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Greetings again dear friends! Below are a number of video reviews of cigars which I've termed 'uncommon' due to their discontinuation (or hiatus), premium exclusivity or simply for the fact that as cigar enthusiasts we're more unlikely to reach for them from our humidors! Again, like the 2017 Xmas Sampler Series, I'd like to say that speaking 'on-the-fly' about cigars is certainly a challenge and I will need to acknowledge errors throughout this series (so bare with me). Also, please feel free to share your thoughts on these cigars in this thread. If you have views or opinions contrary to what has been stated, please feel welcome to express your thoughts and say so, after all, my own views here is intended to serve as a guide.
One of the best things about our FriendsofHabanos community are the regular competitions our host runs for the benefit of our community. It was one such competition in June this year, the Sublime Selfie Weekend Competition that, thanks to you, enabled me to win a prize of 5 regular production cigars. The timing of that competition was impeccable. I was coming to the end of a hectic June work period and looking forward to a well-earned holiday break, and this competition was coincidentally on the winter solstice so I made sure to get away as soon as I could to enjoy a cigar in the sunset. After acclimatising the cigars to my humidor for 90 days, I decided to review them in appreciation of their reception, and so give back a benefit to our members in sharing how these cigars smoked. The cigars in the image below are, from left-to-right; H.Upmann Magnum 46, Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchills, Saint Luis Rey Regios, Cohiba Siglo II and the Montecristo No.2. Below are the cigars I smoked in order... Saint Luis Rey Regios Vitola: Hermosos No.4 - 48 ring gauge x 127 mm or 5.0 inches I started this review series with the Saint Luis Rey Regios. Why? I had an aged Saint Luis Rey Serie A the week before so I figured that it would be great to compare notes. Plus, with the Double Corona and Serie A in a current production hiatus or possibly deleted, it gave me a chance to see what Saint Luis Rey currently represents. The Regios has been in consistent supply in the last year, going by how often it comes up on 24:24 listings. Our host, El Pres, recommends smoking these sooner than later, and after researching the topic, I deduced that the Regios is indeed not a cigar that benefits greatly from aging, unlike the Serie A. This cigar was medium-strength, light toast and hay, with elements of a honey sweetness at times and a cocoa edge. The thing about this cigar is, it needed to be smoked slowly to prevent acridity, as that toast, hay and tobacco flavour was dominant, but when smoked slowly and allowed to remain cool, this Regios rewarded me with elements of those sweeter flavours. I wonder with marcas such as Saint Luis Rey and Trinidad, whether there is a 'fine line' between complexity and muddled blandness, you know, when it seems all the flavours roll-into-one. They can reward you and they can punish you, bring you joy and make you weep in frustration, yet you still feel inclined to persist because they can be so good. Cohiba Siglo II Vitola: Marevas - 42 ring gauge x 129 mm or 5.1 inches Cohiba is a marca that polarises cigar enthusiasts. Firstly, there's the marked-up price, which in the past 12 months was increased 10%, in comparison to most other marcas increasing by an average of 3% and then secondly, there's the flavour profile that leaves some people wondering where's the appeal (to them). I must admit, that the great majority of my friends who I share this noble hobby with, enjoy Cohiba (and Montecristo) just as much as I do, which is saying something when you factor in Australian taxes on cigars. So what was it like to smoke this Siglo II fresh? The grassiness was the dominant flavour, with espresso coffee just a little behind. There was a little honey, but not much and spice through the nose, but no cream texture to be found. It was distinctly Cohiba, but I admit I do like them rested at least 3 to 5 years. Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchills Vitola: Montesco - 55 ring gauge x 130 mm or 5.1 inches If Cohiba and Montecristo represent two marcas I find great comfort in, than Romeo y Julieta and Bolivar alternatively represent two marcas which I find tend to make me suffer. If given a modern context, I wonder if Jesus would revise his famous saying in Matthew 11; "Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest, except if you've had a Romeo y Julieta cigar that is all toasted tobacco, then you are on your own!" Well, this Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchills was such a pleasant surprise. In fact, of all these cigars, I'd consider this one to have been the best in light of their comparative youthfulness. It had excellent construction, great amounts of smoke per draw, the aroma at cold was a wonderful barnyard cocoa that instantly appeals to