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Dinner Selection – June 2008

Vasco da Gama Capa da Cuba Cigarillo
Cuaba Tradicionales • Cohiba Maduro 5 Magicos

A light Cuban wrapper cigarillo to stimulate the tastebuds, followed by 2 “Outstanding” cigars – both scored 91 points in Cigar Aficionado blind tastings.

Welcome – your light cigarillo:
Vasco da Gama Capa da Cuba - 90mm x Ring 23; Cigarillo
A fine quality small cigar, and a perfect size to smoke before a meal. The filler is a selected blend of the finest cigar tobaccos light tobaccos from the former Dutch East Indies and Brazil, with a homogenized tobacco leaf binder. The greenish-brown Cuban wrapper offers an exceptional degree of flavour. Rick Hacker says: “In many ways the wrapper is the most important part of the cigar, not just because it provides 30% to 60% of the flavour, but also because it is the embodiment of the cigar’s total character”.

Between courses:
Cuaba Tradicionales – 120mm x Ring 42; Petit Corona size Perfecto
Cuaba – the only all Perfecto Cuban range – was launched in 1996. The Perfecto is the original shape that made Cuba famous but shape hadn't been commercially rolled for nearly four decades. The name comes from the bush, pieces of which were used by the early Indians of Cuba to light their cigars (cohibas).
The first thing you notice about the new line of Cuabas is their varied shapes. They are all standard lengths, but you notice that they are all slightly different in shape. This is because the cigars are made without the aid of a mould, which standardizes the girth and shape of a cigar.
They are made in the Briones Montoto factory (formerly Romeo y Julieta), by only Grade 7 rollers – the highest rated.
These new sizes are some of the hardest to make in Cuba. "You have to have great strength and skill in your hands and you have to know where to put the right amount of pressure on the filler and binder” says Gonzalez, who developed the range and has been working at Briones Montoto since 1948 . He geared the blend after Montecristo, "I wanted the cigar to be strong at the beginning when you smoke it and then end with a smooth richness”. Strangely, the cigar has no ligero tobacco, the strongest of the three tobaccos used in Cuban cigars, even though it delivers such intensity on the palate.
The Tradicionales is more refined than the smaller Divinos but has equally rich character. It scored 91 and 90 in Cigar Aficionado blind tastings in 1997 and 2007 - remarkably consistent.
Cigar Aficionado (2007): “It’s peppery and spicy. There’s some leather on the palate as well as cedar, leading to a long finish. Medium to full bodied.”
Just the cigar for the middle of the dinner.
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A superb finish:
Cohiba Maduro 5 Magicos – 115mm x Ring 52
Petit Robusto (or very short Double Corona) Cuba's Cohiba Maduro 5 was launched at the Habanos Festival in 2007. While Cuba has offered many darker wrapper cigars over the years, it had not until then offered a genuine Maduro – and included the description on the band.
The range uses the highest quality Maduro wrapper which comes from the upper leaves of plants grown in the five premier tobacco farms of San Juan y Martinez and San Luis areas, in the Vuelta Abajo region. The “5” is a designation for the dark wrapper that has been aged about five years, a long and complex natural process that uses no chemicals and results in the special color and texture. In addition, Cohiba is the only Cuban habano brand in which two of the three types of leaves used to make them — seco and ligero — are given a third fermentation. This process gives Cohiba a unique combination of aroma and taste not found in other brands. Thecigar, as with most Maduro cigars, smokes slower than other cigars of the same size – so the larger Maduro 5 would take at least 2 hours.
Cigar Aficionado: (Score 91) “A good-looking robusto that emanates a spicy aroma as it burns. It is significantly earthy and spicy with leather and wood notes that culminate in a spicy finish.” (They like the word “spicy”)
The Maduro 5 Magicos lights and draws easily, and the rich flavour develops as the cigar is smoked - a crescendo of taste and smoothness perfect for the end of a meal.
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Read Rudman’s “Complete Pocket Guide to Cigars”.