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
Macanudo Café cigars, (a.k.a. “America’s best-selling premium cigar”) are among the world’s most iconic brands for their quality, consistently, mellow flavor and sweet aroma. Introduced in 1968, the legendary brand is currently offered in 19 shapes, all of which share the same mild blend of Dominican and Mexican longfillers shrouded in a flawless, U.S. Connecticut shade wrapper leaf. After aging for up to two years in Royal Palm bark bales (tercios), the filler tobaccos are matured even longer in Dominican rum barrels. Before the binder and wrapper are applied, the fillers are rolled using the age-old Cuban entubar rolling method. This means that each Macanudo Café filler leaf is rolled individually creating a core that is actually a series of tubes. It’s takes longer to roll the cigars this way, and is more costly, but the result is a cigar with a much better draw and richer flavor. Once completed the cigars are placed in a cedar-lined aging room which further enhances their trademark sweetness and nutty character. 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
There were a lot of changes in the cigar industry in 2013 which makes us curious about the cigar trends for 2014. All of these changes are to appeal to mass consumerism to give the people what they want. Fortunately for the good ol’ U.S. of A., we’re the largest purveyor of cigars which means they change dramatically to appeal specifically to the U.S. cigar market, and the rest of the world can just deal with it. In any case, there are a few interesting trends that stood out in 2013 that I believe will only be even more obvious in 2014. Continue reading
Cigar review time! Honestly, I love doing cigar reviews because it means I get to kick it here in the office, light up, and simply enjoy a smoke. It beats nervously puffing on a cigar while trying to meet deadlines at the threat of getting taken out back and beaten with a rubber hose (OSHA, help!). I’m just kidding of course, but today I’m featuring my Gurkha 125th Anniversary cigar review, I’m going with the XO size, and this baby is a behemoth of a cigar coming in at 6×60 and ranked number 9 on Cigar Aficionado’s top 25 Cigar of the Year list. Of course there are other sizes available that are much more manageable such as a Robusto, Rothschild, and Torpedo, if you’re like me and tend to stray away from bigger cigar sizes. Continue reading
No Ashton VSG Cigar Review would be complete without a quick rundown of the Ashton brand, which was created in 1985 by Robert Levin, a Philadelphia tobacconist. After years of experience as an importer and retailer of cigars, Levin decided to break into the manufacturing side. Today Ashton cigars are made by the world-famous Fuente family in the Dominican Republic, and are offered in six unique varieties: Ashton Classic, Ashton Aged Maduro, Ashton Cabinet, Ashton Heritage Puro Sol, Ashton VSG (Virgin Sun Grown), and the ultra-exclusive Ashton ESG (Estate Sun Grown).
Ashton VSG is made using a powerful blend of Dominican tobaccos that have been aged four to five years by the Fuente family. The cigar’s distinctive flavor comes from the proprietary wrapper leaf which is grown exclusively for Ashton VSG. The wrapper is grown under cloud covering and harvested from the higher primings of the plants, which equates to a stronger, more flavorful leaf. Continue reading
One of the main things experienced cigar enthusiasts learn is that there’s always something new to learn about cigars. The exchange and passing along of cigar knowledge is a time-honored tradition in world of cigar smoking, as experiences BOTLs and SOTLs share their experiences, tips, and tricks with new smokers just starting to become interested in the hobby. We put together this little test so you can see how much of an expert you are, pit your knowledge against your smoking buddies, and maybe teach you something new! Continue reading