Robaina's plantation

Wednesday 25 December 2013

Hotel Habana Libre LCDH, Havana (La Casa Del Habano) A Visit

                    I'm almost embarrassed to say that I've never been to this 'La Casa del Habano'. It was about time that I visited and what better way than with an invitation to try a new Regional release for Brazil this year, the Bolivar Redentor a Petit Robusto. We were ushered into a fair sized room that had tables set in rows with chairs on either side and glasses for water and a drink. This was not a smoking lounge, this room was meant for this purpose. People had told me that this was the biggest of all the LCDHs and I'd have to agree, this shop was huge. It even has a fountain or pond set up right in the middle of the shop as soon as you enter. The smoking lounge or area is also on this main space two steps up in front of the bar. I couldn't get a good picture of it because there were people that I didn't know sitting in the space. It wasn't set-up to accommodate too many people, maybe 8 with another 6 at the bar. The walk-in Humidor, is also a very large, with many shelves that were packed with goodies, mostly pedestrian but stocked with all 3 of the current Limited Editions and many Behikes. It also had several beautiful humidors on display. I had the opportunity to meet the director of the store, Elina Perez. A very pleasant lady who seems to run a well organized shop. The service was exceptional and if I ever have a tasting of my own one day I know I could count on Elina to provide me with excellent service. Below are some pictures of the shop and the tasting room.

La Casa Del Habano
Hotel Habana Libre
dir. Elina Perez
Calle 23, e/ L y M, Vedado
tel. (537) 834-6111

The Smoking Area

The Tasting Room

The 3 Regionals for 2013

Monday 23 December 2013

Cohiba Siglo VI (box date May 2012) Cigar Review

                 I've been holding on to this box for more than a year now and thought it was time to try one. The weather's been absolutely terrible with an ice storm hitting most of Canada and doing considerable damage to a large part of my city, Toronto, and most of the area around it. I had been invited for dinner and a smoke at a friend's house and wasn't going to let a little bad weather upset that. I did however find out if he had power before heading over since 300,000 people in Toronto were without. Since he lives on the other side of the city and driving there was going to take a little longer than usual with many traffic lights not working, I thought this a good time to try this cigar. It would make the drive a little less stressful. The review will therefore be a little distracting with fewer pictures than usual.
                 Looking at this cigar, before leaving for my destination, I found it to be a little darker than the usual Siglo VIs I've had in the past. It was as hard as a rock and slightly bumpy, well constructed with an oily, veinless wrapper and nice cap. The pre-light draw gave me wood and was spicy on the tongue. Once lit the draw proved to be perfect. The first few puffs gave me wood and leather and was very smooth. The burn was already off but by the time I got close to the first inch it had straightened itself out. Earth began to creep in at this point and I picked up a hint of floral but only for a moment. It was burning beautifully now but wanted to flick the ash since I was in the car, I didn't want to make a mess or have an accident.
                Nearing the half the flavours remained pretty much the same, Earth, Leather & Wood, all vying for domination. I could feel this cigar needed some time, I'm going to have to put it in the back of my humidor and revisit it some time down the road. Touched it up with my torch after the 2nd flick of the ash. The edge had come off this cigar into the 2nd half. I would consider this a medium bodied smoke, it had definitely mellowed since lighting it.
                I put this cigar down sooner than usual, I was ready for my second smoke. It had nothing left to prove to me. It was a nice smoke and is going to be much better in a year or two in my opinion. As usual, it didn't disappoint me and continues to be one of my favourite smokes and probably my favourite Cohiba.

Saturday 14 December 2013

Bolivar Redentor Edición Regional Brasil 2013 (cigar review)

              I had been waiting for this cigar's release and wondering who to message to have send me one or two. So when my friend Alexandre Avellar from Brazil asked me to sit in on a tasting of this cigar when in Havana last month I immediately answered yes. I would forgo the Partagas festivities for that day in favour of something I had be wishing to do for the last few months. What better way to try a cigar but in it's country of origin surrounded by other aficionados. However, it would prove to be more difficult than I thought. The company was great and the conversation even better, which made it for a very distracting review. I will pour over my notes now and see if I can make heads or tails out of them. Before looking at them however, I can tell you that I remember this being one of the better Regionals that I've smoked in some time.
               These cigars come in dress boxes of 25 cigars each and only 2000 boxes were made. The idea was to have them ready for the world cup of soccer this summer which takes place in Brazil. The vitola is called a Mágicos or a Petit Robusto and weighs in at 52 x 115 (4.5"). As always, looking at a full box of any Bolivar cigar is a sight for sore eyes and this one wasn't any different, judging by all the hits the picture got when I posted it on Facebook recently.
               The wrappers on these beauties were oily and veinless but a little bumpy. I tasted almost nothing on the pre-light draw but when I lit the cigar the first puff gave me a huge mouthful of leather and earth, very close to a Bolivar profile. The draw was perfect but the burn was slightly off and continued to be past the first 1/2". At the 1" mark I couldn't resist, I touched it up with my torch. By now the smoke had mellowed just a bit, the flavours had settled down and it got a lot smoother....remember, this is a young cigar.
I kept touching up the cigar and as I was nearing the halfway mark it still tasted of earth with wood undertones. We drank something called Cachaça, a distilled liquor made from sugarcane juice, it's the most popular liquor in Brazil. I've tried some in the past but have thought it to be closer to rocket fuel than an alcohol you drink. Alex promised that this particular one, the 'Dama da Noite' Riserva, would be something special and he was right. Dama da Noite (Lady of The Night) refers to a flower that grows in the tropics mostly in central and south america. It's something like an aguardente or grappa and was quite strong but almost floral and went very well with the cigar, an excellent match.
               I flicked the ash just past the halfway mark, the cigar fealt like it was being stifled. I was correct, all that ash was making it burn hotter through the middle and I had to give it a good touch up after flicking it. Besides this little issue, the cigar had given me no problems at all throughout and after the touch up it continued to give me no issues, it smoked beautifully. Flavour-wise it remained pretty consistent, not changing much but my distractions may have caused me to miss something. Regardless, this was a pretty strong cigar that has stuck to the brand's flavour profile.
               The last quarter turned bitter on me but I'm sure a little age would get rid of that. This was definitely one of the better Regionals that I've had the pleasure to smoke in a while. If you get a chance and can afford it, I would strongly recommend picking some up. In my opinion an excellent cigar. Below is a link to Alexandre's site where you can find these cigars.

Alexandre Avellar our Host