobacco leaves which will give you quite an herbal experience. With just under an inch of this cigar gone and the ash holding firmly I’m getting a sweet musky taste.  THIS is what separates Cuban cigars from Non-Cubans, it’s muskiness.  It is also the most identifiable characteristic in Cuban tobacco.

At 4.78 inches long and a ring gauge of 50, we’re almost looking at a Robustos but that small amount of length will prevent us from labeling it with that classification.  I gotta say though, it sure feels the same, its the 50 ring gauge that gives you that sensation.  Still in my first third and sweet coffee is now making an appearance with a musky leather finish.  With the white ash holding firmly, I set this short Churchill down in the ashtray and marvel at the way organic Cuban tobacco leaves can give us such a ride.

Second third gone and pepper now appears with dark wood notes coming into the picture, no harshness, every puff being smooth as silk.  This is a world class cigar, I mean I love the Romeo y Julieta Churchill and I’ve smoked hundreds of them but for a shorter format this Short Churchill is one of the great cigars that Cuba puts out today.

The Right Environment

machine-made-romeo9376y59 Nothing makes me happier than going to one of my humidors, seeing that the moisture level is accurately being monitored with my digital hygrometer and its reading anywhere between 69 to 71.  That tells me that the humidity level is exactly where it should be for aging and storing fine handmade Cuban cigars.  A higher moisture level will result in mold forming on my cigars ( game over ) and anything considerably lower would result in cigars being too dry and bitter when I smoke them.  If you’re planning on aging a cigar for 20 or 30 years, you can get away with the humidity level in a humidor being in the low 60’s but if you’re in any way similar to my way of living, then you’ll probably be smoking them sooner, quite a LOT sooner.

The cigar in the picture is a Romeo y Julieta No. 3 that I’ve had for 4 years.  This is a smaller machine made cigar which appears a bit rough but that’s because I took a close up of the cigar to try to show the small amount of plume that is forming on it’s wrapper.  If you end up with plume or bloom on your cigars, you have an environment in your humidor that is perfect for aging Cuban tobacco.  Pray to every God you can think of that this happens to you, anything less, then you need to do a bit of adjusting to your moisture and heat levels.

Think about what happens to a bottle of fine wine that is left in a warm, even hot and sunny spot in your house.  After a year or two, the only thing the wine would be good for is cooking in a recipe that calls for a bitter purple vinegar.  You wouldn’t treat your wine that way and it’s best to not treat your cigars in the same manner.  A chemical transformation is taking place in your humidor where you are dealing with tobacco that is slowly fermenting, which results in the flavors in the cigar smoke becoming less harsh, less bitter, smoother and more suited for the sophisticated palate.  Many aficionados will not smoke a cigar that is younger than 10 years old, but some of these people also have humidors that hold 10,000 plus cigars.  There’s a whole big world of cigar smokers that have different sizes of bank accounts, different tastes and preferences when it comes to cigars from different cigar producing nations.

I’m simply happy when my cigars age the way they should and taste great!

Romeo y Julieta Cedros Deluxe No 2

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At 5 1/2 inches long and a 42 ring gauge, this Romeo y Julieta Cedros Deluxe No 2 should give you over an hour smoking time of some of the smoothest Cuban tobacco from Romeo y Julieta.  Easily very underrated,  these Coronas comes wrapped in a very thin sheet of Spanish cedar, giving not only a beautiful presentation to the cigar but infusing the taste of cedar to the already complex Romeo flavor profile which many of you are familiar.

Here again is a perfect cigar for someone just introduced to the passion of smoking Cuban cigars because of it’s mild to medium strength with a slightly nutty finish and notes of cedar throughout.  Halfway through this cigar you may even notice a sweetness developing that becomes somewhat illusive depending on how fast you smoke a cigar.  Because of this cigar’s gentle approach, I found myself waiting as long as my patience would allow between puffs, since the real beauty with this cigar appears with the coolest possible flame.

I firmly believe that Spanish Cedar is Cuban tobacco’s best friend.  Quality humidors are lined with this wood and can greatly assist in the aging process of fine cigars.  Inside one of my humidors I have quite a potent cedar aroma and this is where I store and age cigars of a woody nature.  It has enhanced the flavor of many cigars I’ve picked up from “The Vancouver Cigar Company”, their bundle Churchills in particular.

Romeo y Julieta Escudos LE 2007

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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.

Romeo Y Julieta.. A True Legend

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To anyone who has smoked a Cuban cigar, in particular a Romeo Y Julieta, the memory of the flavor profile is something that won’t be leaving you for quite some time.  Aficionados around the world have chosen this Cuban brand for its medium strength and complex variety of flavors that evolve and dance around the tongue from first third until the time the nub is set down in the ashtray.

Around 1875, when the brand was born, Romeo won numerous awards for it’s premiere tobacco and quality cigars but in 1903 the brand took a giant jump in the world market due to the efforts and marketing strategy of one Jose “Pepin” Rodriguez Fernandez, the head of the firm, Rodriguez, Arguelles y Cia.  Rodriguez traveled world wide and promoted the brand to rich and prominent clients, some of whom demanded that they have their own band with their names proudly displayed.  It was a scheme that propelled Romeo Y Julieta’s sales through the roof and at one time as many as 2,000 different bands were printed..  Talk about a pure tribute to good book keeping.. This was before the computer was even thought of.

