La Vieja Habana (Leather Patch)
Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio and Cigars at the Ballpark?
A couple of Saturdays ago, I went to my first baseball game of the summer. With my youngest son and his cousin in tow, we made our way to our seats and settled in to root for the home team. Triple A ball is as close as you can get to the major leagues in the Carolinas, but the entertainment you get for the almighty dollar is a pretty good value, so I took advantage of it. I couldn’t help but reminisce about the days I went to Cleveland Municipal Stadium with my Dad to cheer for the then-hapless Cleveland Indians throughout the 1970s (one of the worst major league teams throughout that time period and possibly in the history of the game). Even still, it was a treat to go, because baseball was such an integral part of my youth (as it was for every other kid I knew growing up). However, the game of baseball has lost its grip on today’s youth and even many adults.
Now there are many reasons given why baseball is no longer America’s #1 favorite pastime among the younger set. First and foremost, it is a relatively slow-moving, non-violent activity that conflicts with their on-line, multi-channel, video-game-trained minds. However, I’d like to offer one more that applies to us bigger kids – No cigars! In the modern world, it is virtually impossible to go to the stadium and root for the home team while enjoying your favorite cigar. When baseball was in its prime (many moons ago), you could actually do just this, in the comfort of your box seat, and few would bat an eye. As I sat in my seat, taking in this particular game on this particular beautiful summer night, I couldn’t help but think a good cigar was the only thing missing from this near idyllic setting. Now, don’t get me wrong – the days of firing up in your box seat are rightfully long gone. However, it sure would be nice to have a dedicated section or area where the game could be watched, considered and discussed with your buddies or fellow fans while enjoying your favorite smoke. The methodical, slower pace of baseball, the summer season and cold beer naturally complement a good smoke. Hell, I could even see a cigar smoking baseball fan like myself increasing his visits to the ballpark in a season to experience this fine and relaxing pairing of activities.
This led me to researching the topic of cigars and baseball, and apparently a number of clubs have had similar thoughts. The first park to introduce the concept of the cigar bar in a professional baseball park was cigar friendly Tampa. Detroit and Pittsburgh have added cigar lounges in the confines of their stadiums as well. I hope they do well with the concept, so others will follow. Unfortunately, we can’t bring Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio back to the diamond, but let’s consider bringing back a ballpark staple, the cigar – at least in a controlled, contained fashion.
In honor of the “boys of summer,” let’s get smokin!
La Vieja Habana (Leather Patch)
Size: Belicoso, 6.5 inches long, 50 ring gauge
Price: $5.50 to 7 range
La Vieja Habana, Leather Patch Series, is manufactured and marketed by Drew Estate, a respected long filler cigar maker, who is probably most often associated with some of the more successful flavored cigars on the market, like Java and Kahlua. The translation of La Vieja Habana in English is “The Old Havana,” which certainly shows Drew Estate’s attempt to leverage the Cuban tradition and tease the buyer. The filler tobacco is from Nicaragua and the Cameroon wrapper is of West African origin. It is manufactured in Nicaragua.
- Wrapper: Africa (Cameroon)
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Binder: Nicaragua
I purchased this smoke as a five-pack, from an online site offering a special on this cigar that I had never smoked. It was pretty new to the market and its description and marketing intrigued me. I was also familiar with the manufacturer, Drew Estate, whose solid reputation fueled my purchase. I’ve smoked three of these now, the first two within two weeks of receiving them, a third just this past Saturday (seven months after receiving them).
Look and feel
The cigar looks pretty good with the Cameroon wrapper being the highlight. My suspicion was raised as I handled the cigars. Each of the five cigars tended to be not well packed, and felt light versus some of the better quality cigars on the market. The band on the cigar was nothing special, though I did see what appeared to be a military emblem representing the “leather patch” portion of the cigar’s name.
Aroma and Taste
The first two cigars left me somewhat unimpressed. The burn was inconsistent and the flavor, though it had some good spots, tended to be harsh. I quickly sequestered the remaining cigars for the last seven months. I pulled one out this past weekend, hoping the humidor rest may have improved the flavor. It turned out to be a damn good smoke. The inconsistent flavors seemed to be blended nicely and there was little to no harshness. The burn got off to a poor start, but self-corrected early in the smoke. This was a prime example of a cigar that can change its spots with some proper aging.
RATING: 8.8 (on a scale of 1 to 10) – for the last cigar smoked.
The first two cigars would struggle to rate an 8.0, but six months of proper aging certainly improved this smoke for me. It is worth a try on some cigars, but it doesn’t always work.
Keep the comments and recommendations coming – email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Commenting after returning home in his late teens, after being on his own for the first time, “I was amazed at how smart my father had gotten (during his time away)” - Mark Twain
DISCLAIMER: At the risk of sounding too much like a TV commercial, I do want to sincerely state: This feature is NOT intended to advocate the smoking of cigars any more or any less than you already do, nor do I intend to influence the non-smoker to begin smoking cigars. Make no mistake about it; CIGAR SMOKING MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH.