Robaina's plantation

Thursday 27 June 2013

Robaina 'Petit Robaina' Edición Regional Canadá 2009 (Cigar Review)

                  I'm embarrassed to say that I've smoked very few of the Canadian Regionals through the years, even though I live in Canada. That may be the reason why....because they`re available to me. They have a pretty decent selection and a couple of them are Robainas which seem to be very popular nowadays. The other reason may be because cigars are so expensive to buy here in my city with probably the highest taxes in the world being added onto tobacco. This Petit Robusto cost me $33cnd in a cigar shop here in Toronto. I think that`s outrageous. 1200 numbered boxes of 25 cigars, a Petit Edmundo @ 52 x 110 (4.3"), were released in 2009 for Havana House of Canada.
                   It was an absolutely beautiful cigar....flawless. It had a caramel coloured, smooth, shiny, oily wrapper with a slightly bumpy cap. The cigar was as hard as a rock to the touch which is always a worry. The pre-light draw gave me light cedar and tea and appeared to be ok. Once lit, it was confirmed that the draw was perfect. It starts off mild and sweet with light cedar and a pretty good burn which goes a bit off after the first inch. Getting to the first 1/4, hints of earth come and go but are replaced by toasted nuts with undertones of wood....and the burn is still off.
                   Nearing the first half I'm picking up strong flavours of tea and wood with a good solid ash that falls on it's own and leaves me a nice cone. The draw is perfect. It begins to pick-up strength nearing the last 1/3 and I can taste a bit of leather. The burn is only slightly off now but it's burning a bit hot. I have a tendency to smoke my cigars fast so once I slow down a bit the cigar cools down and mellows again.
                   Around the last 1/4 the burn straightens itself out and I can taste a bit of earthiness creeping in. Burn is way off now so I touch it up with my torch. Now earthy and woody and picking up strength. At the last 1/4 the cigar heats up again so I put it down for a few minutes and let it go out. I wanted it to cool down completely before trying again. Once relit the cigar was fine and I was able to smoke it a few more minutes before not being able to hold it comfortably any longer.
                   In conclusion, I liked the cigar but not the price tag. Having said that, if I can pay what I normally would, I would buy a box. They are not terribly strong or complicated but had a pleasant combination of flavours that made it a pleasure to smoke. This cigar can be smoked any time of day and I had it on an empty stomach, before dinner, with nothing to drink. They're smoking great right now, I don't know how age can make them any better, different maybe, but not better. Try one if you can get them.

Wednesday 19 June 2013

'Club Havana' formerly The 'Biltmore Yacht & Country Club' (Havana)

                  I have been here on several occasions over the past few years and will be going more often now that I rent near by. I didn't go as often when I was renting closer to the older part of the city. If I don't go to relax by the pool, I go to the 'La Casa del Habano' to buy some cigars and have a chat or grab a bite to eat at the bar or restaurant. If I enter the complex to spend money in one of the shops I will be waved through the gate, otherwise if I'm going to use the facility (pool, gym....) I must pay 20cuc per person and my Tourist Card or Passport is kept until I depart.
                   This mansion in the Reparto Flores in Playa, Havana, was built in 1928 and called the Biltmore Yacht & Country Club at that time. They broke ground on the project Feb.1, 1927 with the then President Machado placing the first spade in the ground & James J. Walker, mayor of New York (who was on vacation), the second. The official opening of the building was Feb.1, 1928. One of the main activities when the complex was first built was for the practicing of amateur sports by the Cuban elites. You can see this from many of the pictures hanging on the walls on the ground floor of the main building. They participated in many sports on the premises; basketball, tennis, bowling, rowing, shooting, baseball, swimming and golf....I'm sure I've missed something. I've seen the Tennis Courts and of course the pools but nothing else except maybe the mini-golf that I never see anyone use. I must do some exploring and find the Yacht Basin and see if the Baseball Diamond & Golf Course is still there.
                    It's a well documented fact that the last President, Fulgencio Batista, was refused entrance in the 50's due to the fact that he was considered black, he was half black and half Chinese. In 1958 the club had 3940 members with the majority of the foreign members being Americans. It's one of the few places where Fidel has dined publicly.
                    Today, annual membership is 1500cuc or 20cuc daily fee to use the facilities on the grounds. It has the only decent natural (private) beach on this side of Havana and they mention a Dive Center that I haven't seen yet. It has an excellent Fitness Center, one of the best I've seen in Cuba, with Sauna, Massage and Aerobics. They have a business center with internet, 'El Chelo'...a gourmet restaurant that's very good and reasonably priced in my opinion, 'La Bodequita' excellent sports bar with professionals tending bar, private rooms for business meetings, piano bar, banquet room, boutique stores and last but not least one of the best Cigar Shops in the city. They even advertise a day nursery. The Luxury Apartments have been sold to foreigners for a pretty penny, I've heard somewhere in the hundreds of thousands of dollars each. One of the few areas in Cuba to allow this.
                     I will continue to come to Club Havana, it's easy to spend an afternoon at this place and because of the expense you won't find any riffraff. I love the restaurant and bar and in case I want to sit outside it has a wonderful patio overlooking the beach and ocean. The day I spend a longer period of time in Cuba, I can see myself coming to use the gym. The price is a bit steep but it's not bad for a treat. You can also get a locker and towel for a fee and the fitness center has showers and bathrooms with toilet paper. The 'Hotel Palco' in Cubanacan, Playa, advertise free use of the Club Havana facilities if you stay at the hotel. The pictures don't do the place justice and after doing some reading I'm going to have to do some exploring on my next visit.

