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Reader Reviews - March 2024

This month we take a look at a couple of very different cigars smoked by our readers, from Syafiera; cigar sommelier and head of the Sparrow Italia cigar lounge, as well as James Brener, Jeweller and owner of Breners of London.

Por Larrañaga - Montecarlos

Syafiera Rosidi - @Syafierarrr

Looks can, indeed, be deceiving. When selecting a cigar, many tend to go for aesthetics as an indicator of quality- the brand, the cigar band, the colour grading of the wrapper (Colorado? Maduro?) and of course, the length and girth.

Robustos tend to fall into the most popular cigar vitola that many cigar smokers aim for, mostly due to believing that this is the “correct” shape that, as stereotypical as it may sound, is perceived as “masculine”. Because of this, cigar novices tend to miss out on lesser known brands and vitolas that may surprise them on how distinguished the flavour profile may be.

Hence, why, I would like to call attention to the slender but mighty Por Larrañaga Montecarlos. The factory name for this vitola (as known as the Vitola da Galera) is categorised as a Deliciosos, bearing dimensions of 33 ring gauge by 159mm or 6 ¼ inches. At first glance, one would be lead to believe that this is an unremarkable cigar-incredibly slim, unusually long, and projecting a rather “feminine” aesthetic, as well as being represented by a pre-Revolution Cuban cigar brand.

Au contraire. This cigar bears an incredible profile and is sought after by avid cigar aficionados. Originally a machine-rolled short filler cigar pre-2002, this now totally hand rolled, whole leaf vitola is presented in dressed boxes of 25.

Light-medium in body and around 30 minutes in smoking time (dependant on how fast or slow the smoker is), the cigar starts off with a light cedar sweetness, flowing into notes of blanched nuts, subtle white pepper and cinnamon spice. Halfway through and up to the last third, a slight creaminess runs through, body increases from light to light-medium, with increase in spice in and around the palate; there is a slight drying effect, dancing pleasingly well with a citrus sharpness that coats the mouth. On retrohale, a similar effect happens within, producing an alertness not to dissimilar to taking a shot of espresso.

It is no surprise then, that the Montecarlos pairs well with a flat white, making it a perfect breakfast smoke for a distinguished wake up call.

Romeo y Julieta - No.3

James Brener - @Brenersoflondon

I recently spent a lovely sunset on the Thames with a delicious Romeo y Julieta no.3 paired with an equally majestic Tomatin 18-year-old ex-sherry cast scotch. As the weather has been warming up and the days stretching out as we come out from winter, I decided to take the opportunity to enjoy a cigar and relish the coming Spring.

I set out from my flat with my favourite cigar the R&J no.3 and my hip flask to sit on the south bank of the Thames in Shad Thames. I sat down with the old warehouses behind me, and my eyes gazing on the great Thames flowing beneath the gothic Tower Bridge, contrasted by the colossal skyscrapers of the City. I pulled out the cigar tube from my jacket pocket and glanced down the Thames at Canary Warf rising up in the distance, a second metropolis to the City.

Unscrewing the cap of the tube and took out the cigar, cut it with my guillotine, and lit it with my jet lighter. As my cigar began to turn the colour of the auburn sky that was reflecting off the buildings, I went to take the virgin puff.

Drawing in the smoke my mouth was filled with the flavour of light wood and leather that was perfectly balanced. After a few moments and some more draws, I relaxed into the moment, and I unscrewed my hipflask and took a sip of my favourite whisky in the world. My tipple of choice was the 18-year-old ex-sherry cask by Tomatin. I adore ex-sherry cast whisky for its smoothness and full-bodied flavour that is unparalleled. Due to the mid-bodied flavour of the cigar that could be overpowered by a harsher spirit, it makes the sherry cask a perfect match for the no.3.

As I smoked through the cigar, the sunset grew in intensity and flashed a thousand shades of orange and purple, the flavours mellowed out to a roasted coffee and dark chocolate, which were sublime. By the time I had finished the cigar, the sunset was coming down from its crescendo and the temperature was beginning to drop so walked along the Thames back to my flat.

As I strolled down the path, I enjoyed the aftertaste of the 30 minutes of pure bliss.

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