My Cigar Blog

A Malaysian in search of the perfect cigar



Cohiba Lanceros LBT OCT 09

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.

Continue reading “Cohiba Lanceros LBT OCT 09”

Cohiba Siglo VI Gran Reserva

This review could also be named, “The night my tastes were spoiled forever”. The Cohiba Siglo VI Gran Reserva will change the way you look at every cigar that comes after.


The concept behind the Gran Reserva was simple: make the best Cuban cigar possible. Take the best tobacco, give it to the best rollers, and let the magic happen. Tobacco aged from 2003 were used to make the first of the Gran Reserva line, the Cohiba Siglo VI Gran Reserva. Released in 2009 during the Habanos Festival, they were extremely well received with the famed James Suckling calling it a 100-point cigar. I don’t always agree with James, but in this case, i have to wonder: could this be the perfect cigar?

Continue reading “Cohiba Siglo VI Gran Reserva”

Montecristo 520 Edición Limitada 2012

The first release of Edición Limitada (EL) in 2000 was special – the RyJs, the Partagas and the Montecriso ELs that year were really outstanding cigars and highly prized in the aged cigar market today. But since then, the ELs have been a hit and miss affair. 2001-2003 were forgettable (2002 had no ELs). The 2004s were notable because of the Cohiba Sublimes (an amazing cigar). Then 2005-2006 were misses. Then 2007 was kinda fun because of the uniquely creamy Trinidad Ingenios (and since then, you won’t be able to find another cigar that matches that blend). 2008-2009 were horrible. 2010 saw the introduction of the Partagas Serie D Especial – a great cigar, and devilishly difficult to find in the market nowadays. 2011 was fantastic with the Cohiba 1966 being a massive homerun; the Hoyo de Monterrey Short Piramides aren’t too shabby either. 2012 looks like another homerun with the Montecristo 520s and the Partagas Serie C No. 3s being great smokes.


Two good years in a row? What have they been smoking on isla Cuba? (pun intended)

The Montecristo 520 EL 2012 was created to celebrate the 520th anniversary of Cuban tobacco’s arrival in Europe, after being discovered by Columbus. It’s been that long since the royalty of Spain puffed daintily on smoke rolls of tobacco, and the ladies wearing white gloves to avoid staining their fingers. Certainly worthy of celebration! And what a way to celebrate.

Continue reading “Montecristo 520 Edición Limitada 2012”

Hoyo de Monterrey Particulares (OSU OCT 02)

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.


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.

Continue reading “Hoyo de Monterrey Particulares (OSU OCT 02)”

Cuba’s #1 Cigar: Montecristo #4 (ABR 2011)

When the Montecristo brand of Cuban cigars was introduced in 1935, it was listed as a super-premium brand. The Rolls-Royce. The Michelin Star. The Cohiba. Made with the choicest tobaccos, under the watchful eye of Alonso Menéndez, it was a great smoke. Montecristos produced from the 1970s such as the rare Montecristo “B” are  collectible cigars now, and will punch a deep hole in your wallet if you go hunting for them.

It’s apt, in a way, that the best selling Cuban cigar, the Montecristo #4, carries the name of such a prestigious brand. Habanos SA doesn’t release any production numbers, but it’s estimated more than 20 million #4s are sold and smoked worldwide every year. That’s a staggering number of cigars, approximately 8% of the total output of the island.


The attraction of the cigar lies in several areas. The first of course is the familiarity with the Montecristo brand. For those in the know, the brand has a distinct flavour profile that is widely loved — woody, medium floral notes, with a burst of dark tea and vanilla spice. For those who are new to Cuban cigars, the name Montecristo is a stroke of branding genius: name your cigar after a wildly popular fictional character, and not just anyone, but a character whose personality oozes charm, power and charisma. No way in hell the cigar isn’t going to do well with that type of name recognition. So if you don’t know anything about Cubans, and don’t want to fork out the premium for the Cohiba (Cuba’s other ubiquitous brand), then you’re likely to choose Montecristo.

