Six Small Cigars for Winter Smoking
Don’t sacrifice flavor just because it’s cold, and you’re short on smoking time.
by John Pullo
Well that escalated quickly…3 days ago, it was 70 degrees; this morning, I tore my garage apart looking for an ice scraper. Suffice it to say, then, that Fall has fallen off in a hurry, and toro time on my patio is pretty much a thing of the past until Spring.
All you folks down South are laughing right now: too cold to smoke. First World Yankee problems, right? I’ll remember that when it’s 110 degrees and you can’t smoke outside, either.
While the majority of your bigger smokes may be going into a deep sleep ‘til Spring (lounge time and indoor smoking not withstanding), it doesn’t mean you have to go on cigar hiatus until 2016. That’s just wrong. So rather than hunker down and be forced to go without, it’s time to break into the winter survival kit: tins of small cigars.
They’re like rations on the war front…necessary to your cigar survival in the face of the harshest elements, a little taste of sanity and big flavor in a short, frostbite-free amount of time. And though they’re such small cigars, they sure can dish big flavor: each is a full- (or mostly full) bodied concoction designed specifically to deliver just as much oomph and flavor per square centimeter as their bigger-barreled brothers.
Some Small Ring Smoking Tips:
Contrary to what I’ve said, small cigars are meant to be enjoyed year round…and there are many benefits to a small smoke, regardless of what month is showing on the calendar:
- Average toro smoking time: 1 hour 20 minutes. Average small cigar smoking time: 25 minutes. Result: more opportunities to enjoy a cigar!
- If you’re not sure you’re going to like it, a small cigar is a great way to break in on a new blend. Most brands have them in mini sizes, 38RG or under; so if you’re new to cigars or not sure you want to take a chance on a full-sized version, spring for a tin and see if it speaks to you.
- Same goes if you’re new to cigars – if you’re not sure what you like, try them in a smaller size – your cigar dollar goes farther, as these small sizes are cheaper.
- Tins are incredibly travel friendly – but remember, these pee-wee premiums still need to be humidified like their larger counterparts.
- Smoke slow, draw shallow – if you puff too hard, a small cigar can overheat quickly.
A mini maduro though it may be, the Dagger’s potency is not to be underestimated. Somehow, CAO’s rollers have found a way to shove extra-fermented leaf in both binder and wrapper positions (Brazilian and CT Broadleaf maduros, respectively), capping a 4-nation blend that’s both rich and sweet. Scrumptious, like cake – and even more so, in this small size.
The largest of this lot, Jesus Fuego’s addition to this fiesta of small cigars is the 5×44 corona version of the Sangre De Toro (“bull’s blood”). The blend is full: with a spicy Corojo wrapper on the outside and all-Nicaraguan long fillers inside, the intensity will sneak up on you in no time. You’ve only got about 30 minutes – Fuego makes every one of them count.
Weighing in at a slightly-beefier 4 ¾ x 42, this corona still ascribes to the original, 1970’s era JdN philosophy: hearty and full win the day. Quick and tasty to boot, bold ligero abounds under dark natural Criollo. If you’re an uber-full cigar smoker, you’ll likely need to chain yourself down to the floor to keep from blazing through the entire pack.
Oliva calls this a cigarillo, but that’s like referring to a .44 Mag as a pea shooter. Oh, those modest Olivas. Chock full of 5-year aged tobaccos grown in Nicaragua’s northern regions (they’re the spicier parts of town), each Serie O cigarillo is a smooth, spicy burn that’s meant to be polished off in 30 minutes or less.
You’re used to Romeo as a pretty mild and modest smoke – but this is a case where the wrapper-to-filler ratio defies convention and ups the flavor. Still packed with Dominican long fillers, there’s less of it needed to fill the 4×38 space; that means more aroma and flavor, as the Indonesian wrapper on these small cigars (there are 6/tin) really gets a chance to shine.
A 4×38 short panatela, and for this one Rocky got extra-particular: he’s combined some of his finest Nicaraguan & Dominican tobaccos (aged 8 years) then wrapped it in toothy, tasty Cameroon. The result of RP’s hawkish eye on quality: a medium bodied cigar whose flavor well exceeds its size, plus a sweet spice that lingers long beyond your smoke break.
I’ll be damned if I’m going to share the garage with the mice and half-empty paint cans to relax with a smoke…so while an outdoor wintertime smoke may be a shorter experience, I’d rather it be more robust – and highly recommend big-flavor small cigars like these. I’m no scout, but with our precious cigar time at stake it’s time to follow their code…get some short smokes, brace yourself and be prepared: winter is coming.