Truly Special Releases
It’s sometimes hard to get excited about all the special cigars Cuba makes each year from limited editions to regional editions to special humidors. I lose track. However, one Habanos launch I always look forward to is the reserva, or gran reserva.
I have been a big fan since the first reserva launch in 2005 – the Partagas Serie D No. 4. Reserva. The reservas seem to have more balance and finesse than the normal releases of a cigar. For example, the reserva Serie D was always brighter and more complex with dried flowers and tea flavors than the normal D4. It was fuller and spicier too. It still is.
I found the same with this year’s release of the Romeo & Julieta Churchill Reserva. The cigar showed so much more elegance and depth of refined flavors than the normal release of the R&J Churchill. In fact, the latter is always rather rustic and decadent – too much for me.
The introduction of the gran reserva in 2009 was amazing. The first was Cohiba. The GR was the same vitola as the Siglo VI. It delivers such fabulous coffee, tobacco, and chocolate character – simply more richness and power. It’s a 100 point cigar. Last year’s release of the Montecristo No. 2 Gran Reserva produced a similarly richer and more powerful smoke. I scored that 98 points. The difference is obviously the selection and age of the tobacco for the cigars. The filler of the reservas have a minimum of five years while the gran reservas have seven years.
I keep thinking back to the early days when I was visiting Cuba as an editor for Cigar Aficionado and all the aged tobacco in stock I found. I visited tobacco warehouses in the early 1990s, and some ligeros – the strongest tobacco of a blend – had five or six years of age. And it went into the regular production of cigars. Granted, export was only about 35 million cigars then. Today such tobacco would be for reserva, or even gran reserva. And we have to pay a premium for it. But it’s worth it.
Hint: Visit James Suckling at www.heartandsoulofcuba.com or watch his new documentary film on Cuban cigars “Cigars: The Heart and Soul of Cuba”.