many an experienced cigar aficionado and it delivered. A touch under medium, this is not the type of cigar that obviates simplicity, it's not complex and that's not why you'd smoke this. Its combination of toast, tobacco and a cream cherry edge all throughout made it quite satisfying for me. Mind you, don't fret, I have Bolivar and Romeo y Julieta in my humidor, and it's cigars such as this one which make me re-visit the marca from time-to-time, even if the 55 ring gauge made me 'sip' it from the head. Then again, the larger ring gauge made me slow down and really savour this cigar. H.Upmann Magnum 46 Vitola: Coronas Gordas - 46 ring gauge x 143 mm or 5.6 inches I was reading over @ATGroom's excellent blog, (A Harem of) Dusky Beauties tonight, and apart from being elated that it's back online (I was only remarking to a few Sydney FoH members last night that it down since Cuban Cigar Website crashed in December 2016 - it's nice to be corrected in this instance), I was intrigued to learn that the H.Upmann Magnum 46 was the 9th most common vitola in Cuban Cigar Website members' inventories (the H.Upmann Half Corona was 8th). This Magnum 46 showed me how young it was. It had its H.Upmann espresso coffee and shortbread, but it had its toasted tobacco too, which made it a little over medium in strength. Perhaps some slight licorice redeemed this for me somewhat, as I did enjoy it well into its last third, yet my preference for Magnum 46's is a milder coffee, shortbread, cedar and hay expression, with a touch of spice. Then again, I think that this Magnum 46 was the type that @Chickenlassi enjoyed when he wrote this review a few years ago, you know, the kind of cigar that Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone would digest for breakfast, lunch and dinner without blinking! Montecristo No.2 Vitola: Piramides - 52 ring gauge x 156 mm or 6.1 inches I consider myself very fortunate to have had a great run of Montecristo No.2's this year, perhaps the last 8 to 10 have been all consistently superb. What can I say? I just love them, when they are 'on' that is. This cigar was exactly 'off' in comparison, it had excellent construction, a great draw and smoked well. So what was this issue? The wrapper shade! Yes, I prefer a lighter wrapper shade on my Montecristo No.2's, the type that give a lovely milk coffee, nut and cream combination. I find darker wrappers on Montecristo No.2's can make the cigar more intense, with more emphasised flavours of toasted tobacco and dark cocoa or chocolate, as this cigar was. But as cigars are a subjective experience, there's nothing wrong if you enjoy your Montecristo No.2's to be more intense in strength and flavour. If so, then this Monte 2 is for you!
I've decided to post my 2016 Xmas Sampler Review in the Review Section for future reference purposes. It was originally posted in February this year in the 'Daily Smoke' thread... Cigars I've smoked lately... The 2016 Xmas Sampler (dedicated to our dear friend @Hurltim) Did you happen to pick up El Pres' 2016 Xmas Sampler? These cigars represent Rob's most consistent quality cigars for 2016. I smoked through these fine cigars during my January vacation time, on my own, watching sport, watching movies and sometimes in the fine company of some other dear fellow cigar enthusiasts. I promised Hurltim I'll review these when done, but as February is a busy month in Australian work life culture (as a result of everyone returning from leave en masse!), I've finally been able to find some time to share my findings! Firstly, below are the 13 cigars included... They are, from left to right, Diplomaticos Bushido, Diplomatico No.2, Bolivar Coronas Gigantes, Partagas Lusitanias, Montecristo No.1, Fonseca No.1, H.Upmann Magnum 56 LE 2015, Ramon Allones Club Allones LE 2015, Punch Punch, Bolivar Belicosos Finos, San Cristobal de La Habana La Fuerza, Hoyo de Monterrey Le Hoyo du Prince and Cohiba Robustos. My review will follow in chronological order... 1. Ramon Allones Club Allones LE 2015 (SOM Dic 15) I decided to start off with the 'powerhouses', the most full-bodied of the lot. I smoked this and the BBF watching the Boxing Day Cricket Test, which is traditionally Australia's most watched and attended event of the sporting summer. The Australian cricket captain, Steve Smith and leading bowler, Mitchell Starc were hitting runs aplenty on this day of the test, and it was exciting to watch Australia comeback to bowl Pakistan out and win the game. This cigar was so strong, much stronger than other RACA I've had. It had the traditional stewed profile that I enjoy in Ramon Allones, but the nicotine buzz of this wore me out by the late afternoon. 2. Bolivar Belicosos Finos (TOR May 16) So, by the time lit this in the early afternoon I was somewhat feeling a little drowsy, on account of the strong Ramon Allones Club Allones LE I had earlier and the warm weather of this particular Sydney afternoon. I thing I enjoy about BBF's are when they have an element of cream to them, alas, no such luck here. It had typical flavours associated with this vitola such as earthiness, leather, sour dough spine dipped in coffee and dark chocolate. Still, I hold hope for the next BBF I smoke! 