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I had to think long and hard before going out to smoke tonight ... reason being, it's a cold, dark night in Wellington. A southerly is blowing straight up from the frigid bowels of Antarctica, and relentless roar of the waves pounding the harbour shores is interrupted only by the occasional bout of hail on the tin roof. Charming. I pick out a cigar, then on reflection, I substitute it for one half its size. Time to head out onto the deck, silently thanking the good Lord for the hill sheltering our house.

The object of my attention is a Sancho Panza Bachilleres, one of a dozen obtained for my cigar club (box date unknown but this looks like a circa 2000 vintage). I've just realised the irony of this choice considering that my wife and baby have just landed in Heathrow - bachelor, indeed! (albeit in another sense of the english term)

Pre-light: the wrapper is odourless and rustic but an agreeable shade of brown. The cigar feels tightly rolled, especially at the head. A quick draw confirms this tight-arsedness, as well as, appropriately, a hint of sheep dung and earth. I nestle it close, as much for the warmth as anything else, and fire it up.

From the get-go this lil' feller proclaims his intentions loud and clear - a big dose of cedar and some leather, a touch of white pepper spiciness through the nose, and a trademark underlying body of salty earth. Altogether encouraging, and as a taste package, somehow comforting. I lean forward to avoid the latest bout of hail and massage out the knot at the head of the cigar with a degree of success.

Coming into the second third, and a dose of herbal remedies livens things up - the pepper has turned green and the smoke has developed a grassy quality to it. What I presume to be ligero is showing its colours somewhat, without dramatically altering the main body. Somewhere after the halfway mark there is a marked shift towards a hearty meal - as if someone had just pulled a shepherd's pie out of the oven, it becomes all meaty, yes we are talking mincemeat here (lamb mince to be precise!) mixed in with a hint of sheep dung and liver - haggis anyone? An ever so slight sweetness, which may have been present in lesser quantities at the start, is now developing around the edges with a cinnamon-like quality. There is a sudden injection of charred paper - ah yes, that would be the band burning, get it off, you twit - but apart from that it remains pretty much the same until the nub. In sum, a core melody of cedar, leather, salt, earth all the way through; and ligero grassiness tuning in but quickly replaced by the hearty meatiness of an honest man's meal.

I must say I was surprised to really enjoy this cigar, it was unexpectedly complex (which for me confirms my decade old hypothesis), and it lasted a decent while too as it was packed to the gunnels with tobacco. I would give it an A verging on A+ or a solid 8.5 out of 10: given the prevailing conditions, it did everything that was asked of it; but then trumped that with surprising complexity and evolution of flavour. You couldn't expect more from a cigar this size.

Of greater note in the annals of cigar smoking - or at least, the irish ones - is that it's the first cigar i've really enjoyed combined with Guinness. The creaminess and slight bitterness of the latter married well with the salt, meatiness, and general un-fruitiness of the Bachilleres. I've had both separately before, but in combination, it was my revelation of the night. Now, time to get off to bed and enjoy the other bit of my newfound, temporary,bachelorhood: sleeping in without a child to wake me up three times in the night and then once and for all at 5am. Yippee !!

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(yes that is a cigar put through the scanner (!) people - no camera around)

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Great review! Loved all the descriptors - Sheep dung.... I won't be too bothered if I don't find this in future cigar taste profiles when I'm smoking!

yes i can't claim to be the author of that one, i think my good father brought that one up and i definitely recognise the aroma - if not the taste!

i find that a lot of tobacco presents this sheep dung quality, i don't find this unpleasant by the way but then again i am a kiwi ;-)

perhaps this is what other people think of when talking of "mushroom" flavours - most mushrooms grown in manure! :rolleyes:

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Thanks for a great review... it now makes sense why I didn't quite enjoy any of the sticks in a box of '99 Bachilleres that I got through Czar's PCC vintage release programme (to be honest, I thought them duds). They did have that pungent manure aspect, salty-sweet carrion meat character that you have so accurately described as a mix of haggis and lamb mince. They were indeed complex and unique, with a stinging ammonia kick... they were just not my kind of flavour profile. Again, thank for a great review.

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Thanks for a great review... it now makes sense why I didn't quite enjoy any of the sticks in a box of '99 Bachilleres that I got through Czar's PCC vintage release programme (to be honest, I thought them duds). They did have that pungent manure aspect, salty-sweet carrion meat character that you have so accurately described as a mix of haggis and lamb mince. They were indeed complex and unique, with a stinging ammonia kick... they were just not my kind of flavour profile. Again, thank for a great review.

while i'm at it, i'll add that the whole cigar was very smooth, in a rustic kind of way - little tannin, no ammonia or harshness at all, soft in the mouth - so i got lucky with these singles. they are rolled so tightly though that i imagine the original box would have a few that were completely plugged.

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Nice review, interesting write up and descriptors. Still got the 'frigid bowels...' comment in my head, for all the wrong reasons I might add ;) At least the NZ weather has been more condusive to sitting outside this last week or so, after the frosts have thawed that is!

Good to c you are making the most of your recently gifted free time!

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  • 1 year later...

with a stinging ammonia kick...

ammonia in a 10 year old Bachilleres? Your box had a problem…

I have a box from '98 (a good one luckily, there are some ugly boxes of that cigar). I love them by it's certainly not a flavour profile that appeals to everyone…

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  • 1 month later...

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