Life has a tendency of moving quickly and I and not free from that reality by any means. Cigars have a way of bringing calm to the chaos. With several major projects in full swing, I found the perfect excuse to step away and enjoy another fine cigar excursion. The Habanos Festival The cigar that I have chosen to share with you was recently given to me by Antonio Marsillo. Antonio is the manager of Casa Del Habano in Montreal and has a true passion for everything aged. He was one of the many aficionados I had the pleasure to reconnecting with in Havana during the 19th Festival Del Habanos this past February.
Vintage cigars with Antonio (mine is bigger than yours)
Orion Armstrong Holding: Pre-embargo Partagas 1958 visible inmenso.
Antonio Marsillo Holding: Pre-embargo Bock y Ca 1940’s El Aquila Ade Oro
This is the largest international event with enthusiasts from over 50 countries celebrating some of the best tobacco in the world. Those fortunate enough to attend, they have the privilege and honor to sample featured cigars aimed to be released two years from now. From royalty to celebrities this festival is well supported and caterers to the who’s who of the cigar world.
Aside from the Gala dinners, one of the highlights is the auction of prized humidors. Typically, they range from $80,000 to $500,000 euros. They hold exceptionally rare cigars and are extremely well crafted. Antonio came back from one of his personal lockers in Havana and rediscovered a collection of Hoyo De Monterey Expicure No. 2 he has been aging since 2006. After he handed me one, we opened it and enjoyed the complex aroma that had developed in this eleven-year-old cigar. The main reason was because this cigar was a tubos (tubes in Spanish). After ten years of proper aging in the right conditions, not only has this cigar matured in flavor, but the aroma was exceptional.
It was not long before our conversation focused on our experiences with vintage cigars, specifically with aging tubos cigars. It was at that precise moment, in the beginning of the Quai D’Orsay Gala that I knew this would be the cigar and story I would share with our readers. I realized that this topic was something not a lot of people had good insights on and misdirected one could easily miss another great vintage smoke. There is much debate online surrounding aging tubos cigars and you will find opinions stretching far and wide. Some discuss mold, while others criticize the longer aging process. It is always good to remember great things can come to those who wait. The short answer to this is selecting the right cigar and ensuring the right aging conditions. I like to start with a medium to full body cigar as I prefer how they age. Again, that is a personal preference and necessarily a rule.
As with all vintage cigars it is advisable to lower your humidity. Sadly, I continuously hear people mumble the magic numbers 70/70 and I have no clue why and when or where these numbers originated. Most of them maintain bad humidors and do not even know how to properly calibrate their hygrometers. I do not agree. The 70°F probably originated with some ‘expert’ believing beetle eggs do not hatch below 70°F, therefore they should be stored below that temperature. This logic somehow was also carried forward to aging cigars. From my experience and from trial and error, I have found that 65RH seems to be a decent overall humidity level to age cigars in. The reason for recapping this is too much humidity can adversely affect your cigars especially if they are in tubes. I recently read someone stating they take the cigars out of tubes for a week and then put them back in to age. As much as experiences vary and I am by no means the final word on the subject, if you do this and add moisture to the cigar, you are more likely to encounter mold than if you didn’t. This may all seem overly complex, but as I am about to share with you, when done right, the experience can be exceptional. This Hoyo de Monterey was one of those examples. The name Hoyo de Monterey translates roughly as ‘the valley of Monterey’, which is a particularly fertile area of the land in the ‘Vuelta Abajo’ region nestled in the southern part of the Organos Mountains. Cigar Aficionado called this place the land of the world’s best cigar leaves. In this case, it is hard to argue their point.
When I first lit the cigar, I was a little concerned that it may not pack as much of a punch as I desired. I found myself thinking it may have been better selected as a decent afternoon smoke and hardly worthy of a review. Without question the sandy aroma of cedar was beautiful, but if I am honest I was a little uncertain about how this would all unfold. Once engaged in the smoke, I tasted subtle notes of cedar and cinnamon. My concern quickly faded after an inch or so. I was particularly
struck with the voluminous smoke given off by each draw. The burn was even and the flavor evolved ever so nicely. Maturing inch by inch with notes of rich spicy cedar, coffee and hints of coco. The final half of this cigar was exceptional and very complex. It was a great experience right down to the nub. I found it hard to put down and I savored every moment of this fine smoke. I found myself standing in the middle of the humidor we had carefully crafted with imported Spanish cedar. The cedar smell was rich and the cigar was even richer. With Cigar Company + Gentleman’s Barbershop opening in Markham this spring, I had a lot to reflect on and celebrate. The truth is I am very excited about curating the vintage humidor that will be in the shop and awarding fellow lovers of the leaf a true vintage cigar experience. If you find yourself in the area, be sure to come out and enjoy. Until we smoke again, live life to the fullest and thank you for sharing in my vintage cigar journey as I can say it has been a remarkable pleasure.