Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Lancero cigars: Where's the beef?

Earlier this year, there was a buzz going around about the increasing interest in Lancero-shaped cigars. The Lancero (also referred to as a "Long Panatela") averages in size at about 7-inches x 39 ring. Although many manufacturers already include Lanceros in some of their lines, others have recently begun introducing them to supply the demand.

Some of my peers have varied in their opinion about the Lancero from, "Its just a passing fad. That shape has never been a big seller," to "Yes, the Lancero is a very underrated shape, and actually quite good."

Frankly, when I was younger and just getting into cigars, I was drawn to the Lancero shape because I thought they were kind of cool-looking; something like James Bond would smoke. But for most cigar smokers, Lanceros probably just aren't "beefy" enough for the following reasons:

1. Too thin to really sink your teeth into.
2. Too effeminate looking; it's a Lady's cigar.
3. Its dimensions don’t' offer enough tobacco for the money.
4. Its dimensions don't offer enough flavor

Well, after having smoked a couple of new Lancero cigars I think this is a shape that certainly deserves a second look.

Let's take reason number 3 above for example. Sure, you can buy a box of 20 Joya De Nicaragua Antaño 1970 Lancero at 7½" x 38 for $75.99 a box, or you can buy a box of 20 Joya De Nicaragua Antaño 1970 Churchill at 6 7/8" x 48 for $73.99. From an economical standpoint, the Churchills may appear to be a better investment. But most cigar smokers tend to prefer a certain size because that's what gives them the most pleasure. It's also true that each size in any given premium cigar line will taste differently than the others; just take a look at the vertical tastings in Cigar Insider or Cigarcyclopedia.com.

That leads me to reason number 4. I recently tried two Lancero shapes. The first was a Gran Habano Corojo #5 Lancero (7½" x 40) rolled in dark, oily Nicaraguan Corojo wrapper. The second was an Oliva Serie V Ligero Lancero (7" x 38) with mouthwatering Nicaraguan Habano sungrown wrapper.

Here's the deal: Both cigars smoked smoothly and bloomed into a very enjoyable full-bodied smoke; as good as any Toro I've had (my usual size), and in some ways even better. Because of the long length and lesser amount of filler tobacco, the flavors are more intensified as the Lancero smokes, so you not only get a much more full-flavored experience, but a more complex one, as well. So, even a Lancero from a mild or medium-bodied blend is going to be much richer in flavor.

If you haven't already smoked a Lancero, I suggest you try at least one of the cigars mentioned above. You'll find the beef.

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