Habanos Blog: Cuban Cigars, Plain and Simple

Habanos Cigar Blog - The authority on Cuban Cigars. Dedicated to spreading One Man's passion and knowledge for Cuban Cigars and the good life.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Cuban Cigar News - Cohiba Behike Update

I know that a lot of people have been interested in learning about this item, but not so eager to order it. So far I believe you can place an order through Habanos dealers but there are no Behikes yet produced or physically sold. I am as anxious as a little girl with Brittany Spears tickets to see it though.

I somehow have the feeling that the Behike has simply not been purchased/ordered by anyone, but I do not know. Perhaps people are a little shy to dish out the $12,000 + that it will cost for 40 cigars?! I also believe that once it has been ordered that the type of people who buy it will not be letting the world know, although people suprise me everyday.

I will try to find out more.

See the follwoing link for my previous post with pics, and the Habanos release.


Friday, July 28, 2006

Montecristo #2

Took a little walk tonight with the dog and the wife. I smoked a Montecristo #2 that was just awful. The box it was from, FEB 2006, was riddled with construction problems, many cigars were underfilled or had soft spots in them that caused them to 'canoe'.

I feel this has been all to common in the Montecristos #2's lately (2004-2005 boxes). And this is the first time I have smoked a Montecristo from a 2006 box. This is a shame because when they are good they are really good, but right now they are a bit of a crapshoot. A lot of my clients have complained of this problem as well, and seems to just be the way it is for right now.

Of course it is well known that 2004 was generally a pretty bad year for construction. Apparently there were a number of experienced torcedors (rollers) that had retired or moved on around that time, as well as a few other issues. Perhaps a similar problem is occuring again right now with these, or maybe I just have bad luck! I won't dare to generalize this quality to all Monte 2s, just the ones I have smoked, which unfortunately have sucked!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Buying Cuban Cigars Online

I have just placed my first ever online order with the Swiss website TopCubans.com

I ordered 5 Partagas Série Du Connoisseur No.2's. I have never had these before and am very excited to try them. I will write more about them when I get them, should be monday or tuesday next week.

I will also detail my experiences with Top Cubans, and perhaps you will find this information useful when placing your own online orders.

Just an FYI, I am very confident in the authenticity of this site, as many have referred me, and the selection is excellent. I would not have even tried it otherwise!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Cuban Cigar Reviews - Punch Punch

Here is that Punch Punch review as promised. I bought this cigar in Amsterdam last month. Cuban Punch's are not available legally in Canadian for trademark reasons (it is the only cuban Marca not available, to my knowledge). I should have bought more of them!

**Sorry, no pics for this one, I smoked it at work - That's right, I can smoke at work!

The prelight draw was prefect, and the cigar was slightly drier than normal for me, but it was well travelled too. I have recently begun wetting the wrappers of the cigar I smoke because I believe they burn better, but I am probably just imagining that.

The first puff made me think 'toasty' but that gave way to a sort of coffee like creaminess, with a faint sweetness. The cigar is not very old at all, just about a year, and I credit that for the slightly tannic after taste.

I have never smoked any Punch and this is definitley different than anything I have ever had before. Although it reminds me of a Hoyo De Monterrey's flavour profile, there is something else distinct that I can't figure out.

There was a very faint citrus flavour to the cigar that developed after the midpoint. Otherwise the flavour didn't progress much from the first third, but it did seem to balance out a little bit.

My Punch started to burn unevenly which I had to corret twice, and it went out twice also. I had read on some other reviews that many others had experienced this with the Punch Punch. Mine was a 2004, which is generally a year with sub par construction, according to many.

I asked around a bit after this smoke, before writing the full review, and many people have said how great the older versions of this cigar are, especially at about 7 or 8 years of age.

