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THE UK LAUNCH OF POR LARRANAGA MAGNIFICO


Click here to view a movie from the Por Larranaga Cigar Launch
 

UK LAUNCH OF POR LARRANAGA

 
The UK Launch of the Por Larranaga Magnifico Havana Cigar, 1st November, 2007 at Boisdale of Belgravia cigar terrace, by the invitation of the directors of Boisdale and Hunters and Frankau.
 
The long awaited launch of the Uk regional speciality, made exclusively for the UK market. Only 1,400 numbered boxes (1,000 in 10s and 400 in 25s) have been made of this cigar, which is modelled on the once renowned Por Larranaga Magnum size. It features a specially reproduced band, which is a replica of the one used by Por Larranaga a hundred years ago in the first decade of the 20th Century.
 
I had the pleasure to be one of the first to taste this latest arrival from Cuba, and all I can say, it is well worth the wait. Light to medium sweet flavour, medium strength, cool and easy burn and draw from the beginning to the end. I couldn't put it down. Well balanced and complex. Silky smooth vein free colorado maduro wrapper. It is truly a first rate cigar, in my humble opinion. 

 
I only fear that they have underestimated, how good this cigar is and that there simply won't be enough. Once you've tasted one, you want more. :o)
 
Thank you to Hunters and Frankau for organising once again a perfect cigar launch party! Hope there are more to come!
 
Best
 
Michelle

 

THE POR LARRANAGA MAGNIFICO - 6 3/4 x 50 ring gauge

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WHAT ARE REGIONAL SPECIALITIES?

 
For the last three years, the various companies that distribute Habanos around the world have been invited to bid for the chance to develop their own special size in the less well-known Habanos Brands, which will be made in limited quantities for sale only in their own markets. They are know as Regional specialities.
 
In 2005 Hunters & Frankau helped to pioneer the project with the Ramon Allones Belicoso Fino. However the regional speciality concept has since been refined by the addition of numbers on all the boxes and a second band to identify each cigar.
 
In 2006 it was the turn of other markets to choose their regional specialities but H&F was determined to come up with something special to ensure that the UK bid for this year was successful.
 
Simon Chase, H&F's Marketing Director, continues the story of how the Magnifico was chosen:
 
 

THE STORY OF THE MAGNIFICO AND ITS BAND

 
"Being an old established company, inevitably we looked back into the records for a great size to resurrect from yesteryear, and.. there was one. The 6 3/4" by 50 ring gauge Por Larranaga Magnum, which in the 1960s and 70's was a holy grail for cigar enthusiasts.
 
However, Habanos SA had reserved the Magnum size name for H.Upmann sizes. We reached an agreement to call it the Magnifico instead, but nevertheless, the idea was parked.
 
Enter the hand of fate.
 
In March of last year, I visited a doctor to discuss a problem about which I shall not bore you. In his consulting room, I spied that he kept his notes in an old Partagas box. Although he was not a smoker, he declared that he was descended from a long line of medical men who had been devoted to Havana's fragrant leaves. We got on famously and the consultation went on extremely well.
 
A few days later, a small parcel arrived at my home. It was from the doctor and it contained a cigar with an accompanying letter explaining that it had belonged to his grandfather and probably dated it from the early years of the twentieth century. Though he did not recommend that I smoke it, he felt it would be of more interest to me than to him. Measuring eight inches in length, it was a double figurado (pointed at both ends) with a ring gauge of about fifty-five at its widest point. Upon rushing to a copy of the 1912 price list, I found the exact shape staring me in the face.
 
This was interesting enough, but what really caught my eye was the magnificent band secured around the cigar's midpoint. It was printed in two shades of gold leaf with the brand name in perfect blind embossing (relief lettering in the same colour as it's background) upon it. The brand was Por Larranaga.
 
The size and design of the band were familiar, but I had never seen it printed with such quality. I compared it to examples from the 1940s and 1970s, which simply could not hold a candle to this one.
 
From that moment on, the idea of re-creating the Por Larranaga Magnum size under the name of Magnifico returned to the frame with the idea that, if it were possible to turn the clock back a century, we should attempt to reproduce this old band in all its finery.
 
When it comes to printing in the cigar business, there is one man who stands out from the rest. As the owner of a company that recently celebrated its centenary, he is so steeped in lithography's history, that in his hometown, he founded a museum dedicated to the art. Above all, he is committed to quality. His name is Peter Vrijdag, his company is Drukkerij Vrijdag B.V. and his hometown is Eindhoven in the Netherlands.
 
At this point, I had never met Peter, We knew each other by reputation but we had never come face to face. I emailed him the challenge of re-creating the old band and flew to Eindhoven to discuss it with him at the very end of August.
 
Just as with the doctor, we got on famously. There were technical difficulties involved in replicating the band - hardly surprising considering the revolution that has taken place in printing over the last twenty years, let alone the last hundred. Another problem was that I only wanted 20,000 bands, as that is the number of Magnificos we planned to make. The job was the smallest Peter had ever undertaken and it was not going to make his fortune. But, generously, he agreed to take it on.
 
By Christmas 2006, the breathtaking bands arrived at my office. 

TESTING THE BLEND

 
The next step was to produce the cigars that would bear these elegant bands. During the Festival Del Habano at the end of February, we met with the factory director Jose Tavier at La Corona in Havana where Larranaga is made.
 
I had managed to obtain from a collector four precious Por Larranaga Magnums from 1972. In La Corona's Tasting room the factory's professional tasters met with an elite group from the British Havana trade,
we smoked the new production against it's 35 year old forebears.
 
Remember this cigar has not been made since 1978. As the comparative tasting progressed, one thing became clear: the category of flavour of the freshly made cigars was precisely the same as the old ones - smooth, light to medium and delicious.
 
The project is now complete and 1,400 numbered boxes of Por Larranaga Magnificos (400 in 25s and 1,000 are in 10s) containing a total of 20,000 cigars will be on sale in the UK shortly." 
 

 

ABOUT POR LARRANAGA

 
The name Por Larranaga, which means "By Larranaga", was first registered in Havana by a certain Ignacio Larranaga in 1834. In is the oldest brand of hand made Habanos still in production.
 
For much of the 19th century and into the early part of 20th the brand was owned by the Rivero family, who built its reputation for the highest quality particularly amongst the royal house, the rich and the famous of that time. Its golden ring attracted the attention of Rudyard Kipling who in his 1890 poem "The Betrothed" asserted that "there's peace in a Larranaga" (this poem also contains the immortal, if obscure, line "And a woman is only a woman but a good cigar is a smoke").
 
In the 1950s and 1960s Por Larranaga's factory in Havana was a magnet for the finest cigar rollers in Cuba. It gained a standing for the unrivalled quality of it cigars and its reputation lives on today in the small range of standard Por Larranaga sizes, which are now made at the La Corona factory in its new location at 520 Avenida 20 de Mayo.
 
There is one standard size of Por Larranaga available in the UK. the Petit corona in Cabinet selection bundles of 50 cigars.
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