Vegas Robaina Clásico

A very new brand, established just in 1997 by Don Alejandro Robaina, one of the best tobacco farmers on the island of Cuba. Don Alejandro lived a full life and died of cancer in 2010 being 91 years old. Who said the Cigars are not good for you? The major part of his crop was used for wrappers, he was thát good. Today this multi-local brand with minor market share has only three expressions left, since two of the five expressions were deleted.

  1. Don Alejandro, a Double Corona, 49 x 194mm.
  2. Famoso, a Hermoso no.4 (Corona Extra), 48 x 127mm (almost a Robusto sized cigar).
  3. Unico, a Pirámides, 52 x 156mm.

This year, probably to save good tobacco for other Habanos brands, and due to the popularity of fat cigars, the other two relatively slender Vegas Robaina expressions were discontinued. Today anything under ø48 is considered ‘thin’.

  1. Familiar, a Corona, 42 x 142mm, and last but not least,
  2. Clásico, a Cervantes or Lonsdale, 42 x 165mm.

I’ll have a look at the latter one.

Vegas Robaina Clásicos (42 x 165mm, Cervantes, Lonsdale, Box code unknown)

Color & Looks: Colorado, on the light side of colorado actually. Rustic looking, no large veins. Firm and good build.

A cru: Deep tobacco smell. Leafy like nice old books. It also has a mocha or chocolaty side to it. Even unlit it oozes strength, but still in a way it smells fresh and green. Sandalwood. Freshly cut, more chocolate and powdery dry. Good first impression, elegant maybe (due to some perfume). It’s not salty on the lips, but maybe a bit soapy. Mind you it’s not soapy in the taste. Burn is uneven around the vein, otherwise burn is all right. An unbelievable dark ash and thick impenetrable smoke.

Taste: Already after a centimetre or so, it’s obvious that this isn’t a beginners cigar. Its tarry and very spicy. Hints of petrol. Wow, heavy cigar, that goes wonderfully well with water and this made my espresso taste like something for children. I guess that if you want this to accompany a drink, you should pair this with a very heavy rum, a sweet one perhaps. Lots of smoke. Some kind of industrial grade? It’s funny it’s so heavy-duty since it smelled so elegant a cru. Ash is gray, dark grey and black, with countless tiny light grey spots. No white ash whatsoever. Some plastics and popcorn in the finish.

I found it very heavy and very linear in developement. I knew beforehand that this would be very strong, but not as much as this. It has enough nicotine to last you for a week. One plus though. It doesn’t leave a three-day (bad) taste in your mouth.

Points: 77

Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No.2

Heatwave over here, so a nice day to sit outside on the porch. I had a craving for a Robusto sized cigar and I noticed I haven’t reviewed a Hoyo de Monterrey yet. Therefore getting an Epicure No. 2 out wasn’t a hard task at all. My aged Epicure No.2 must be pre 2008, since it doesn’t have the second band that modern Epicures have. yes Epicures. The are a few around. There is an Epicure No. 1 (Corona Gorda), an Epicure Especial (Gordito) and in 2010 there was a Double Epicure (Doble) and in 2012 an Epicure de Luxe (Mágico) saw the light of day. Some of those were first a Edición Limitada. Hoyo de Monterrey was established in 1865 and is a Global brand selling lots and lots of cigars. There also is a plethora of choice, and all are known to be light yet for the connoisseur.

Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2 (50 x 124mm, Robusto, Box code unknown)

Color & Looks: The feel is spongy, also some small holes in the wrapper, and even the foot has a little tear in it. That doesn’t bother me since it always is the first to burn. One larger vein and some vague green spots, but that is all. If you look at the whole it looks pretty good and smooth.

A cru: Leavy and wet, a very elegant smell. Mildly woody with some paper thrown in and the whole smells rather light. After the cut it becomes very nutty, with cardboard and grassy. No salt on the lips. Draw is easy. Very light in fact. When the cigar gets warm if feels even more spongy and soft. It is underpacked, something that was already noticeable through the very light draw.

Taste: First impression it that it is very impressive. Great smell altogether and a lot of smoke. Not fatty full cream, but thin cream with a spicy bite to it. Mild wood spice I would say. For me the creamyness isn’t creamy enough.

The ash from the wrapper is white the rest of it is grey and black. I’m having some mild mocha coffee with this and it doesn’t fit. It hinders all the flavors of the coffee and makes the coffee taste sour. I tried a second cup, strong espresso and that was a bitter. Still this one is better accompanied by water and probably something alcoholic. The outside smoke is really prickly. The first 2 centimetres are a bit ‘nervous’ but after that it settles down, and settles for great balance. Toffee is added to the menu. Still there is little development throughout the cigar.

