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Diplomáticos Norteños (ER Canadá 2018)

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Habanos S.A.’s Edición Regional program isn’t known for being on-time, but there are some instances in which the cigars come out on schedule

In September, Havana House Cigar & Tobacco Merchants Ltd. hosted an event to launch the Diplomáticos Norteños in Canada, a 2018 Edición Regional that was actually released in 2018. The cigar is actually the same as the 2015 Edición Regional for Cuba, a 4 7/8 x 50 robusto in the Diplomáticos marca. That being said, the Norteños is notably more expensive thanks to Canada’s high tobacco taxes, about $30 per cigar. Production is limited to 6,000 numbered boxes of 10 cigars.

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It’s been over seven months since I reviewed an Edición Regional, so for those unfamiliar, here’s the basic breakdown:

In 2005, Habanos S.A. introduced a new series of limited production releases that would eventually become to be known as Edición Regional (Regional Edition). The program took regular Habanos S.A. brands and gave their regional distributors special sizes that aren’t part of respective brands regular production line-up. In some cases, like the Bolivar Gold Medals, Habanos S.A. gave specific distributors sizes that had been discontinued, but most are sizes that have never been available for that brand prior. There’s one major exception to the rule and that would be perhaps the most famous ER, the Edmundo Dantés El Conde 109, which is an ER available for Mexico that is related to the Montecristo brand, but is largely its own brand.

The first Edición Regionals didn’t feature the red and silver secondary bands that read “Exclusivo (Region Name)” that has become synonymous with the ER releases.

This is the 10th Edición Regional for Canada.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Diplomáticos Norteños Edición Regional Canadá (2018)
  • Country of Origin: Cuba
  • Factory: n/a
  • Wrapper: Cuba
  • Binder: Cuba
  • Filler: Cuba
  • Length: 4 7/8 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • Est. Price: $30 (Boxes of 10, $300)
  • Release Date: Sept. 13, 2018
  • Number of Cigars Released: 6,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (60,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The Norteños is a pretty-looking cigar, though—as the pictures show—the bands aren’t aligned in a manner that would inspire the most amount of confidence. Aroma off the wrapper has a ton of barnyard with a lot of acidity, a not so pleasant aroma, though decidedly different compared to something like Connecticut broadleaf. With that said, the foot is pretty sweet with a mixture of dry alkaline noodles and some bubble gum. One sample reminds me more of a garlic-heavy tomato sauce, though the other two aren’t like that at all. Regardless, all three samples are medium-plus with no one note standing out. The draw has the classic amount of resistance, like sucking a milkshake through a straw. Flavor-wise, the Diplomáticos isn’t the most flavorful: mild amounts of earthiness, thousand island dressing, a touch of pepper on the first two or three puffs, but it eventually disappears.

Once lit, the first thing I notice is the aroma: extremely sweet and floral. The opening puff is equally impressive: cedar and creaminess to start before a floral sweetness hits, once the smoke leaves the mouth it’s more of spices and some salted pretzels before nuttiness and generic fruits enter the profile. It’s about as good as any first puff I’ve had of late: developed flavors and a lengthy progression. Unfortunately, by the fifth puff the flavor has become much more compact. There’s still a decent mixture of flavor: cedar and walnuts with some underlying sweetness before strawberries, sourdough bread and a mild black pepper emerge. Flavor is medium-full, body is close to full and strength is medium-plus. While the flavor is good, the burn is not. The cigar seems to have a mind of its own in terms of wanting to go out. Even with a consistent puff every 50 seconds, there are times in which I pick up the cigar and it seems like it’s about to go out. And then there are the times in which the cigar has gone out. A touch-up or relight seems to solve the problem for the next five minutes, but it then repeats itself.

The second third of the Diplomáticos Norteños is pretty similar to the first third. Upfront it’s cedar, now joined by creaminess and earthiness, with the finish delivering creaminess, white pepper and some pretzels. Flavor is now full, body is once again close to full—though not there—and strength is still medium-plus. Once again, my largest issue is the burn, which I can neither control, nor predict. What’s even more bizarre is that when the cigar is burning, there’s a ton of smoke in the mouth.


I should preface my comments about the final third with the fact that only one of the three samples managed to make it to the final third without going out completely. That being said, my notes show a pretty similar experience across all three cigars. Cedar remains upfront, now joined by a lot of peanuts, more earthiness and a bit of a jasmine rice characteristic. Retrohales provide a lot of the pretzel flavor along with some charred flavors and some saltiness. Flavor recedes a bit to just south of full, body is still close to full and strength is medium-full. Construction also remains consistent: plenty of smoke when the cigar is burning and magical bouts of the cigar going out. My final cigar, the one sample that managed to avoid going out prior to the final third decides its had enough about a quarter inch before the band despite the fact I had taken a puff 30 seconds before. A fitting end to my experience with the Norteños.

Final Notes

  • I feel like the Dipomáticos band is a good indication of just how much better, on average, Habanos S.A.’s bands are better than others. This is very much an afterthought of a brand, but the band is extremely well done with great precision.

  • On that note, all of the cigars we received had secondary bands that were crooked compared to the main band. Welcome to Cuba being Cuba.
  • Canada has some of the highest taxes on cigars in the world. It also doesn’t help that Canada’s provinces have additional taxes, meaning the pricing will vary widely depending on the store. Regardless, $30 for a robusto is a high price.
  • Drew Estate obviously makes a cigar that also uses the Norteño moniker. Norteño translates into northern.
  • The first two or three puffs of this cigar were awesome.
  • While I’m not sure the flavor benefited from this, burn-wise, the cigar certainly appreciated being smoked at a slightly quicker rate than a puff every minute, though even that wasn’t enough.
  • One sample seemed like it was slightly wet—or at the very least could have been a tad drier—but we’ve had these samples since early December and the humidor they’ve been in has peaked at 69.4 percent relative humidity since then.
  • The box code is UEB JUL 2018.
  • Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel on the secondary market for $28 per cigar.
  • Final smoking time is one hour and 45 minutes on average.
  • Site sponsor Bellhop Cigars carries the Diplomáticos Norteños. halfwheel recommends readers follow all local laws.
86 Overall Score

This is exactly the reason why people, including those on this website, have been frustrated by Habanos S.A.’s Edición Regional program. While this might be an above average cigar for the entire cigar market, it’s probably slightly below average for cigars we review on this site. The Diplomáticos Norteños has an incredible start, decent flavor, a problematic burn rate and a big price tag. Together, it’s a tough ask, though in fairness, some of the latter is definitely a result of Canada’s high taxes. Regardless, there are much better cigars for a lot less money.

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Charlie Minato
About the author

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.

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