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Cigar reviews by Nilo: Survey says: "La Aroma de Cuba!"
by: Nilo Zanadel (e-mail
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This article is in honor of Kenny T. He's the only person who responded to my inaugural column. As far as I know, he's the only person who read my inaugural column. Kenny T. has good taste because he likes the Punch Double Maduro Robustos as much as I do. So this one's for you, Kenny T.

I bought a La Aroma de Cuba Monarch at my local tobacconist for $5.50. I took it to a nearby restaurant/bar with a plan to smoke it before and after lunch. As I climbed onto my bar stool, I noticed the ashtrays on the bar and I saw my plan taking shape. After I ordered, I began to light my cigar. Quickly, the bartender approached with a stern look on her face and said, "Cigar smoking is not allowed here." So I asked her, "Why do you have ashtrays?" She responded that cigarette smoking is permitted.

I have seen the cigarette-only policy before and it's absurd for two reasons. First, second-hand cigarette smoke is just as lethal as second-hand cigar smoke. Second, cigar smoke smells far better than cigarette smoke. 

In a recent poll, 10 out of 10 non-smokers surveyed said that if they were stuck in a room inhaling second-hand smoke, they'd rather inhale cigar smoke "because it just smells better." If YOU had to choose, would you rather your clothes smelled like pure tobacco leaf (cigar) or would you prefer your clothes smell like quenched chemical-laced piss-poor tobacco (cigarette)?

Since my plan to enjoy the La Aroma de Cuba at the local restaurant was killed, I smoked it in my office after everyone left for the night. Initially, I was very skeptical about this cigar. The Monarch is smaller than the Excalibur I (another legendary benchmark cigar that I will refer to often), but costs a quarter more. The band looks like somebody spent way too much time trying to re-create cigar band art of yesteryear. 

Folks, I don't expect to say this very often, but here it goes: this is a good cigar. The draw was good and it stayed lit all the way through. It is less spicy than the Punch Double Maduro. It's a pretty bland cigar, not unlike its cousin the (always overpriced) Ashton. Bland isn't a bad thing for a cigar -- a lot of people like bland cigars. By the way, my own second-hand smoke from this cigar smelled pretty good, too. It probably would have gone over well if they would have let me smoke it at that restaurant. 

For those of you who are suckers for gimmicks, I submit to you the following comments that were meant to sell you this cigar:
  • "Tastes like a graham cracker." Total bullshit. Maybe it tastes like a graham cracker after you've cooked that graham cracker over an open fire and it fell into the flames and you put what's left of the ashen graham cracker in your mouth. 

  • "Named after one of Winston Churchill's favorite Cuban cigars." Well in that case, I've GOT to try this and the rest of the cigars named after Churchill's favorite cigars.

What's in a name? I don't know much Spanish, but "La Aroma de Cuba" means "The Smell of Cuba." How is this name supposed to sell a cigar? What does a third-world country smell like, anyway? Probably like a La Primadora

Until next time, I'll see you later, Kenny T.

Please feel free to share your comments with me; send any questions, opinions or cigar stories to

For even more info on cigars, visit our Vices Web Guide!

Other Columns by Nilo Zanadel

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