While some may want to pass the sunny season at the Wilderness Festival, other more civilised sorts play golf. And as you all know, where there is civility, there must be cigars. Max Foulkes gives his recommendations.
"Golf is a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose." Yet to indulge in the popular sporting activity, Mr Churchill, alongside Mark Twain, have further dissuaded me from doing so. The one thing that does attract me are the cigars. A fine cigar would be a certain distraction if I were to pick up the sport. Perhaps distraction is key to the activity’s enjoyment. Despite my ignorance, I believe lighter cigars to be ideal companions.
Montecristo launched their ‘Open’ range to the market in 2009, introducing the brand’s devotees to a lighter blend whilst preserving the earthiness and leather typical of most cigars present within the portfolio. Aimed towards the younger generation of golfers and sportsmen, the Junior, Regata, Master and Eagle were released with the intention of active alfresco consumption. With fans of the brand often eager to be overwhelmed, most consider this line of cigars lacks lustre, whilst advocates of Quai D’Orsay and Hoyo de Monterrey find great enjoyment from the ignition of the Colorado Claro cigar. The Vitola that sits most comfortably between my lips is the Regata, known as a Forum in the factories of Cuba. A slender 46-ring gauge Figurado, often boasting a good construction and delicate delivery of flavour. Depending on how much physical activity is taking place, the Open Eagle, a Geniales, will provide you with in-excess-of an hour’s enjoyment or distraction. The Junior is a Trabuco to be smoked during your warm-up on the driving range, and the Master, a Robusto, to be consumed after the Regata and before the Eagle. The challenge from me is to try all of them in one round of 18.
If you find yourself a spectator of a sport like golf, undoubtedly you’ll find yourself in need of a smoke. Lack of physical exertion permits consumption of something a little stronger. The Partagas Petit Corona Especial is a current favourite of mine. The sweetness of liquorice I find forever present within both young and old examples. Unlike the Partagas short, this cigar is only available in dress boxes of 25, not in cabinets of 25 or 50. It’s rumoured that cabinets tend to contain cigars rolled to a higher standard with some mavens suggesting that blends differ between both styles of presentation. Not an easily-verifiable claim and one I don’t find myself agreeing with. Having said this, cigars are noticeably more enjoyable after a few years rest in a cabinet. Despite the satisfying box pressed profile of a cigar aged in a dress box, the way in which the cigars are bundled in cabinets allows for the superior preservation of aroma, instantly noticeable upon opening the box. I recently opened two boxes of Bolivar Belicosos Finos from the late 90s with a more pleasurable aroma emanating from the Figurados bound by ribbon. I’ve yet to have had the opportunity to smoke one from each box but will report back with my findings.
I don’t know how long a game of golf takes, I’m sure, for some, not long enough. So when I find my Petit Corona metamorphosed into ash, a Punch Punch Punch finds its Perilla between the blades of my cutter and its Boquilla licked by the soft flame of my lighter. A Corona Gorda sharing similar dimensions to the aforementioned Regata, a cigar so nice, they named it thrice. A solid medium bodied smoke with the enjoyable sharpness of citrus greeting you upon ignition and then a smoothness and subtle sweetness of almonds accompanying you until the Anilla where a hot spice finishes victorious. A great cigar that’ll leave you wishing the game lasts longer so you can light another. Perhaps, if you are familiar with the sport and know that you might be there for a while, a Punch Double Corona is a more sensible choice. Typically a two-hour smoke that might not last quite as long if enjoyed in extreme conditions, this cigar would most definitely distract spectators from my lack of adeptness with a club. It’s quite possible I’ll find myself taking up golf as an excuse to enjoy a smoke outdoors alongside equally enthusiastic admirers of the Cuban Puro.