Continue reading “Cuba’s #1 Cigar: Montecristo #4 (ABR 2011)”

Cohiba Pirámides Extra

Sometimes a cigar comes along that just stops you in your tracks. So completely unexpected, so brilliant, so flavoursome, so beautifully constructed that you can’t help by look at it and go, “Wow”. The Cohiba Pirámides Extra is one such cigar.

Click on any images in this post for the larger version in Flickr.


I’ve had my feelers out for this cigar for a LONG time, and it’s been hard to come by. Rob over at Czar’s had them for a short while, but sold out before i could say Bob’s my uncle. Local retailers don’t have these in any way or form; i was told several boxes appeared on the radar, but were pre-reserved by big hitters. Then one day, Ravi from Cigars of Habanos sends me an email saying he has a few boxes. Outstanding! (the cigars aren’t listed on his site, but you might just want to email him in case he still has any left). In a few days, i had a box in hand, and i was very happy.

Continue reading “Cohiba Pirámides Extra”

Por Larranaga Petit Corona (DEC 2010) & Rehman Rashid

I visited an old friend recently as part of the eid celebrations, and also because i’ve been promising to do so for the longest time, and just never have. Rehman Rashid is his name. A talented journalist and published author, a man whose work i read as part of my university coursework, whose writing i looked forward to each week in the editorials of a major Malaysian daily. We happened to meet one night years ago, cigars had brought us together. We’ve been friends ever since.

Besides his love for cigars and his penchant for the written word, he also has quite a handsome face with sharp, glorious features. A photographer’s dream; with this in mind, i dragged 20lbs of lighting gear to his home. We were going to have a chat, a cigar, and i was going to shoot his portrait.

As is customary when Brothers of the Leaf meet, we had gifts for each other. For him, a 3-pack of rare Yolanda Gonzales sublimes custom rolls, and for me the pick of anything from his humidor. Graced with cigars of such passionate quality as the Cohiba Gran Reserva 2003, i had a tough choice. But i was reminded of a story i read a long time ago, about a knight on a quest for the Holy Grail. At the end, when faced with the choice of a thousand shiny and bejeweled chalices, the knight chose the plain wooden cup. It turned out to be the Grail.

A small (actually, tiny) corner of Rehman’s collection — try finding the Grail in that!

Not to say that my choice was the equivalent of a poor wooden cup, but it was the least illustrious of what he had to offer. I chose it because i needed my wits about me as i shot his portrait, and i knew i’d be too distracted to give one of his rarer cigars the attention it deserved. The Por Larranaga Petit Corona (PLPC), from a cab of 50 from 2010, was my choice, and it turned out to be a beautiful cigar to smoke. Rehman picked up a Vegas Robaina Famosos whose smoke aroma smelled so delicious as to make my mouth water.

Continue reading “Por Larranaga Petit Corona (DEC 2010) & Rehman Rashid”

Cohiba 1966 EL 2011

I’m just going to go out and say it: this is the best cigar i’ve smoked in 2012, and easily in the Top 5 list of any cigar i’ve smoked in the last 10 years. I know it’s only August, but its hard to imagine any other cigar coming close to this in the months we have left of the year. Let me tell you why.

The appearance and construction on the 1966 is impeccable. I’ve been told that it’s the only Cohiba that is still 100% produced in El Laguito. All the others, including the much loved Behikes, have been outsourced to other factories such as Jose Mari and Partagas. I had the pleasure of inspecting 6 full boxes at the tobacconist in The Curve, and every single stick was remarkably similar. The colour of the tobacco, the heft and feel, the supple texture of the tobacco. Perfectly packed, rolled with care, and with a loving pigtail on top. It takes crazy skills to be that consistent, and since these 6 boxes or 60 sticks were rolled by perhaps 10 different people, we can only marvel in how precise the handcraft of the torcedores involved.



The tobacco used is something out of this world, as far as Cuban leaf is concerned. Long time lovers of Cubans will agree with me: it’s extremely rare to find Cuban leaf that “sweats” oils the same way more commonly seen in maduro Nicaraguan and Dominican wrapper. This is not to say that one is better than the other, but just that oily Cuban wrapper is extremely rare, and on those that do have them, the flavour is greatly enhanced. I’ve only witnessed oily wrappers on a handful of Cubans, from thousands of sticks smoked.


