54 ring gauge

Padrón Family Reserve 50 Years Maduro

As readers of my website will have noted from the Lexicon page and previous posts, my favourite cigars are Habanos and for the great reason that the soil, climate, centuries in the making of skill in manufacture and finally taste, are unrivalled. Nonetheless, there are “New World” cigars that are also world-class in their tobacco, manufacture and taste – predominantly those from Nicaragua, in my opinion. With that in mind, I chose to feature my first non-Cuban cigar from a brand that stands above the rest in their consistency, quality and great taste – Padrón.

The story of Padrón is one of humble beginnings a few years after the Cuban revolution in Miami, Florida where many Cuban exiles and cigar producers reside to this day. In 1964, the founder José Padron began with only one torcedor selling cigars at several US cents each, and a few years later, only with modification to the design and marketing, started to enjoy success. In the last ten years that the American publication Cigar Aficionado has been featuring their annual “Top 25 Cigars” article, the brand has never been out of the top ten best cigars and made number one on an unprecedented three occasions.

The Family Reserve brand is their premium line and features cigars produced for particular milestones and their 50th anniversary would certainly be the one I intended to feature. Its commercial and personal significance, with José’s son, Jorge now at the helm with his father’s eagle eye and taste buds still partaking in the blending decisions, made it the right choice. Since the Padrón Family Reserve 50 Years is not yet available in the UK, I had great luck as my great friend Jonathan was visiting family in Miami this month and was very kind to procure a couple of these beauties for my delectation.

My experience of having tasted the previous iterations of the “natural” and “maduro” versions of the earlier released Family Reserves led me to choose the maduro for the extra richness that their near-oscuro gloriously oily wrappers hold. With plenty of flavour from the start, I could tell it would be a strong cigar despite 10 years of ageing to the rare tobaccos prior to being rolled. Around an inch into the tasting, the characteristically earthy notes of the Padrón Family Reserve series really enveloped the palate and some white pepper notes tingled on the retrohale.

The second third stabilised to bring dark cocoa, clove spice and even a subtle black cherry sweetness on the finish. The vast smoke continued to provide plenty of flavour, burning perfectly with a razor thin line and there was no mistaking its full-bodied blend. The final third strengthened further with espresso notes joining the earthy and leathery long finish yet kept perfect balance. The cigar is certainly befitting for the 50th anniversary of the company and as with Habanos, these will surely age further only to become even better.

Glenfarclas has been a relatively recent revelation to me, and their typically full-bodied and sherry cask finished single malts would instinctively be the right choice for this full-strength cigar. During my last sojourn to Paris (to visit Septième Largeur), I made best use of my time and visited La Maison du Whisky. Here I found a very welcoming and modern boutique with an enviable collection of the golden nectar. I stumbled upon the Glenfarclas 17 Years Old which, with a quick check online, was stated as: “bottled in limited quantities primarily for the North American, Japanese and Travel Retail markets”. Oddly enough, a British online retailer had it priced at £100, but the Parisian price tag of 69€ (£51) only confirmed my intent to purchase my first bottle of Glenfarclas at that opportune moment.

With the right cigar to pair it with and after months of waiting, I finally allowed myself to crack open the bottle. The notes of sherried fruit and the slightest hint of peat smoke were a delight for the nose and the beautifully full-bodied and long sherry finish was refreshingly cleansing for the palate. The Glenfarclas 17 Years Old married well with the cigar since its flavours were enhanced rather than silenced by the well-bodied sherry cask finished single malt which on a later tasting, was confirmed to be a delight to savour on its own.

Tasting notes and details:

Padrón Family Reserve 50 Years Maduro

Size54 x 5.0”  (21.43 x 127)mm

Cigar serial number – 156714

Wrapper – gloriously evenly dark maduro wrapper and box-pressed with Padrón’s characteristically short cap. Lovely oiliness yet no veins or blemishes visible.

