The moon is high, the fog is low – it’s 36 degrees – and classic leather bombers meet the political guise of university rich political analysis in a not-so-classic scene of young men in discussion, surrounded by thick smoke. In other words, 1950’s era greasers have met the Socratics on the porch for a stogie. This was my Saturday night. Of course, it would have been more appropriate to be sipping on something sweet under a hot sun, on the beach but still near the tobacco fields. Beyond the rhythm of my chattering teeth I can hear palm trees sway and light swells kissing the sand, and between my quickly numbing fingers I can feel that distant shore, at least for the moment. Can you live vicariously through the cigar you smoke? I submit that you can; enter, Pinar Del Rio: Liga Cubana Número 5.
Numb hands most certainly did not roll this stogie. With the tip of the tongue as the epicenter of taste, French vanilla leads the pack of wonderful flavor combinations. Draw the smoke directly to the tip of the tongue after a long toast to fully experience the rich vanilla, tropical citrus, and roasted coffee bean flavors that distinctively flow from these sun grown leaves. Pinar pulls the palate along a track of sweetness without overpowering. It’s the odd combinations, though, that kept me puffing. Coffee beans, French vanilla, and island nutmeg make a beautiful and sensible combination, but orange peel? This oddball flavor burst is unexpected and nothing less than enjoyable, lightly testing the palate’s credibility and complimenting the vanilla and coffee beans in a strange but satisfying way.
Rio is a very smooth and mellow smoke that becomes a bit more bold as the ash slowly creeps towards the lips. The burn isn’t amazing and touch ups, while not regular, are required. A friend described the burn with unprecedented eloquence when he said it was “wonky.” I couldn’t agree more.
Then of course there’s the label. With its golden spheres, brown trim, and green leaves accenting the central red identifier, the band’s understated simplicity almost seems modest when put up against its flavor.
Pinar Del Rio boasts “sun grown,” to counter what modesty it had, and somehow the tongue is more receptive to a vision of smiling leaves being kissed by an equatorial sun – an image that makes most of us envious of their laid back lifestyle. A mojito and a Número 5 this morning? Yes please. Or perhaps a steaming cup of light roast with the Rio as the sun sinks into the sea instead? Only if I’ve my arm around a pretty girl when it does.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
Yes. While it may not be in my top five, it was very enjoyable and I wouldn’t think twice when pulling one out of my humidor.
- Enjoyable flavor
- Great Price
- Funky burn
- Relights required