Please realize this is only one cigar, and also my first of this brand. I am not put off trying more at all, in fact I look forward to the next one, I just hope it was by chance that I recieved one with poor contsruction.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

New Cuban Cigars - San Cristobal Muralla

Habanos has released a new San Cristobal cigar that should be in regular production, albeit limited - The Muralla. This cigar has been available for a few months now, but I just smoked one last nite. I must say it isn't worth smoking right now, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth buying and putting away. I would suggest that you do invest in this box, as it is a very unique size, served up in some good looking boxes. Furthermore, I found that the cigar has a lot behind it, although due to its 'youth' it is difficult to pick up any specific flavours. It seems more complex that most San Cristobals, but it is not a brand I smoke often, so I may be mistaken. Regardless, it will change immensely in the next year, and then again with each following year. It is really too early to judge.

Also released with this are the following cigars which I have not tried, but should be let to sit also:

San Cristobal Mercaderes

San Cristobal Oficios

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Cigar News - 2006 Montecristo and Partagas Edicion Limitadas

So there are a few new cigars that Habanos has just release a few weeks ago. The Edicion Limitada Montercristo Robusto and Edicion Limitada Partagas Series D#3 should be hitting the shelves at most shops soon if not already. These cigars are re-issues of the 2 vitolas that Habanos released in 2001, the inaugural year of the Edicion Limitada line.

The 2006 Montecristo Robusto EL - Unfortunately I have not smoked a 2001 EL, this vitola disappeared fairly quickly. The new ones aren't worth paying for yet, as most ELs really do need time to rest, otherwise I find they are full of all sorts of mismatched, confusing and even unpleasant flavours. One vendor site referred to the 2006 EL as 'equally superb' to its 2001 predecessor, but I think it is a bit early to make such a claim. Although I'm sure it will be somewhat similar.

The 2006 Partagas Series D#3 - The 2001 EL was rather popular I thought, although still widely available in Canada. The cigar is, in my opinion, not that great. I found it suffered construction problems, usually smoking very loose at first, which lent to a hotter burn and not much flavour and then it got very strong at the last 2 inches. Maybe this was a bad experience, as many love it. Either way, I hope the 2006 is better. The cigar is a 5 and 7/8" long by 46 ring gauge, or a Corona Gorda vitola.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Cigars and Drinks Part II - Tequila!

Forget about the stuff you got too drunk off in 10th grade, Tequila is one of the finest spirits around. Most Tequila that people consume outside of Mexico and the Southern US is about as pure as low grade gasoline, and just as tasty. It is made with various components and often chemicals and really has no business being anywhere outside of a frat hall – I’m looking at you El Jimador.

Good Tequila on the other hand is made from 100% Agave, anything that doesn’t say 100% Agave on the bottle isn’t worth your money, unless it’s for you sister’s margaritas. That said 100% Agave Tequila isn’t cheap, starting around $40 USD/$55 CAD a bottle, up to well over $100. And the further you get from Mexico the higher that range and thinner the selection.

There are 4 main kinds of Tequila that you should know and understand before attempting to choose. These are the official guidelines that the Mexican Authorities has set forth.

Blanco or Plata – This stuff is bottled immediately after distillation. If it isn’t it is stored in steel vats, never wood. Don't bother matching this with cigars unless they are "It's a Boy!" brand. Seriously - margaritas only.

Reposado - This is aged in oak for between 2 and 12 months. Generally the best all round drinkable Tequila, very flexible and highly varied in flavours and could be used in mixed drinks provided you haven't paid too much. Typically best suited for cigars that aren't very complex, but there are always exceptions.

Anejo - Aged in oak for more than one year. If you like scotch or cognac but are not sure about tequila you should try this style. Tequila can become very smooth with only minimal aging and I have heard that many feel Tequila will not improve at all past 5 years of aging. The oak nose with the smooth and sometimes sweet finish can work really well with many complex cigars, but remember each is slightly different.

Joven or Oro – Also called Gold in English, it is basically Blanco with colour or flavouring added. I feel this should be avoided all together, except maybe in margaritas.

Generally Reposado and Anejo are the ones that are made with 100% Agave and I think are the best. There will definitely be something in either of these two widely varied styles that you will enjoy.

If in Mexico, take the opportunity to taste a bunch of different tequilas and that is the only way to decide which to buy. The people at each store are knowledgeable in terms of varieties, but sometimes don’t know all the info about bottles, or make it up as they go along. Either way, your taste buds will pick better tequila than any clerk can for you. Try to buy something not available outside of Mexico if you can, because their really aren’t many good deals in most cities, and even the Mexican Duty-Frees aren’t very low priced. In fact, I found a bottle at Wal-Mart in Playa del Carmen that was $5 cheaper than the Duty-Free!

