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2018 CA Report: 10 Top “Vintage” Cigars You Should Be Smoking
They say you learn something new every day; and today, I have learned that the term “vintage” can mean a lot of different things depending on exactly what you’re referring to.
A vintage car, for instance, is often one that was made between the years 1919 and 1930. A vintage (or antique) piece of furniture is said to have been produced before the 1920’s. Vintage jewelry is basically 100 years old or more. And, as far as fine wines go, it can refer to several things such as the yield of wine or grapes from a vineyard or district during one season…or…wine usually of high quality, identified as to year and vineyard, or district of origin…or…it can be the year or place in which a wine was bottled.
Now, when using the term “vintage” when it comes to premium hand-rolled cigars, well, it not only seems a little unclear, but you might even say a tad…controversial. I really wanted to know, what constitutes a vintage cigar (and it’s certainly not a cigar that’s over 100 years old). So, I contacted several “well-known” cigar makers/blenders (who will remain nameless) hoping they could set me on the straight and narrow, but unfortunately, that just didn’t happen for me… Damn.
When using the term “vintage” when it comes to premium hand-rolled cigars, well, it not only seems a little unclear, but you might even say a tad…controversial.
The first one I asked said it’s all a bunch of mumbo-jumbo marketing bull-shingles. And then, the first thing I thought was, “Well, that’s gonna make for a crappy little article.” This particular cigar maker was actually quite adamant, even when I pressed the matter further as he insisted that it means nothing and there was nothing more he could add…Great.
I moved onto cigar master number two who told me it was a great question and he had an answer. Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. He told me that in the past, a vintage cigar was one that was rolled with tobaccos (filler, binder and wrapper) all from the same year. He said it didn’t matter if they came from different countries or regions, it only mattered if they were grown and harvested all in the same year. Both interesting and cool as I had never heard this before.
In the past, a vintage cigar was one that was rolled with tobaccos (filler, binder and wrapper) all from the same year.
So, I called cigar maker number 3 in hopes of a definitive answer, and he said while it “used to” refer to tobaccos from the same crop year, he felt it didn’t really apply any longer…Terrific. He feels it refers to a certain amount of years that a particular tobacco within the blend has been aged. So, how many years did he feel constituted vintage tobacco? Well, he thinks it’s at least 5 years, but, I was told, “Just don’t quote me on it”…Ugh.
None the less, there are a number of cigars at Famous Smoke Shop that do indeed have the word “vintage” in their names. And, I can tell you this, they are all excellent smokes, several garnering some very high ratings and accolades. So, check out the list I’ve compiled and decide for yourself which vintage premiums you’d like to give a try.
Rocky Patel Vintage 1990
Origin: Honduras Strength: Medium Wrapper: Honduran Broadleaf
It was all the rage when it debuted and people still clamor over this delicious medium-bodied treat. I refer to this as a triple play cigar, where it’s gorgeous looking, smells amazing, and tastes even better. Nuts, cocoa, and semi-sweet chocolate lace the palate on this smooth and very rich premium. There’s 5 highly rated Rocky Vintage cigars in total, including the mellow Vintage Connecticut 1999, the full-flavored Vintage 1992 and Vintage 2006, and the elegant and complex Vintage 2003 Cameroon.
Romeo y Julieta Vintage
Origin: Dominican Republic Strength: Medium Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut Shade
This is a luxurious and highly rated cigar line made by the people at Romeo. Just one look at that silky and oily wrapper, you just know this is going to be one hell of a smooth smoke. A cedary sweetness dominates this tasty medium-bodied stick with notes of coffee, and a hint of graham cracker. And guess what… it really is one incredibly smooth and tasty smoke.
H. Upmann Vintage Cameroon
Origin: Dominican Republic Strength: Medium Wrapper: African Cameroon
I would have to say that this Vintage Cameroon has been the longtime favorite in the H. Upmann line, and one of the first of this brand that I got really hooked on. While medium in strength, this is an extremely full-flavored cigar that’s very toasty both in taste and its sweet aroma. The inner leaves are an interesting mix of Nicaraguan, Dominican and Peruvian with a Nicaraguan binder. But it’s that luscious outer African leaf that gives it those special woody and cocoa flavors.
