Saint Luis Rey Regios

Another fine day to have a quiet smoke on the porch. This time it wasn’t so easy to pick a cigar from one of my humidors. In the end I settled for something that I always call the “Almost Robusto”.

This Cuban San Luis Rey Regios (48 x 127mm, Hermosos No.4, Corona Extra, Box Code Unknown) is slightly different from the typical Robusto size. Robustos are very popular these days, since they offer a relatively short smoke (nobody seems to have time anymore) with good aroma since it has an impressive ring gauge. Mind you, Robustos are nothing like a Behike, which looks like a tree trunk and makes you over stretch your jaws. Cigars are supposed not to be altogether healthy for you, but nobody thought it would break your jaw physically.

Back to this SLR then. Saint Luis Ray saw the light of day in 1940. Saint Luis is a district in Vuelta Abajo. And just like Por Larrañaga it comes in only three models: Serie A (Corona Gorda), Double Corona and this Regios (Corona Extra). When Por Larrañaga has a lot of Regionales versions. San Luis Rey had only one. In 2009 they issued a Pirámides. SLR is said to be on the stronger side and also uses tobacco leaves from the Semi Vuelta regions.

Color and Looks: Colorado Maduro. No frays, firm, not much veins, well cut. Some green and black spots and slightly box pressed. This one has aged a long time.

A cru: Sour, woody, elegant smell, old leather bicycle saddle, oaky. After I cut it, out comes a fresh, almost ozonic smell with hay and grass. I was a bit surprised by this.

Taste: Very good draw at first and the first whiffs of smoke smells very promising. Inside the mouth and the smoke on the outside, the smoke your average innocent bystander would smell is excellent and elegant. Now some ammonia. Lots of rich smoke that’s very woody. Ash is extremely white, but only from the wrapper. Inside it’s black but no brown core ash. This one should be smoked inside ones library.

After two centimetres the draw becomes cumbersome. You have to work this cigar and there is almost no smoke. Obviously the cigar gets rather hot. As long as it seems blocked there is a piney addition. After 2,5 cm the ash fell of and immediately the draw was good again and the smoke returned. The ash cone worked like a plug. No pine anymore, return of the oak and spice, but still rather linear. I smoked this with a Lavazza doppio espresso and again with some sparkling water. It was OK with the coffee, and it was just OK with the water, but nothing special. I didn’t try it with something else since probably nothing would go very well with it, but of course I could be wrong.

Halfway through, lots of menthol on my tongue, which was a sort of nice effect when drinking sparkling water. You could say the cigar turned a little but overall it’s pretty linear and hot on the tongue. In fact there isn’t a lot happening really. Near the very end I got some notes of inner tubes from a bicycle.

Apart from the problems with its draw, and the lack of evolution, this cigar would have benefitted from a creamy component. But sadly it doesn’t have this so, to sum up this cigar you could say it’s OK. It’s not bad really, it’s decent, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to get this. Lacks in balance and is a let down after the promising start. As I mentioned before SLR are said to be strong cigars. I couldn’t detect that when I was smoking it, but when I finished with it I noticed my hand were trembling, so there might be some truth to that rumour. Definitively a pre dinner cigar since this got me craving for some food afterwards.

74 points

H. Upmann Magnum 48 Edición Limitada 2009

Considering all things nice and beautiful, there’s certainly more than whisky alone to enjoy, well, there’s a lot more actually, and why not try a cigar this time. Winter is over, sun starts to come out  more often, and it’s great to sit outside with a cigar again. But beware. I’ve never reviewed cigars before so let’s see how this goes.

First up a Cuban Edición Limitada 2009 version by H. Upmann (48 x 110mm, Corona Extra or Short Robusto, Box Code Unknown).

H, or Herman for friends, was a banker who was interested in cigars for personal use. After seeing the possibilities for a cigar business, Herman decided to start his own brand in 1844. Much, much later, Prez John F. Kennedy liked Herman’s Petit Corona’s so much, he had his assistant buy all of Herman’s Petit Corona’s they could find the day before announcing the embargo on Cuba.

Upmann used to be famous for their stellar Churchill. More recent is the popularity of their Magnum 46 (46 x 143mm, Corona Gorda). Two more Magnums saw the light of day. First the Magnum 50 Edición Limitada 2005 (50 x 162mm, Double Robusto) and of course our Magnum 48.

Color & Looks: Colorado, maybe Colorado Maduro. Small veins, nicely cut, without frays. Good build, was easy to cut.

A cru: powderish, hints of stable odor and fertilizer, dusty, green, now fat powder and finally; sour.

Taste: Combustion and draw were good. The burn was a bit uneven but it let itself be corrected easily with the laser flame lighter. No tunneling and keeps burning without any problems. It took the Magnum 48 about a centimeter to find its balance. It is spicy, full body and again a bit sour. After the first centimeter the taste became deeper and more refined (leather, slightly bitter), and stayed there. It turned out to be very linear and not very complex, again hinting at its youth (ammonia). It produces a medium amount of smoke, and nice and firm white ashes, which fell off halfway through.

There was still a third left, when the cigar announced, with lot’s of leather and harsh bitterness that it was time to leave… A bit of a shame though, since it’s a rather short cigar. Well this is a cigar that should be smoked slowly, to keep it balanced and if you want to control the amount of smoke. When it burns hot, a lot of smoke (and taste) will disappear. I tried this with double burnt, dark roasted coffee and water and both worked very well.

A good friend of mine suggested recently, that the Edición Limitada series could be made for instant gratification, so it has to be good immediately and may not win a lot of character spending some time in the humidor. After three years I found the Magnum 48 to be still young, and would certainly be patient with it. It may not win a lot over time, but why rush it.

80 points (of course not to be compared with an 80 point whisky)