James Suckling

James Suckling
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Back in the Cigar Capital

Posted: Sep 24, 2007 11:51am ET
I am on my second cortado this morning as I write this blog from Havana. And it’s sooo good. The small and thick sweet espresso with hot milk is like thick, warm milk chocolate. I would smoke a cigar with it right now but I have some meetings with people from Habanos S.A., the global marketing and distribution company for Cuban cigars, and they have a number of cigars they want me to try. I think they want me to smoke the new limitadas as well as the culebras. But I am not sure. I will report back later.

The Snake is Back from Cuba

Posted: Sep 10, 2007 9:42am ET

I can't wait to get my hands on the new Partagas Culebras. The hand-made cigars are arriving from Cuba in the market in the next few weeks. And they are completely hand-made. In the past, they were made with short filler tobacco and partially machine made. But the Cubans have upgraded them. Check out the photo below.

I haven't smoked a culebra in a long, long time, but I still remember the one of the first times I did. It was with Eric de Rothschild at Chateau Lafite-Rothschild in the mid-1980s. Rothschild, who oversees the first growth Bordeaux, was a keen cigar smoker at the time and had stocks of cigars aging in London at Robert Lewis Cigar Merchants.

New Limitada 2007s from Hong Kong

Posted: Aug 24, 2007 1:16pm ET

I picked up some of the new Edición Limitada 2007s last week while I was in Hong Kong celebrating a good friend’s 50th birthday – God forbid the day comes. I was in Central and I noticed the Davidoff shop in the corner of a big retail complex, so I popped in the door. Cool… Romeo y Julieta Esucdos (50 by 51/2 inches) and the Hoyo de Monterrey Regalos (46 by 4 1/3 inches). They were $35 each. Not cheap. They still didn’t have the third limitada: Trinidad Ingenious (42 by 6 ½ inches).

A Double at the Bar

Posted: Aug 14, 2007 6:49am ET
I smoked a 1996 Partagas Lusitania from a cedar cabinet box of 50 last night in a small hipster wine bar in Hong Kong called Bar Aedes. This is a place a lot of the wine and restaurant trade hang in, and they don’t mind smoking. So cool…

A Matter of Taste

Posted: Aug 2, 2007 1:00pm ET
Taste preferences are a funny thing, even with cigars. Last week, I had two instances when some buddy’s ideas about a cigar were completely the opposite of mine. And I am usually in sync with these guys.

The first time was when I was smoking a Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Monarca sitting outside Punta Ala harbor in Tuscany on my friend’s boat. I thought the elegant yet rich smoke showed wonderful balance and perfumes with loads of flavor. He said that the Monarca had no flavor. I was ready to throw him overboard! I tried to explain to him in Italian that power is not necessarily flavor. I guess he is too used to his Partagas Serie D No. 4s.

Perfume to Politics

Posted: Jul 23, 2007 4:51pm ET
I was at a big dinner on the Tuscan coast in honor of the American Ambassador for Italy over the weekend. About 40 or us were fêting the friendly and very professional diplomat, and by the end of the meal as we sat outside next to an illuminated pool, a few of us lit up some cigars. At my table of about 10 people, a friend and I were smoking Ramon Allones Specially Selected, the rich and wonderful Cuban robusto. Other tables had some Cohiba Robustos glowing.

Just Last Night

Posted: Jul 17, 2007 11:46am ET
I smoked a La Gloria Cubana Medaille D’Or No. 2 last night. It was the first of a box I had laying around in my cellar for the last 10 years. And it was the bomb. It was packed with decadent, almost cheesy aromas and flavors. Some might even describe it as raw meat. Anyway, it was rich and wonderful with lots of tobacco character as well that verged on cappuccino, and it finished the night off with a bang. The only thing better was the 1950 Croft I drank with it to celebrate someone’s birth year at my dinner party. I gave the La Gloria 95 points. The Port was 90 points.

The Beauty of Differences

Posted: Jul 12, 2007 11:14am ET
I smoked a Juan Lopez Obus torpedo last night at a friend’s house in Tuscany following dinner. It was just the right thing after a few pieces of grilled Florentine steak and 1999 Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Brunello di Montalcino Vigna di Pianrosso Riserva and 1995 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle. Both were in magnum. The small torpedo, or “campana,” was surprisingly mellow and refined with creamy, cedar character and medium finish. It drew wonderfully and delivered very pleasant flavors. 90 points.

Maduro Cohibas in Rainy London

Posted: Jul 6, 2007 4:27pm ET

“F.. them,” said one of the cigar merchants at the outdoor cigar fest in the middle of the West End of London last night. ‘This will show them that they can’t stop us.”

He looked defiant and sure of himself. May be it was the mojito talking or the buzz of the Cohiba Maduro 5 he was smoking? But he was pissed off. And I don’t blame him. It seems strange not to be able to smoke in London, where many consider to be the world’s cigar Mecca. Since July 1, smoking has been prohibited in all public places, even in private public places like gentlemen’s clubs and country clubs.

A Good Robusto

Posted: Jun 28, 2007 9:16am ET
I smoked a couple of Ramon Allones Specially Selected over the last week with some friends from Hong Kong. One is Alex Wong, who I believe is the greatest cigar collector in the world. He actually keeps the collection with his dad George.

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