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One of the first cigar manufacturers to set up shop in Honduras following the Cuban embargo, Frank Llaneza is known to many as the “godfather” of Honduran cigars. Llaneza worked in the cigar industry for over 50 years, and as president of Villazon & Co. he was responsible for the creation of some of the most well-known brands in the world, including Punch and Hoyo de Monterrey. Frank passed away at the age of 90 in 2010, but not before leaving us with one final piece of his legacy: the Frank Llaneza 1961 cigar. Featuring an Ecuadorian Criollo 98’ wrapper leaf atop a precise blend of Nicaraguan and Dominican filler tobaccos, the F.L. 1961 received an impressive 92 rating from Cigar Insider magazine upon its release in 2009, and has been heralded as a “special cigar” by many aficionados since, so I figured it was high time that I took one out for a test smoke. For today’s review I chose the Double Magnum (61/2 x 54).
The hearty-looking wrapper on the 1961 was smooth and firm with a slight oily sheen beneath a generous triple-cap. Long, thin veins ran down the length of the cigar, and its simple gold and black band bore only the name of the cigar and three green tobacco leaves. The cigar appeared to be evenly filled, and cold draws gave off notes of cedar and coffee along with a honey-like sweetness.
After an effortless light, the stogie opened up with a deeply rich taste of cedar and dark cocoa with a hefty bit of baking spice on the finish, the kind that lingers on the back of the palate well after you’ve exhaled. I detected hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, and black pepper as I burned straight and even through the first inch of the cigar. This portion was quite full in taste, and became increasingly buttery and smooth as I approached the 2nd third.
In the second 3rd I got more rich cocoa, some leather, and a touch of malty sweetness before a strong note of cream piped up, adding a new layer to the profile. The spice-level had died down to a dull roar, and as I burned through this portion I tasted vivid notes of dark roast coffee, nuts, and just a hint of anise. By this point the ashes had built up long and strong, and the cigar was still burning sharp and clean.
During the final third the cigar remained full-flavored, but was much creamier with pronounced notes of dry baking spice and espresso accompanying a rich, lasting tobacco flavor. This profile stayed consistent, and with about an inch remaining I finally let the stogie smolder out gracefully.
The Frank Llaneza 1961 Double Magnum proved to be a very interesting smoke, and was definitely one of the most complex cigars I’ve sampled in a while. This stick pumped out loads of layered flavors from start to finish, and none of the flavor components seemed out of place, in fact, all of the tasting notes present seemed to compliment each other quite nicely. Aside from the burn-line threatening to go astray a couple times, the Frank Llaneza burned beautifully and maintenance-free for the duration of the smoke. I’m giving the F.L. 1961 an A grade, and I would definitely recommend this one for those with a seasoned palate, as it was a lot of fun trying to identify the many nuances in flavor this stick was piping out. This was a unique and engaging cigar that, in my humble opinion, is certainly worthy of bearing Mr. Llaneza’s name.
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