Draw – very good, but maybe too good. Will need to take care not to overheat the tobacco. Pre-light notes of some sweetness of cocoa and a cedared earthiness prevalent from cold draw.

First third – voluminous smoke from the beginning, presenting plenty of earthy coffee notes. Some stronger than expected white pepper spice notes tingle on the retrohale.

Second third – with the strength calmed and stabilised, further flavours of dark cocoa, black cherry sweetness and clove spice appear on the nose.

Last third – the strength increases, with some dark espresso notes joining the earthy and leathery flavours on the long finish.

PairingGlenfarclas Aged 17 years (43%).

Nose – sherried fruit with the slightest hint of peat smoke.

Palate – full-bodied, yet balanced with sherry notes developing slowly.

Finish – long lasting smooth finish with hint of spice and oak.

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© 2015, Harmic Davidkhanian. All rights reserved.

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Edmundo Dantes Conde 54 Edición Regional México 2011

With it having been nearly ten years since my last trip to Mexico and with sadly no plans to go back soon, I jumped on the opportunity to purchase an Habano brand created solely for the Mexico market – Edmundo Dantes. With its primary brown anilla embossed with the eponymous protagonist of Alexandre Dumas’ arguably most famous novel, trademark issues and Habanos S.A.’s own internal designation of Montecristo as a “global brand” were the reasons that this cigar was not simply sold as a Cuban Montecristo cigar. This was the second regional edition, with only 1,000 numbered boxes each containing 25 cigars having been produced, making this a rare cigar only four years on.

For a while, I had heard much praise concerning this cigar, with the Sublimes vitola de galera being one of my favourites. Moreover, the rarity, originality and mild ageing proved too tempting to pass up on. The Montecristo Edición Limitada 2008 in the Sublimes size would be a very high benchmark to live up to, and for that reason I tried to be as objective as possible whilst tasting this puro.

I carefully caressed the boquilla with the scalpel-like fine point of a blue flame cigar lighter and drew the first few puffs full of expectation. A couple of minutes into the tasting, the erratic burn was as displeasing as the lack of both flavour and smoke. Expecting big, earthy Montecristo flavours mingled with spice left me wondering where they had escaped to. I carried on into the final part of the first third to at last perceive a modicum of spice and depth which finally appeared after an almost entirely herbal prelude.

A gentle massage of the body of the well-filled cigar improved the volume of smoke and a nutty creaminess started to permeate. Some clove spiciness on the retrohale was a welcome addition to what seemed too bland for a supposed Montecristo blend, particularly of this grand a vitola.

Without great need of relighting, at least the composition of the volado and capote leaves and combustibility generally seemed very good. Some complexity finally emerged in the final third along with until now, a critical lack of Montecristo earthiness. Regrettably, it was too little, too late with what I presume to have been overexposure to prolonged, dry conditions for the taste was far too lacklustre to be a Montecristo. Nonetheless, with one more example in the humidor, I will be able to certify my current view of this cigar – not worth it.

Tasting notes and details:

Edmundo Dantes Conde 54 Edición Regional México 2011

Factory NameSublimes

Size54 x 6.5”  (21.43 x 164)mm

Box code and dateNot available

Wrapper – Smooth, colorado wrapper.

Draw – compact to the touch and draw a little too tight. Pre-light notes exude a hint of woodiness and earth. No ammonia or spice.

First third – Very mild almost herbal and aromatic first inch. Very faint Montecristo taste in the distance. Finally a hint of spice appears well into the tasting.

Second third – Draw improves and a nutty creaminess starts to permeate. Some clove spiciness on the retrohale. Earthiness not quite there.

Last third – Aromatic with subtle floral spice. Very late on with only two inches left, some earthiness intensifies along with a hint of dark cocoa.

PairingHavana Club Selección de Maestros Cuban rum 45%. Refraining from putting a customary ice cube in the glass may have hampered the experience. That said, it proved to be a good quality rum to sip straight and also to pair with a medium-strength, earthy cigar.

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© 2015, Harmic Davidkhanian. All rights reserved.

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