Cigar Aficionado

Great Old Smoke

I had one of those cigar moments that we all dream about on Saturday night. My friend had cooked a great meal, we were working our way through a couple of bottles of fine American wines, and the conversation swirled non-stop around the table. The dessert was served, and it was time for one of those fine, old English moments. The women in the group retired to the patio (it was still in the mid-70s at 10 o’clock), and the men stayed at the dinner table.

The humidor was passed, and my friend pointed to a cellophane-wrapped smoke, and said something along the lines of, “I think that one is really old.” The first one I chose was plugged, so he graciously let me light up a second. I began looking at the box, which he brought to me after I exclaimed how good the cigar was. The cigars were Ramon Allones No. 1s. The box was green, and the band was the modern version, so with those two clues, I was able (upon returning to the office) to date the cigar to no earlier than 1972. That date jibes more or less with the smoking habits of my friend’s father, who laid down quite a store of Cubans during the 1970s and 1980s. The cigar was in perfect condition, and in fact, having been in cello, it had not acquired that heavy overlay of cedar notes that many cigars stored in humidors get. I also was careful to note the history of that size, because there were some Ramon Allones sizes that were machine-made during that period; this was a handmade creation.

The cigar had a perfect balance, with a light toasty note, and some light nuttiness on the palate. As it burned down, it began to take on some depth and strength that hadn’t been there at the outset. The No. 1 is like the Montecristo No. 1, so it presents as a classic Lonsdale, six to six and half inches long with a 44 to 46 ring gauge. There wasn’t a hint of harshness in the smoke, and it burned and drew smoothly throughout the hour I smoked it.

My friend doesn’t have many more of those smokes, so I know I had a real treat. But I also was reminded about something very important: a well-made cigar with great tobacco that is properly cared for can last decades without losing its appeal. Yes, it does change in character, but sometimes I think a great old cigar remains closer to its original character than some great old bottles of wine. That’s another story too.

What’s the oldest cigar you have smoked?

"Kevin,I went back and checked the resource general, many Cuban machine made cigars back in that era, 1960 to 1970 apparently came with cello, but even a few handmade ones did too...Now I'm relying on Adriano Martinez's book which documents cigars in the post-revolutionary period, and I'd have to say a lot of his entries are not super-precise. It says things like "an elusive cigar," or "reportedly production stopped in the 1960s." So, I won't vouch 100 percent on the conclusions of my research. And your point is a good one about cigars today, but I'm not sure about the 1970s." —October 11, 2007 13:48 PM
"Very good, thanks for the info...and the oldest cigar I have ever smoked would have to be the Opus X Serie X No.2 which was part of the Prometheus 1999 humidor...that cello was real yellow. Great cigar" —October 11, 2007 16:52 PM
"Mr. Mott,Somebody school me, I thought that the factories in Cuba did not cello their cigars. All the ones I have ever had have been un-cello in the boxes. " —October 11, 2007 11:46 AM
"Unfortunately, I have never laid out cigars for so long... but I have put down some Cohiba lanceros back in 1998.. Today i still have a few of those sticks left, and only smoke them on very special occasions¿ ... the last time I was in Vegas, I decided to take one along for the trip, to smoke while playing black-jack at the Venetian.. All I can say is WOW¿. The balance and lack or roughness exhibited by the cigar was outstanding¿ a very long, but yet extremely smooth finish¿.. I can only imagine what another 10 years can do to these beasts¿." —October 10, 2007 09:41 AM