La Aroma de Cuba
Cigars at the Beach – Theory vs. Reality
Summer is here and vacation season is in full swing. If you’re like me, your vacation plans may call for some beach time. I had the opportunity to spend some time on Hilton Head Island on the Carolina shore recently for some down time. Before departing to this destination, I loaded my traveling humidor with a variety of smokes, a lighter and cutter. When going to a beach destination, my cigar packing is done a little differently. I pack both premium cigars and some favorite yard ‘gars, too. Instead of one of my nice lighters and cutter, a cheap Bic lighter and an old cutter will do. Having played out this scene in the past, I knew both the theory and reality of adding your favorite high-priced premium cigar to lying around in the warm sun with a cold one in your hand on a sugar sand beach. In theory, it should be all-good. In reality, there are certainly some challenges, especially if you expect to lie on the beach, possibly swim, etc.
The pleasure of smoking a fine cigar turns into a frustrating pain in the ass if moisture is involved (in the form of suntan lotion, sweat and water), especially when you throw in sugary sand and often a stiff breeze. On the beach, sand gets into everything. I have a friend who almost had to dispose of a $100-plus Colibri cigar lighter because it got “sanded” over. After applying lotion with your hands and sweating a little, sand will stick to them and the rest of your body. As you smoke, you will inevitably end up with a sandy suntan lotion mix on the wrapper of your cigar and ultimately in your mouth. The breeze will often help to create an uneven burn -- the list goes on.
These are the reasons I pack some yard ‘gars, my cheap lighter and cutter for my trip. This works best for the actual beach. The premium cigars are used at fine steak houses, a balcony overlooking the water or pool or at the tike bar after hours. With a cheaper, but tasty yard ‘gar, you can have your smoke on the beach, and if you need to prematurely extinguish it in the sand because it tastes like Coppertone or your nine-year-old is being pursued by a school of sharks, you won’t be that upset.
So let’s get smoking a nice Cuban-like cigar appropriately named La Aroma de Cuba.
La Aroma de Cuba
Size: Marquis (tubo) 5.7 inches long, 48 ring gauge
Price: $5.50 to $7 range
La Aroma de Cuba is marketed by Ashton, one of the great premium cigar brands in the industry (which reminds me -- I need to review an Ashton in the near future, or at least smoke one). The translation of La Aroma de Cuba in English is, “The smell of Cuba,” which for any other product than a cigar would raise an eyebrow. All of the tobacco is grown from Cuban seed, primarily Honduran-grown tobacco with some Nicaraguan tobacco used in the filler blend. It is manufactured in Honduras.
- Wrapper: Honduras
- Filler: Honduras, Nicaragua
- Binder: Honduras
I purchased this smoke at a local brick and mortar cigar shop right before I headed out to Hilton Head Island. In fact, it was the first cigar I smoked on the island. I was familiar with the brand and its solid reputation for quite some time. I don’t recall ever having smoked one of these in the past, but it has been on my list for quite some time. After my first day on the island, I smoked it poolside, and even part of it while in the pool. I only had bottled water with me. My choice of libation was more out of forgetfulness (maybe a result of too much sun earlier) and I was too lazy to go back to my living quarters to improve it.
Look and feel
The Marquis size of this cigar is packaged in a cedar-lined metal tube (tubo). In this case, the cigar itself is much too pretty to put it in a tube. It has a rich, dark hue with a slightly veiny wrapper. The construction complimented its good looks. One additional notable quality is the classic, artistic band. My tobacconist informed me that the band sported the original design from the old days when the brand was made in Cuba. The overall presentation made this cigar look much more expensive than it really is. It had the mass and balance of a well packed cigar.
Aroma and Taste
Naturally the pre-lit aroma was that of the cedar, given the cedar-lined storage device in which it was packaged. I cut this using an older, single blade cutter that I brought on the trip and was prepared to lose in the sand. The pre-lit draw had a little spice to it, letting me know that this was not going to be a mild, nor wimpy cigar. Firing it up, you immediately realized that you had better like a little peppery spice to your cigar, because the La Aroma de Cuba has it throughout the smoke. It was ever present, but it never became overpowering or even unwelcome. The other flavors coming through were more black coffee, almost espresso like at times. This was a medium to full-bodied smoke, with flavors that would never lull you into ignoring them. The cigar did need some occasional maintenance, as the burn was probably the weakest component of the cigar.
RATING: 9.0 (on a scale of 1 to 10)
The burn on this cigar almost cost it a 9-range rating for me. I would not recommend this cigar to a newer smoker, because it contains a little too much flavor and spice. Be warned: this cigar does pack some nicotine too. It will make your head spin a little, so I would recommend it as an evening, post-dinner smoke. It would likely pair well with a liquor, wine or beer that also carries some strong flavors. Good iced bourbon, flavorful ale, or a Cab would all work.
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"If I cannot smoke cigars in heaven, I shall not go!" - Mark Twain
DISCLAIMER: At the risk of sounding too much like a TV commercial, I do want to sincerely state: This feature is NOT intended to advocate the smoking of cigars any more or any less than you already do, nor do I intend to influence the non-smoker to begin smoking cigars. Make no mistake about it; CIGAR SMOKING MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH.