This post could otherwise be titled, “The best cigar i’ve ever smoked but never reviewed on My Cigar Blog… until now.”
I’ve had Lanceros’ quite a number of times over the years, but never in a situation where it would have been suitable or possible to do a proper review. People will give them to me at herfs and parties. Or at after dinner events, over drinks and good company. Or i would find myself out and about somewhere, i’d walk into a cigar store, pick up a Lanceros then smoke it as i continued whatever i was doing. In all these situations, the cigar was purely for enjoyment, i didn’t have a camera with me, and i wasn’t taking notes.
Thus, after more than a dozen years, such a long and lovely love affair with this most elegant of Cuban cigars, i never wrote about her.
Yes, all other cigars are male. This one, the Lanceros, is a female. Not just any lady, but Amanda Seyfried type of beautiful.
The factory name of the Lanceros is Laguito No. 1: 192mm long with a 39 ring gauge — it’s slim, and silky long. Running my fingers over the surface, is a fantastic thrill. The natural oils make the wrapper smooth and velvety. Hard to believe that this cigar is one of the hardest vitolas to roll properly. Due to the size, it’s very easy to mess up and samples from the 2000-2001 batches are notorious for being ridiculously plugged and unsmokable. Thankfully, except for those turbulent years when frankly all Cuban cigars suffered, the Lanceros has been a terrific performer. It’s not an exaggeration to say that only the best El Laguito rollers get to make the Lanceros — that’s the level of skill required.
The Lanceros has a pretty back story. She was once upon a time Fidel Castro’s favourite, and rolled and reserved specifically for his pleasure and as his personal diplomatic gift to foreign ambassadors and dignitaries. I’ve actually seen a box of the very rare version of the “diplomats’ Lanceros” during a visit to the Cuban Ambassador to Malaysia’s residence many years ago. You can see a picture of it here.
But once Cohiba made it’s commercial debut in 1964, the Lanceros was one of the original debutants with the brand, and has remained on the roster ever since. I’ve been told that sales of the Lanceros has been really low in recent years, but Cuba still produces it as a matter of pride and tradition. Considering that many other vitolas have been dropped due to low sales (the excellent Diplomaticos line comes to mind), the fact that the Lanceros has endured is testimony to how highly regarded it is amongst “those in the know” and corridors of power in Habanos SA.
The particular specimen i smoked for this review as a bit toothy, but still felt gorgeous to the touch. At cold, it has a earthy, almost raw earth aroma. I spent many minutes fingering and twirling her in between my fingers, and just soaking up the lovely aromas by drawing it under my nose. Hints of hay, some light vanilla bean spice. Just an incredible combination of scents.
The cigar lights easily, and the first few draws are like manna from heaven. The resistance level to the draw is firm, not too hard, perfect. She, just as any good lady would, doesn’t give up her secrets without a struggle. We have to earn her loving embrace, by smoking her slowly — no cigar has ever rewarded perfect smoking technique better than she. Smoke volume is generous, thick, aromatic of freshly cut grass. Pure pleasure.
With such a long and slime cigar, you’d expect it to be an incredibly complex smoke, and you wouldn’t be wrong. That – complex – it is. The first third starts out creamy and tangy; the classic Cohiba grassiness is in attendance: one of the great things about the brand is that you can never mistake it for anything but Cohiba. It’s ingrained into every single stick that carries it’s name, and no where more so than the Lanceros. The second half takes on a deeper, more rustic flavour profile. It’s salt of the earth stuff. If the earth of Cuba has a flavour, this would almost certainly be it. The palate tingles at this point, as tiny pinpricks of pepper and dark vanilla beans begin to appear. It’s a ridiculously subtle flavour profile, the sort that you’ll miss if you blinked. But unmistakable when you catch it (which you will if you’re looking for it).
The final third. What can i say. Some cigars demand a grandstand finish — case in point, the Hoyo de Monterrey Grand Epicure where it’s power power and power right up to the end. Not with the Lanceros, as she eases you into the final lap, and glides you along with her in complete serenity. It doesn’t rush, not at all. But there is a sting right at the very end. The spicy bite is pronounced, and strangely pleasurable. Almost like your lover giving you a longing bite on the earlob just before saying goodbye. If you persevere into the final inch, you’ll be richly rewarded with a huge dose of vanilla bean and soft hay. An utterly unique finish, superb.