In 1876, Juan López Sena created the Juan Lopez brand; in 1908, the brand was transferred to his heirs, and was then sold to the Sociedad C. Del Peso y Cía. in 1918.

The Juan Lopez is one of the few Cuban cigars that is still only made by hand (hecho a mano). Although the brand is offered in a limited number of styles, it is said to be one of the best handmade Havana cigars produced. Light-to-Medium in flavor, this cigar is attractive to a majority of Cuban cigar smokers.

I had my first Juan Lopez Seleccion No. 1 thanks to the generousity of Mr Lim of the Havana Club two days ago – suffice to say, it was so good, i’m still dreaming about it and looking forward to when i can have another. This is the cigar that won the 1st Epicur Award in 1998 – i was smoking one from that very same vintage.

As usual, i took a deep breath of its scent before lighting it – its tobacco is incredibly subtle thus producing a very light scent, almost undiscernible even under the most careful olfactory examination. A bit strange considering a maduro wrapper normally tends to suggest a stronger aroma.

My first draw from this quite superb cigar sent tingles of pleasure down my spine right up to my toes! Smoking this cigar is truly a journey of experience: its starts fine and light, with a light woody chip. Then as you reach the half-way point, the cigar gets more physical – a very light spicy influence accompanies each draw. It stays this way right until the end, but most notably hints of cocoa become common as we approach and past the last inch or so. Unlike the H Upmann Coronas Major that finishes quite strongly with a roar, the Juan Lopez finishes like a Rolls-Royce pulling up to the curb: smooth, dignified and consistent.

Each draw was even and easy, the burn was excellent without a hint of a run. Marks of a really well built cigar. Didn’t even have to relight it once, not even when it approached the end. It lasted, smoked while in polite conversation with some friends, about 60 minutes.

Verdict: The 1998 vintage of the Juan Lopez Seleccion No. 1 is a remarkable cigar that immediately makes it onto my Must Have (Again!) list of cigars. Simple in its design, magnificent in its experience and good till the very end – what more can you ask for?