Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cigar Review: Juan López Seleccion No. 1 (2011)


In the late 19th century a man by the name of Juan López Diez decided to create his own cigar brand. The man went in with so much confidence that he decided to name it after himself and called it Juan López. The brand did very well for him and continued to do well leading up to the revolution in Cuba. Following the revolution the Cuban government decided that they would keep the brand in production. The brand would have a minor market share, only be a Local Brand, but would be a solid one at that. Not much has changed in terms of packaging for the Habano over the years. The band has always been very similar since it was first applied and it is a classic and terrific one at that. They have had a lot of discontinued brands over the years and currently only have three in production. Now, what they lack in numbers they make up for in quality. The brand is often selected for regional editions and I am sure one day it will be a limitada. Today though we are focusing on a classic in the brand and a classic Habano for the vitola.  

The Seleccion No. 1 is probably the most well known Juan López vitola, and that may not seem like much for three vitolas in the brand, but all three vitolas are terrific. Production is predominantly out of El Rey del Mundo or  La Corona and the cigar is composed of tobacco from only the Vuelta Abajo region in Pinar del Rio. The Seleccion No. 1 is a true corona gorda and measures 143 mm (5.6") with a 46 ring gauge. The Habano sports a beautiful Colorado wrapper that is showing some noticeable veins throughout. The triple cap is placed wonderfully and it is firm in hand. The wrapper itself has a beautiful silky texture and the band pops on the cigar. The foot of the cigar shows aromas of hay, tobacco, spices and honey, and the cold draw shows aromas of damp wood, damp hay, tobacco and honey.

The first third begins by showing some lovely damp wood and hay notes and it is musky as Catfish put it back in March. I am picking up a few Asian spice notes and it has some soft black pepper notes with that. This Habano smokes like it has had some age on it and it is showing those classic flavors that come with the brand. In my opinion the flavors are those classic Habano flavors and flavors that classic old school cigars should have. The construction through the first third is terrific and it is showing an even burn line and with that is a nice charcoal ash that is holding on firmly. The ash is slightly flaky but it is not playing a factor in the ash holding on to the end. I would say that the strength of the Habano is at a medium level and the body is right there as well. I could smoke these at anytime of the day and I often do because of how much I love them.

The second third of the Habano begins to show some oaky and honey notes and I am picking up some soft raisin notes with that. There are those classic Asian spice, damp wood and hay notes that are present with this brand as well and it just adds to make the smoke truly incredible. These are smokes I could enjoy all day and everyday and that is why this is a classic brands for Habanos. The construction in the second third is not as good as it is in the first third and it is showing a slightly uneven burn line with some minor burn issues in this third. The ash being produced is right around a solid charcoal color and it is slightly flaky on the end of the Habano. The strength and body are remaining around a medium level in this third and in that sense the Habano has not deviated much. Overall the Habano is fairly similar, with some minor construction issues, and it is truly enjoyable and a smoke I would recommend and hand out to so many friends.

As I enter the final third I find that the Asian spice and pepper notes really begin to open up and I am picking up some subtle cinnamon and clove notes that are balancing out the black pepper notes. There are some definite damp wood notes present with the Habano and it is showing a nice sweet tobacco flavor on the finish. I am loving this Habano finishes and it is smooth and clean and it leaves just enough flavors to make you want another one but not enough to kill your palate. The strength and body remain very similar throughout the whole Habano and it smokes at a medium body and strength level. It is something that I could smoke in the morning or evening and it is very balanced. The construction in the final third is fairly similar to what it was in the second third and it is showing a slightly uneven burn line that require some touch ups and an ash that is dark charcoal in coloring and slightly flaky. The draw is cool and easy to the end and the finish is flavorful and showing those terrific Juan López flavors.

This particular Juan López is from 2011 and it is smoking as a three year old Habano would. It has definitely improved since it was younger, but it has not reached the true great level that it will in two more years. I actually find that these particular smokes are great young, first couple months, and then smoke very well in four to five years later. I really love the flavor profile that is given off with the brand and it is a flavor profile I can connect to because it has depth and complexity with just enough body and strength behind it to grab my attention. These may be too much for some younger smokers, but for a seasoned smoker it is a terrific Habano that can be enjoyed at anytime of day. The construction on this particular smoke was decent, but I have some that smoke wonderfully form beginning to end. If you have never reached out for this brand, I recommend you do so as you will not be disappointed. Right now I would give this Habano a solid 88-90, but I know it can get up to be a 92-94.

Young Rating: 89-91
With Some Age Rating: 88-90

With Four to Five Years Age Rating: 92-94