Club Havana
5ta Avenida e/188-192
Reparto Flores, Playa, Havana
tel. 537 204 5700

Main Entrance

Back of the main building taken from the beach

Main entrance of building taken from front of boutique shops

Boutique shops taken from upper level of main building

Mini Golf



Private beach

Terrace on upper level

Health center above with gym below

Private room with bar upstairs

Stairs at the main entrance

Banquet Room

A couple of the many pictures hung on the walls of the main building

El Chelo Restaurant

La Bodeguita

Cafeteria style restaurant near pools

La Casa del Habano

Jorge, master roller at the Cigar Shop

Monday 17 June 2013

La Gloria Cubana Inmensos LCDH Exclusivo (cigar review) 2010 release

                 I was very happy to have been able to find this box in it's 3rd year since it's release. I was disappointed in not having bought one on my previous trip but was relieved in finding them on this last visit in May. I would have bought them anyway but I was lucky to find them selling as singles at the Partagas LCDH and was able to try one before making the commitment to a full box. It was to be one of the better Special Releases that I have smoked over the last few years. This particular box I bought from the Club Havana LCDH in Miramar. What drew me to this box as opposed to others was firstly the Brand, La Gloria Cubana doesn't have many vitolas left so any addition is welcomed. Secondly, I love this vitola. The Sublime is known as a Double Robusto @ 54x164 (6.5"). 5000 unnumbered boxes of 10 cigars were released in 2010.
                 The cigars come in a decent looking lacquered wooden box of 10 across. To be honest, they didn't look that great, not bad but not great. Some were bumpy and/or mottled, some shiny and some dry looking. The cigar I smoked this day had a dry looking, smooth, caramel coloured wrapper with no veins and a well constructed cap. The pre-light draw gave me a very mild taste of wood and tobacco. Once I light it and take my first few hauls I get a lot of pepper on the lips with flavours of tea and earth. From the get-go the burn on this cigar is uneven but the draw is superb. The cigar starts off as strong but settles down to a medium to strong by the first half inch with hints of wood creeping in.
                 At the first inch the burn straightens itself out and I pick up a hint of dried fruit through a part of the smoke. It continues to maintain it's strength. Close to the 2" mark the ash falls on it's own and the burn is off again. Flavours aren't changing much at this point.
                 At about the halfway mark I touched it up with my torch. Picking up a hint of leather for a few minutes. I've done a couple of touch-ups and a relight but it hasn't affected the flavour of the cigar, still tasting great at the last third. Picked up hints of floral notes off and on during the last part of this smoke and it toned down to a medium strength before picking up strength again at the last 1/4. The burn is still off and it turns a bit bitter with the floral notes coming in a bit stronger. At one point it was burning hot through the middle. A bit of a mess near the end but I was able to get pretty close to it before it turned on me.
                I still remain happy to have bought this box of cigars and would contemplate buying another. I strongly recommend this cigar but it's not for the novice smoker. A full-bodied smoke, unlike their regular production line. From what I've read, this cigar has gone through a lot of changes since it was first released. Although it's smoking very well, I won't have another one for at least 6 months to a year. It can stand a little more time in the humidor. I'm looking forward to seeing how it will turn out.