Cuba is continuing its trend of releasing ultra-pricey, limited-edition cigars at the Habanos Festival, the annual gathering of cigar distributors, retailers and lovers of fine Cuban cigars.
The Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchill Gran Reserva Cosecha 2009, a plump cigar adorned with three bands, was previewed to those who attended the opening night party in Havana on Monday, February 23. Like other Gran Reserva cigars, the tobaccos used in the Wide Churchill come from a vintage crop, in this case the 2009 harvest.
The Gran Reserva Wide Churchill measures 5 1/8 inches long by 55 ring gauge and comes in boxes of 15. Only 5,000 boxes, each individually numbered and painted with a piano-black finish, have been created.
The cigar is unlikely to go on sale until the end of the year, and it wouldn't be uncommon for its release to be pushed back to 2016. (The Partagás Lusitania Gran Reserva, which was previewed at the 2013 Festival, didn't go on sale until nearly a year later.)
A sample of the cigar, which was made with an unblemished, tawny brown wrapper, was smoked during the Festival. The draw was spot on, requiring just the right amount of effort. The burn was slightly uneven; the ash was blackish grey, typical for Cuban cigars. The flavor was impressive, with a honeyed peanut note and a sweet, unctuous quality reminiscent of a Sauternes dessert wine.
Preview cigars aren't always the same as the end product that appears on shelves months later, so how the final cigar smokes remains to be seen.
For tasting notes and scores on Cuba's other Reservas and Gran Reservas, visit our tasting database.