"Original" Cubans Gonz I used to think this column was an easy task. I smoke a couple of cigars per day, I know what I like and I just need to explain it in gonz verbiage. I used to smoke a cigar once and know it was going to be one primed for Gonz's Pick. Now, I smoke 2, sometimes 3 in a row before I can qualify it. There are so many good cigars out there right now. The market has really come full circle and it's quite exciting. The no-name crap that came on the scene 6 or 7 years ago is nearly cleared out. We're now left with manufacturers getting creative about their blends and really honing in on what people like and dislike. That's the theory of the "Original" Cubans. I admit, I was duped the first time I saw these in the humidor. I did a double-take when I saw the label. The label reads -- "Original" Cubans, Re-released. --- It took me awhile to figure it out. Re-released Cuban originals, rolled in the Dominican Republic! Get it? That's funny. After having now smoked a 1/2 dozen or so of these (see, it's beyond just qualifying it for a pick now, I'm getting infatuated with this friggin' column) it seems the goal here is to take a grassroots approach to cigar making. It's all about flavor. This brand goes after the original Cuban flavor, and is not really meant to imply that these are the originals from the days of old. That's a pretty steep goal nonetheless. It's a good looking cigar, soft and seemingly packed loosely. With a simply clip, it sparks up with ease and draws effortlessly. By the way, I'm drawn to this cigar not only by its name, but also by its price at about $1.50 per stick. Peanuts, and if it lives up to it's expectation, it'll be a real gem. The flavor becomes solid right away. Medium in strength, but full-bodied with an abundance of smoke, and a cornucopia of mellow flavors. The cigar burns quickly and the flavor doesn't deviate one bit. The ash forms for about 1/2 inch before it requires a tap - yet it never really hold firm. The burn is solid, even, and doesn't streak one bit - you'll not need to match up a second time. I've picked up the Churchill and it's barely a 1/2 hour smoke - maybe I'm dragging to fast. The flavor is so creamy and smooth that you'll have a propensity to continue dragging. Nearly halfway through, I've got a little buzz going. I love a lot of smoke. I love smoking out my neighbors if I can. This is my third one this week. Last night, I lit one up after I got home. We're putting up a new front porch so I walked around the house investigating the contractor's work. I did a full circle and when I got back to my starting point, I could still see the path of smoke lingering. Awesome. I love it when it surrounds you. I find it comforting and relaxing. To my surprise, there is no harsh or bitter aftertaste - just a little shock wave in the middle of my tongue, the pleasant flavor hangs on. I guess I expected a harsher cigar if it claims to be similar to an original Cuban. Now, here's the real test, I'm going to need my loyal readers to send me some REAL Cubans circa early 1980s. I've only smoked about 2 or 3 in my lifetime (regardless of what I may have told you or my poker buddies in the past) so I don't have a real good sense of how these compare. Regardless, they're an excellent smoke. Oh, and this is the first cigar I've smoked with an ESG (Ecuadorian sun-grown) wrapper. My guess is the flavor cornucopia is driven from that wrapper. Very nice! By the way, I gave a few of these to Ranger and he claims that he puked after having one. What a skirt!