3. H.Upmann Magnum 56 LE 2015 (MEG Mar 16) This is the special cigar I decided to have on New Year's Day this year. I made a Brandy Alexander for myself and my wife, and together with my standard long black espresso coffee, this cigar was one of the highlights of my summer! What can I say in regards to accolades about the H.Upmann Magnum 56? Smoke aplenty, mild chocolate (like all limited editions, eh?), toasted tobacco, licorice and so beautifully refined. Yes, I wish it wasn't 56 ring gauge, but I used my Credo 3-in-1 punch cutter again on this and 'sipped' it from the back. 95 minutes of pure joy and yes, I gladly nubbed it...look below! 4. Hoyo de Monterrey Le Hoyo du Prince (TOR Jun 16) When I smoked this on the 3rd of January, little did I know that I would be saying goodbye to a dear friend. Why, oh why did I not get more boxes? Oh well, I'll live with what I have and I'll try to get some more this year, if I can. Still, I'm in disbelief in regards to this fine cigar being deleted in 2017. Rob mentioned in his tasting notes the following,..cream, cedar, bitter cooking chocolate and black coffee. This description is about spot on for me. My recommendation for all Le Hoyo line HdM, is to age them. If you enjoy them young, try to smoke through half a box, and rest what's left for a minimum 5 years. That combination of cream and cedar, when aged, is just so ineffable. Some of you will know what I mean. 5. Punch Punch (ALO Mar 16) Did you get yourself a 50 cab of these recently? Well, I certainly hope you did. The Punch Punch will be around in 2018, but only in 25 dress boxes, there's something nostalgic about this in 50 cabs that this cigar deserves. Again, I very much enjoyed this, cream, leather, spice...just Punch at its finest, and how surprised was I on account of its youthfulness? I wish there were two of these in the sampler! 6. Diplomaticos No.2 (TOS Mar 16) This was the very best of all the cigars I smoked from the Xmas Sampler. Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Sourdough...just 100 minutes of sweet joy that I hope Habanos S.A can replicate for this cigar for sometime. If you've put this away, or are smoking through some TOS 15/16 Diplomaticos No.2 currently, you are truly fortunate! 7. San Cristobal de La Habana La Fuerza (TOS Mar 16) Cocoa, coffee, molasses and sweetbread...this is quintessential San Cristobal de La Habana. This is a marca I absolutely adore because I'm a sweet tooth. This cigar was very, very good and I was well-satisfied, but it goes to show how good the Punch Punch and Diplomaticos No.2 were on this day for me to rate those vitolas higher. 8. Cohiba Robustos (ETP Jun 16) This, and the next two cigars, I enjoyed in the company of some fine Sydney Friends of Habanos members at a get together at my house. Again, it was a warm Sunday summer's day, but this Robusto was still distinctively Cohiba, with that combination of grass/hay, honey, citrus and cream we all know and love. 9. Fonseca No.1 (UME Mar 15) Apparently this cigar has been deleted a few years ago, but it just seems to go into production now and then ever since the announcement. Wood, floral notes, soft marshmallow and very, very mild. This is suitable for a change of pace. Construction on this was outstanding! 10. Montecristo No.1 (BUM Abr 15) How good is it to have this Lonsdale cigar smoking this well? This was the third cigar of our get together and I think I saved the best for last! Montecristo cocoa, cream and leather in a 1 and 3/4 hours smoke. I don't think I have these often enough! 11. Diplomaticos Bushido (TOS Oct 15) This is an incredibly special Asia Pacifico Regional Edition release. You know this from the very fact that the cigar is tapered at the head, a Numero 109, a vitola saved for the very best cigars. And, this is one of those cigars so deserving of that praise. I saved this for a get together with Trevor and Alex to discuss Cuban Cigar Website on a mid-week day in January. Unfortunately, the day was extremely hot, over 100°F (38°C). Still, I savoured that Diplomaticos sourdough and cinnamon goodness, and the fine, fine company! 12. Partagas Lusitanias (OBM Jun 16) I can't remember the last time I had a double corona, but after having this, I made sure to pick up a box from a 24:24 sale soon after. I found this like a milder Partagas Shorts...mild, smooth spice, coffee and sourdough. It went for 2 hours and 5 minutes and after I finished it I wanted to light one up immediately thereafter! 13. Bolivar Coronas Gigantes (PUR Mar 16) I smoked this watching 'La La Land' with my wife and boy did this cigar send me there. Oh what a pity it's being deleted, and even though Bolivar is not favourite marca on account of the earthiness in its profile, still, I can appreciate the spice, coffee and toasted tobacco spine. How apt I should end the Sampler series on this cigar. Farewell BCG...you will be long remembered!