The proof is in the flavour. Lighting it up and taking the first few draws was like being transported to heaven. Very fruity, freeze dried raisins, sweet and bitter at the same time. A musky, fragrant aroma, almost like burnt acorns laced with chocolate. No spice at all, no peppery bite just yet.

It has a Cohiba band, but it tastes nothing like a Cohiba which tends to be far more grassy and herbal.

Every draw is a pleasure. Thankfully, it burns slowly, thus allowing me more time to savour it. The burn line is razor sharp, unusual in young tobacco, even ones such as the 1966 EL whose tobacco has been aged several years already. Aesthetically pleasing with great flavour, there is not much left to be said.


As the cigar evolves, it takes on a spicy, peppery feel. Tingles and needle pricks on the lips and palate. Delightful. The flavours become more focused, it loses the easy fruitiness, replaced with a darker, more intense leather and chocolate profile. Still nothing that would identify it as a Cohiba besides the band. I was loving every inch.

The final few inches were a sad goodbye. The finish on this cigar is perhaps the best i’ve ever had — after you put it down, it lingers on the palate with a powerful mocha layer of rich Godiva chocolate. More than an hour later, i can still taste it.

Verdict: 95/100. A mind blowing cigar, deserving of the highest ever score awarded by My Cigar Blog. It’s a crying shame that quantities are extremely limited, and very, very pricey. Get it while you can, smoke some now, and lovingly hoard the rest for the years ahead. It’s the type of cigar that can turn a poor day into a great one, or a great one into one you’ll never forget.

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Juan Lopez Seleccion #1 (2006) & Contest Results!

It’s time to reveal the winner of the Guess the Cigar Contest i conducted exactly a week ago: Sam (a few Sams took part, the one with a email address)! An email will be coming your way shortly to ask for your mailing address. Congratulations!

He was the first person to guess the cigar as what it was, a Juan Lopez Seleccion #1. From a 2006 box, again from the treasure trove that is the Havana Club at Le Meridien, Kuala Lumpur.

After a particularly good day at the office, i adjourned to the Havana Club with Ming Thein, talented photographer and good friend. He wanted to try the Punch Royal Seleccion No. 11 i had been raving about a few weeks earlier, from a 2005 box. Initially, i was going to smoke that as well, until i turned over a Juan Lopez #1 from 2006. Quite a find! Readers of My Cigar Blog will know that i’m a fan of the Juan Lopez marquee, so to find a box of #1s from 2006 was a real thrill. A perfect way to end a perfect day; purple patches don’t come often, and i’ve never looked a gift horse in the mouth!

Back to the cigar. It was in perfect condition. The draw was just right, a nice touch of resistance, just the way i like it. It seems that i haven’t had a plugged or, worse, a loose drawing cigar in years; since 1999-2000, the cigars have been impeccable in this regard, due to Habanos importing in draw machine testers from Altadis SA around that time.

Smoking it was a terrific experience. The flavours were quite mellow, much more so than i normally prefer, suggesting that the Juan Lopez blend of cigars do age quite quickly and hit a maturation point quite fast, relatively speaking. At 6 years old, it felt as though it was at it’s peak, perhaps holding it for another 3 or 4 years max, then declining into blandness. The Juan Lopez was blended to be smoked right away, and it’s lovely as a young cigar.

The flavour profile was classic Juan Lopez: leathery chocolate, with large shades of dark vanilla. Some cane sugar sweetness on the finish of each draw. The cigar evolves into the second half quite nicely with a turn into spicy cinnamon and cloves. Not a hint of pepper and chili, that you’d normally find in a younger specimen. All the while being treated to a musky avalanche of smoke with a luxurious draw.






Verdict: 90/100. It’s a great cigar, the Juan Lopez #1. If you ever run across a box or two with 5 years or more of age on it, don’t hesitate to pull the trigger.

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