Por Larranaga Petit Corona (Cuba)
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Apparently, this is the era of “ring gauge bloat.” Every new brand to hit the shelves lately features sizes ranging from the 56-ring Unwieldy Especial up to the 64-ring Utterly Ridiculoso.
Now, I’ll admit I once thought smaller smokes — coronas, petit coronas and lanceros — were the domain of ladies and lightweights. I bought the conventional wisdom, including the case that smaller ring gauges lacked depth because fewer types of filler leaf could be used in the bunch.
But over the last year or two, I discovered something unexpected. When I sample different sizes within a line, I almost always find the slimmer vitolas to be the tastier smokes. Could it be that the old-schoolers are right, that ring gauges under 50 offer the best flavor balance between wrapper and filler? Further, should I really have to set aside an hour or more in order to enjoy a smoke?
So it’s the quest for flavorful, small smokes (and a personal act of rebellion against ring gauge bloat) that leads me to this Por Larranaga Petit Corona, aka PLPC. With the Partagas Short Corona and the Ramon Allones Small Club Corona, the PLPC rounds out the “big three” of Havana petites. Unlike the Party Short and the RASCC, however, the Por Larranaga is not known as a firecracker, but rather as an even-tempered, easygoing smoke.
These 5 1/8″ x 42 sticks aren’t pretty. The caps look hastily applied. Some of the wrappers are ruddy. Yet the longer I looked at them while snapping the photo, the more eager I was to fire one up.
For the first half inch, there is a pronounced musty flavor — part earth, part damp leather with maybe a touch of clove. Not unpleasant, just unusual. That flavor doesn’t linger for long, however. It fades almost instantly into a toasty finish. By the end of the first third, the PLPC begins to resemble the ERDM Choix Supreme. Its medium body is accented by a long, honey-like finish. Not syrupy sweet, but it coats the palate nicely.
There is no spice to speak of, but that’s not to suggest this smoke won’t hold your attention. In fact, it has unusual depth for its modest size. On the second half, it has interesting hints of graham cracker, dashes of earth that come and go, and a finish that some have likened to kettle corn.
Despite the questionable appearance, the PLPC performs well. The burn is stable and slow, and the draw is well above average.
My cabinet of 50 is quite fresh, dated ABR07. PLPC devotees swear by these with a few years of age on them, but I have to say that I like them exactly as they are.
CONCLUSION: The Por Larranaga Petit Corona is a unique, interesting and versatile smoke. It’s most comparable to the ERDM Choix Supreme and the Fonseca Delicias, though I find it to be a cut above both. At an average (box) price of $5.50 per stick, the value is average. But if you’re looking for something different in a smaller format, or just want to rage against the new orthodoxy of Louisville Slugger-sized smokes, the PLPC is a good bet.