Format: Double Robusto Dimensions: 56 ring gauge x 150 mm Date: Saturday 25th of June, 2016 Cold Draw: A lovely, quality barnyard and tobacco smell. The cold draw was good with cocoa, bean and barnyard flavour coming through. Lit: 1:00 p.m. Initial Draw: I used my 3-in-1 Credo Punch Cutter, using the largest 14 mm cut, to make a perfect punch. (After) The first few draws in and I could easily tell that this was quality cigar. It was medium to medium-full in body, but the smoke output was exceptional. Chocolate, Upmann Shortbread, perhaps licorice, and a hint of pleasant spice through the nose. First Third: I've paired this with a nice black espresso, my usual beverage of choice. I'm telling myself to slow down as I want to take multiple puffs, much like what Laurence Davis does in his Sautter Video Cigar Reviews when he enjoys a cigar. Thankfully for me, the burn is a little uneven, so this forces me to slow down and reflect/contemplate the cigar experience so far. (There's) Some nice, mild spice is detected now with each puff. As I see the burn start to correct itself (the sign of a quality cigar), I can make out the iconic H.Upmann toasted tobacco profile married with hints of pepper. (There's) Exceptional smoke still per draw. Second Third: The Upmann toasted tobacco and pepper is coming through stronger now, but is not overpowering the cigar to the point where you'd want to re-visit this in 3-6 months to get some flavour out it, as there's flavour to be had now! There's a little licorice to each puff, I'd describe it as being more than your standard chocolate flavour which you associate with recent Limited Edition releases. I am really enjoying the subtle spice and pepper on the aftertaste. The burn has corrected perfectly and smoke output is consistently outstanding. Final Third: At the beginning of the final third, and the question I ask myself is, "how do I slide off the band/s?" Experience tells me to slide off the 'El 2015' band forward, and use the heat of the cigar to attempt to slide off the other one later. The intensity is identical to the second third, again, another sign of the quality of this cigar. As I draw down I marvel at how smooth this is in comparison to the second third and I'm well-pleased that I have had the opportunity to review it at the 12-month stage. With very careful manipulation, I was able to slide off the large H.Upmann 56 band towards the head of the cigar. Completed: 2:30 p.m. Conclusion: I am indebted to my dear friend and brother-of-the-leaf Jimmy (jimsta10) for gifting me this superb cigar to review. I also struggled (mentally) with the concept of a 56 ring gauge cigar prior to lighting, I much prefer a standard ring gauge 42 mm Marevas or Corona/Corona Grande cigar. I'm not going to excuse the size though, it is a jaw-breaker. I compensated for this by 'sipping' from the 14mm punch cut all the way throughout smoking the cigar, at least the smoke output was able to compensate for small draws and maximum flavour/s! It's easy to understand why El Presidente has found it difficult to keep his hands off these so young, the fact is that this is brilliant. If you've haven't committed to getting a box or partaking in a split, the simple truth is, you've made a mistake. You simply must get your hands on this! My recommendation is to smoke one every 3 to 6 months, and patiently wait until they get to 3 to 5 years in age, when they will become exceptional in my opinion. In the meantime, I aim to re-visit the other recent Limited Editions (2015 Ramon Allones Club Allones, 2014 Cohiba Robusto Supremo, Bolivar Super Corona and Partagas Seleccion Privada) in the next coming weeks to compare.