After some time with this the amount of smoke is really incredible. I’m sitting outside with a little wind and I’m still able to generate a sort of private cloud around myself. Overall this cigar could have been creamier, and for a Hoyo it has a atypical sharp and spicy edge to it. Definitively an after dinner cigar, even though it is light. You can smoke this one untill it burns your lips, isn’t that good value!

Points: 87

Ramón Allones Small Club Corona

Finally some weather for me to sit outside with a cigar. I tried it yesterday, with this very cigar in hand, but I even didn’t get to the part where I could cut it, and it already started to rain. So I had better luck today. Even though I had some time on my hands, I went for this rather small cigar, maybe not small but definitively short. As with most of my cigars, this is a well aged specimen that has some years under its belt. As I’m writing this afterwards it is already raining with lightning and rolling thunder.

Ramón Allones Small Club Corona (42 x 110mm, Minuto, Petit Corona, Box code unknown)

Ramón Allones today is a local brand, so not something you’ll encounter very often. No large selection, only three cigars make up the core range. Besides this Small Club Corona, there are also the Gigantes (49 x 194mm) a Double Corona and the Specially Selected (50 x 124mm) a Robusto. Just like with other local brands a lot more are being issued as an Editión Regional or as an Editión Limitada. These are made in countless numbers. 24 versions since 2005. Local brand they call that, with countless Editión Regionales all over the world!

Color & Looks: Colorado. Some veins and some small specs. Looks decent, firm in the hand.

A cru: Creamy. Nicotine, this may turn out to be a strong one. Dry and musty. Worn out leather. After the cut, whiffs of paper and a vegetal, farmy smell. Lots of aroma.

Taste: Draw is without problems. First whiffs remind me of old cigarettes. Spicy and prickly on the palate. Bonfire and smoke. A bit sour and oaky. After the first centimetre it seems mid strength and the cigar seems to me to be a good aperitif. Just started but this could very well be a favorite short smoke. This little one has a lot of character. Cedar wood and altogether nice balance. It’s a quiet stick. I enjoy it as watching a movie without sound, just reading the subs. Its soothing. Hints of mint and petrol. Half way through, the cigar changes. The smoke is thicker and the cigar shows its strength, you already thought was there. Still a very calming cigar. Appetizing. Second half is built around cedar and pine with menthol.

Ash is grey and white and quite firm. Stays on a long time, burns well, sometimes a little crooked but a small correction with the laser torch suffices. Good build. Smokes well with water and medium strength coffee. Even though it’s no weak cigar, don’t do espresso with this, or maybe you should. I didn’t. Great short smoke. Second half could be a tad better but still this is nice stuff. Recommended.

Points: 84

Partagás de Luxe

…some sunshine, and another chance to finally review another cigar that is with me for quite some time, and thus had the chance to age properly.

Don Jaime Partagás y Ravelo, from Spain, started his own cigar factory named Partagás in 1845. Not much later he was murdered, over… a woman. You’ve guessed it. Partagás was also the first place to have the famous lector. A lector is the person who reads to the workers, from newspapers to good novels. Usually the workers themselves take turns in reading. Partagás is a very big and popular Cuban brand, know to be quite heavy, so not a brand you’ll start with when you are a novice. Note: The Partagás de Luxe was a machine-made cigar up to 2002. Now its a hand-made cigar.

Cuban Partágas de Luxe (40 x 140 mm, Crema, Corona, Box Code LWI SEP 05)

Color and Looks: Colorado, no big veins and rustic looking. The wrapper is ultra thin almost translucent (when warm) and fragile. The one I smoked had some frays at its foot, but it was the only one in the box, so no worries. When holding it, it seems to me it has no weight.

A cru: Woody, soapy and grassy. The foot smells more like hay and leather. Draw just ok, a bit heavy, which I didn’t expect, since its light weight.

Taste: Burns well, good rich smoke. Lots of wood that stings on the palate. It also has all the traits of wood. The spiciness, the sourness, like oak has in some whiskies. The build quality is very high. The ash from the wrapper and binder is white, the filler is gray and black. The ash has millions of tiny dots, that weren’t to visible in it’s a cru state. The wood also shows some cedar now. The taste is very simple and seems to evolve hardly.

Although its woody and dry, it doesn’t seem as strong as I thought, but when combined with double roasted coffee, the coffee seems watery! After 3 centimetres it does get better, some grass is added to the taste. Still very uncomplex but a good friend nevertheless. Ash is firm and fell off three times.

