Lately I find myself more and more in Scandinavia for work. Although there is a part of me that wishes I could visit Switzerland, and its cigar stores, instead – I have to admit that I enjoy working there. Once you figure out how people tick you cannot fail to appreciate the no bullshit, honest, direct but still friendly way people behave there. And from a cigar point of view, things aren’t great but not even that bad. Many hotels still offer smoking rooms and Gothenburg and Stockholm have some nice cigar stores.
A while back I was visiting one of them (Brobergs in Gothenburg) and my eyes landed on the Punch Northern Lights, the 2009 Regional Edition exclusive to the Nordic Countries… would you have resisted?
I didn’t think so.
Limited Edition cigars are one of those topics that split cigar lovers. For many they are overpriced marketing gimmick cigars, that are not worth their price or reputation. According to one story i have heard, the first RE were release because of an over-supply in substandard wrapper needed to be used for something. I have no idea if this is true. On the other hands, the collector love them and some people will hunt for all the RE released each year just to have a complete collection. And then there are the inbetweeners, who are unhappy about the price and limited availability, but still curious to see how these REs fare compared to normal lines, which is where I firmly pur myself. The Northern Lights are the first RE from Habanos I try and I am definitely looking forward to see how they fare. Continue reading
For the second installment of my Aging Project I am looking at a mild Cuban smoke, the Fonseca KDT Cadetes. In general the predominant wisdom on cigars is that medium and full-bodied cigars age while mild ones simply tend to go flat. Yet, as I mentioned in the Por Larrañaga post, for certain mild Cubans you find that experts suggest a few years of aging to bring out their full potential. The Fonseca KDT Cadetes fit the profile of a mild cigar nicely and at the same time I must admit I am slightly cheating here: I have had a few of these with 3-4 years on them and they can be very nice cigars, dominated by nutty notes, cocoa, a little spice and mild honey sweetness. The box I will be following while it ages is from November ’08, so younger than the KDTs I’ve had in the past. It will be interesting to see how these yonger cigars measure up.
The other reason for choosing these is more personal. Personally, I think Fonseca is a much overlooked Cuban brand. The reason for this is probably a combination of many seeing this as a beginner’s brand and the fact that, unlike most other Cuban brands, the Fonseca cigars play more around mellow flavours instead of showing the powerful profile most people identify Cuban smokes with. While these certainly make good beginner’s cigars, in the best cases they are very nice light refined smokes and not expensive either. In my experience the No.1, a Lonsdale, is probably the best expression of what Fonseca cigars can deliver while the Cadetes are a simpler smoke, but still not without complexity. Too bad Habanos has discontinued the Fonseca Invictos in 2002, a perfecto looking like an inverted torpedo (for a picture see Trevor’s Cuban Cigar site), which from what I have read not only had a cool looking shape but also was one of the best Fonseca Vitolas: I would have loved to try one of these.
This is the first post of a recurring feature I am introducing on the blog looking at the evolution of cigars through aging. There is a wide held belief that cigars, especially Cubans, improve with age, so from now on I will document how my cigar boxes change in time. Once I receive the cigars and these have had a month or so to rest. It will be interesting to see if the “myths” of cigar aging hold true. Will Cubans really age better than Non Cubans? Do Cubans really need two years from production to have a steady burn? Are full-bodied cigars better than milder ones for keeping? It will be interesting to see although it will certainly take some time. Once I receive the cigar boxes I plan to let these rest for a month or so before trying them; after that I will re-visit each box every six months smoking a couple of cigars and post on how these are evolving.
To start things off I am looking at the Punch Petit Punch form Habanos. Punch is one of the oldest Cuban brands, established in 1840 and originally targeted mainly at the British market; the Petit Punch (a Perla according to Habanos Vitolaro) has been part of Punch’s range from the pre-revolutionary times, but has been discontinued in 2009 by Habanos as they trim away many of the thinner cigars in their different brands. (While it is understandable that this is happening because thinner cigars are out of fashion and don’t sell, I am sorry to see these go and completely agree with The Smoking Stogie’s passionate rant in defense of smaller ring gauge cigars.) The box I have is from November 2007, so already pass the 2 year mark, and has been in my humidor for a little over two months now. Continue reading