Recently concluding a large project at work is as good a reason as any to really break out something special. I was visiting one of KL’s best humidors the other day, the Habanos Lobby Lounge, Federal Hotel, and stumbled across a really old box of 10 year old HDM Particulares in coffins. It was an amazing find, there is a story behind the HDM Particulares coffins.

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The original HDM Particulares Grand Coronas were produced in 1980 and quickly discontinued in 1987 due to lack of popularity. Those came with the classic HDM maximus band, in boxes of 5 sticks, and did not come in their own coffins. Habanos SA flirted with the idea of bringing back the Particulares in the early-2000s, and even released a EL version with coffins in 2000 (extremely rare cigar nowadays). Premium dark rosado wrappers made the HDM Particulars EL 2000 a very sought after cigar. Then in 2002, a batch was made to bring them back into regular production. The plan to was eventually canned, but the batch made in 2002 were released anyways, and have turned out to be every bit as rare of the EL 2000 version. The 2002 batch sport the new standard HDM band and come in their own coffins.

9.5 inches of amazing, 46 ring gauge. Each stick it it’s own cedar coffin, just like the famed Montecristo As. Smoking technique for such a large cigar is an art from in its own: you’ll be tempted to draw faster and deeper with such a long cigar, but you have to resist lest be exposed to quite a bit of bitterness in the second half of the cigar due to the sheer amount of tobacco burned and the distance the smoke has to travel before reaching you.

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Also, you’ve got to take into consideration the amount of time it’ll take to smoke such a long cigar. It took me about 2.5 hours to smoke this one, about the length of the Lord of the Rings movie i was watching at the time to unwind a long day. One thing is for sure, Gandalf never looked so good! 🙂

The most difficult vitolas to make consistently are the ones which are oddly sized. Figurados fall within that category. Lanceros too because of the length and tiny ring gauge. And the massive grand coronas is another. The leaf required for this is rare, hard to find perfect leaves large enough to serve as the wrapper, and very easy for the roller to mess things up managing such a long tube of leaf.

This particular sample was immaculate. No hard or soft spots anywhere along it’s length. The draw was lovely with a very strong cedar aroma — that’s the influence of the cedar coffins at play. Lighting it up took just a moment, and then i was away. The first few draws were blissful: very clear and refined clean tobacco flavours. 10 years have settled the blend perfectly, not even an ounce of roughness anywhere.

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As i got into the cigar more, it really opened up. Precious salty flowers, and fruity citrus notes with a touch of acidity. I’ve had my share of aged cigars (cigars with at least 7 years on them) and this one exhibited all the classic signs of perfectly aged Cuban tobacco. As a young cigar, i can imagine this stick would have have been a bit rougher around the edges, with perhaps a bit more coffee bitterness, and a tangy sweetness. But the time has molded out those flavours, and smoothened it out significantly.

Every draw was a delicious delight. Thick smoke volume, things got really interesting around the time Gandalf the Grey became Gandalf the White. The easy refined flavours picked up a notch, replaced by musky sweet caramel and roasted hay. A very unusual flavour profile, it made me sit up and look at the cigar. It disappeared soon enough after about an inch and a bit, but for that little moment when it lasted, it was like smoking nirvana.

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The rest of the cigar progressed calmly along the same lines of how it started: very fruity, woody sweet aroma that is the hallmark of the Hoyo de Monterrey brand. Quite a buzz by the time i put it down; the amount of nicotine i had absorbed from more than 9 inches of tobacco is quite considerable.

Verdict: 90/100. What a cigar. Besides the thrill of finding and smoking such a rare cigar, it was a lovely smoking experience. Not something i’d repeat on a regular basis — who has the time to smoke a 2.5 hour cigar nowadays? And does require more than the casual amount of smoking discipline to draw out the best flavours. But if you’re patient, this cigar delivers.