There has been an almost discernible ripple that has vibrated across the cigar world in the past month following the announcement of a significant price hike in Cuban cigars by Habanos, the Cuban cigar manufacturing company that controls the export and distribution of Cuban cigars globally. Brands under Habanos include Cohiba, Trinidad, Romeo y Julieta, Montecristo, Partagas, Hoyo de Monterrey, H Upmann, Quai d’Orsay and Bolivar.
The price increases range from between 5% and 20% for most of the brands but, for Cohiba and Trinidad, it is more than 100%. Not being much of a Cuban cigar smoker, it doesn’t affect me too much but I suspect that many SA smokers will be discovering cigars from other places. That said, of the three new cigars that I have recently sampled, a Cuban is the first.
Romeo y Julieta Línea de Oro
Produced to commemorate 145 years of the brand, in 2020, the Romeo y Julieta “gold line” — Oro means gold — comes in a beautiful deep-red 20-cigar box made from sycamore wood. It also has an embossed gold medallion on the lid The premium line comes in three sizes: Dianas, 52 ring gauge and length of 5 ¾ inches; Hidalgos, 57 ring gauge and 4 7/8 inches in length; and, Nobles, 56 ring gauge and 5 3/8 inches in length.
Each cigar has a band with the specific name of the vitola embossed on it as well as a gold foot band, with Línea de Oro embossed on it and some holographic elements, which should help in determining whether one is smoking an authentic one.
The three vitolas are all listed as medium-bodied and blended with tobacco from Cuba’s Vuelta Abajo region. I smoked the Dianas, which, for a Cuban, was wonderfully spicy and earthy, particularly in the first third. The second and final thirds levelled out in the way that Cubans tend to do and was, overall, a nice smoke. Definitely a must-try for fans of Cuban cigars.
Plasencia Cosecha 149
In 2017, Plasencia released the Cosecha 146 which is a blend of tobaccos grown in Nicaragua and Honduras and harvested in 2011/2012, which was the family’s 146th harvest (cosecha). The first was in 1865. To be honest, smoking this was the first time I didn’t really enjoy a Plasencia.
Everything else they produce, I enjoy immensely and regularly. And they haven’t disappointed with the new Plasencia Cosecha 149, which is to commemorate their 149th harvest, in 2014. It is an all-Honduran cigar with leaves grown in Olancho (wrapper) and the Jamastran Valley (wrapper) with a blended filler from the two regions and Talanga, which is rich in flavours and full-bodied.
I love a strong cigar but this borders on too strong, even for me, but I can’t get enough of it, in particular the Santa Fe (Gordito) and Azacualpa (Toro). It isn’t a cigar to be smoked early in the day but rather later in the evening as the last smoke of the day. It has so much character, with strong hints of dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee and earth.
It comes with three bands, which are beautifully, yet simply designed, and reflect the quality of the cigar. As I write this, I am already thinking of the next one I am going to smoke. And it has been added to my “portfolio” of cigars I regularly partake in.
The Romeo y Julieta, especially because of the change in pricing, will be a once-in-a-long-while smoke. It will be interesting to see how the market takes to the new pricing structure of Cuban cigars.