So, having decided to step into the world of aged cigars, I bought a box of 1998 Le Hoyo du Dauphins aged by Hunters and Frankau – the sole importers and distributors of Cuban cigars in the UK. The aroma was wonderful as I opened the SLB last week, and having rested for a week in the humi I thought it was about time to light one up.
Today I decided to go with an unusual drink for me, a cream soda – as it happens, it was a very good match for this cigar, which started off quite light bodied and finished closer to medium bodied. Here’s the review…
The du Dauphin was a pleasant little stick to look at, though by no means perfect. Whilst the wrapper had a nice shade to it, and it had just the right amount of lustre, there were a few little scrags and a small flakey patch where the join was. It had a neat little pigtail cap which was well applied and gave it a certain je ne sais quoi (well, it is du Dauphin). 12
Pre-light the cigar’s aromas were very understated, quite difficult to detect even. What I could make out was some very feint milk chocolate aromas. As I smoked the cigar the aromas it gave off were quite pleasant. I used a match to light the du Dauphin due to it’s smaller ring gauge. It lit quite happily first time and we were on our way. The draw, throughout the entire stick, was nigh on perfect and the smoke that I was able to draw through it was a sight to behold – these two aspects were truly first class. Unfortunately, the burn was not quite so magnificent… During the first third of the cigar there were a couple of little ‘wobbles’, but any unevenness soon sorted itself out – so no troubles just yet. However, through the middle third it started to go really quite uneven and required a few adjustments with the lighter. The final third decided to stay fairly straight and true though. The only other couple of issues with this stick was a slightly fragile ash and the occassional hot burn – but then it is a smaller ring gauge, and as soon as I’d slowed down the rate of smoking everything mellowed off again. Overall, a couple of uneven burn issues aside, this was a well made cigar which smoked well. The occassions of hotter burn can be well excused – after all I’d sped up because I was enjoying it! 22
On the first couple of draws I was surprised by a fair hit of pepper – still quite light in body, but a good strong flavour to get going. The pepper soon mellowed into a smokey woodiness, just the type of flavour that makes you think a good barbeque. Then some lovely roasted (barbequed?) nutty flavours started to creep in after about twenty minutes. This was quite almondy (by that I mean those lovely salted almonds you get at good bars, not that fake marzipan flavour… which is disgusting). At around the half-way the cigar heated up (I was smoking pretty hard – I do love almonds!) and got a blast of harsh pepper, I quickly slowed down and the pepperiness subsided to reveal a lovely creaminess – this worked wonderfully with the cream soda. As we edged towards the last section of the cigar the cream took on a sweeter dimension and some nice honey flavours developed. As it developed it reminded me of a wonderful remedy for man-flu – a glass of warmed rum with honey and lemon juice (it works – and even if it doesn’t it tastes great). Then, one last twist as I took the last two draws, a hint of chocolate – bringing the cigar full-circle to the pre-light aromas. Whilst there were no real twists or turns, and the flavours stayed within a similar profile, there were some nice, subtle developments. 22
The first thing to say about this stick is that it’s only been in my humidor for a few days, so after a little longer to settle into its new environment I’d expect a slight improvement. The construction was generally pretty good (for me the draw is vital), though it was let down a shade by some uneven burn issues around the middle third. I enjoyed its nuanced developments of flavour – it’s not a rollercoaster ride, but a sailing holiday – still good fun, you still see different places, but it’s just a little more refined and calm. Overall a good cigar with a little room for improvement, but not much. 32
Grand total… 88/100