Diplomaticos 30th Anniversary PCC Cigars: Seriously Good to Stunning
by Ken Gargett
Looking back over all the articles I have written for Quill and Pad, it came as a great surprise to discover that the cigars of Diplomaticos, a famous Cuban name, have not appeared once.
This is partly because, these days, it is a much-neglected brand, but it has been responsible for some truly great cigars over the years.
For forty years, the Diplomaticos No. 1 enjoyed a near-legendary status. Introduced in 1966, it was finally, and inexplicably for some of us, discontinued in 2006. Boxes today are highly valued. Bond Roberts, the Cuban cigar auction specialist, sold a box back in 2021 for US$1,105.
One would imagine it would likely go for twice that, perhaps considerably more, today. If your vices are Burgundy and cigars, you really have had a tough few years with astronomical price hikes for both.
At one stage, Diplomaticos had the range of No. 1 right through to No. 7. They were all introduced in either 1966 or 1976. The only one, indeed the only remaining Diplomaticos in current production today, is the No. 2, a much-loved pyramide, though even it is rarely seen.
No 3 was also discontinued in 2006. Nos 4 and 5 were discontinued in 2010, while Nos 6 and 7 were discontinued in the early 1980s. This information, and so much more, is available at https://www.cubancigarwebsite.com.
Where Diplomaticos have made a mark these days is in the Regional Release program, which we have discussed before. Quite a number have been released, none more famous than the 2015 Asia Pacific release of the Diplomaticos Bushido.
The Japanese samurai code might seem a strange name for a cigar, but it was to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Hasekura Tsunenaga’s visit to Cuba.
Tsunenaga stopped there on his way to Europe as part of the Keichō Embassy. He is considered the first Japanese citizen to visit Cuba. Personally, you have to wonder whether the poor fellow was badly lost and ended up there by mistake.
Mind you, it worked for Columbus. On Bond Roberts, boxes of these push US$3,000 on the rare occasions they appear.
The latest Diplomaticos is another Regional Release for the Asia Pacific, indeed, it has been released to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of PCC – Pacific Cigar Company. PCC is based in Hong Kong with offices around Asia, Australia and the Pacific and has done an amazing job over the years. This region accounts for around 20% of all cigar sales, second only to Europe.
Established in 1992 by David Tang (yes, as we have seen before, Cuban time is not always in line with time for the rest of the planet), it has been run by Norwegian Dag Holmboe for many years.
Dag is well known to cigar lovers around the globe, although I will confess that the first time a group of us met him, one of our number, seemingly keen to ingratiate himself, looked Dag squarely in the eye and asked him, “so, Dag, how are things in Norwegia?”.
The rest of us looked for rocks to crawl under and tried to explain to our geographically challenged friend that there was no such country. Dag took it in his stride.
Diplomaticos is a post-Revolution brand, established in 1966 – hence, those initial releases (Nos 1 to 5) from that year. The general DNA for Diplomaticos, such as it remains, is medium to full-strength cigars (although I tend to find them closer to medium in general), using tobacco from the excellent Vuelta Abajo region.
Reports suggest that the brand was originally established to be a Montecristo-lite, if you like, mostly for the French market. The sizes of Nos 1 to 5 were identical to the sizes of the Montecristo Nos 1 to 5 and 6 and 7 replicated the sizes of the Montecristo Especial Nos 1 and 2.
Min Ron Nee in his indispensable ‘An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Post-Revolution Havana Cigars’, notes that this had the ironic effect, because of the much smaller production, of making them more desirable.
Yes, the cigar is a 2022, but it has been released this year. Its name, in the factories, is Aromosos and it is the same size as the Hoyo de Monterrey ‘Le Hoyo de Rio Seco’ – 5½ inches (140mm) and a ring gauge of 56. The official Hong Kong price is just short of US$90 per stick. This simply reflects the massive rise in the cost of cigars today.
The cigar has three bands (about two too many for my liking but such is the way of the world), noting it as a Regional Release, as well as a Diplomaticos and of course, celebrating the PCC 30th Anniversary. 3,000 cabinets of 30 have been released.
The cigar is an absolute cracker. Before I smoked one, I had asked for some thoughts. The response was that they were a bit mixed. It turns out that had those suggesting this been more forthcoming, the full answer would have been a bit mixed, running the gauntlet from seriously good to stunning.
If I have one complaint, it is the whopping ring gauge of 56 – it does, to me, feel like trying to smoke a baseball bat, but these days, this is what the market wants, and I am apparently a dinosaur in preferring a slimmer ring gauge.
The flavors, however, were not an issue. Right from the first puff, the cigar simply oozed nougat and caramel notes.
Throughout the evolution, the flavors might have moved to darker fudge and burnt toffee, but this was the style and it never relented. There were also notes of cinnamon and orange rind.
The cigar was immaculately constructed – a big thumbs up to whomsoever rolled these – and it proved to be a long, slow smoke.
Terrific now, but I have no doubt that these will go the long haul and in four or five years, that tiny aspect of ‘young cigar heat’ on the finish will be gone.
They are not cheap – no cigar is these days – but no one will regret having a box or two of these in their humidor in the years to come.
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