As for matching with cigars, just about all Anejos and fuller Reposados will do just fine, but experimenting will tell you what you like. Anjeos are probably best because of the more prominent oak flavours. Again, each is different so consider the pair; for optimal results you are matching weight, and then decide if you want complimentary or contrasting flavours. There is no secret to matching drinks and cigars; it just takes some trial and error to know what you like; eventually you will find a harmonious pair that is purely sublime, with each component bringing out the hidden potential of the other. However, if you need one rule it is weight, because if you can’t taste one of the two you have just wasted something.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

How to Spot Fake Cuban Cigars - Mexico Style

This is just a heads up to anyone that will be in certain touristy parts of Mexico, specifically Playa del Carmen, where I was last week.

***Most parts of the Caribbean sell all kinds of fake Cuban cigars – Especially Cuba!. So you have to be careful anywhere.

Always, always, always stay clear of any individual that offers you Cubans cigars on the street.

If you go into a shop, especially looking for a box, be very, very careful. Most of the stores I went to have pretty accurate prices, compared to guys on the beach or street that offer you boxes for $40. However, they have some pretty obvious fakes in these stores. I myself went into 3 stores on 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen and took pictures in one.
These pictures are an example of how a little knowledge about what you are buying will help you.

The cigars themselves look pretty good, in fact perhaps very nice by many standards. But, they are not what they claim to be and that is important, especially if you are paying $20 USD a piece.

The cigars in these photos are obvious fakes:

2001 Cohiba Sublimes do not exist. They were released in 2004, end of detective work.

Hoyo De Monterrey Churchills do not come with this label. The correct label is pictured below the fakes. They may have come with this label previously, but not in the last few years, and this box was from 05.

2001 Cohiba Piramides come with the old, black Cohiba band. They do not have gold gilded and embossed letters on the bands. Also, it is hard to tell in this picture but when I saw them they just didn’t look right the ends look way too pointy. The Montecristo No. 2’s were the same way. This is a slippery slope though, as every cigar looks somewhat different, but use your best judgment and if you’re sceptical don’t buy anything, because it will make you enjoy it less regardless of its authenticity. The tip-off for me was the rolling table in the store with un-banded vitolas that are identical to the ‘Cubans’ they are selling. For fuck sakes, if you are going to roll and sell fakes, do it behind a closed door jackass. That’s just disrespectful!

Habanos labels are another great way to tell if something is real. Throughout the years they have changed slightly but not much, my best advice is to look at every box a vendor has, if the Habanos labels on the corners of the box are different from one another they are probably fake. Maybe not all are fakes, but that’s gambling, and you should be at a casino. Unfortunately I didn’t get photos of the Habanos labels here.

So that’s about it. Again, it boils down to being careful. Anytime you aren’t at your loyal and trusted home-base-vendor, use your noodle. If you can buy Hookers, Timeshares and Chihuahua T-shirts next door to the cigar shop you just went into, you might need to reconsider.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


My long-time fiance Sarah and I finally tied the knot last Thursday, June 29th, in the Mayan Riveria in Mexico. We had 20 friends and family down there with us at the Barcelo Maya Beach Resort, which I highly recommend to anyone looking for a resort down that way. This unofficial site is the best place to find info about that resort. Other than the wedding, the highlights were a fishing trip in which a had a sailfish on the line, which of course it got away, and a late night ambulance trip for the best man on the eve of my wedding. Both the fish and the best man are now doing fine.

I just got back on sunday and am trying to ease back into the regular swing of things but I need a bite of time. I have quite a few little posts in mind, including a Punch Punch tasting that I promised earlier, and I will also add some tequila notes that I learned in Mexico.

I didn't really smoke much while away but I did have one Paratagas Series D#4 that was sent to me from a friend at the International Cigar Forum and it was outstanding. I drank a 1989 distilled/2005 bottled Lagavulin Distillers Edition that I brought down with me and the two complimented each other beautifully.

Until then