Great Old Smoke
Posted: Oct 9, 2007 2:11pm ET
I had one of those cigar moments that we all dream about on Saturday night. My friend had cooked a great meal, we were working our way through a couple of bottles of fine American wines, and the conversation swirled non-stop around the table. The dessert was served, and it was time for one of those fine, old English moments. The women in the group retired to the patio (it was still in the mid-70s at 10 o’clock), and the men stayed at the dinner table.
The humidor was passed, and my friend pointed to a cellophane-wrapped smoke, and said something along the lines of, “I think that one is really old.” The first one I chose was plugged, so he graciously let me light up a second. I began looking at the box, which he brought to me after I exclaimed how good the cigar was. The cigars were Ramon Allones No. 1s. The box was green, and the band was the modern version, so with those two clues, I was able (upon returning to the office) to date the cigar to no earlier than 1972. That date jibes more or less with the smoking habits of my friend’s father, who laid down quite a store of Cubans during the 1970s and 1980s. The cigar was in perfect condition, and in fact, having been in cello, it had not acquired that heavy overlay of cedar notes that many cigars stored in humidors get. I also was careful to note the history of that size, because there were some Ramon Allones sizes that were machine-made during that period; this was a handmade creation.
The cigar had a perfect balance, with a light toasty note, and some light nuttiness on the palate. As it burned down, it began to take on some depth and strength that hadn’t been there at the outset. The No. 1 is like the Montecristo No. 1, so it presents as a classic Lonsdale, six to six and half inches long with a 44 to 46 ring gauge. There wasn’t a hint of harshness in the smoke, and it burned and drew smoothly throughout the hour I smoked it.
My friend doesn’t have many more of those smokes, so I know I had a real treat. But I also was reminded about something very important: a well-made cigar with great tobacco that is properly cared for can last decades without losing its appeal. Yes, it does change in character, but sometimes I think a great old cigar remains closer to its original character than some great old bottles of wine. That’s another story too.
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