I smoked one of the best cigars of my life last night. I don’t know its name; actually, it doesn’t have one. You can’t buy it. I can’t buy it. It is a private blend made in quantities that wouldn’t amount to more than two or three boxes a year. But like a parting kiss from the most beautiful woman in the world, or the last bottle of your favorite wine in your cellar, or the greatest meal you ever ate at a restaurant, the memory of the experience will linger long after you’ve given up hope of ever having it again.
When I was handed the cigar, I knew immediately it was something special. The heft of the canonazo size, as it is called in the factories here—a corona gorda girth with a bit more length—felt perfect in my hand. The darkish wrapper, leaning toward what the Cubans define as maduro, was sleek to the touch, the oils giving not only a visible sheen but a slight oiliness in my hand.
I clipped it carefully, and the cigar resisted the cut just a little bit, like it wasn’t ready to be smoked. Too little tobacco and a cigar will often squeeze under the cut; too much, the cut almost snaps the end off. But a perfect fill resists the cutter’s blade just a little bit. I lit the cigar, and it took the burn easily and quickly, getting that full red glow around the tip almost without effort.
My first impression wasn’t the flavor, but the completeness and complexity of the smoke. It was mouth-filling, triggering a salivary festival, without a touch of dryness. The attack on my tongue was smooth and rich, and the finish lingered all the way to back of my mouth. I’ve seen cigarmakers gesture with their hand, a kind of full moon circle, describing how a cigar can stimulate every part of the mouth. This cigar had that quality.
The flavors had a smooth earthiness, with just that touch of sweetness, one that I describe often as cocoa bean. It wasn’t overly powerful or strong; it didn’t have that mind-bending quality of many cigars today, with too much nicotine in the leaves. As the cigar burned past the halfway, the intensity of the flavors built and then turned a bit more toward earth and spice, but again, without a touch of dryness.
All in all, a truly great cigar.
I don’t like to give non-blind scores to cigars. When you know the origin or the maker or the gift-giver, it is hard to be objective. In fact, it is impossible to shed your bias in that moment. Technically, since I didn’t know the brand, I might be able to bend my rules. But I couldn’t ignore the reality of the night: a fantastic restaurant, a great group of people around the table discussing politics, bonefishing, scuba diving and the food.
On top of that, there was the mojito before dinner, the bottle of Chilean Chardonnay with dinner and a Havana Club barrel proof rum to accompany the cigar. Each of those elements can shade one’s judgment, and each favorably altered my own perception of the cigar. But taking all that into account, I still smoked one of the greatest cigars that I have ever had the pleasure of smoking in my life.
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