Connoisseur’s Corner: A 99-Point Cabañas
Cabañas is an old Cuban cigar brand that was once made by hand, but fell victim to the post-Embargo world and was cancelled. In later years it was brought back as a machine-made cigar. This review shows how marvelous the old handmade varieties could be. Despite being nearly old enough to earn a Social Security check, a 1955 Cabañas was loaded with intriguing flavors of baking spices, giving it a 99-point performance. (A Por Larrañaga from 1958 didn't fare as well, smoking as if it was long past its prime. Not every cigar gets better with age.) An elusive 1992 La Flor de Cano Short Churchill, which attracts dear prices at auction, earned a score of 95 points. The clever name denotes not a special size, but a traditional Cuban robusto, 4 7/8 inches by 50 ring.
Cabañas Numero 51 (circa 1955)
This gorgeous little smoke has beautiful texture to the wrapper. It delivers a smooth draw, brimming with rich, creamy and toasty flavors and hints of sweet nutmeg. An elegant, near-perfect pre-Castro smoke
—Marvin R. Shanken
la Flor de Cano Short Churchill (circa 1992)
There are still plenty of oils seeping through the wrapper of this medium-claro robusto, which has been in a slide-lid cabinet for decades. The smoke is surprisingly dense and chewy for a cigar with so much age. It’s a sweet, nutty cigar, full of maple and brown sugar notes, roasted chestnut and sweet marzipan.
Montecristo “A” (1995)
This imposing, nine-inch-long cigar is not something you would smoke everyday. The wrapper shows just a bit of tooth. The draw is slightly firm and the burn nearly dead even. It begins with a toasty, mellow, woody flavor, and stays medium bodied for most of the smoke, then builds in the second half. There are hints of dusty wood, cashew, and just a wisp of orange peel on the finish. A balanced, elegant cigar.
Padrón Serie 1926 40th Anniversary Maduro (2005)
A dark and flawlessly wrapped torpedo plucked from one of the original, ornately carved wooden boxes. Upon lighting, the aroma is uncannily redolent of baking gingerbread, and those warm qualities recur on the palate. The smoke is heavy with baking spices and nutmeg but fortified with an earthiness one would expect from a Padrón.
Partagás de Partagás No. 1 (2003)
This is a lonsdale with a beautiful colorado wrapper. It has a pleasant, medium-bodied profile for a 13-year-old cigar. There are some hints of cinnamon and leather on the palate with a pleasant, slightly dry finish that is very well balanced. It is a solid performer in both draw and burn, and it smokes as if it still has some years left.
Por Larrañaga Numero 3 (circa 1958)
A skinny cigar with a torpedo tip that has a light, open draw. The smoke, sadly, is showing its age, tarnished with dried out flavors. Respectable, but not all that I had hoped for.
—Marvin R. Shanken