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The Love of Lanceros

The long, thin cigars are making a comeback among true connoisseurs
Gregory Mottola
From the Print Edition:
Kevin Costner, July/August 2008

(continued from page 2)

"They're difficult to make, and they're difficult to blend," says Litto Gomez, maker of La Flor Dominicana cigars. Only three of his rollers can make the size.

"Lanceros had a lot of draw problems in the late 1990s, early 2000s," says Suckling. "It was all due to bad construction. The bunch would get twisted during rolling if the roller wasn't careful and the cigar wouldn't draw. People started avoiding them and the trend sort of stuck."

It is not uncommon to hear stories from disgruntled customers of plugged lanceros, and there is often little recourse for someone who has bought an expensive cigar overseas, or even a box, only to come home and find that it was unsmokable.

Jay Henderson, manager of La Casa del Habano cigar shop in Windsor, Ontario, says that the only lanceros his shop carries are the Cohiba Lancero, Montecristo Especiale and Trinidad Fundadore, although a much bigger demand exists for the Cohiba.

"The biggest problem with that size is the draw," says Henderson. "I used to have customers coming back to the shop because too many cigars in the box they bought were plugged. Who wants to spend all that money on a box of lanceros and only be able to smoke 10 of them? We have our lancero customers, but most people want bigger cigars."

"I love the lancero," says Suckling, "but the market is dominated by robustos. The trend is thicker and shorter, not longer and thinner."

Part of the reluctance for some to light up a lancero is that of image. While the lancero can project stately connoisseurship, some might find it signals effeminacy—it's not for those looking to make a chest-pounding statement.

If the slender cigar does not threaten one's masculinity, it could threaten the wallet. Because of the skill required to roll a lancero properly, and the need for large, pristine, high-quality wrapper leaves, the cost can be higher than that of fatter cigars of similar length.

Trinidad Fundadores and Cohiba Lanceros each retail for about £20 ($40) in the United Kingdom. In the United States, the retail price for a Davidoff Millennium Lancero is $17.50 before taxes. That might seem like a lot of money to someone who could get a cigar twice as thick for significantly less. But while a thicker ring gauge tends to deliver more copious amounts of smoke, giving the palate substantial impressions of richness and body, the lancero could be compared to a chef's tasting at a fine restaurant where one is there to have the palate stimulated, not to fill up on comfort food. For some, the lancero's very delicacy could simply be incongruous with their notions of what the cigar smoking experience is about.

"I don't think the lancero will become another robusto in the near future," says Gomez. Says Herklots: "The lancero format is not for everyone. Many people just don't enjoy that size, they don't feel comfortable with it."

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