The Killer Cigar

I have a drippy sinus this morning and my head doesn't fell all that well. I am a bit clammy and I can't breathe perfectly well. If I was passing through the airport, a health official might stop me. They might think it is swine flu, or some strange respiratory bug.

But it is the aftereffects of a very strong Cuban cigar that I smoked after a dinner at my friend's house in Hong Kong. My friend warned me. And now he simply says it is the effect of the killer cigar ­—a 1994 Ramon Allones Gigantes. The double corona was like a double-barreled shotgun to the head.

I haven't found a Cuban cigar like that in a long time. In fact, it was Habanos from about 1991 to 1995 that I remember being the most powerful. I still remember smoking a Bolivar Belicoso Fino in 1995 in London that made me dizzy. I had to put it down.

Honestly, I am not a great fan of such strong cigars. I like the better-balanced smokes. A great cigar is not about strength but harmony and balance.

I heard a story about an American who came to visit the tobacco grower Alejandro Robania at his plantation in Pinar del Río. The big man said that he wanted to taste the strongest cigar the veteran tobacco man could make with his family reserve of tobacco. So Alejandro made one with almost all ligero—the strongest filler tobacco.

Alejandro said he turned green after a few puffs and puked. The old man still laughs when he tells the story. "Stupid man," he chuckles. "The man was really crazy."

Maybe some people like getting stoned on cigars. But I can't say I do. I am going to take note next time my friend tells me "I have a special cigar for you," even if it's after a few bottles of great wine.
Litto Gomez September 22, 2009 12:41pm ET
Amigo,if you change your mind...I can send you some of my favor vitolas.All the best to you.LG
Alex Benes California September 22, 2009 1:51pm ET
Litto,Your delicious cigars are already strong enough -- and beautifully balanced and harmonious -- but your palate is unequaled in its ability to stand up to the power of even atomic cigars.Un abrazo,Alex
James Suckling September 22, 2009 8:50pm ET
Hola Litto! Your Double Ligeros can be strong cigars but they always still have balance. Abrazo!
Jesus Calderon California September 23, 2009 11:39pm ET
Hey James where have you been hermano? Your blogs and videos have been greatly missed!
Catherine Kai Tamara Shiang Hong Kong September 27, 2009 10:50pm ET
James, Catherine here, very harsh that 1994 Roman Allones Gigantes. Are you still in Hong Kong?
Michael Gordon Healdsburg, CA USA September 29, 2009 3:04pm ET
I was thinking about your article, when I ordered a box of El Rey del Mundo, Grandes de Espana (Cuba). I just lit the first one, and it is heavenly, so I recommend it to you. Creamy smooth, and tasty without knocking your socks off. I had seen it described as "elegant," and I think that is true.
Michael Gordon Healdsburg, CA USA October 10, 2009 2:01pm ET
I take back my recommendation from Sept. 29, for Grandes de Espana. Turned out to be smooth, but dull and lacking in complexity.

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