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Smoking Some of the Best

Cigar Aficionado editors and two cigarmakers compare six great smokes
James Suckling
From the Print Edition:
Antonio Banderas, Nov/Dec 2005

(continued from page 1)

What struck me very quickly was that all the cigars were distinctly different. The Padrón (Anniversary 1926 No. 6) was big, rich and round like an espresso. The Flor Dominicana (Ligero 400) was powerful and long with lots of spicy character, while the Cohiba had wonderful finesse and length with tea, honey and cedar flavors. I mentioned this to the group.

"That's the way it should be," said Gomez. "I say that excellent cigars are unique pieces of work. They reflect the skill of the manufacturer. It's also the quality of the tobacco, of course."

It was hard to say which cigar was better. I had a slight preference that night for Gomez's smoke. It was a rich and powerful cigar with loads of flavor. Padrón's slightly smaller cigar was solid as a rock with good round and balanced flavors. Perhaps the Cohiba was slightly dominated by the other two cigars, although it showed wonderful complexity in flavor.

My fellow cigar hacks preferred the Cohiba, with Mott commenting that "it has the most complexity and length of all the cigars." Added Savona, "But I am surprised the Cohiba is the lightest cigar."

"The Cubans have had a problem with the ligero," concluded Mott, noting that Cuba has not been growing very strong filler tobacco for some time.

No surprise, however, that Gomez and Padrón favored their cigars. "It's hard not to prefer my cigar because that's what I like to smoke every day," said Padrón.

"But you have to hand it to the Cubans to create a product like the Cohiba," said Gomez. "Despite the system over there, they have the passion and love for the product. They may have shortages of food or whatever, but they have a culture for tobacco."

The second group of cigars—all torpedos, or pyramides as the Cubans call them—were a step up in quality. They were richer and more powerful on the whole. The Cuban Hoyo had a distinctively spicy, almost funky character that I assume came from its dark wrapper. It was a limitada, so it was made with a two-year-old wrapper from the top leaves of the plant, which gave it dark color and richness.

La Flor Dominicana's torpedo was equally rich and powerful, but slightly less spicy, while Padrón's cigar was its normal thick, round and rich self, tasting almost like a decadent cup of Turkish coffee.

At one point I noticed Gomez reaching out to smoke one of the three lit torpedos in the ashtray in front of him. His hand hovered over the cigars for about a minute as he tried to decide which to take another puff from. "I can't decide," he said, smiling with great satisfaction. "They are all three excellent cigars."

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