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Connoisseur's Corner

Connoisseur's Corner: Five Cubans from the 1988 to '94 Period

(From the October 2013 issue of Cigar Aficionado) The years 1988 to 1994 were exceptional for the production of Cuban cigars. The country still wrapped its cigars in Corojo-seed wrapper, which was hard to grow but possessed remarkable flavor. By 1994 the effects of the cigar boom were only beginning to be felt in Cuba, meaning that Havana cigar production was not being stretched to untenable levels. We sampled five cigars from that period, and four of them are classics. Two performed to near-perfection. A 1998 Hoyo de Monterrey Churchill showed remarkable balance and complexity, and seemed capable of maturing for another decade. A 1993 Partagás Lusitania showed why it’s a legendary double corona. Note the 95-point score for the Bolivar Armonía, a Regional Edition Cuban made specifically for the Chinese market.

 

Hoyo de Monterrey Churchill (1988)

98

Hoyo de Monterrey Churchill (1988)

This is a splendid, smooth-tasting cigar with enough power left to last another 10 years. There is a wonderful blend of dark coffee, with just a touch of dried nutmeg on the finish, which goes on forever. It smokes perfectly.

— Gordon Mott

Partagás Lusitania (1993)

98

Partagás Lusitania (1993)

A classic example of this great Cuban benchmark double corona. It is an incredibly rich and earthy smoke, with a full complement of cocoa flavors, and a long finish. This 20-year-old hasn’t reached its peak yet, and certainly reminds one of what a great Cuban cigar can be.

— Gordon Mott

Juan Lopez Selección No. 2 (1994)

96

Juan Lopez Selección No. 2 (1994)

A lovely robusto that packs a wide range of flavors, from leather and savory wood notes to coffee bean and sweet almonds as the cigar warms up. The finish is long and slightly spicy. There is a wonderful balance to this superbly performing cigar.

— David Savona

Romeo y Julieta Churchill (1990)

96

Romeo y Julieta Churchill (1990)

From the first glimpse, this cigar with a dark chocolaty wrapper offers up the look and feel of a well-aged cigar. It is beginning to round out to its full aged profile, with some dry cocoa notes, and a sweet woodiness on the finish.

— Gordon Mott

Bolivar Armonía Exclusivo China (2008)

95

Bolivar Armonía Exclusivo China (2008)

Made for mainland China’s duty-free shops, this shapely Salomon comes packaged in a very elaborate box. It burns slow and cool, giving about two hours of dense fruity, nutty flavors with a meaty base and gingerbread finish.

— Gregory Mottola

Romeo y Julieta Cazadore (1994)

94

Romeo y Julieta Cazadore (1994)

A rather rustic cigar that comes in a foil pack inside the box. It is slim and unbanded, and you’d never guess after lighting that it is almost 20 years old. The smoke is untamed: bold, woody, earthy and strong, with a heavy minerality. A wisp of vanilla provides a slight sweetness, but the finish is all earth and licorice. It easily has another 10 years to go.

— David Savona

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