Connoisseur’s Corner: A Perfect Por Larrañaga
A corona-sized pre-Castro Cuban joined our small club of perfect cigars. The cigar, wrapped in a sleeve of cedar for the last 60 or so years, exhibited not only a perfect draw and burn, but a panoply of fine flavors. Three younger and far larger Cubans (a Bolivar, Ramon Allones and Hoyo de Monterrey) also scored well, each earning our classic accolade. Some believe that only Cuban cigars improve over time. They are mistaken. There is a pair of non-Cubans in this impressive roundup. A Coronado by La Flor, rolled in the Dominican Republic seven years ago, earned a classic rating. A Miami-made Padilla with a decade of age also scored well. When it comes to aging a cigar, you only need to start with a fine smoke. Don’t fret about where it was rolled.
This cigar is elegant and mild, with a superb mix of sweet spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon. The draw is divine, perfect, delivering rich smoke to the palate with just the right amount of tug, and the finish is slightly flinty. Absolutely delicious. —Marvin R. Shanken
The wrapper on this lovely big cigar is the color of a bar of milk chocolate, and the foot takes hungrily to the soft flame of a butane lighter. The draw is spot on, and the burn quickly evens out after a rough start. The old cigar takes time to awaken, revealing light sprinkles of baking spices and cream, building in power to show cedar wood, slate and a touch of earth as the smoke goes on. Quite elegant at this stage, if not as robust as it was in its youth. —David Savona
This stately, box-pressed Churchill takes a bit of time to warm up, showing some earthy grit at first. As it warms, the flavor blossoms, with a blast of sweet nutmeg spice, toasted corn and savory coconut. It gets sweeter as it goes, eventually taking on a honeyed wood character that’s wonderfully pleasant. The cigar burns and draws like a charm, with balance and big flavor. Despite being 22 years old, it seems far from its peak. —David Savona
A wonderful, full-bodied smoke with a great draw and burn. There is a robust coffee note at the start, which smooths out, taking on a solid nuttiness on the mid-palate. The long finish has a pleasing sweet earthiness with a touch of leather. This cigar still has many years of aging left. —Gordon Mott
This beautiful double corona has the refinement of age while retaining the vigor of youth. It’s a toasty smoke throughout, picking up sweet, chewy notes of almond-studded nougat before showing the meaty, unctuous qualities of sizzling beef fat. Final puffs are of black tea and freshly muddled mint. A cigar that smokes like a full dinner service in five solid ashes. —Gregory Mottola
The brownish tint of the cellophane speaks to the age of this Miami-made cigar. It’s spent more than 10 years in a limited-edition humidor, and there aren’t many of these left. Time has tempered this once powerful smoke. Ghostly hints of black pepper, earth and coffee are far more nuanced. It’s become a sweet, herbal cigar that calls to mind molasses, dried flowers and the woodiness of its own humidor. —Gregory Mottola