According to sources at Habanos S.A., the global distribution entity for Cuban cigars, the new vitolas will consist of the following. A brief description of each and its suggested retail price in Cuba for a box of 25 follows:
1. Romeo y Julieta Hermosos No. 1, super hermoso, 48 ring gauge by 6 1/2 inches long, $123.
2. Partagas Serie D No. 2, super robusto, 50 ring gauge by 6 1/8 inches, $139.
3. Hoyo de Monterrey Piramides, torpedo, 52 ring gauge by 6 1/8 inches, $114.
4. Cohiba Prominentes, double corona, 49 ring gauge by 7 1/2 inches, $418.
5. Montecristo "C", corona gorda, 46 ring gauge by 5 5/8 inches, $236.
The last two offerings will be packed in wooden cabinets, while the others will come in traditional cedar and paper boxes.
I can't wait to get my hands on these smokes! The limitada concept is one of the most exciting ideas to come out of Cuban cigar making for years. And the Edición Limitada 2003 should be exceptional smokes. I hope to try a number of them when I am in Havana in early May.
The program is still the same. The cigars are made in limited numbers in specific factories and with two-year-old wrapper from the top leaves of the tobacco plant, or the corona. The wrappers are not maduro, but colorado oscuro or oscuro, or dark brown to very dark brown. I have never had an official confirmation on the number of boxes made, but I have heard something like 10,000 boxes per cigar, which would be about one-third to one-fourth the annual production of a topend vitola such as the piramide (torpedo) or prominente, (double corona).
Here is a recap of what has been released so far in the limitada line, with my ratings:
In December 2000, the Cubans released four limitadas on the British market: the Romeo y Julieta Exhibición No. 2 (7 5/8 inches by 49 ring gauge, 90 points), Partagas Pirámide (6 1/8 by 52, 88), Montecristo Robusto (4 7/8 by 50, 92) and Hoyo de Monterrey Particulares (9 1/4 by 47). I never had the chance to try the latter. London cigar merchants said that a large percentage of the Monte "A-"sized smokes had damaged wrappers, so they were sent back to importer Hunters & Frankau and never sold.
The second batch of limitadas was released last year, even though they included a cigar band that read Edición limitada 2001. They consisted of: Cohiba Pirámide (6 1/8 inches by 52, 90 points), Montecristo Double Corona (7 5/8 by 49, 90), Romeo y Julieta Robusto (4 7/8 by 50, 90), Partagas Serie D No. 3 (5 5/8 by 46, 95), and Hoyo de Monterrey Particulares (9 1/4 by 47, 92). The latter was re-released because of its limited availability on the market the first time around. I found a number difficult to draw, but when they drew correctly, they were of outstanding quality.
For me, the best smoke of all the limitadas has been the Partagas Serie D No. 3. I continue to score it 95 points. Maybe I simply like the vitola, which is basically the same size as the Punch Punch or a corona gorda. It has a fabulously refined and elegant character, yet provides rich and powerful flavor. I can't wait to see if one of the new limitadas can compare in quality.
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