Cigar Aficionado

The Perfect Invitation

“Take whatever you’d like to smoke.” The words were like magic. The invitation, from my friend who has an extraordinary collection of cigars, is not uncommon, but I never take it for granted. It’s a treat. And I know it.

Well, it turned out that as the invitation was spoken, I spied a box of one of my favorite cigars staring me right in the face: Romeo y Julieta Churchills. Their origin was from that small island nation 90 miles from Key West, so I knew immediately that’s what I wanted to smoke.

But I had more than a little trepidation. All the great benchmark Cuban cigars fell onto hard times when that country ramped up production during the global cigar boom of the mid to late 1990s. The RyJ Churchill was harder hit than most. Frankly, it’s been years since I had one that reminded of the great ones from the early 1990s. At their best, RyJ Churchills are packed with flavors of the earth and cocoa beans, and they are almost always perfectly smooth and well-balanced. I grew more trepidatious when I noticed that the box I was staring at had cigars packed in tubes, which also threw another negative element into the mix: many times, the tubo cigars just aren’t as pretty as regular boxes, because the cigar wrappers aren’t visible until you open the tube.

I lifted up some boxes. The first one was from 2001. I held my breath as I turned over the second one: 1991! I got excited. I knew these cigars were from the heyday of Cuban cigar production. I took one tube out and put the box back.

As I opened it, I did note that the wrapper wasn’t beautiful. The veins were a little thicker than I like, and the wrapper was quite dark. But the oils were intact, and the construction looked perfect.

You’ll read about this cigar in the next Connoisseur’s Corner in the Nov/Dec issue of Cigar Aficionado. I’ll give you a hint. I smoked it for nearly two hours and I wasn’t disappointed, even after lighting it a couple of times because it went out during our conversation, and during forays to check on some stuff online.

It did remind of all the great RyJ Churchills that I had smoked in the past.

And, made me wish for more.