Tonight, Let’s first talk about size:
For me, the perfect size of a "big" cigar is between 6 and 6.5" in length with a ring size of 50 (roughly the dimensions of the Montecristo #2). I call these my ballgame cigars because you can nurse them through a basketball game or at least half a football game. I’ve had good cigars that were larger (like a Punch Double Corona), but after a while even the good ones can become overkill.
A medium cigar should be about 5.5" in length, with a ring size of 44. These last 30-45 minutes and are perfect when you’re grilling chicken in the backyard. Examples of these are the Riata 400 series, the Fuente Breva Royale, and just about anything in the "corona" size.
But I am still looking for my "halftime cigar", something that tastes good and lasts less than 20 minutes. I don’t like cigarellos because they’re too small and taste like cigarettes. I’m thinking about trying some petite coronas or petite panatelas. I haven’t bought any yet but I’d like to try the JR Ultimate Habinito, Partagas Black Pronto, and Aristoff Cigarito.
Another possibility would be Consuegra No. 9 Rothschild –although they may be a tad too big. (Consuegras are the bundled segundos and production overruns made at the Villazon factory in Honduras - the makers of Punch, Hoyo de Monterrey, Excalibur, El Rey del Mundo, JR Ultimates, etc.)
Now, on to the reviews:
1) Guantanamera Habana
My friend Anthony smuggled a few of these small Cuban cigars back from his vacation in Mexico. Although it was not a change-your-world cigar, it did share many of the characteristics of good Cubans: a slow cool burn; a mild relaxing flavor; and very little excess smoke.
2) Arturo Fuente Breva Royale
Size: 5.5" by 42
Nothing too fancy about this one, except it had a very nice golden brown wrapper. Very smooth, but it also committed two cigar sins: the second half burned too hot and bits of tobacco leaf flaked off into my mouth.
3) Riata 400
Size: 4.5" by 44
These are tagged as "the best selling bundled Honduran cigar". They are made with medium filler leaves, rather than long filler. I’m about half way through the bundle of 20 I ordered. A very average cigar, but at a great price. They are well constructed, burn slowly, and don’t get too hot. Not bad tasting, although there is nothing particularly distinctive about them.
I should note that I ran across one bad apple, though – a hopelessly plugged cigar that wouldn’t draw and tasted downright foul. It was the only mar on an otherwise terrific night of tournament poker (I came in 1st place out of 50 at the Fox & Hound Pub).