Let’s be fair, who doesn’t like a bargain? Nowadays life is quite a lot easier for the bargain hunter in all of us: the web is a source of much (sometimes too much) information and we can compare prices for many products in seconds and look up opinions in just a tad longer tan that. When it comes to cigars it is undeniable that many of us look for special offers, deals and new releases with almost religious attention.
On top of that we have the suave marketing sirens telling us about how we can save even more by going for the gimmicky copy instead of the original: marketing for products like Nica Libre (vs. Padron) and the like is a classic example for this. On the Cuban cigar market this is less common. The Diplomaticos brand might have been originally seen as a cheaper alternative to Montecristo but it soon carved out a space of its own, now rapidly decreasing thanks to Habanos discontinuations. But every now and then you hear opinions and rumours of this kind. One I found out while writing my Cohiba Panetela review was that there seem to be a few BOTLs out there that considered the Por Larrañaga Panetela as a cheaper, but equally pleasurable version of the Cohibas. Since The PL Panetelas are cheapish short filler smokes I was a bit doubtful but it is always worth a try, right?
Por Larrañaga Panetela
Smoking time: 40-45 minutes
Cigars smoked: Three
Appearance and pre-smoke
The wrapper on these thin sticks has almost a maduro hue. The texture is toothy and with some stitchy veins but it has a nice oily feel to it. There are no major soft or hard spots, but like other short filler cigars the feel at the touch is on the soft side.
The pre-light aroma is of dark tobacco but not much else, simple but not worse for that. There might be some interesting richness to discover.
The Por Larrañaga Panetela smokes like a quite typical short filler cigar. The ash is a bit flaky and falls off quite often, the burn is a bit irregular, but not excessively so. What is a bit disappointing is the draw that is quite tight on two of the three cigars I smoked for this review. I eventually manage to get a good amount of smoke off these, but it needs a bit of effort.
I sound like a broken record by now, but given that this is a short filler cigar, I didn’t expect any big changes and that is exactly what I got. The main note is rich roasted tobacco with a marked roasted beans note, and a fresh almost minty finish and the occasional spice hit. I can see that this might draw the comparison with the Cohiba Panetelas. Yet what the Cohiba’s have and these definitely do not is finesse. While the Cohiba develop and build up body, these go harsh, with slightly burnt/acrid notes building up in the last third. This seems to be something I taste quite often in short fillers, and I wonder if it comes from how the tobacco burns in these. Purging makes the taste better for a few puffs but the harsh finish reappears quite quickly.
As with taste, value is in the eye, or in this case pocket, of the beholder. On a price scale, these Por Larrañaga Panetelas are certainly very convenient and the quality matches that quite fairly. For me, what matter more is if I would rather smoke a few of these or save my money to smoke a single Cohiba Panetela or Siglo I, and I know for sure I would go for the second option. Having said that, I don’t smoke loads of cigars every day, sometimes even just 1-2 a week, so I would rather go for something of higher quality even if it means paying a higher price. The frequent cigar smokers out there might disagree.
All in all the Por Larrañaga Panetela is an OK smoke at a fair price, but not something I would look for again. Score: 77