Announced earlier this year but shipped only recently, we finally got our hands on this very special smoke exclusively for the British market. The Por Larrañaga Sobresalientes, at 6 x 53, is technically a robusto extra, which is a bit shorter but fatter than the Magnificos, which were double robustos. Technically.
Thanks to Simon Chase (the former head of marketing for Hunters & Frankau, the UK's exclusive importer), these wear the same gorgeous throwback band that he went to great pains replicating back in 2007. But would the reputedly delicious blend be similar? (Here's James Suckling on the matter. It's well worth reading the article and watching the short video.) We sure hope so, especially since Edward Shaakian of Davidoff London compared the cigar to the legendary Havana Davidoff Dom Perignon of the 1980s. (For those who don't know, Davidoff cigars were made in Cuba until a dispute resulted in production being switched to the Dominican Republic in the 1990s.)
Which brings us to price. Befitting such a rare and highly anticipated smoke, these are priced at approximately $34 US each as of this writing. Considering a vintage Davidoff Dom Perignon costs hundreds of dollars each at auction, assuming you can find any left, and also assuming the ones you get aren't past their prime, maybe that's reasonable for a taste of what those were like. Heck , even the original Magnificos have topped the $100 mark now, so if these pique your interest, get on it fast. Only 5,000 boxes of 10 have been produced.
Certainly these cigars look the part. The light but oily wrapper leaf looks like it was heaven sent to adorn a Por Larrañaga. It's generally silky but has some prominent veins as you can see in the photo above, something that was unheard of years ago. Also as you can see, those wrappers may be slightly delicate, as one of our cigars arrived a bit worse for the wear. That said, it's worth noting they travelled from Cuba to London and back almost all the way to Cuba again before reaching us.
First things first. These are young cigars. We understand that. But to fully understand how cigars age, it is important to smoke them at various stages. At least, that's what we told our impatient selves to rationalize smoking cigars that we really shouldn't be touching until 2016 at the very earliest. (Sigh. We are weak.)
So what's in store for folks who, like us, insist on smoking them now? A little bit of disappointment, that's what. The cigar starts off sour and vegetal. But it quickly reverses course and delivers lush, mouth-filling smoke redolent with floral notes, light baking spice, wood shavings, a dusting of white pepper and a teeny touch of rock candy sweetness. It's lovely—and a bit of a guilty pleasure knowing we just wasted cigars that will be so much better in a few years.
Back to the nuts and bolts. The cigars burned and drew very well, requiring only a few minor touch-ups along the way. The smoke had a lovely bouquet and was distinctly medium bodied, making it ideal for just about any occasion, from a luxurious morning coffee break to a post-dessert smoke after dinner. If these were a regular production item, and priced like one, we'd be smoking the heck out of them. They're just soooo easy to enjoy.
So, by all means, buy some of these. Just don't smoke them. Not yet. Try one in a couple of years and go from there. Our guess is they will be something truly special around the 5-6 year mark, but they're just delicate enough to possibly peak before that. Buy with confidence, though. These are going to be awesome sooner or later.
Exactly what you'd expect from a big, thick Por Larrañaga. Lush but subtle with a nice interplay of floral notes, sweetness and spice. Good now, but significant aging will be required before it's at its best.