Review: La Escepción Selectos Finos (ER Italy 2011)
In 2011, Habanos brought back an old Cuban brand La Escepción. as an ER for Italy. The size is a 6 1/2 x 38 Panatela called Selectos Finos, a size that had never been offered by La Escepción prior.
La Escepción is one of the oldest Cuban cigar brands with its introduction by owner José Gener sometime in the late 1850s. It was always thought of as a sister brand to Hoyo de Monterrey, mostly because Hoyo was also started and owned by José Gener, albeit after the La Escepción brand.
In 1831, Don José Gener y Batet emigrated to Cuba from Spain at the age of thirteen, where he worked on his uncle’s plantation in Vuelta Abajo. Twenty years later, he would open his own cigar factory in Havana and begin producing his own cigar line, La Escepción. In 1865, after using his factory’s profits to acquire one of the best tobacco farms in Vuelta Abajo, he registered a cigar line named for it: Hoyo de Monterrey.
Both Hoyo and La Escepción have very different profiles, with La Escepción easily being the stronger of the two. In fact, La Escepción was commonly thought to be the strongest Cuban blend on the Cuban market for the entire time they were being produced. The La Escepción line continued production for more than 100 years, but was eventually discontinued in 1989 due mainly to the falling popularity of stronger blends in Cuban cigars.
The Boxes for the La Escepción ER Italy 2011 are extremely nice, and look like this:
But enough of that, let’s get down to business, shall we?
- Cigar Reviewed: La Escepción Selectos Finos Edición Regional Italia (2011)
- Country of Origin: Cuba
- Factory: Francisco Pérez German
- Wrapper: Cuba
- Binder: Cuba
- Filler: Cuba
- Size: 6 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 38
- Vitola: Parejos
- Est. Price: $25.00 (Boxes of 25, $625.00)
- Release Date: January 2012
- Number of Cigars Released: 2,000 Boxes of 25 (50,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 2
The Selectos Finos is gorgeous, with a dark chocolate brown wrapper that has some oil present. There are veins present, but they are not overly distracting. It is perfect when squeezed with just the right amount of resistance. The wrapper of the La Escepción smells very strongly of barnyard, sweet hay, chocolate and a small amount of pepper.
Starting out the first third and immediately after lighting up, I am literally assaulted with flavors of espresso, dark chocolate, leather, earth and hay. There is a great sweetness underneath the La Escepción’s profile and some nice black pepper on the retrohale, but very little spice at first. The draw is a bit tight in the first third, but I am hoping that it loosens up as the smoke progresses. Strength is not overly obvious at this point in the cigar, a mild medium, but I would not be surprised if it increased.
Coming into the second third and the profile has much of the same flavors, but the amount of each has changed. It’s more earthy and gritty, albeit not in a bad way, with lesser flavors of dark chocolate, espresso and wood. The sweetness is still there, not overly obvious, but very nice nevertheless. Construction is still fabulous and the strength is increasing, although not as much as I expected. The draw loosened up nicely as well.
During final third, everything seems to change places a bit (again) with less earth and grit, and of the core flavors of espresso, oak, leather and cocoa powder. The sweetness that was in the background of the Selectos Finos has now come to the forefront, and it combines very nicely with the rest of the notes at the end of the smoke. Construction remains wonderful and while it did get a bit hot at the end, that is not unusual in a smaller RG smoke by any means. The La Escepción ends as a strong medium, about what I was expecting.
- Interestingly, when the La Escepción ER Italy 2011 was first announced, it was announced as a 152mm (6 1/8 Inches) x 52 cigar, not the 6 1/2 inch x 38 vitola it eventually became, and we can thank the cigar deities above for that.
- These have just been released. Box codes seem to place this as being a product of the Francisco Pérez German (Partagás) factory.
- The official vitola is listed as Panatela. The factory name for 166 x 38 is actually Parejos, a derivative of the Panatela family. American consumers might want to call it a Petit Lancero, but it’s just a name.
- There is a General Cigar product with the same name (La Escepción), but it uses Honduran and Nicaraguan tobacco, as opposed to Cuban tobacco.
- Before they were discontinued in 1989, La Escepción had one of the largest individual Cuban cigar releases of any marca, the Gran Gener, which was a 9 1/6 x 55 Diademas behemoth that was sold in its own coffin.
- I absolutely love the old school band on these. The gold and black color scheme is quite different from the other Cuban marcas and really pops out.
- The inner coversheet of the boxes are truly amazing: an embossed piece of art that could easily be hung in a frame on a wall. (In fact, that is what the BOTL whose box I photographed intends to do with it). Habanos really out did themselves in that regard.
- In a world of huge RG ERs and ELs, the size of the Selectos Finos at 6 1/2 by 38 is a welcome change.
- Although I tasted no bitterness at all in the two samples I smoked, you can tell these are still quite young, but unlike most younger Cubans I have smoked, the youth seemed to enhance the blend instead of detract from it.
- The bands have quite a bit of glue used on them, so don’t expect for them to come off cleanly, that is not going to happen.
- While the burn was perfect for all samples, the ash did not stay on for more than about a 1/4 inch at a time.
- The final smoking time was 1 hour 10 minutes.
The Bottom Line: I was honestly a little surprised to see the size that this cigar ended up being, as the modus operandi with Habanos has been larger and larger RG. However, after smoking a couple of them, I have to say they absolutely nailed the blend, size and RG on this release — complex, extremely flavorful, fairly strong, almost perfect construction and just a great vitola. Indeed, the only negative I could find about this cigar is the price. The La Escepción Selectos Finos is easily the best Cuban I have smoked in this admittedly young year and one of the best ERs in the last few years, period. My advice is that if you can find some, buy them.
Final Score: 93