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7 Top Vintage Cigars You Should Be Smoking
7 Best Vintage Cigars Worth Smoking
Updated February 2023 by Gary Korb
Vintage. Usually, it just means old.
Like that 15-year-old beater you drive to work…some would consider that a vintage car.
“(O)f old, recognized, and enduring interest, importance, or quality: CLASSIC.” So says Merriam-Webster.
Maybe you wear a vintage watch, or sit in a vintage chair. Then there’s the stuff that isn’t even old, like a vintage t-shirt – which embodies a style, not actually anything having to do with old threads.
But vintage still has value.
Consider wines: it refers to the yield of wine or grapes from a particular vineyard or district of origin, or during one specific season, or the year or place in which a wine was bottled.
The tobacco biz has borrowed plenty from wine and other past times over the years. But for cigars, vintage really does have a few established meanings – depending on exactly what the cigar maker is trying to tell you about his cigars.
What is a Vintage Cigar?
Admittedly, this started out as a casual list of cigars that just happened to have “Vintage” in the name. But take a look at each blend, and you’ll see what we saw: a kind of shorthand for the tobaccos being used.
Probably the most common use of “vintage cigar” is to communicate to you the idea that a particular tobacco within the blend has been well-aged. Sure, blenders could just say “well-aged”, but it doesn’t roll off the tongue quite the same way as “vintage.” All tobacco is aged, and no one really agrees on how many years it takes a tobacco to get to vintage status – but we can say it’s more than just a couple.
The other way is to apply “vintage” the same way the wine folk do, like we discussed above. If the cigar is rolled with tobaccos (wrapper, binder, filler) grown and harvested in the same year, it could be considered a vintage cigar. So the same way you might see a Vintage 2012 Cabernet or 2014 Rioja Reserva, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to smoke a Vintage 2016 Habano. And it would probably be a pretty top shelf smoke, because old tobacco is expensive tobacco.
Since there’s more than one way to apply the vintage tag to a smoke, we’ll start with sticks who have it in their name. All are excellent smokes, with several garnering high ratings and glowing accolades. And with each we’ll talk a little about what makes it a vintage cigar.
Rocky Patel Vintage 2003
Deftly rolled in an eight-year-aged Cameroon wrapper, the Rocky Patel Vintage 2003 issues a lusciously creamy, medium-bodied smoke. Notes of cedar, dark chocolate, and espresso may be found within its complex confines making the Vintage 2003 an opulent journey worth experiencing. The 2003 series is one of five top-rated Rocky Patel Vintage cigars that include the mellow Vintage Connecticut 1999, lusciously creamy Vintage 1992, ultra-rich Vintage 1990 maduro, and full-flavored Vintage 2006 with its 11-yr-aged Mexican San Andrés wrapper.
Romeo y Julieta Vintage
Gold trim on the band sets the RyJ Vintage apart from the 1875 line; so does the silky, golden Ecuador Connecticut wrapper. A refined step up from your run of the mill Connecticut, this Romeo features aged Dominican Olor long fillers. These help add a cedary sweetness to the coffee and graham cracker nuances in the profile. Still an excellent candidate for a first cigar, as RyJ has refused to update the blend for the past 20 years. It’s just that reliable.
H. Upmann Vintage Cameroon
A prominent resident of the mellow side of the spectrum (though there are now a few more full-flavored relatives in the stable), Vintage Cameroon has been the standout in the H. Upmann line. It’s the throwback jersey version of vintage: back in the day, the non-Cuban Upmanns featured a Cameroon wrapper. But by the mid-90’s, the African leaf was in very short supply; the company responded to the shortage by switching to Indonesian tobacco. And once a stable supply of Cameroon leaf was reestablished, H. Upmann returned to this toasty and aromatic vintage-style blend. The taste of nostalgia is completed by a mix of Nicaraguan, Dominican and Peruvian tobaccos, burning in unison with woodsy and cocoa flavors.
Plasencia Cosecha 146
In 2014, Cosecha 149 must have been one helluva harvest. Not only is it Plasencia’s first all-Honduran cigar, it’s one of the best Honduran puros—period. Seamlessly rolled in a dark Olancho Criollo wrapper that harbours a core of Olancho, Jamastran, and Talanga tobaccos, the medium-full smoke is delectably creamy revealing a woody, lightly spicy, and naturally sweet experience. Offered in three shapes, Cosecha 149 is similar to the Alma Fuerte but it’s lighter in both strength and price.
Perdomo 20th Anniversary Sun Grown
Age ain’t nothing but a number…unless it’s tobacco, and you‘re Nick Perdomo. For his vintage entry, Perdomo 20th Anniversary Sun Grown holds back some of the higher quality tobacco leaves grown on his fincas in Nicaragua, then ages them extensively after fermentation. For our purposes, I chose the reddish-brown sun grown Habano wrapper version. Not just because it falls in between the Connecticut and Maduro, but because it strikes the right balance of flavor, complexity and strength, emitting pepper, spice, along with wonderful notes of coffee bean and wood.
Macanudo Vintage 2010
The star of the Macanudo Vintage 2010 is its super silky Connecticut Shade wrapper grown under perfect weather conditions that year. Piloto Cubano 94, five-yr.-aged Honduran, and three-yr.-aged Nicaraguan complete the recipe. Now add 10 years of finished cigars aging. The result is a medium-bodied smoke with notes of cedar, vanilla, light spice, and a hint of cocoa. Also, rather than the massive 3-D ring used on the Macanudo Vintage 1997 Maduro and Macanudo Vintage 2006, the 2010 dons a cedar sleeve and an elegant red and gold band.
Montecristo Epic Vintage 12
Blended by the prolific Grupo de Maestros, the Montecristo Epic Vintage 12 portion of the name points to the Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers harvested from a 2012 crop that comes only once in a blue moon—hence, the blue color scheme. The dark, leathery Ecuador Sumatra wrapper is also outstanding. Medium to full in body, the smoke issues well-balanced notes of orange peel, coffee, oak, and a sweet-spicy finish. One of the Maestros’ finest achievements and worthy of taking a much closer look by more experienced palates.