Thursday, October 2, 2014

Cigar Review: Saint Luis Rey Serie A (2005 - Slide Lid Box of 50)

There is something special about a box of Habanos. The packaging may not be as fancy as the packaging for some non-Cuban manufacturers, but what they lack in flash they make up for in quality and class. If you have ever opened up a box of Habanos, you notice the guarantee of the Habanos and the amazing aroma that is present. I think the only non-Cuban brand that does this just as well is Illusione. Casa Fernandez does a good job too, and Pete Johnson can do it with the original Brown Labels. Now, while opening a dress box or semi boite nature box is great, it is nothing compared to opening up a cabinet or slide lid box of 50 Habanos. These cabinets are just big and how the 50 Habanos are packaged inside is simply gorgeous. The aroma is delightful upon opening and looking at 50 beautiful Habanos foots is incredible. Years ago a few of my friends and I decided to split a cabinet style box of the Saint Luis Rey before the bands began to be applied. We divided up the box and enjoyed the Habanos inside. Today I look at my last two from that box, and my last two unbanded Saint Luis Rey.

If you follow any Habanos brand, you will see with certain vitolas that packaging has changed over the years. I don't just mean bands, but how the Habano is offered. There are cases where a Habano was once only available in cabinets, and then with popularity and demand they began to add 25 count dress boxes, ten count boxes and sometimes three packs. With Saint Luis Rey Serie A, the Habano was once available in 50 count cabinets, and for a period of time was finished without a band. The bands began to be applied to a Habanos in 2006, so for a period of six years you could get a cabinet with the bands. The cabinets were discontinued though in 2012 and then the Habanos was only offered in 25 count boxes. Today I look at a Serie A that is from cabinet and was rolled before bands began to be applied in 2006. It is a special Habano and I look forward to seeing the age.

The Habano is composed of all Vuelta Abajo tobacco and is rolled in Habana. At the time, these Habanos were rolled at the Romeo y Julieta Factory, but that factory is currently closed. The Serie A is a corona gorda, and it measures 143 mm (5.6") and has a 46 ring gauge. Some minor veins throughout, the Habano is very silky in texture and you can see the age on this stick. It is fairly firm throughout the entire Habano and this was constructed well years ago. The coloring is that of a true natural coloring and it is classic in appearance. The aroma at the foot is showing bits of soft Asian spices, hay, tobacco and subtle stone fruit notes. The wrapper is showing some soft leather and tobacco qualities, and I am eager to light this up.

The first third is very smooth and it is showing some hay, cedar and tobacco notes. This is definitely softer, with as much age as it has, since I first smoked them, and it is very enjoyable. It is also showing some awesome soft stone fruit notes with some Asian spices present as well. The flavors are really popping, and this is a terrific blend that has aged well. You can feel the age on the Habano, and it is wonderful overall. The construction is top notch as well and it is showing a burn line that is practically razor sharp and it has a nice charcoal ash that is holding on firmly at the end. The draw is cool, and it is producing a nice bit of smoke. I would classify the smoke as being a little bit under medium in strength, and the body is right at the medium level. It is very balanced and enjoyable.

I am in the second third of the Habano now and it has grown in terms of the flavor, strength and body. Those stone fruit and Asian spice notes are still very prominent, and if anything they are growing. The hay and tobacco notes are still present, softer than before, and it is growing and showing some of those original Saint Luis Rey flavors. There are some coffee notes popping as well, and it has a slight floral and herbal flavor present as well on the finish. It is very smooth, but slightly fuller in flavors. The body is still at that medium level, same as it was in the first third, and I would say the strength is now closer to a medium level and not as soft as it was when I lit up the Habano. The construction continues to perform wonderfully and it is showing an even burn line with a nice charcoal ash. The draw is cool and it is producing a concentrated flavor profile on my palate with a nice bit of smoke.

The final third of the Habano continues to show the great flavors that were present in the second third and I am getting some wonderful Asian spice, coffee and stone fruit notes. I am really picking up some anise and clove qualities, and it is pairing with some dark cherry notes. There are some strong subtle pepper notes there as well, and it is a red pepper flavor. The rich earth and damp wood notes are present as well, but it has a finish that is showing aged tobacco and these lighter aged notes. The construction is simply phenomenal in this final third and it has an even burn line with a nice charcoal ash on the end. The ash is holding on firmly and it is also giving a cool draw with a nice bit of smoke on each draw. I smoke the Habano down to the nub, and it remains cool to the end. In terms of body and strength, I find that they are both at a medium level and it has held on to the strength and body well over the years.

Nine years has done a lot of amazing things for this Habano and it shows the greatness of the Saint Luis Rey Serie A. The brand itself is one that I enjoy, it can be amazing in the Double Corona if you get a good, same for the Regios, but the Serie A is always consistent. This is a vitola and brand that needs age to really improve and open up. I even think that long aging and dry boxing these helps out incredibly. This particular Habano could continue to smoke well in another five years, and I wonder how long before it really mellowed out. The classic flavors of coffee, stone fruit, rich earth and spices were still present, and while they were not as strong as some are when they are younger, they still were present and offering a wonderful flavor profile. If you have not picked up this brand, I recommend that you do as soon as possible. Buy a box and hold on to as many as possible. Smoke a couple now, but try and only smoke two a year and watch how it improves. I can't remember how there were when I first got them, but right now, I would give them between a 93 and 95.    

Young Rating: Can't Remember
With Age Rating: 93-95