Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Cigar Review: Juan López Seleccion No. 1

Make no mistake, I love me some Habanos, and just like every other cigar region, there are many brands with different flavor profiles to explore.  One of those brands that fly under the radar is Juan Lopez.  I was interested in trying some and scored a fiver from a forum friend with a box date of March 2011.  Given I prefer to try before I buy, I had one a few weeks before this review, and figured I would review another to give other BOTL a chance to hear my thoughts if they were interested as well.  Juan Lopez is classified as a local brand by Habanos SA, and consists of tobacco from the Vuelta Abajo region. There are only three vitolas, including the Selection No 1 (corona gorda), Selection No 2 (robust), and Petite Corona. 


Dry Draw: honey, musk, pepper on my tongue, 

First Third: Upon toasting the foot, the retrohale was very sharp, with hints of pepper that dissipated quickly on my palate.  The finish was light and creamy on the draw in consistency, with musk notes, and a rich latte aftertaste.  In Mammoth Lakes, CA, there is a small light roast shop that makes the best latte I have ever had, and the No 1 reminded me of it.  Light citrus notes were present, along with rich cashew on the finish.  The speed that some of these notes were hitting my palate and melting into the finish was phenomenal.

Second Third: A deliberate shift took place, suggesting an excellent blend, with tons of citrus notes, sharp cedar, and white pepper coming alive. The profile was not overpowering at all; rather, providing depth and layers of complexity.  The rich latte flavors moved towards the back of the profile, and settling back of tongue.  Orange peel and tealeaves dominated the draw, with the retrohale providing the spice and cedar notes.  As I approached the final third, the rich latte flavors began to work their way back to the front of my palate. White pepper made its way to my lips, with cumin like qualities of earth and tea became very heavy on the tip of my tongue.  At this point, the Juan Lopez No 1 had provided a symphony of varying notes, and given how little age this had, I will be buying multiple boxes. 

Final Third: Cedar was moving to the front of my mouth, and the profile made another strong change, with green and grassy spice notes coming forward reminiscent of Anaheim pepper.  Personally, I prefer cooking with Anaheim over bell peppers, as the sweetness and depth is much better to me.  The tea notes were still heavy on the draw, while the citrus and rich latte notes had left almost entirely.  The strength of the retro was stiff, but the dissipation was always fast, while spices lingered on my lips.  The youth was showing at this point, given the box date of March 2011; however, I would think not much aging would be needed for this blend.  Coriander complimented the green pepper and grassy notes, while a little uneven burn showed up near the nub.

Construction: There was a bit of an uneven burn towards the nub that required a touch up

Final Thoughts:  I enjoyed the first Juan Lopez No 1 I had, but reviewing this one allowed me to discern the complexity and depth of the blend.  The layers of flavors are outstanding given the youth of the cigar.  In my opinion, this blend will age into a masterpiece.  I know many Habanos fans are collectors of the RE and LE stuff, but to me most of the regular production cigars offer outstanding complexity with a little patience, and this is one.  I will be buying multiple boxes and exploring the No 2 and Petite Corona next.  Obviously at two years aging this was a fantastic cigar, but I would think 5-7 years would truly turn this into a gem given my experience.