Cuba Libre January 25th, 2010 Steve R 89 Share: Rarely do I have a chance to sit down and truly enjoy a cigar. As a member of the CI Merch Squad, I am constantly testing samples for potential blends, writing descriptions for new brands, or providing feedback for upcoming new releases. Yes, I enjoy many of these cigars and some are true gems, but having the freedom to dig deep into my humidor to find something I’ve been craving is rare at times. Sunday was one of those rare occasions. I spent the better part of my day painting doors while listening to Peyton Manning graciously give Mark Sanchez a mere glimpse of an AFC title before ripping it away from him like the true, cold-blooded champion and football technician he is. After Peyton marched his team down for their last touchdown, I headed to the humidor for a quick cigar before Brett Favre took the field. To save time, I chose the cigar to be during halftime: Cuba Libre. Cuba Libre is one of those cigars that cigar purist love. Traditional and simple, yet attractive packaging. No bells, no whistles....it’s all class. The same goes for the blend. This cigar does not contain 12-generation Cuban seeds grown in the virgin soils of a tiny Honduran valley bordering Nicaragua. Cuba Libre does, however utilize quality Cuban-seed tobaccos from the Jalapa Valley of Honduras inside a toothy Corojo wrapper. An expertly blended recipe of hand-selected tobaccos chosen to achieve a satisfying balance in flavor and strength. No promises that cannot be kept, just a good Honduran handmade for the cigar purist to enjoy. This particular Cuba Libre has been aging in my humidor for some time now – probably a year - so consider this when reading my review. I will say, Cuba Libre is great off the rolling table, issuing a raw, earthy profile replete with heady spices and a feisty Cuban-esque character. However, as you know....not every cigar ages well, and the power of a full-flavored cigar can easily be lost after spending a significant amount of time in the humidor. The first light offered a ton of earth and leather, followed by a toasty, charcoal-like aroma. Lots of flavor off the bat, just like I expected. However, it’s not until I broke the half-inch mark when the true character of this cigar came out. I picked up a solid dose of oak and toast, with some notes of pepper hitting the back of my palate and through the nose. Not scratchy, ‘this is harsh’ pepper....rather, a ‘freshly cracked black pepper’ pepper. The smoke was creamy and heavy, filling my entire palate and leaving behind a long, woodsy aftertaste. Midway through it became clear that Cuba Libre still possessed the same power one would notice right off the factory floor. And thanks to the tamed-by-time bouquet, the gradual increase in power is easily discernable – and actually quite enjoyable. The final third contains no pepper on the palate (exhale through the nose, it’s still there) but offers an increased array of earth, leather, and toast. Then, rather than ending will a full-bodied, full-flavored display, the flavors wind down a tad, becoming mellow in nature only to dish out large volumes of creamy, soothing smoke without losing the power it’s known for. Cuba Libre offers no frills and requires no marketing. It’s just a solid, no-nonsense cigar that customers re-order after sampling just a few. It’s one of those, ‘the proof is in the pudding’ handmades that customers constantly recommend to others in the deepest corners of our Super-Store....as if they want to save them all for themselves. (Don’t worry folks, they’ll make more.) And now that I took the time to sit back and enjoy a finely aged Cuba Libre I can honestly say, it’s even better after a long cedar nap.