I was recently presented with a delightful little book entirely dedicated to Port and cigars. I was in heaven, at last a book worth reading, I thought! Sadly it wasn’t to be. The little book was incomplete and a little ill informed.
Despite providing its peruser with a list of cigars to try, it failed to mention Sancho Panza! I don’t mean Don Quixote’s suffering squire but one of the oldest cigar brands in the world! Some would cry “outrage”! I would rather prefer to suggest it was a mere oversight, a sad sign of the times, a laxity typical of the parvenu, new money isn’t always synonymous with class, education or indeed sophistication. We need only stroll down Sloane Street or visit a top London nightspot to realise that …
Sancho Panza cigars are named after Don Quixote’s georgic manservant; in Cuba there was once a tradition of naming cigars after literary figures, hence such names as Romeo and Juliet and Montecristo. Sancho Panza is one of Cuba’s oldest cigar brands being established in 1852, therefore almost 130 years older than the Cohiba brand, which was first sold to the public in 1982.
Sancho Panza cigars have a dark wrapper but despite this they are renowned for their mildness. This is because the leaves are matured for longer. Many believe Sancho Panza cigars delicate nature to be reminiscent of the early Havana’s, so when you smoke one, you’re going back in time. Despite being well -known in Spain, the Caribbean and the Middle East they are sadly often overlooked elsewhere. The mildness of this particular brand makes them perfect for the occasional smoker and perfect for the warmer climates, it is indeed a summer cigar!
My favourite Sancho Panza is the Belicoso, which despite its name isn’t bellicose at all! A fine campana cigar, shaped in the form of a pyramid in an attempt to extract as much flavour as possible from such a delicate tobacco. A beautifully well constructed cigar with a fine draw and a beautiful ash crown. It is surprisingly complex for such a gentle smoke, developing from a milky coffee to a lush cocoa. The Belicoso has a lovely slow burn and is probably best appreciated on a beautiful antique bed in a languorous embrace with an accomplished lover on a balmy summer afternoon in the Med. Failing that I find that the Sancho Panza Belicoso partners Caol Ila 12 year old particularly well, helping to balance the buttery nature of this particular Islay whiskey, whilst at the same time allowing you to enjoy the delicate spice typical of Islay whiskies.
As Rudyard Kipling once wrote “A woman is only a woman but a good cigar is a smoke”.