What's Smoking Well Now

We all prefer the right element of safety and risk in our cigar purchases, so our resident expert Max Foulkes, has this week decided to take us through what styles he believes are smoking well right here, right now.

I find there to be moments in time when cigars often warranting my seal of approval fall below their generally consistent standard. For example, my beloved San Cristobal El Principe is being produced increasingly infrequently and no longer provides me with the level of enjoyment I’ve come to expect of the blend. Flavour is lacking and construction has found itself at a Cuban standard… most unfortunate. Because of this I’ve come across cigars that are smoking well right now while others simply combust.

The Punch Coronation, a Petit Corona housed in a green aluminium tube, occupies my palate in a way not dissimilar to that of its bigger brother the Punch Punch. The subdued sharpness of citrus, typical of the blend, rouses the palate, followed shortly by the richness of dates continuing without becoming repetitious. No stronger than a medium, between Fortalezas no.2 and 3, with a gratifying aroma that fills the room, convincing both yourself and others around you that you are indeed busy relaxing.

The Montecristo Especial (a Laguito No.1 or Lancero) imparts onto my palate notes of leather and a distinct earthiness I’ve yet to find elsewhere although, on occasion, the Vegueros Centrofinos has over enthusiastically delivered a similar flavour. Despite its nanoscopic ring gauge, the Especial’s length allows for a cool smoke for the first third, after which the cigar’s intensity progressively increases. A cigar often considered effete despite being produced in a format once regularly enjoyed by two of history’s most macho men, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. Providing over an hours worth of relaxation if consumed at the correct pace, this Lancero is overlooked, underrated and, most importantly, reasonably priced.

I’m forever recommending connoisseurs regularly indulge in the ignition, consumption and enjoyment of a Cuaba. The Tradicionales and Exclusivos are my Vitolas of choice while the Divinos (Vitola de Galera Petit Bouquet) dissimulates potent flavours beneath a miniature, Colorado Claro wrapper. As a blend often referred to as savoury and somewhat Bolivarian, I was surprised to have noticed the flavour of Coconut on multiple occasions. A diverting line of cigars consisting solely of Double Figurados that are sure to entertain the eyes as much as the palate.

The Partagas Petit Corona Especial, an Eminente and not a Mareva, has been a daily smoke of mine as of late. Since my introduction to the Partagas Short, I’ve found great pleasure within the more sylphlike of the line, namely the Aristocrat and aforementioned Petit Corona Especial. Such rich cigars with a thick, syrup like smoke that coats the palate leaving no surface untouched. Strong but far from overwhelming, these cigars can be enjoyed at any if not all times of the day.

The H.Upmann Epicure is a cigar I’ve yet to come across in the UK but a smoke seemingly eternally available in Spain. One of the most individual of Vitolas, this 35 ring gauge is easily enjoyed with its lack of development made up for by its silky smoke and delicate flavour. It pleases me that production moved from the cold precision of machinery to the expressive hands of Cuban Torcedores in 2002. A shorter smoke I’ll continue to enjoy even after hailing the return of El Principe!