I can safely say that I’ve smoked over 150 Romeo Churchills and cigar after cigar, this one has proven to be consistent, smooth and complicated with many flavors coming to the forefront without ever seeming to be unbalanced.  I read somewhere that Winston Churchill, whom this cigar was named after, smoked up to 11 a day.. Lets, for a moment,  direct our attention to the amount of time it takes to smoke a Churchill.  I’ve smoked them slowly for over 2 1/2 hours and that would mean that as long as Winston’s eyes were open, he was furiously puffing on one and then lighting another as soon as the last one was finished.  I can only imagine what his clothes looked like with all of the ash marks.

The Romeo tubos have become a favorite of mine as well because of the flavor and convenience of their packaging.  Nothing is easier than dropping one of the red and white tubes in a jacket pocket when I go out at night and the knowledge that it is safe from breaking or drying out is something I value greatly..  A few years back I came back from Havana with a box of Romeo Y Julieta No 3’s and I developed a real love affair for that little cigar.  It is great with coffee after breakfast and will only take under an hour to smoke.. I have 2 left and one is in the picture above.

This is a legendary brand that was named after William Shakespeare’s tragedy of two lovers that was read to cigar rollers by lectors many times over.  A very romantic tale and a truly legendary Cuban cigar.

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The tin of cigars I was given a few days ago from my brother-in-law is pictured above but not Cuban but from The Dominican Republic.  I’m normally a Cuban lover and prefer the flavor coming from that island than the neighboring countries but a few things caught me off guard.  These small cigars, about the size of a perla, were quite enjoyable but not in the same category as their Cuban cousins.  I guess I’m a bit of a magpie when it comes to shiny objects and this box was an example of fine packaging and I had to take a pic and save it in my cigar files.

I’ve smoked some wonderful Romeos in the last few years and one of my favorites is the Romeo Y Julieta Churchill .  The British statesman smoked so many of this size that the Cuban cigar producing giant named a cigar in his honor.  It is one of the biggest selling Churchills coming out of Cuba today and for many reasons.  The flavor profile present in this cigar can be dependable in that it delivers a very consistent set of flavors that come through from cigar to cigar.  Consistency in the construction is second to none and when aged, these churchills are nothing short of inspiring to lovers of this size.

Others worth noting from this brand are the Romeo Y Julieta Exhibicion No 4, the Romeo Y Julieta Short Churchill, ALL of the Romeo Tubos and the newest from the line, the Romeo Y Julieta Wide Churchill..

This will be a brand that will be in my humidor as long as I smoke Cuban cigars.  Cigar smokers who are familiar with this brand have probably had a long history with them and that is why they sell in great numbers world wide.

Romeo y Julieta Puritos… The Perfect 20 minutes

I may have brought up these wonderful little cigars in the past but yesterday I picked up a box of these Romeo y Julieta Puritos because of a short trip I made and the short amount of time I had on my hands I had to smoke and, once again, I was reminded how great these cigars tasted.

4 1/2 inches long and a 29 ring gauge may not appear to be a size of cigar that would deliver a smooth taste but don’t let the small size fool you.  Although you may not experience the complexity that a Wide Churchill or an Exibicion No. 4, a personal favorite, will give you but a beautiful Romeo y Julieta profile comes through nonetheless.

The smooth flavor starts off with a mild spicy Romeo flavor into the first third then a subtle change greets you into the second.  Slight chocolate and cedar is probably what you’ll be tasting as you smoke this down to the final third but in 20 minutes of so you’ll find that you can get a beautiful cuban tobacco smoke that will make you wonder how they do it!  These were probably young little cigars and although age would improve the taste, you still get the feeling that you are holding a winner.

Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchills

Last time I was at “The Vancouver Cigar Company” I asked for something new and exciting and was directed over to something VERY exciting indeed.  I’ve always been a fan of Romeo y Julieta cigars and when I had the opportunity to finally get my hands on the Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchills I jumped at the opportunity and picked up a few.  The first thing that caught my eye was how well these cigars are rolled, every one in the box looked perfect and when I handled a few I noticed that these cigars are nicely evenly packed without any soft spots or hard lumps under the band.

This cigar feels great in the hand with a 55 ring gauge and a length of 5 1/8 inches, a big cigar with what I expected to be a big attitude as soon as it was lit.  I wasn’t let down by a meek and mild approach as this Wide Churchill started off with a powerful taste, reminiscent of what the Romeo y Julieta Short Chuchill gave us when it was young.  I am a fan of young and aged cigars alike, loving what the Cuban blends taste like, months after they are rolled and what they become after a few years in the humidor.  This Wide Churchill’s first third was a bold example of the Romeo profile, rich with spice and subtle notes of wood and dark chocolate.

As I got halfway through this cigar I noticed it mellowing a bit and giving me a bit more spice and vanilla that I love so much in Cuban cigars but into the final third I was reminded that I had a big handful of tobacco that was burning perfectly and evenly but on it’s way to delivering me a dose of nicotine that I was prepared for.  Remember the “Duke” ?? That one was a tribute to nicotine when it was young but the Wide Churchill didn’t have the same kick, which suited me fine!  By the way, the Duke has settled down and has become a wonderful 2009 Limited Edition.

Make no mistake, this is an after dinner smoke with a bold approach and a balanced Romeo blend that will age beautifully and become a classic!