Ms Yaidi Morales, El Laguito Master Roller, is in Kuala Lumpur for the 3 month long Festival Cubano 2005 — if there ever was a time to sample a cigar rolled on the thighs of a virgin master (!!) now is the time to do it! 🙂

Just kidding, fellas. She is a terribly sweet lady, with a kind and charming disposition. She can’t speak a word of English, so being in Malaysia for 3 months is almost akin to Hell for her, i imagine. So before i met her a few nights ago, i brushed up on my Spanish via an online Spanigh-English translator and armed myself with keywords i knew i would need for the night:

“mucho ligero, senorita!”

“si!”

“roja pinar del rio?”

“c’mo est’ el tiempo hoy?”

“diez palillos”

“c’mo vieja es esta hoja?”

Can you imagine the sort of smile i got when i started speaking (or at least trying to) Spanish! Hahah… i wasn’t very good, and i understood just about nothing of what she said in return, but i think i managed to get the message across, and managed to understand the bits she said that were important.

I asked her to roll a handful of custom cigars for me: i found out from her that the binder and the filler are from the same batch of leaf that went into the marvelous Cohiba Sublime 2005. As for the wrapper, which has been aged for more than 3 years, … when i asked her where it came from, she put her finger to her lips and said, “abajo secreto del vuelta,” (its a secret of the Vuelta Abajo); quite a coy little woman, she is! All the tobacco was hand picked by her, and she caressed it lovingly as we chatted.

With eager anticipation i watched her roll the cigars i wanted, and each turned out to be excellent specimens of her craft. As they were a bit wet still, i decided to give them a few days to dry off in the humi back home.

A few days passed. It was time to spark one up. The first to go was a funky shaped robusto extra — not quite as fat as a Cohiba Sublime, not quite as thin as an Monte Edmundo, and the head had an odd little shape. The leaf was incredibly oily; by looking at the pics you can almost discern the gobbles of oily patches along the wrapper. Wherever she got this wrapper from, its certainly something amazingly special; i don’t think i’ve seen the like before.

The wrapper had some toothy spots, and some very mild veining along one side, but that wasn’t going to deter me from enjoying this cigar. Running it under my nose, i sniffed hungrily on it, and was rewarded by a tremendous sea-salt aroma that invaded my nostrils, took them over, and banged me silly with them. The foot of the cigar offered the fresh grassy scent you normally find in Cohibas, though magnified in intensity; it was laced with the aroma of Bengal tea leaves which is a bit unique. Initial inspection alluded to a very interesting smoke ahead.

The cigar itself felt quite right in my hand, not too lightweight as Brinones’ are, and the tobacco was still somewhat damp. But i couldn’t wait any longer — a quick snip, the cap fell off, and i put the torch to it. A few luxurious draws later, and this cigar was away!

Two things struck me from the get go: the volume of smoke was tremendous, and the draw was a bit loose, though not intolerably so. The loose draw (i’ve also noticed this in other free-hand rolled cigars, previously Brinones and Hamlet) is perhaps due to the fact that molds are not used for the binder and filler, therefore its more difficult to compact the binder and filler properly while its being rolled. In Cuba, in the factories, molds are used to ensure the consistency of the binder and filler, prior to them being passed on to the final stage when the wrapper is rolled on.

But that was perhaps the only grouch i have about the cigar (i do prefer slightly firmer draws), but i quickly forgot about it — the flavour started coming through, the power and pace of the cigar nailed me to my seat, and its elegance wrapped its aroma all around me. Wonderful.

The first few draws hit me quite hard: a chalky chilli flavour that was supremely peppery to the lips and tongue. But that initial bite receded quite quickly, to be replaced with some very familiar Cohiba-like tastes. Quite mossy, grassy, spun around with a thick bean twine — delightful.

The 2nd half of the cigar, the flavours took a turn. Some deep caramelized (sweet) chocolate creaminess started coming through, and as i smacked my lips to get as much flavour out of it as i could, i detected some bitter chocolate notes that accentuated the whole experience.

Verdict: In 90 minutes, I took this cigar all the way down, and then i was still begging for more. A fresh cigar is unique, different and certainly nothing like what a cigar in a box can offer. I’ll imagine that some people will like this youthful exuberance in their cigars, and some will not. Some people will smoke the Morales right off her desk, some people may decide to aged some for special occasions in the future (some people like me will opt to do both!). These cigars seem to have tremendous aging potential, and i’m looking forward to breaking open my Morales box again in 5 years. In the meantime, excuse me while i go out to buy more to smoke now. 🙂 Highly Recommended.