The long-form game
With the Middle Eastern winter in full swing, the weather couldn’t be better for spending hours outside, whiling away the time with a good cigar. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the top long-length cigars (over 180 mm in our book) perfect for
San Cristobal El Morro Length: 180, Ring Gauge: 49
This is the largest cigar in the San Cristobal family, and also happens to be one of the most popular. Released in 1999 when the brand was first launched, it’s become a cornerstone of the San Cristobal range, and with good reason. While the smoke itself might be light, the flavours are full and strong, and the aromas produced are nothing short of beautiful.
The first third kicks off with mild, herbal notes with a few floral tones. The smoke is almost a little too light, but the flavours make up it, as does the near-perfect draw and the even burn. Moving into the second third, more woody flavours begin to emerge, and the smoke becomes a little thicker, though there’s still no doubt that you’re smoking a light cigar. The woodiness intensifies, too, but it’s still more of a backdrop to the herbal notes, which are punctuated by sweet flavours as you enter the final third.
Here, not much changes from the end of the second. The woodiness stays relatively constant, though things become a little sweeter towards the end. It’s a very mild and pleasant smoke all-round, and because of its size, it will last as long as an hour and a half. It’d be a great cigar for beginners, but because of its price, it’s unlikely to be smoked by many. Apparently, aging these sticks for a few years will produce a more full-bodied smoke.
Trinidad Fundadores Length: 192, Ring gauge: 40
Given that it was the first cigar that Trinidad made commercially available, and that rumours still abound about Fidel Castro’s love for it, this should be something quite special. But you wouldn’t know this from its looks. While the Fundadores is certainly an imposing cigar, its colour seems sort of washed out, and there are a couple of visible veins on the wrapper. That said, it’s clearly constructed well, as attested by the smooth, even draw throughout and the near- perfect burn.
What’s more, once you start smoking this cigar, the appearance doesn’t matter a jot. In the first third, you’re bombarded with a fullflavoured earthy hit, with a big dose of wood thrown in for good measure. The smoke is thick and the texture is creamy, and this remains the case throughout the second third. It’s much smoother here, though the strong wood and earth notes remain impressive. The final third brings a strong tobacco hit to the package, though it’s worth powering through simply because this is such an enjoyable smoke, even if it does lack a massive array of flavours.
Partagas Lusitanias Length: 194, Ring gauge: 49
Anyone who knows anything about Prominentes will have undoubtedly come across the Partagas Lusitanias, the quintessential double corona. Extremely long, and with a reasonably thick ring gauge, it isn’t the sort of cigar that you light without a thought – you could easily make a Lusitanias last around two hours, so it’s worth considering that it’s something of a commitment.
But, boy, is the commitment worth it. Even before lighting, it’s patently obvious that this is a high-quality cigar. On our example, the look and feel was flawless – the cigar was straight as an arrow, which is an impressive feat when you’re talking about a 194-millimetre stick. What’s more, there are no soft spots throughout the long cigar. Unfortunately, you do notice a few flaws with the construction as you’re smoking it – these long cigars have a tendency to burn out if you leave them too long, simply because it’s difficult to make things consistent throughout the whole stick. And by the same token, the burn can be slightly uneven. Before you light one of these, it’s worth considering that you’ll need a box of matches handy to correct any burning issues.
Happily, the construction issues are offset by the fantastic flavour profile served up by this cigar. Some reviewers claim that the Lusitanias delivers one of the most complex mixes of flavours of any Cuban cigar, and while that might be a stretch, there’s no doubting that this large Partagas is something special.
The first third opens with an extremely potent note of heavy wood, punctuated by various nutty flavours, hazelnut being the most obvious. While strong, the wooden flavour isn’t too overpowering, and it gives way to the nutty notes reasonably well. What’s really enjoyable about it, however, is that the medium- bodied nature of the smoke allows you to pick out other notes as and when they appear. When you make your way into the second third, you’re rewarded with pleasant notes of leather, and sweeter flavours like vanilla and honey also come to the fray.
In the final third, it all gets a little bit messy – notes of spice and chocolate become more profound, and the leathery flavours also kick up a notch. That said, where a lesser cigar might make such a mix seem like too much, the Partagas balances its flavours beautifully. It’s quite difficult to pick individual notes out, but the ensemble as a whole is very, very enjoyable. Certainly, the cigar is something of a commitment, but it’s worth every minute.
Cohiba Coleccion Habanos 2008 Length: 184, Ring gauge: 54
This Sublimes Extra was released as part of the 2008 Habanos Collection ‘Book’ series—a new special release size for Cohiba that was met with widespread approval. And when you get your hands on one, you realise that the packaging alone is worthy of the praise that this cigar has had layered on it. A thousand boxes, styled to look like volumes of an encyclopedia, were produced, with each box containing 20 cigars, meaning it’s still reasonably easy to get hold of one. And this is a good thing—seeing as the 2008 has aged beautifully since it was first produced.
The 2008 sports a chocolate-brown wrapper that exudes aromas of hazelnut, earth and vanilla. It’s also extremely soft, befitting of a high-end cigar. Overall, you get the impression of a solidly constructed cigar. It’s not like the Siglo VI Gran Reserva—this feels weighty and densely packed.
That said, this isn’t the impression that’s given off when you light the cigar. The initial draw is light and open, suggesting that the cigar isn’t as densely packed as the weight promises. In terms of taste, you get the same initial flavours as the pre-light aroma—hazelnut, earth and vanilla. About an inch in, you get a hint of grass, too, but the overwhelming pleasure from this cigar is the fact that it produces such big plumes of creamy, tasty smoke—it’s classic Cohiba at its core and it’s just pleasant.
This is a good thing, because it’s a good 45 minutes before you get half-way through the cigar. You hardly notice the time slipping away as you’re puffing on this large stick—you could accuse the flavour profile of being boring given this fact, but the point is the whole package is really enjoyable. Anyway, by the time you’re half-way through, and well into the second third, more of the sweet notes become more obviousit’s all honey and sugar, with a refreshing hint of grass on the finish. Cocoa is also present there, though it comes intermittently. Either way, it’s a welcome change when you’ve committed to such a long smoking experience.
Things carry on in much the same way throughout the final third. The strongest flavours are cedar, honey and leather, though there’s a bouquet of background flavours including the grass and cocoa, which are most obvious. You do notice, however, that the cigar goes pretty quickly during this period—it’s all-too-easy to gobble up all the goodness, meaning that the final third is gone before you know it. Shame, because the 2008 is a beauty from start to finish.