The soapyness gets more and more “there” and is something you’ll want to “away”. Fortunately since this didn’t go well with coffee, it goes well with carbonized water. (This time I had some de-ironed mineral water from France). I won’t be running out to buy a new box of these. There isn’t a lot happening, but what’s there is nice. The build is very good and the draw turned out to be very easy. It didn’t weigh a lot and therefore it burned pretty quick. The black band was glued to the cigar and can’t be removed without ruining the cigar. Unfortunately this band sat quite high, so the end came even sooner. Short spicy, woody and alas soapy smoke.

Points: 71

Rafael González Panatela Extra

Here is a cigar that’s with me for a long time. I bought this box seven or eight years ago, so this had a good chance to age well. Still, this is a Panatela, usually a cigar people buy to smoke quickly and do not give it a chance to let is age. Hey, but I did! Rafael González is a very small brand, that has always been known for a very good Lonsdale or Corona Extra. Now only this Panatela Extra, a Petit Corona and a Perla are made. All small cigars.

Cuban Rafael González Panatela Extra (36 x 127mm, Vegueritos, Short Panatela, Box Code ORE JUN 04)

Color and Looks: Colorado with a big green spot. (It was the only one in the box with a green spot). One larger vein, otherwise smooth surface and no frays. Feels firm.

A cru: Nice ‘old’ smell. Well aged. Nothing overpowering. The foot smells great. With cedar, leather and old books.

Taste: Draw was ok, a bit heavy at first. Great smoke that’s a bit sour. Woody and well rounded out, very balanced. Ageing did this cigar well. Mild smoke. Draw now ok. Mocha, milk chocolate mousse. Firm white ash. Easy, uncomplicated smoke. Again the second-hand smoke smells great. Still it’s not overly complex. Ash falls off rather quickly. The whole taste is on the dry side, woody, cedar, it would have been nicer if it had a creamy component.

Almost halfway its grassy, cool and I detect something chemical, but I can’t put my finger on it. Predominantly white ash with some grey thrown in. After the halfway point the wrapper started to crack. Later I found out that the binder was locally folded and wanted to unfold itself. All this without any problems in draw. The cigar keeps giving you a lot of smoke.

Than the last third, and boy what a turn! When the first part of the cigar is very mild and tasty, the last third is extremely strong. It does have its merits but if you are an inexperienced smoker, this part is the part that turns you green! (I’ve seen it happen to someone at work, with this cigar when it was younger). The strength is well countered by a good coffee, but without is it is extremely drying and a bit harsh. Heavy on nicotine. The ash turns brown so you’ll even have a visual aide in recognizing the last third…

This cigar tastes great with double roasted coffee and also does very well with water. I didn’t try it with anything alcoholic, because the cigar doesn’t call for it. It doesn’t need anything really, it does very well on its own. Beware of the last third! I’m writing this the next day and I still have the taste of the last third firmly embedded in my mouth.

76 Points

P.S. Both guys are really called Rafael González. If you turn out to be one of them, I hope you let me use these pictures.

San Luis Rey Lonsdale

Another fine day to have a quiet smoke on the porch, but not in front of the house but in the back. I know, I know, this is very important information for you. This time it was very easy to pick a cigar from my humidor. I delved somewhat deeper into my humidor to surpass the Robustos and other shorter cigars, to find a candidate among the Lonsdales, Coronas and Double Coronas. This one beckoned, and again it’s a San Luis Rey. It’s a very well aged cigar, it has aged for maybe ten years. Also some sad news. This Lonsdale was discontinued in 2006, since SLR isn’t a main brand anymore, and the tobacco is needed for other brands.

Cuban San Luis Rey Lonsdale (42 x 165mm, Cervantes, Lonsdale, Box Code Unknown)

Color and Looks: Colorado (grey/green). No frays, has some veins, well cut. Looks a bit rustic, but is straight as an arrow. No spots and slightly box pressed. Draw seems ok.

A cru: Smells like a good cigar shop. Grassy and hay, but not young.

Taste: The first whiffs are excellent. No salt on the lips but there is some soapy sensation. After all those Robusto like cigars, this Lonsdale seems rather thin. It’s a good smoke, chocolate. Especially the smoke from outside the cigar is outstanding! White ash throughout. It has some wood but it’s different from other woody cigars. It’s like plywood with furniture wax. Also some almonds. This goes well with carbonated water. It’s a mild cigar. It almost smokes like a (dry) Dutch cigar. It’s funny and maybe a bit insulting, but the best thing going for this cigar is the second-hand smoke, which is simply stunning.

It smokes easily. No problems with draw or burn. Good build. Ash falls off quite quickly. No tunnelling. This cigar makes my Lavazza Sinfonia Espresso taste woody, sharp and dry. The cigar is better. I like this one. I thought the beginning was pretty decent, but the second part is great. Give it some time and you’ll have a happy moment. I’m having this pre dinner, but I think it will work well anytime in the day. Still I don’t consider this to be an everyday smoke. It deserves more respect. Now I try it with double burnt Robusto coffee. Definitively the better choice for this cigar. The coffee tastes creamy, so it complements well.

