Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Cigar Review: Sancho Panza Belicosos (RMS ENE-13)

If you are unaware of who Sancho Panza is, he was the squire to Don Quixote in the novel titled The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha. The character is a humorous one, and he is a true sidekick you may say. Panza is Spanish for belly, so you can see that the character is built around being a large guy. What inspired this character to be a brand developed in the late 1840's in Cuba confuses me, and in some ways it seems to be the more fun of all the brands. You look at all the other old brands, and they are family brands or brands that were started off with the most serious of intentions. That is why, when I look at Sancho Panza, I can not help but laugh. More than likely, the gentleman who  created the brand was a fan of the character and the novel, but it is still odd to me. It is not a brand I have turned to in the past, but when someone asks you to smoke a stick and provide feedback, it is your job to do just that. So today I take on another Sancho Panza and see how it smokes. Thank you to one of faithful Habanos Critic listeners in sending this my way.

The Belicosos has been on the market since before the Revolution and it is one of two vitolas left in the brand. The Habano measures 140 mm (5.5") and it has a ring gauge of 52. It is a blend that only uses tobacco from Vuelta Abajo and the Sancho Panza brand is classified as a small Local Brand. The belicoso had a marbled coloring to the wrapper and it shows some natural and Colorado coloring. The wrapper is silky in texture and smooth throughout. I love the tapered head on the Habano and it has some small veins present from head to foot. It is fairly firm overall and while it has some give, there are no parts that show too much softness. It has an aroma of tobacco and soft spices on the wrapper, and it is giving off an aroma of sweetness, floral qualities and hay.

The first third of the Habano begins by showing some nice creamy qualities. It is very smooth and a nice belicoso. I am getting some sweet notes as well, and they are sweet wood and floral qualities. There are touches of pepper present also and it has a soft salty nutty quality to it on the finish. Overall though, this is a smooth and creamy smoke, great for how young it is. The construction is nice on the Habano as well, and it is producing a nearly even burn line. I'm getting a cool draw and is producing a nice amount of smoke with that. This is really a well constructed Habano, and it shows that Cuba is improving their quality control on all their brands and not just the premium ones. I would classify the strength as being between mild and medium and I would say the body is there as well. This is a smoke where the focus is on the flavors rather than strength.

I'm in the second and third now and I am finding that the flavor profile to be fairly similar to that of the first. It is showing a lot of creamy qualities but I'm also beginning to pick up some soft chocolate notes which are adding a lot to the blend. There are some soft and subtle spices present as well, and it is producing those sweet cedar and sweet floral flavors. The construction is absolutely terrific and this third and it has a razor sharp burn line with the beautiful charcoal ash on the end. The draw is cool and is producing a nice amount of smoke on each draw. I am really enjoying the flavors, they are great, but what really impresses me is the construction on this Habano. I would classify the Habano as being medium in body and strength, but I could see some people believing it to be more between mild and medium.

When I enter into the final third of the smoke it begins to show some transitioning from the second third, and it is a third that is a fairly similar flavor profile to that of the first third. The sweet chocolate notes from the second third are no longer present, but it is still showing the creamy qualities which have been present throughout. I'm getting some cedar notes and also some very soft pepper qualities with that. There is a salted nut and wood quality present as well, and that provides for a complex and very enjoyable finish. The construction is once again terrific and it has a razor sharp burn line with a lovely charcoal ash on the end. I would classify the smoke is being between mild and medium in strength and body, and this is a smoke I can have any time of the day. The final draw is smooth and cool, and it is flavorful producing a nice bit of smoke.

I was thoroughly surprised by this Habano and it was a surprise that makes me want to pick up a box and see how they are from box to box and see how they age. It was super smooth and it had a great creamy quality that was very enjoyable. No, this is not the best Habano on the market, but it is a very enjoyable one that I know many would enjoy. I could share these with many individuals and that is because of what the brand offers. To me, this is a smoke that you can relax with and it is a smoke that you don't need to worry about or really focus on flavors, etc. The construction was absolutely terrific with the Habano as well and in looking at the main qualities and tests of a Habano, it passed them all. I say this again though, is this something to go nuts over and write home about? No, but it is something to talk about at the time. I am giving this a solid 89 to 91 right now and with age I think it will get to be at a 92 to 94 level.  

Young Rating: 89-91
With Age Rating: 92-94