#CigarReview: 24k gold Mi Havana XII Kingdoms in 3 words: spicy, meaty, decadent
I’ll just say it – Mi Havana is one of the best kept secrets in the cigar world and I feel like it is just a matter of time until this Los Angeles company blows up. The origin story for Mi Havana is a very interesting one that was already well-covered by a feature in Cigar & Spirits Magazine (which is where I first heard of them).
In short, Mi Havana cigars are manufactured and sold in LA at a small factory and cigar lounge run by Raul Reyner, a third-generation Cuban roller with (as you will find out below) an uncanny ability for blending tobaccos in cigars. Mi Havana is also well known in SoCal as a premier event booking company, as they will set up at parties and roll custom Cuban-style cigars for guests. Their flagship cigar is the XII kingdoms, or “7K”, which gets its namesake from a blend of seven distinct tobacco leaves.
I had the privilege of obtaining the Mi Havana XII Kingdoms Maduro Especial wrapped in 24k gold at a cigar event hosted by Cigar & Spirits Magazine in Orange County, CA. From the moment I got this puppy, I knew I wanted to save it for a special occasion.
I shared this smoke with my wife (who is a writer for Cigar & Spirits Magazine) on our patio while grandma kept an eye on the kids for an hour. The experience of smoking the XII Kingdoms cigar was a three-course meal that I would describe with these three words:
Below are my detailed Session Notes, and further down you’ll find a more thorough review of the Mi Havana XII Kingdoms.
XII Kingdoms starts off as an appetizer of spice
Most of the body of this cigar was wrapped in 24k gold, but the head area below the band revealed a rich dark-chocolate colored wrapper that smelled equally rich and spicy, with pretty strong notes of anise and absinthe that were easy to identify. When I first torched the cigar I was overwhelmed with spice that matched the aroma of the wrapper. With the black pepper spice also came a subtle sweetness and wood overtones, so it was a complex bouquet that laced the smooth smoke being generated by each of the first 8 or so draws on the stick. So intense spice, but a complex one at that.
The first impression of the XII Kingdoms from Mi Havana is that it will kick your butt with spice – but the complexity of the spice should foreshadow the twists and turns that lie ahead.
The body evokes dense, savory flavors like smoked brisket
So about 15-20 minutes into the XII Kingdoms cigar it takes a dramatic turn away from predominant spice and toward full on bar-b-que. No, seriously! I should say, also, at this point I’ve got like two inches of gold-laced ash hanging on like a champ. The finish suddenly turns veerry long and leaves an intense residual flavor in the mouth of BBQ brisket, while the draw beckons with heavy wood and meat aromas. I know, crazy, right!?
There is still a flavor of red pepper and chili powder hanging on, but they are starting to take a back seat to pure savory meat and wood flavors and a hint of sweetness. The sweetness grows gradually throughout the body for about 30 minutes to a pronounced caramelized molasses or even BBQ sauce flavor, which makes sense since it’s accompanying the rich meat flavors.
The body of the Seven Kingdoms cigar will blow your mind with the richness of the meat and wood flavors that will transport you to BBQ Sundays.
XII kingdoms finally evolves into a decadent vanilla and browned-butter
Ok, after an appetizer of spice and main coarse of meaty BBQ flavors, the XII Kingdoms miraculously evolves into literal dessert. The spice dies down to a faint backdrop and the meat gradually yields to a caramelized flavor that is unmistakably vanilla custard. The savory notes are still there, however, but in the form of browned-butter. The cigar strength has grown to an in-the-middle medium, but this cigar is all about intensity and diversity of flavor and less about a nicotine buzz. I mean, this thing is a flipping adventure – or a full-on three-course meal.
To say that I am impressed with this expertly-crafted cigar experience by Raul at Mi Havana would be an understatement. I am flabbergasted. And delighted. And I am buying more of these. Lots more.
If you don’t live near Los Angeles I feel sorry because I don’t think you can find these anywhere (yet) or order this cigar series online (yet, hopefully). If you do live near LA, don’t walk, run and go get some and see for yourself.
Steven is a father of 3, a scientist by profession, and a cigar enthusiast by hobby. His first cigar was (regrettably) from a gas station at age 18, but his palate has grown over the years to appreciate the sophistication and crafted experience of premium cigars.