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The robusto/Rothschild size cigar was selected for the premier tast-
ing in CIGAR AFICIONADO for a very simple reason. It's the fastest
selling size in tobacco shops around the world. This short, stout
cigar offers the benefits of a longer, thicker cigar, that is, big flavor
and cool smoke. But this size can be enjoyed in a relatively short
period of time, usually 25 to 35 minutes. It's been dubbed the per-
fect "power lunch smoke."
As with almost all cigars, it is difficult to arrive at a generally
accepted standard for a particular size. We chose robusto cigars
with a 49 or 50 ring gauge, and about five inches long, give or take
a half-inch. For the purposes of the blind tasting, that standard was
rigorously applied. We did not want to shorten a cigar so that it
might fit in anonymously with the group, or include one that could
be easily picked out. We also eliminated cigars that are often called
robustos but they have a 48 or smaller ring gauge.
The tasting is not meant to be all-inclusive; brands had to be wide-
ly available at retail tobacco stores. All cigars were purchased at retail
outlets. We ensured that all cigars were in good condition and prop-
erly humidified. All cigars were tasted blind. The panel of tasters
included four members of the CIGAR AFICIONADO editorial staff.
For the most part, robustos emphasize flavor. The thick ring
gauge provides the same ratio of leaves to surface area as in larger
cigars with a 50 ring gauge, thus providing the extra flavor. Despite
its shorter length, a robusto still manages to maintain most of the
coolness of a longer smoke. At the same time, robustos deliver a
relatively high value. Because the proportions are right and the
smoke doesn't get too hot, people tend to smoke them more than
halfway down. You'll find yourself pushing the band further and
further back to smoke a bit more of the cigar.
Whatever your pleasure in a cigar, CIGAR AFICIONADO found
excellent cigars among the 23 tasted. For instance, the Cohiba
Robusto emphasizes the rich, coffee flavors and finesse of this revered
Cuban brand, while the A. Fuente Chateau Rothschild accentuates
the delicate, elegant style of Fuente's Dominican Republic tobacco.
There's even quality at the lower end of the price scale: La
Gloria Cubana makes a rich robusto, called a Wavell, in its Miami
factory with plenty of attractive coffee and spice character, and at
an almost ridiculously low price of about $1.50. Thanks to the cat-
egory's growing popularity, there are some recent additions to the
category: Dunhill Romanas, Davidoff Special R and Macanudo
Hyde Park Cafe, all from the Dominican Republic.
Regardless of which cigar brand you choose to smoke, robustos
are clearly the "hot" cigars for the 90's. They also give new mean-
ing to the old saying, "good things come in small packages."