This is an article about Nicaraguan cigars. It’s not about Cuban cigars, Dominican cigars, or cigars from any other country, for that matter. If you look at the brands that have been scoring some of the highest marks these days, the Perdomo 10th Anniversary Champagne cigars, or the My Father Le Bijou 1922 cigars, for example, they are produced in Nicaragua (primarily in Estelí), using a decent dose of Nicaraguan tobaccos in their blends, or a mix of Nicaraguan and other tobaccos.
One of the reasons Nicaragua is so ideal for growing great-tasting tobacco is that the geography and climate are very similar to Cuba’s. The cigar tobacco growing region has three valleys – Estelí, Condega, and Jalapa – each with its own unique soil and minerals, which respectively impart their own distinctive flavor to a cigar’s blend when properly fermented and aged. Continue reading
One of the subjects I’m often asked about is, how to spot fake Cuban cigars. That’s a good question, too, because despite the fact that Cuban cigars are still illegal for American cigar smokers to purchase, some choose to do it anyway. Is it because they’re still considered “forbidden fruit,” or is it that most cigar smokers believe Cuban cigars are still the world’s best? It’s more like a combination of the two; cigars made in Cuba are so great you just have to get your hands on some, even if it means risking losing them to U.S. Customs. And they’re not cheap, either. That is unless you’ve been bamboozled by a hustler who will sell you a box of so-called “Havana’s” at a great price while you’re vacationing somewhere in the Caribbean. Chances are, they’re fakes. What’s that old saying? “A fool and his money…” More on that later.
Yes, at one time Cuban cigars actually were the best and had virtually no competition. Zino Davidoff realized this in the early part of the 20th century, and was one the first European retailers to introduce Cuban cigars to the world. Later, when he began producing cigars under his own name, they were made in Cuba. Additionally, when you see someone smoking a cigar in old movies from the 1920′s to the 1960′s (and very likely even after the 1962 embargo), you can bet they were smoking Cuban-made cigars. Continue reading
So, you’re ready to smoke your first Torpedo cigar. Congratulations! You’ve moved up to one of the big boys, but you’re not entirely sure how to cut a Torpedo cigar it because the head is rolled to a point. Cigars of this type are categorized in cigar speak as “figurados,” which also includes Belicosos, Pyramids and the like. They’re rolled in this bottle-neck style so the smoke is more concentrated, and therefore, richer in flavor when it hits your palate. But don’t let that pointy little head intimidate you. It can be cut just like a round or flathead cigar. The main difference is how you cut it and the type of cigar cutter you use. Continue reading
Boutique cigars are one of the hottest trends going in the world of cigars today. If you need more proof, check the 2013 Top 25 Cigars of the Year List – if you eliminate cigars you can’t score legally in the USA, you’ll find the Aging Room Quattro at the top of the list. What company makes the Aging Room you ask? Rafael Nodal’s cigar company, the aptly named Boutique Blends. But what makes a boutique cigar a boutique cigar? Simple. It’s…um, yeah.
Well, if you consult a dictionary, you’ll get this: “…of, designating, or characteristic of a small, exclusive producer or business: one of California’s best boutique wineries.”
Obviously, for our purposes, we’re replacing the word “wineries” with “cigars” (or should it be manufacturers? More on that in a minute) – but when we define “boutique” – should we be doing it in terms of numbers, such as output of bottles (or cigars)? Or is it in availability of supplies, as in “small batch?” Is it the size of the manufacturer that matters?
Yes. And no. Continue reading
Our History of the Cigar Girl begins in pre-war America, during the Roaring Twenties. It was an Era during which America enjoyed considerable prosperity, particularly in her urban centers.
Fueled by this newfound wealth, entrepreneurial restaurateurs began to expand their establishments from pure eateries to “supper clubs,” a destination where patrons could spend an entire evening eating, drinking (despite the prohibition of alcohol), socializing, and listening to live music. Continue reading
There’s been a lingering question out there when it comes to smoking, and it’s in making the distinction between premium cigars and cigarettes. The question has bubbled to the surface again in the face of pending FDA cigar regulations, many of which are modeled after regulations already in place for cigarettes. The folks pushing for these regulations frequently take the viewpoint that tobacco is the same in any form, therefore, they feel regulations should be uniform as well. This thought-process leads us back to our original question – what are the differences of cigars vs. cigarettes? The answers, unsurprisingly, run as wide a range as the number of people who you might ask for guidance. But today, we’re going to draw some major differences between premium cigars and cigarettes – and I got nominated, since I’ve had my fair share of both. I’m not afraid to admit it – I was a cigarette smoker for many moons, and many Marlboros; today, I smoke cigars exclusively. But let’s be clear – smoking, isn’t just smoking. Continue reading
Why are Cuban cigars illegal? If I had a dollar for every time I’ve fielded this question, I’d quit my day job and spend the rest of my years smoking Padron and drinking Louis XIII. Unfortunately for me, no one is passing out singles for answers to the question “Why are Cuban cigars illegal?”, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth answering.
The short answer is the United States’ embargo against Cuba forbids the import of any Cuban-made products into the United States. Furthermore, U.S. law forbids American citizens from buying, selling, trading, or otherwise engaging in transactions involving illegally-imported Cuban cigars. These prohibitions apply to all goods of Cuban origin, and scofflaws face fines of up to $55,000 per violation not to mention criminal prosecution, which can result in higher fines and even imprisonment. Continue reading
When we think of boutique cigars, a ton of thoughts race through our minds fumbling for an answer as to what “boutique” actually means. This made my job of pointing out the top 10 boutique cigar brands a royal pain in the butt. However, in the great office debate of 2014, we came to agree that boutique is more about the high quality of the tobaccos used, unequivocal flavors presented via an artfully executed blending and rolling process, and size of the company in comparison to the rest of the industry. Continue reading
Rothschild cigars are classically defined as a parejo (straight-sided cigar) measuring approximately 4 1/2″ in length by a 52 ring gauge – roughly the same thickness as a Robusto, just a little bit shorter. The shape is named for the Rothschild family, a European banking dynasty which, for all its wealth and titles, cannot seem to buy a proper spelling of its name. Common misspellings include Rothchild, Rothchilde, Rothschilde, and Rothshield, among others. Even the pronunciation is frequently botched to “ROTH-child,” whereas a properly anglicized pronunciation would be “ROTH-shild.” Continue reading
March is painted green as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day every March 17th. To help spread some green around the interwebs, I took it upon myself to highlight some of my favorite Candela or Claro wrapped stogies, commonly referred to as Green Cigars, for St. Patrick’s Day. Now, I know you’re thinking green cigars are weird and don’t look like traditional cigars. Well let me put that myth to bed right now: Candela cigars were just as popular back in the 60s as our traditional brown cigars are in the present. I probably just blew your mind with that fact, and rightly so. It’s time we shuffle off this stigma that green is a bad thing and start embracing the real traditional cigar again. Continue reading