El Rico Habano

Product testing at poolside in LA

I’d like to introduce Patrick DeWitt, the General Cigar rep for the Northwest. Affable, gregarious, knowledgable and fun to hang out with (all good cigar rep qualities), he’s a familiar face to my Brothers of the Leaf and me as he carries 20 lines under the General Cigar banner and so we get to see him at cigar events at our favorite cigar shop and lounge haunts (Rain City, Lit Lounge, Thunderbird, Smokey Joe’s). But on this particular day, he has appeared at Smokey Joe’s just for a drink, a cigar and a chance to check in with the co-managers, Dirk and Mark, before heading home to Portland. So we puff on our cigars awhile, sigh contentedly, commiserate about the Washington State cigar lounge bill not passing and then it occurs to me to ask, “Patrick, what’s your favorite smoke in your product line these days?” Without hesitation, he says. “Ah! The El Rico Habano Churchill…but it’s a bit on the strong side.” I give him my best “Duh!” look — he smiles and points to a box of them in the humidor behind us. I purchase two of them for testing and he asks me to be sure to provide feedback. Being an impatient closure freak who doesn’t want to wait for the next time I see him, I ask for his business card.

Brothers Ray and Iain relaxing at Smokey Joe's

Then I ask why he’s smoking a CAO stick and he informs me that General just bought CAO. He’s smoking a little LX2 (4″ x 45) and I perk up. “Hey! That would be a perfect lunchtime smoke!” He wholeheartedly concurs and hands me a free LX2 robusto (5″ x 52). I flag down one of the Smokey Joe’s cigar ladies and ask her to liberate a handful of baby LX2s out of the humidor for me. I’ve been impressed with the LX2 in the past so I know I’ll enjoy them. And sure enough, not only have Iain and I been savoring them during lunch, I find this little stick to be perfect with coffee in the morning on the weekends. Very nice! Cigar Aficionado rates the CAO LX2 Bam at 91 and I totally agree with their assessment.

The next day, I fly out to LA to see my brother, Eric, and his family and I find myself sitting poolside in the backyard acting as lifeguard for my nieces as they splash and frolic. Eric has become quite the Scotch fan so I have an amazing assortment to choose from. Taking after our beloved Uncle Dan, I’ve already been sipping on the high end stuff from the minute I step across Eric’s threshold (Glenlivit 21 and Auchentoshan 21), so I choose the Crown Royal Reserve to accompany the El Rico Habano the following day. I purposely light and smoke the cigar awhile before drinking so I get a solid impression of the tobacco with just water. When I do finally take a sip, the sweetness of the Crown Royal Reserve is a nice compliment to the spicy Nicaraguan leaf. My taste buds look forward to the next one with a spicier, single malt Scotch.

Brother Eric's whisky selection

I don’t know of any lifeguards that have it this good. I coach my nieces on their cannonball skills with the goal of achieving the biggest splashes without getting my cigar wet. Being outside in 70 degree weather and abundant sunshine with a cigar and whisky in hand is simply mindblowing. Winter has been very loath to leave the Puget Sound area where I live and smoke and having just endured the wettest and colder April in recorded history, this is flat out surreal and sheer heaven. Hell, I might even put on my bathing suit after this cigar and join the girls. Maybe I can float around on that mattress and keep drinking and smoking, too. Hmmm…..let’s not get too carried away.

Ok, so here are my notes:

  • Construction: The wrapper is a light reddish brown, mottled, with veins, and a rough looking triple cap. It’s a box press, firm with no soft spots.
  • Flavors: Prelight aroma of black tea; smoking: cedar, pepper; mild spice finish on my lips
  • Size and shape: 7″ x 48; Churchill
  • Beverage: Crown Royal Reserve
  • Filler and binder: Nicaraguan ligero
  • Wrapper: Ecuadoran sun grown
  • Country of origin: Dominican Republic, from the La Gloria Cubana factory
  • Cigar Aficionado rating: 86 – 87
  • Performance: Excellent burn, draw and smoke output
  • Price: $5.85
Thanks for the tip, Patrick. It was a perfect smoke for a lovely day. I look forward to trying the Habano Club (4 7/8″ x 48). — Scott Bruce Duncan */:-)

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