Why isn’t it perfect then? I recon it could have evolved some more. The last part is rather bland and does nothing for the cigar. It also lacks some complexity. I’ll do another test. This time I’m going to try it with a Bourbon. I chose a Four Roses Single Barrel (the new 50% one). Like the coffee tasted creamy, this Four Roses tasted sweet. Still something unexpected happened. The first sips of Four Roses were done in the second part of the cigar, but when the cigar became bland in its final stage, the Bourbon started to taste better. The cigar’s final stage announced itself with dying down tastes and an addition of menthol. It never became harsh or sharp, but you just know the end is near. Also the ash became darker, even black. Since the Lonsdale is a long cigar, the weaker end wasn’t such a problem.

86 Points

Montecristo Petit Edmundo

Not the best of days, due to hard wind, but still reasonably warm and I just craved a cigar, so it was time to try a Montecristo Petit Edmundo. Now that I’m sitting inside writing this, the sun came out…

Montecristo Petit Edmundo (52 x 110mm, Petit Robusto, Box Code Unknown) saw the light of day in 2006 and is clearly a cigar tailored to two kinds of trend. The first being large ring gauges, fat cigars are in fashion. The second being short. We don’t “have time” anymore to sit down and enjoy a smoke. So we’re in kind of hurry, yet we are still able to enjoy a cigar thoroughly, just not for so long. A bit of a shame though. Personally I still have to get used to those thick ones, just look at this picture, doesn’t it look “Big”? For me anything more than say ø48 looks a bit, well, overdone. But that’s only me and I will try to thoroughly enjoy this cigar.

Ok, why is it called Petit Edmundo? First of all there is also an “Edmundo” that was issued in 2004. The Edmundo is a Robusto Cigar that looks more proportional, also with a ø52 ring gauge. Edmundo is 25mm longer. As I said, we all have no time, so they helped us by cutting off 25mm for us. That’s almost 20% off, and it’s also 20% cheaper, so that sounds ok. You’ll have a choice here that can be dictated by the amount of time you have. There is also a ‘Edicion Limitada’ issued in 2010, that’s called Grand Edmundo, a Robusto Extra, again ø52 and 40mm longer than the Petit Edmundo. The Price to length ratio is again the same, so more choice for those of us who have time on their side. Now for the Edmundo, who was this guy?

This happy camper here is Alexandre Dumas. You might know him from “The Three Musketeers” In 1844-1845 he publicized his second most popular work titled: “The Count of Montecristo”. Hey Montecristo! The main character in this story is Edmond Dantès. Being Cubans they turned Edmond into Edmundo. End of story. Nothing more to it. Let’s move on to the cigar shall we?

Color and Looks: Colorado, beautiful wrapper, no frays and very thin veins. Looks promising.

A cru: Grass, fresh air, plywood and cedar, smells young.

Taste: Cutting was quite a challenge. Keep your cutter sharp! Extremely easy draw. Salty wax on the lips. Abundant smoke from the very beginning. Smoke is woody and spicy. Very dry, no creamy ness at all. Some ammonia. This one is not so much a complement to coffee (Lavazza Sinfonia Espresso Intenso), but reinforces the same tastes. Both do that to each other. They cancel out each others diversity in tastes, a very striking trait. Only the dry woodyness remains. Definitively an after dinner cigar. You know, such a book by the fireplace type of cigar. Brown and black ash throughout. The draw is very easy. You don’t have to do nothing, the cigar smokes itself. Smelling it from the outside it smells a bit like a bonfire.

After the first 2 cm, the first signs of a lesser build quality appear, a crack near the foot of the cigar. It seems the wrapper isn’t strong enough for the growing filler. Further down the line, when the first ash fell off, some tunnelling was visible. When the second and last time the ash fell of a bigger tunnel was visible, wow. More strange phenomena occurred. After the halfway point, the cigar started to burn very unevenly and heavy corrections were needed. At the same time the wrapper started to ripple like the surface of water. It didn’t tear though. Also the cigar had a tendency to go out, so you would have to suck a bit more often to keep it lit.

Well it looked perfectly, very nice wrapper, but as it turned out, it covered a bit what was inside. Taste wise it was an ok cigar, with lots of smoke. Not very much evolution, but still decent taste though. The build quality was a big let down. Burn issues and tunnelling. Seems to me that it’s a popular cigar, and a lot of it is made at different locations. Probably had a lesser one.

75 points