Cigar Advisor Report: The Top Rated Honduran Cigars
by John Pullo
Honduran cigars…just by virtue of the name, we’re inclined to think of Baccarat. Punch. Camacho. Hoyo de Monterrey. Famous Honduran factories abound, including El Paraiso, Plasencia and Raices Cubanas, as well as those from back in the day (like Villazon) affiliated with HATSA, or Honduran American Tobacco, S.A. But what is it that makes a Honduran cigar so special?
In short, taste.
Honduras rose to cigar-making prominence because Cuban exiles found the country’s soils to be ideal for growing tobacco, as some areas are very similar to Cuba’s Pinar del Rio region. The El Paraiso province is the nation’s “cigar capitol” – Danli (home to HATSA) and the Jamastran Valley house the majority of factories and tobacco fields. The majority of the leaf in Honduras is sun-grown – making it more robust. Cigars made with Honduran-grown leaf are noted for their earthy taste; some of the flavor is close to Nicaraguan varietals, as the countries are next door neighbors…so expect that earthy, nutty (and somewhat citrus-laden) flavor to be balanced with medium-full flavors that are rich, toasty, crisp and somewhat potent – with a fair amount of spice. That’s not surprising, as most of the plants are Cuban-seed, with different strains of Criollo and Corojo coming to dominate the Honduran tobacco landscape. Some Connecticut-seed wrappers are cultivated in Honduras, as well.
Of course, there’s a distinction among Honduran cigars today…the line has been blurred between those that are rolled with some (or all) Honduran tobacco, and those that are simply manufactured in a Honduran factory. For the purposes of this CA Report, we’re focused on cigars that contain at least some ingredients actually grown in Honduras – and the tastes for which they’re noted.
Punch – Highest Rating: 100 (Grandote, 6 1/4 x 60)
The genuine Honduran cigar – and one of the most popular, partly because of the great variety of sizes in which Punch are made. The other part is because Punch is big and bold; some of this power cigar’s edge is taken off with the introduction of Dominican tobacco to the core blend, all of it expertly cured and rolled in your choice of natural Ecuadorian Sumatra, Connecticut Broadleaf maduro or Connecticut Broadleaf Oscuro wrappers.
Room 101 San Andres – Highest Rating: 100 (305, 5 x 50)
San Andres is a Mexican tobacco; but this Room 101’s blend is rich in some of the finest Corojo and Criollo tobaccos that Honduran farms have to offer. This Room 101 smokes a straight-up medium, but the addition of the San Andres wrapper (which is not a maduro, by the way) makes way for a very complex flavor profile. Arguably, this is the smoothest-smoking cigar in their portfolio.
Asylum 13 Corojo – Highest Rating: 100 (Authentic Corojo Robusto, 5 x 50)
Though Christian Eiroa made his first post-Camacho splash with his CLE line, Asylum 13 Corojo cigars stepped up the flavor by taking his all-Honduran recipe to big ring extremes. Eiroa’s family hosts a farm that specializes in amazing Corojo tobaccos; they’re rolled at Tabacos Rancho Jamastran factory in Honduras, and now come in six sizes – the largest being a ginormous 8×80 jawbreaker. Well balanced, and incredibly complex.
Camacho Corojo – Highest Rating: 100 (Maduro Churchill, 7 x 48)
As it makes up a significant proportion of the overall tobacco crop grown in Honduras, our list is rife with Corojo-blended picks. Like Camacho Corojo – and they’re certainly not shy in using it. Genuine, high-priming Cuban-seed Corojo is used for wrapper, binder and filler, dialing up the intensity on this cigar proportionately for an aged, Cubanesque taste. Grown in the Jamastran Valley, this one’s very robust, and best smoked on a full stomach.
Rocky Patel The Edge – Highest Rating: 100 (Howitzer, 7 x 70)
Rocky Patel is known for hearty Honduran cigars; The Edge abides, producing heady flavors and aromas that hit every part of the palate. All of the blend’s components have been aged 5 years: the core is comprised of Nicaraguan and Honduran ligeros that smoke super-full, a Nicaraguan binder, plus a Honduran Cuban-seed Corojo wrapper to add spice (a Costa Rican maduro is also available).
Alec Bradley Raices Cubanas – Highest Rating: 99 (Toro, 6 x 54)
One of Honduras’ most famous cigar factories, Raices Cubanas produces many of Alec Bradley’s blends. In an act of gratitude for producing some of their most popular cigars (see Prensado, below), Alec Bradley paid homage to their experienced rollers with this eponymous cigar. A full-flavored filler blend of Nicaraguan and Honduran tobaccos, it actually smokes medium in body; it’s finished with a Honduran binder and triple-capped Criollo wrapper.
Nat Sherman Host – Highest Rating: 96 (Hampton, 7 x 50)
While you might be used to Nat Sherman’s mellower offerings, the Host Series – back in the day, the favorite smoke of Nat himself – tees up the big flavors associated with more powerful Honduran cigars, yet somehow still retains a milder edge. The fillers and binder are all grown in Honduras; but as noted, that spice is tamed with the addition of a Connecticut-grown wrapper. You might even say it’s sweetened a bit, bringing even better balance to the toasty flavors inside.
262 Paradigm – Highest Rating: 96 (Box Press Toro, 6 x 54)
A true boutique smoke. Their 2010 debut blend, Paradigm, is very upfront – complexity is one of its calling cards thanks to three Nicaraguan and Colombian fillers. The Honduran element is present not only by where this cigar is produced, but in the binder, which complements the Brazilian Mata Fina wrapper in a way that produces tastes of citrus and dark coffee. Expect a nice kick here.
Alec Bradley Prensado – Highest Rating: 94 (Corona Gorda, 5 5/8 x 46)
We go back to the Alec Bradley well to finish off our list, as no who’s who of Honduran cigars would be complete without Prensado. Box-pressed in the Cuban tradition, it’s also made at Raices Cubanas with select Honduran and Nicaraguan fillers. This former #1 Cigar of the Year is clad in a Honduran-grown Trojes Corojo 2006 wrapper to produce a blend that leans more peppery than spicy, yet still smooth and brimming with thoroughly-roasted coffee flavors.