Cigar Aficionado

Breakfast of Champions

“Does it taste like 100 points?” asked David Savona, web tsar and senior editor of Cigar Aficionado.

“Good question,” I responded as I smoked in his office in New York. I wasn’t prepared to give my hand away.

I was already halfway through the small torpedo, or Belicoso. It was a 1960 H. Upmann Numero 85. It was given to me this morning during a meeting with the head honcho, supremo Marvin Shanken. The publisher of CA had recently smoked and scored the cigar a perfect 100 points in the June 2008 issue of the magazine in the Connoisseur’s Corner section. He described it as the “Magic Kingdom.” Oookay.

The cigar was awesome. What a way to start the morning. Breakfast of champions, I say. A God-like smoke.

Just before lighting, the cigar smelled marvelous, with cedar, honey, nut and dried flowers. It was in perfect condition. It looked like a new cigar. A few minutes after lighting it, the cigar delivered nutty, cedar and tea-like flavors. It was mild, yet flavorful. The cedary, delicate tobacco character lasted minutes on my palate. In fact, I finished the cigar an hour ago and I can still taste it.

I am not usually a huge fan of pre-Castro or pre-revolution smokes or whatever you want to call them. Most are over the hill due to poor storage. They are dried out with no oils or flavor components. They are like smoking the pages of Rolling Stone – no flavor, no nothing, just smoke. Sometimes they even taste musty or mushoomy, like wet cardboard. But the H. Upmann Numero 85 was a dream. 100 points? Not sure..but very, very close. What a way to start a morning...