As I adjourn to the sidewalk for my weekend review, I find I have not one or two, but three candidates for the “Ps and Qs” slot: 2019 D4 from April’s 24:24? 2015 Punch Petit Coronation from the old FOH auctions? Hell no! I’m going full Quintero on your ass, hombre. The cigar is a petit robusto, 4 1/2 x 50; vitola de galara (the Cuba factory name, in case your 401K tanks and your retirement plan goes sideways, and you end up needing that information for the floor boss) is “Concha No. 2.” It presents with a highly rustic, veiny, dry, semi-rosado wrapper, with a double cap. They are handmade with short filler, which means scraps from other cigars rather than whole long tobacco leaf. This can often mean bits of cigar unattractively finding their way onto the lips and into the mouth while smoking; to minimize this, I’ve chosen to punch it. I use an 11mm Xikar twist-out punch that I keep on my keychain. It’s One of the largest punches commercially available, and is useful for 40 ring gauge cigars and higher. They retail for about $35. It’s quickly become my favorite way to open a cigar without damaging the roller’s excellent work on the cap. It’s also possible to straight cut or v-cut after a Punch, in case of draw issues, but the reverse is not also true. Punch first, ask questions later. The cold draw is sweet hay, and very open. Wide open. Padron open. The U.S Open. The cigar doesn’t weigh much, but for the money you don’t expect it to: a 25-ct cardboard-enclosed cellophane bundle will run you $60-70US online. I procured a sealed 6-year-old (AMR JUL 14) bundle last month from a friend as part of a larger purchase. Let’s light it up. While torching, I observe that the “room note” (smell of the secondhand smoke off the cigar) is tindery. This is a medium-minus bodied cigar and it is crucial to retrohale (let some smoke seep into the nasal passage) in order to taste it. There’s very little going on on the tongue at first, but if babied with small to medium puffs, a glorious Cuban-tinged sweetness fills the nose. I couldn’t bring myself to call this a delicate cigar. The structure would more accurately be described as, well... cheap. It’s a Jackson Pollack— but a forged one, off by just enough to be noticeable, up close, by a dilettante. Yet it’s still very enjoyable to experience! The flavor notes are a brunchy mishmash— the hay baseline is suffused with some stale, off-label 99-cent store baking spices, banana, vinegar and... Marmite? It’s necessary to completely back off from puffing for a minute or more, so as not to be overwhelmed with the remaining harshness of tobacco that was bundled and cellophaned in 2014 and didn’t receive a proper breath of fresh L.A. air until last week. But give the cigar the respite it requires between herfs and you may get a mouthful of... baked muffins and last summer’s saltwater taffy? As earlier noted, the profile is all over the place. But not disappointingly so. I’m pairing with a room-temperature Tangerine La Croix carbonated water, purchased at the local upscale and horrifyingly expensive Gelson’s Market, because the cases are heavy and I am lazy. A recent new favorite flavor is Peach-Pear, which probably sounds unbearably fruity if you’re not familiar with La Croix. There are no calories or sugar, and the “flavor” level of the beverage has been described as “you’re drinking soda water and someone in the next room loudly shouts the name of a fruit.” Subtle. Avoid the coconut flavor if you value your lunch. The ash on most short-filler cigars wants to drop off after an inch or less, zeroing in on the darkest and most difficult to clean article of clothing you’re wearing at that moment. The Favoritos is no different, though my navy blue cashmere sweater manages to dodge its first flaky bullet. Toward the beginning of the final third, we come to the first twist in the cigar’s picaresque story — it’s gone syrupy. It’s as though Willy Wonka were asked to create a 5-cent-per-gallon (3.785 liters, Oz readers) liquid version of “four year old PLPC,” and a particularly dim Oompa Loompa squirted four times the amount the recipe called for into the butt end of the cigar. Not bad. ...not great. Lose your deliberate puff pacing for a moment, and there’s that harshness, battering the tongue with a flavor akin to the tobacco version of the cardboard and cellophane the cigars came in. The ash is flakier than a Kardashian on a Saturday night, and its colors run from space grey to abandoned asylum hallway tan, with little flecks of “you paid less than three dollars for this cigar” sprinkled in for good measure. The cigar is nearly through, and with the harshness beginning to overtake the profile, I won’t quite nub it. The punch has done its job, and my lips are mercifully clean of floor sweepings, and highly kissable in case Emily Blunt pops by. I hope you’ve enjoyed the cigar as much as I have. Value-per-stick, the Quintero Favoritos is a 90-point cigar. Let’s just leave it at that.