I was sad that I smoked my last La Escepción Selectos Finos Torcido Exclusivamente Para Italia last week in Italy. The long, thin, and elegant cigar is an amazing smoke with lots of flavor and richness yet so balanced and harmonious. It’s a beautiful, sexy, and slim cigar. It measures 6 1/2 x 38 ring gauge – a panetela.
I am impressed that my old friend Andrea Vincenzi, head of the Cuban cigar importer in Italy, Diademas, chose that vitola for his market selection cigar.
It’s completely countercultural to what most people are smoking in the rest of the world. Today, more and more Habanos are shorter and thicker, like robustos and Cañonazo.
Yet, I remain faithful to fine and elegant smokes such as panetelas. Perhaps it was the first time I met Zino Davidoff in Geneva in 1991 as a young man. I revered the late doyen of cigars.
Just about anything he said or wrote I followed. I studied his book The Connoisseur’s Book of the Cigar like a seminary student his bible as I began my journey in smoking cigars – particularly Habanos.
My cigars of the era were Davidoff No. 1 and No. 2 and the same numbers in Montecristo Especiales. I occasionally smoked Partagás Serie du Connoisseur No. 1, La Gloria Cubana Medaille d’Or No.3 and Hoyo du Monterrey Le Hoyo du Gourmet. Cohiba Especiales were also a favorite as well as Trinidad Fundadores.
All these cigars seemed to feel so right in my hand. They still do. Moreover, many panetelas are packed with flavor due to the ratio of ligero (the strongest tobacco) to others in the blend.
The only drawback for panetelas is that they sometimes don’t draw well. Rollers are apt to twist the bunch when they are applying the binder or wrapper. This is especially true in Cuba.
But it’s worth the risk. Try a great panetela and see for yourself.
This article was published in the Cigar Journal Autumn Edition 2013. Read more