So I had no compunction about blowing Cuban smoke into the Moroccan air, but I was concerned about Ramadan, the holy month observed in Muslim countries, which began on July 19. Officially, there’s no eating, drinking or smoking permitted between dawn and sundown each day.
But as I’m learning, the Arab world is full of exceptions — for both Westerners and natives. “I am Muslim,” a guide named Abdul said this morning during the drive from Casablanca’s airport. “I pray 5 times each day. But I’m not –”
At this point, he made a gesture indicating a long beard.
“If I see a pretty girl, well — you know …”
Not that Abdul would likely follow through. He’s a father of three and a proud grandpa. He’s also about 65. Sometimes the idea of indulging in forbidden fruit is far more appealing than the actual experience.
Some Cuban cigars — not all, mind you, but some — come through with the goods and meet our fond expectations.
When Montecristo introduced the 5.3-inch-long, 52 ring gauge Edmundo vitola eight years ago, it was the first new cigar size in the company’s portfolio since the early 1980s. Its filler tobacco comes from the Vuelta Abajo district in Cuba’s Pinar del Rio province.
The draw was consistent, although the cigar itself seemed loosely rolled. There was a lot of “give” when I squeezed it between my thumb and forefinger.
The pre-smoke scent was the purest tobacco smell I’ve ever experienced. Hardly any aroma at all. But the moment I toasted the foot, the aroma of almonds and leather invaded my nostrils. More unadulterated goodness followed when I lit the cigar, with a strong pepper scent that actually made me sneeze.
Once I settled in, the prevailing flavor profile was a mixture of tangy, front-of-the-tongue sharpness and a mild bitter-sweet aftertaste that settled on my soft palate. I’ve read some reviews of this cigar that note some vanilla flavor, but I didn’t detect any. Just a pleasing coffee aroma that kicked in during the final third. (RELATED: Cigar Hunter: Dante’s favorite stogie? Hell yes!)
The first Edmundo I smoked needed a re-light halfway through, but the second went wire to wire, producing a solid stick of white ash. And the experience was as smooth as Humphrey Bogart’s “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.”
My only complaint was that it was so compliant, so willing to surrender its wealth of smoke, that it burned a bit hot. All the more reason to smoke it slowly.