Vitola de Galera: Campanas
Vitola de Salida: Belicosos
Body: Slightly Box Pressed
Dimensions: 52 RG / 5 1/8 inches
Presentation: Dress Box / 25’s
Vintage: April 2012 / BRS
Age When Tasted: 3 yrs, 1 month
Color: Colorado verging on Maduro
Progression: Builds to crescendo
Finish: Long, persistent
Smoking duration: 1 1/2 hours
Pre-Light: Dried apple, caramel, prune / raisin, dark honey, persimmon jam
First Third: Leather, cookie, dried fruit, dark chocolate, light spice
Second Third: Leather, chocolate, animal, mushroom, dark rum
Last Third: Grilled meat, burnt caramel, sweetened espresso, black currant
Dried fruit, raisin, leather, salt, caramel, earth, truffle.
Ay Mi Cuba!
This vitola is 100% old Cuba. Rustic yet very refined. Substantive. Macho but with a soft, artistic side.
I always go for an aged Cuban rum with this vitola. The rich, heady barrel flavors rum marry perfectly with this vitola and bring the taste experience to its highest level.
But my favorite non-alcoholic beverage with this cigar is a cup of black tea sweetened with one of my favorite honeys (it is Turkish and is a deep amber color) with these cigars, because it pulls out the natural honey flavor of the cigar. I don’t brew it too strong as that would overwhelm the delicate taste.
In general, I am a parejo kind of guy–but there is something absolutely magical about this particular figurado, the Sancho Panza Belicosos.
I’ll always make an exception for one of these beauties–and besides, Sancho Panza is by far one of my favorite brands.
The Belicosos is a Campanas vitola, a cigar whose exact dimensions are 52 RG x 5 1/2 inches. This format is similiar to the Pirámide vitola (think H. Upmannn No. 2), which also has a 52 RG, but is 6 1/8 inch long. Both are figurados, or “shaped’ cigars.
The main difference between the two vitolas besides their respective lengths is that Pirámides begin their taper at the foot, while Campanas begin their taper at the head. This makes the latter have a more aggressively pointed head. They also feel very different in the hand. Campanas feel more casual and relaxed to me–the Pirámide, just a little more formal.
Sancho Panza as a brand are pretty rare as regular production Cuban cigars go. To my knowledge, only 2 production vitolas remain–the Belicosos and the Non Plus (probably my #1 favorite cigar). They discontinued the Sanchos, which was a lovely Gran Corona. Not too not surprising, as I am sure most folks don’t have the time to spare to enjoy a vitola like that to its fullest. Luckily the Montecristo A. is still in production if you are a fan of the format like I am. Plus, once again, the trend is towards fatter cigars that offer the uninitiated a pleasing and round smoke with not much aging required.
Almost forgot to mention that they also discontinued the Molinos, which is a travesty. The Cervantes vitola ( Lonsdale) is also dying breed these days.
When I smoke a figurado, I always reach for my cigar scissors. I have a pair of Davidoff’s. They do the job nicely and are quite elegant.
One quick snip, and just the right amount of the pliable and oily cap drops in to my waiting hand. The Belicosos tends to have a nice and semi-spongy character when humidified properly–when squeezed, the body of this cigar bounces back nicely. And they have a very rustic look–they really look handmade—kinda like the roller wasn’t too concerned with appearances and got right to the point (literally).
The scent before lighting is reminiscent of walking through an apple field late after the harvest. The leaves have fallen and the apples that were unfit for picking lay on the ground drying out in the dry autumn air. The sun that dapples through the trees warms the ground and intensifies the scent even further. Since its Autumn, how bout a caramel apple? I sense that in the nose as well. The draw is great and the wrapper has that characteristic sea-salty flavor that is a dead giveaway: it says Sancho Panza.
Leaves a nice salty after taste on my lips.
Once lit, burn starts out nice and even, and the smoke smells / tastes of that lovely salt, some toffee, and a fruity richness.
The flavors are all pretty subtle but very present. Sancho Panza Belicosos is a rather delicate tasting cigar cloaked in a very rustic body, as I mentioned earlier.
Mid way in, the vitola develops a richer flavor–some chocolate–light cacao tinge. More raisin. Nice and steady even burn.
In my experience the Belicosos tends to have a medium fast burn and it is important that they not be over-humidified–I had a few with me on a trip to Tulum, Mexico and the excessive humidity that hit the cigar when I took it out of my humidor before smoking made it burn in an odd way, and gave it a “soppy” flavor. I think this had something to do with the fact that it is a relatively light cigar in body, and it already has a spongy character when properly humidified.
The finish on this vitola is incredible. It just goes and goes. So pleasant and keeps you eagerly anticipating another draw.
Down to the last third and the toffee and chocolate are concentrating ever so slightly, and the salt stays pleasantly on my lips. So smooth. Not a hint of harshness.
I’m going to stop right above the band on this one.
What a treat.