Launched in 2004 on the 5th Anniversary of the San Cristobal de la Habana brand, the Oficios is one of three new vitolas exclusive to the brand (the others being the larger Muralla and Mercaderes). Not only is this vitola, the Dalias Cortas, unique to SCdlH, the whole line is only exclusively available at authorized La Casa del Habanos outlets worldwide.

I picked up a couple of the Oficios at a local LCdH in Mandarin Oriental for US$16.50 each during my recent visit, and after letting them rest in the humidor for a couple of days, decided to light one up. The box i picked these cigars were from 2007.

With a 43 ring gauge and a length of just 135mm, it’s closest vitola is probably the petit corona; the difference is really too small to tell from casual observation. The particular stick i was going to smoke had a couple of pretty bands, including the exclusive LCdH band, but its wrapper wasn’t too inspiring. A dark rosado, veiny, bumpy and bit mottled — it’s only redeeming factor was the large amounts of oil i felt under my fingers as i rolled it with my fingers. I could have sworn that it wasn’t this oily when i bought them. I’ve always liked oily wrappers, it shows that the tobacco has been well fermented, and aged. Plus, experience tells me that such cigars tend to provide a nice spicy kick.

The aroma of the unlit cigar was quite light, nothing remarkable, just a pinch of cedary woodsiness, perhaps a mild tickle of spice. A quick cut, a few licks of the torch, and it was away.

The first third was very mild. Good amounts of smoke, but flavour and aroma wise it was unusually plain. The only indicator of its Cuban origins was that distinct grassy flavour i notice quite prevalent in most Vueltabajo tobacco — and even that was almost unnoticeable. This led to a half hour of pretty standard, uninspiring puffing on my part as i hoped that this cigar would turn the corner past the half-way point.

And that it did. Hitting the middle half transformed this cigar into something quite special; a bit more spice began to show itself, and a dark bitter chocolate undertone began to manifest. But still, it lacked that distinct bit of character i was hoping for from a cigar made exclusively for the retail outlets bearing the Habanos name.

The cigar ran quite warm throughout, telling me that it is more suited for slow, leisurely enjoyment, rather than the deep draws that i normally take with my cigars. The draw was just nice, enough tension to make it interesting, and the burn was generally even. It didn’t require a re-light or touch up throughout the smoke.

It’s in the final third when this cigar finally allowed me past the gates of flavour — that last 20 minutes. A strong peppery touch, tingling my lips, and a deep velvety creaminess that i really enjoy. Full tobacco flavours, slightly bitter, a bit tannic but not overpoweringly so. It was a generous finish and something that you wouldn’t have expected given how the first 2/3rds of the cigar had performed. Something tells me that another 2 years on this cigar would really make it something special as it’ll give those uneven flavours time to marry out over the length of the cigar.

In the end, it was a fond farewell, as i nubbed it. A nice distraction of a cigar, some potential but not yet fully ready for the world.

Verdict: 80/100