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Connoisseur s Corner, August 2002

Reprinted from the August 2002 issue of Cigar Aficionado

We've unearthed yet another treasure trove of prized cigars for this issue's Connoisseur's Corner. Several of these smokes are no longer available commercially, or, in the case of the Davidoff, production has shifted to the Dominican Republic. The results of this tasting prove what we've been saying for years -- if you enjoy the cigars you bought today, age some in your humidor. They will only continue to improve.

The 1980s ruled this issue's Connoisseur's Corner, with two 96-point cigars bringing our tasters back to the days of Reaganomics and Duran Duran. The Bolivar we tasted was as full bodied as ever, but with an added balance that only 15 years in a humidor could provide. And the Davidoff 5000 we smoked showed exactly why these cigars fetch thousands of dollars per box at auction.

Bolivar Gold Medal (1986)

A lonsdale distinctive because of its gold foil wrapping, this cigar bursts with richness and body, coming on like gangbusters. It is peppery on the lips with deep flavors of leather and espresso initially on the palate, and some chocolate and citrus peel notes.

--George Brightman

Davidoff 5000 (1989)

Blockbuster is the only way to describe this full-throttle cigar. It's a big smoke with masses of spicy, coffee flavors that blast your palate the minute you light up. Full bodied with minutes-long finish, this is a smoke that is hard to forget.

--James Suckling

Hoyo De Monterrey Epicure No. 2 (1995)

A beautifully constructed cigar with a smooth, silky wrapper. This cigar has just rounded into perfection, delivering a smooth, creamy texture. There are strong notes of leather, backed with flavors of toast and cocoa bean and a hint of pepper. It has a delicious earthy finish. This is what a cigar with seven years of aging should be about -- full flavored, but smooth and rich.

--Marvin R. Shanken

Por Larranaga Monte Carlo (1958)

This elegant-looking smoke is as refined and alluring as one could hope for from a cigar with this much age. I, too, was born in 1958, and this cigar is holding up better than me. Medium bodied with a light spicy character and hints of cappuccino and cedar, it's long and satisfying on the finish.

--James Suckling

Punch Panetela Grande (1993)

Some people think that long slender cigars are for debutant smokers, but this is a cigar that any connoisseur would be lucky to puff on. It gives off beautiful aromas of cedar, flowers and cream that follow through to a medium bodied palate with delicate tea flavors and a silky texture. One is not enough.

--James Suckling

Gispert Coronas (1973)

I didn't think much of this third-tier brand cigar when I first lit it up, but man, it isn't bad at all. It's a mild smoke that delivers a cedary, minty character, a medium body and a refreshing finish. A beauty.

--James Suckling

Thursday, August 01, 2002

Connoisseur s Corner, August 2002