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In the mid 19th Century, Jose and Eusebio, cousins and offsprings of immigrants from Canary Island owned a small cigar factory with about 12 employees on Macías Street of Santiago de Las Vegas, a province of Havana. Their cigars were made from the leaves cultivated in two small tobacco plantations of their own inherited from their parents located 25 kilometers apart from each other. One was located in the town of Santiago de Las Vegas like their factory. The other was in Tapaste, a village in San José de Las Lajas, also a province of Havana.

Many cigar factories produced numerous brands with Anglo-American names to attract UK and US markets which had tremendous demand for premium cigars at the time. Having said that, around 1848 the cousins created a cigar brand named Lord Byron in honor of the world renowned English poet himself. He was arguably the greatest author of romantic poetries of the day and more importantly pertaining to the brand, an avid cigar smoker and enthusiast. The brand had different cigar sizes or “vitolas”, like “Imperiales” and “Londres”, which were sold in “cardboard” type packs. Some cigar historians have claimed the brand was the first to be packaged this way.

In 19th Century California, the brand’s importer was St. Losky, Levy & Co. In 1852, it published an ad in the “Daily Alta California” listing all their major Cuban brands which included Lord Byron among others. Few years after the launch of the brand, the cousins out grew their factory due to high demand from foreign importers. Therefore, they decided to expand their production to a larger factory located on O’Reilly Street of Havana City. They only contracted the production in which they supervised using their own raw materials to guarantee quality and consistency.

Toward the end of 19th century, Lithographic printing developed full color prints which became the latest technology in printing at the time. This gave birth to production of full color paper prints for inside and outside of cigar boxes and cigar bands alike.
At the time, the founder’s son, Jose Ricardo, had already taken over the reign from his elderly father. The old man’s last request to his son was to make a full color design using the latest technology of the day on the next run of their cigar boxes using a female’s image of a poet to introduce the relationship between romanticism and poetry.

Therefore, full color design of a female laureate poet on boxes of Byron appeared in the market at that time. It was said the brand’s success was mainly due to its unique design beside the actual quality of the cigars. It is not known whether the old man lived to see the success of his brand in the UK and US markets.

Unfortunately between the end of 19th and the beginning of 20th Centuries, Ricardo, the grandson of the founder and a third generation brand owner and producer, due to major financial hardship was forced to sell the brand to Casimiro Alvarez, a cigar producer whose factory was on the same street in Santiago de Las Vegas. Ricardo invested in construction of a very large cigar factory on the very popular and famous Reyna Street in Havana City. Once the factory’s construction was completed, he could not uphold his financial obligation to the lender because he never received the monies owed to him from his distributor in the UK who had filed bankruptcy. Therefore, the newly constructed building was confiscated by the lender and he had no other choice but to sell the brand among other properties to repay the debt. 90 years after Ricardo Alfonso sold and lost the brand, his great-grandson recover again the Byron brand in 1998, as a compromise he own from his grandfather Conrado Alfonso, son of Ricardo Alfonso.

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José Ricardo Alfonso, son of one of the founders,
also father of Ricardo Alfonso Perdomo.

Returning to the early days, now the brand, in a very limited quantity, is produced in a small factory in Costa Rica.

As a general rule, cigars usually sit in an aging room on average about 60 days. On that note, Byron cigars sit in an aging room for period of 1 year. They are then transported to another factory also in Costa Rica that specializes in quality control of packaging of the cigars into the ultra luxurious porcelain jars, super elaborate humidors and state-of-the-art cigar humitubes. The brand’s packaging is unique to the cigar industry and accordingly very costly to produce.

Byron comes in 3 different blends: Byron “SIGLO XIX ”, Byron “SIGLO XX ” and Byron “SIGLO XXI ”.

And now on to the show… Today I bring you, from the Siglo XX series, the medium-full bodied medium strength the Reserva Cinco (5) Anös Londinenses. A 5.5″ by 54 ring-gauged robusto extra cigar; all of the tobaccos are completely proprietary in nature, however it’s not about to stop me from guessing by sight, smoke and taste.

The picture of the Londinenes on the host website doesn’t do the cigar any justice whatsoever, it looks like a claro on the site, when in reality it has a very subtle tooth and has a slightly oily sheen on what tastes and smells like an Ecuadorian H2000. A slightly pronounced hint of salt, cumen, mesquite, 80% cacao, mahogany, leather, celery, and a pinch of chili powder.

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From a prior purchase of the same cigar, I did a little exploratory “surgery” by means of taking my fingernail and carefully pulled back a small piece of the capa to reveal what most assuredly looks like a Sumatran binder, now the filler was tricky; my guess is that there’s a touch or a pinch of Costa Rican tobaccos, Columbian tobaccos, and Nicaraguan Ometepe. A lot of viso and seco’s, and a proportional amount of ligero shape up the bunch.

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Triple capped head once cut reveals the bunch in its glory, with a tight yet yielding draw; and hints of ouzo, buttercream, fennel, and wheat.

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The soft-flame toasted foot reveals a plethora of notes, simple syrup, bell peppers, vanilla beans, slightly burnt sugar, leeks, hickory, sea salt, and chutney.

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The smoke from the recently lit foot on the exhale and retro-hale are quite spicy, almost along the lines of a habanero pepper, with a touch of prosciutto and pancetta; the taste of the smoke on the draw has a parallel to the latter two hints of pancetta and prosciutto, albeit subdued along with subtle hints of butternut squash, okra, green bell peppers, along with a heavy presence of mesquite and thyme.

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The Londinenes burns well, however it does canoe and level out every so often; at this point I’ve smoked/savored rough,y 3/4’s of an inch, over roughly twenty-two minutes time. The ash is a nice mottled gray color and quite solid in structure, ringing anywhere from one to three millimeters.

The smoke off the draw is bone white in color, and naturally off the foot is a bluish-gray color.

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The last image depicts a small cone (thirty-seven minutes in at the three and a quarter inch mark left of the cigar), no new notes, however the prior lit draw notes have dramatically amped up in potency beyond subtle.

The Byron Londinenses is a fantastic medium-full bodied, and medium strength cigar, though if you’re not a fan of spices in a cigar draw, then avoid; for everyone else it makes for a great once in awhile cigar and/or celebratory cigar as per its price point.

The room aroma from the smoke is a nice sweet caramel scent with a touch of buttermilk, ground black and white peppercorns, and a pinch lime grass.

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New notes arise at the two and three-quarter inch mark (forty-nine minutes) of bittersweet 86% cacao, ground espresso, mocha, persimmons and pomegranates; along with a touch of cinnamon on the nose on the retro-hales. On my lips I taste butter, sea salt, and leather.

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The construction of cigar is impeccable, not once has the cigar gone out over as long as two minutes between draws while I jot down notes and refresh my palate with Perrier Lemon. With two inches of Londinenes remaining nearly an hour since the initial and only lighting, I expect to get at least another thirty to forty minutes out of this majestic cigar.

Like all Byron cigars, they’re a regular limited production cigars with only a few thousand cigars produced annually, due to the availability and quality of the tobaccos, rolling, aging, etc.

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Sold at all Davidus Cigar Stores for $32.59 before sales tax; $5.41 below esrp/msrp of $38.00. Purchased from Davidus Cigars on Rockville Pike, 20852 on 5/15/13; reviewed on 5/20/13.
Byron Cigars background from www.ByronCigars.com

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