Diplomaticos No1 (2001)

(Size: 6 1/2″ x 42  —  Time: 1hr 20mins)

Box Code: Exact code unknown (Year: 2001)

It’s been quite some time since my last review, for which I offer my sincere apologies.  Over the last couple of years it seems to have become a bit of a tradition for me to open my review with that sort of statement.  This review is of the Diplomaticos No1 – a wonderful Lonsdale.  My love for this brand is not unknown (as anyone who’s read my thoughts on the Dippy No2, and its demise, can attest). My love for the Lonsdale size is also not entirely unknown.  This should be a winning combination then, one would assume.  Especially when the cigar being reviewed has around 14 years of age on it.

IMG_1504This particular stick had been sitting in my humidor for around a year, since the 2014 UKCF get together at No1 St James, a very glossy cigar store run by Robert Emery – a true gent, excellent host, and incredibly knowledgable man.  I was actually frantically dashing around London this day – making my way in from Cirencester for a day of meetings and socialising.  Sadly I had to miss much of the evening’s festivities, though I did feel rather James Bond-ish on my return given that the reason for my slipping out was for drinks at No11 Downing Street.  Anyway, enough of my social climbing, onto the review…

Appearance /15

This cigar was not the prettiest I have ever seen.  The wrapper was a very light Colorado Claro, almost Claro – milky brown, fairly typical of the Diplomaticos line.  There were a few obvious veins, and a pretty stand-out seam.  The cap was, however, nicely and accurately applied.  In the hand it was nicely firm to the touch.  11

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Smoking Characteristics /25

The pre-light aroma of the Diplomaticos No1 was predominantly ‘farmyard’ with a touch of mustiness (think grandma’s wardrobe) and a hint of something reminiscent of honeyed cashews.  The pre-light draw was excellent, offering an ideal amount of resistance.   The light was easy and even – despite a slight lighter mishap.  Smoke production was more than adequate from the get-go and the early burn was crisp and even.  This continued throughout – I don’t recall any touch-ups being required except at the very death.  The ash was grey and slightly mottled, but made up of concentric circles so well aligned that an architect would have been pleased had he designed them.  As well as great consistency, the ash was also very solid, holding until tapped off in just a couple of solid lumps.  With good smoke production, even burn, excellent draw, and solid ash it’s difficult to find much to fault.  Indeed, aside from a minor correction in the last inch, and a relight (purely to enable nubbing the stick) it was flawless.  24

IMG_1502Flavour /25

The No1‘s dry draw was fairly subdued – with hints of honey and straw, as the pre-light aroma might have suggested.  The first quarter of an inch after lighting offered a similar profile, however, as we neared the end of the first third the cigar jumped into life.  Fourteen years had not dulled it into boredom!  The mouthfeel was full, flavour medium, and strength was pushing the top end of medium.  The flavour was becoming a little ‘meatier’ – something I’ve noticed before with Diplomaticos.  This was just a slight metallic note, partnered with good herbaceous flavours (oregano and sage).  Pork roast anyone?  Moving through the middle third the flavour profile developed towards something woodier.  The straw flavour returned, this time propped up by some good cedar and warming, woody spices.  As the cigar started towards its finale things got meatier again.  Leather and anise joined the party – think of a nice Rioja Reserva.   The anise notes quickly give way to a greater depth of cedar-wood and pepper; gradually, as the cigar nears the nub, these two flavours power to the forefront..  22

Overall Impression /35

What a cigar to reignite the review section of the blog!  Fourteen years of development had done nothing to dull the body of this example of the Diplomaticos No1.  It had allowed the flavours to integrate nicely, providing a nice journey through the length of the stick.  The construction was about as good as you’re going to get out of Cuba, which combined with the flavours and good smoke production made for a thoroughly enjoyable smoke.  33

Grand total… 90/100

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Alonso Menendez No10 (NC)

(Size: 6 1/2″ x 42  —  Time: 1hr 25mins)

There was a brief break in the clouds yesterday, so I decided to take a late opportunity for a cigar by the water (I say that as I look out at clear blue skies…) I grabbed an Alonso Menendez No10, the brand’s Lonsdale offering, and made my way to the pub. Grabbing a pint of Tinners Ale (very nice by the way), I sat down and lit up my first Brazilian puro:

Appearance /15

The No10 has a fairly agricultural looking maduro wrapper. There are a few veins around the place, some rough seams and a cap which isn’t all that neatly applied. However, the pig-tail on the cap is a nice little touch, and the wonderous lustre of the oily wrapper more than compensates for it’s general unsightliness. The oil makes it great to feel, and it is firm to the touch, but not hard. 12

Smoking Characteristics /25

In a word? Perfect. This cigar lit perfectly first time; burned as evenly as any cigar I’ve smoked, with a really crisp burn line (all the way from the head to the nub); and had one of the best and most consistent draws I’ve experienced. The ash was fairly light and pretty solid. There really was not a single thing wrong with this cigars construction – even the aroma of the smoke was pretty pleasant. 25

Flavours /25

Early draws were full of smooth, milk chocolate flavours. Soon there was a creamy nuttiness which joined in. After around ten minutes, the flavour of note became fennel. It was very mild, with a clean, fresh and aniseedy flavour. Then citrus came through, with orange and lime flavours at the back end of the draw. Soon after, a little bit of chocolate came back, but the orange remained, providing the cigar equivalent of a Terry’s Chocolate Orange… A sip of the Tinners Ale, I noted, really brought out the citrus after-taste. Around the half-way stage, a herbiness started to dominate the flavours, but there was still just an element of chocolate at the back of the draw. Then the fennel returned, this time slightly stronger, but still palatable – not my favourite of flavours, but I won’t hold it against the cigar… As the cigar neared its close, some ‘green’ cocoa started to become noticeable, along with a good earthiness. Finally, hints of herbaceous flavours and a touch of pepperiness brought it to a close. 22

Overall Impression /35

I thought that the Alonso Menendez No10 is an astonishing cigar for the price (around £3 in the UK – where you can find them). It lasts the best part of one and a half hours, and it is smooth throughout (if not especially flavourful); then there’s the absolutely faultless construction. The flavours were fine and smooth, but always very mild, which suited this cigars light body very well. My friend Ellison, who I gave one today was also a fan of this cigar, citing its smooth characteristics. For all its significant good though, there was just a little something missing – the ‘x-factor’ if you will (NOT a reference to the shoddy, embarassing, cheap TV programme). It’s not exciting enough to get top marks, but good enough to keep it in the 90s overall. 32

Grand total… 91/100