[This is the 3nd Cigar review in a new series on this site called "Custom Rolled Cubans", which as far as I know is the only series like this of it's kind on any of the major cigar review blogs (the first review in this series was on the Robaina "El Padrino" Farm Cigar, which we reviewed HERE).
For those of you that don't know what these are, there are multiple rollers in Cuba who roll cigars out of specific stores, factories and hotels for tourists and other cigar smokers in general. These master rollers use cuban tobacco that they procure for their own blends, and only roll whatever specific vitolas they feel like at the time or whatever vitolas they have tobacco enough to make. They have obtained almost "Rockstar" status, and are usually only called by their first names when referring to the cigars they roll. Due to the nature of the tobacco that is procured, the blend of each roller is quite different, and the blend of the same roller, and even the same vitola, can and does differ from year to year. The major rollers that we will feature in future reviews are (but not limited to): Hamlet, La China, Santos, Yolanda, Monsdale, Juanita, Alfredo, Reynaldo, Taboada and Cueto...~ed.]
Yolanda Gonzalez is one of Havana’s top Torcedoras (cigar rollers) and she has over 40 years experience in the art of rolling Cuban cigars. She got her start way back in the late 1960′s, and the rumor is said that she was one of the first of the new generation of women cigar rollers who burst onto the scene at a time when only males ruled the rolling tables. She learned her craft at the famous Partagás factory, the oldest factory still operating in Cuba.
Yolanda now spends a lot of her time at the LCDH in the Hotel Meliá Habana in Miramar, just a quick 15 minute cab ride from downtown. She also travels the world performing her craft at hotels and cigar stores alike. She has been quoted as saying it takes her 4 minutes to roll a cigar for a customer. The specific cigar we are reviewing today was rolled in early 2010 at the Meliá Habana.
Here are some photos of the Hotel Meliá Habana:
(courtesy of http://www.corbisimages.com)
And here is a photo of senora Yolanda Gonzalez hard at work rolling cigars. (Photo courtesy of our good friend Nino Munoz, www.flyingcigar.de – Used with permission)
A quick note: Yolanda has also said that “Cigar rollers are either employed by the factory or by the hotel. The cigar rollers do not work for themselves and do not keep the money for the cigars that are sold; this goes directly to the factory, the shop or the hotel.”
Here we go.
- Cigar Reviewed: Yolanda Custom Rolled Cañonazo (2010)
- Country of Origin: Cuba
- Wrapper: Cuba
- Binder: Cuba
- Filler: Cuba
- Size: 5.9 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Cañonazo (Siglo VI size)
- Est. Price: Varies Wildly depending on where cigar is purchased
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 1
Right off the bat I am impressed with this cigar. The Cañonazo has always been one of my favorite Cuban vitolas and this does not disappoint. It has a nice light chocolate wrapper with a few veins and a gorgeous triple cap. The cigar has a very light pack and is pretty soft in certain spots. It has a very spongy feel to it, which many have noticed isn’t that rare with custom rolled cigars. It is however a very nice looking cigar none the less.
The prelight aroma is typical Cuban-esque. It has a heavy hay/barnyard scent to it with an almost honey like sweetness. The prelight draw is full of earth, hay and a touch of cocoa; very nice.
The First Third starts off with a nice oak flavor up front as well as some chocolate, Hay, and a very pleasant creaminess both in flavor and overall mouth feel. It’s a very enjoyable start to say the least.
The Second Third transitions nicely. The oak has turned into a more aged cedar flavor and the chocolate has mellowed to a more milky sweetness which fades to a sweet creaminess through the nose and on the finish. The finish is short but it’s very crisp and clean. It leaves my mouth moist, not drying it out. The ash is very fragile. It tends to fall off every inch or so at the most but doesn’t affect the overall smoking experience.
Coming into the Final Third the flavors are much the same as the last third with a few changes. The creaminess that has been present all along had completely disappeared. I am also getting a rich coffee note as well as a floral note on the finish. One thing I have to mention is the aroma this cigar puts off. It’s a very intoxicating smell. Very floral, barnyard and chocolate like. It adds a level of complexity that quite a few cigars can’t match. This is a cigar I would love to smoke inside so I could take advantage of the aroma a little more.
- I would like to give a huge thanks to Alan Baltes (Mr. goodfella on the forums) and Nino Munoz (www.flyingcigar.de) for letting me enjoy this wonderful cigar.
- The burn and draw were perfect, however the ash did not hold at all and was very flaky. I tend to believe this is because of the loose rolling style these custom rollers have adapted. It seems to be a common trait with a lot of them.
- A lot of custom rollers claim they use aged tobacco, and sometimes I have to wonder if they are bullshitting or not. With this cigar I truly feel they must have used some aged leaf. It had some spot on aged qualities that were tough to miss. I can’t imagine revisiting this cigar in five years.
- The amount of smoke that this cigar gave off was perfection at work. Huge clouds of smoke with every effortless puff. It made it very easy to detect the flavors and enjoy the smoke as a whole.
- The Final Smoking Time was 1 hour 39 minutes.
The Bottom Line: I loved this cigar. In fact it is easily the BEST custom rolled cigar I have had. The size was perfect, the blend was perfect and it just doesn’t get any better than this for me personally. I would love to try out some different vitolas of this blend as I am sure some would be even better. It is clear to me that Yolanda Gonzalez knows exactly what she is doing and is right at home on that cigar bench making these. It shows in every inch of the cigar.
Final Score: 93