Macanudo Vintage 2006
Origin: Dominican Republic Strength: Medium Wrapper: Connecticut Shade
It’s a Macanudo and it’s amazing… yeah, I said it, dammit. This stick uses very finely aged tobaccos, featuring a true Connecticut shade 2006-grown outer leaf that gives this cigar a toasty, mellow profile, but a lot of sweet rich flavor notes of cedar, nuts, and a cappuccino-like creaminess. I’m telling you guys, for those who might turn their nose up at this brand name, I double-dog-dare you to smoke this because you will be more than pleasantly surprised how good it really is. Also, try the Macanudo Vintage 1997, a little mellower than the 2006, but like a fine wine that gets better and better with age.
Montecristo White Vintage
Origin: Dominican Republic Strength: Mellow-Medium Wrapper: Connecticut Shade
Ultra-fine premium tobaccos make this Montecristo a memorable, celebration type of smoke. While the inside utilizes a zesty blend of Dominican, Peruvian, and Nicaraguan leaves, the wrapper is an exquisite 2008 US Connecticut shade grown that makes for a nutty toastiness that is just so damned pleasant to both the palate and the olfactory senses. I think I need to remind some people that you don’t always have to smoke cigars that can grow hair on a catcher’s mitt, and the Monte White Vintage is the answer.
Fonseca Vintage Selection
Origin: Dominican Republic Strength: Medium Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut Shade
This Fonseca truly is a seriously underrated cigar, and the work that goes into making this hidden gem is amazing. The Dominican inner blend of leaves is aged for five full years in palm bark tercios, keeping the leaf oily and supple. The outer is a golden-brown Ecuadorian Connecticut shade making the cigar creamy in flavor, especially with its thick billowy smoke on the draw. You’ll get notes of coffee and wood with a pleasant hit of spice as well. Pair this with a Fonseca Port and life is gonna get good real fast.
Perdomo Estate Seleccion Vintage Sun Grown
Origin: Nicaragua Strength: Medium-Full Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sun Grown
One hell of a cigar… well, that’s one hell of an understatement. While Nick Perdomo makes a number of high-level cigars, this one is exceptional in every way. The Nicaraguan tobaccos he uses are the cream of the crop, and that reddish-brown, Sun Grown Nicaraguan wrapper literally glistens with natural oils. And it is indeed a complex smoke that starts off with some pepper and spice, but then settles down with wonderful notes of coffee bean and a distinct woodiness. Employ a good bourbon to pair with this vintage and you just might refuse to get up for quite some time. There’s also the Connecticut version that’s toned down to be a tad mellower, and the Maduro version that has a little more pop with some nice sweetness to boot.
Padilla Vintage Reserve
Origin: Nicaragua Strength: Full Wrapper: Pennsylvania Broadleaf
Sinfully dark, oily, and wow. Not long after lighting this up, you actually might hear Ralph Kramden shouting out, “Bam, zoom, right in the kisser” as that Pennsylvania broadleaf wrapper kicks into gear. And, while it may be a flavor beast, Ernesto Padilla has tamed this beast into an elegant and complex one. Rolled at Tabacalera Oliva, it’s a very limited run offering with only 500 boxes made in each of its 6 sizes. Dark coffee, chocolate, and molasses jump on the taste buds along with a sweet spice that builds. A good mug of coffee, a whiskey, or a deep red wine, well there is simply no wrong answer for your pairing. This is a full-bodied, cigar lover’s dream, and I have become a huge fan.
La Aurora Puro Vintage 2007
Origin: Dominican Republic Strength: Full Wrapper: Dominican Republic
Now, here’s a premium cigar that I’d have to say wears the “vintage’ moniker with pride. This limited-edition cigar is a masterpiece hailing from La Aurora, blended with 11-year old (what they refer to as) “harvest-specific” tobaccos. It’s available in only one size, a distinct Salomon shaped stick weighing in at 6½ x 50/60. I’m admittedly a tad confused by the word “puro” in its name, as the fillers are from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Brazil with an Ecuadorian grown binder, but I’ll get over it. The flavor profile gives off a delicious combination of freshly ground coffee beans, cedar and spice, and the aroma is sweet and decadent. Only 6,000 boxes produced, so, you know what you’ve got to do.
La Fontana Vintage
Origin: Honduras Strength: Mellow Wrapper: Honduran Connecticut Shade
The fact is that an awful lot of the cigar smoking public loves mellow-bodied, golden-colored, Connecticut shade smokes, and the La Fontana Vintage is one of the absolute best sellers for Famous. The smooth tobaccos in the blend, along with its silky Connecticut shade wrapper leaf and “old Cuban-style” sweetened cap, make for a smoother and mellower Honduran-style smoke. So, no, if you are the Nic-bomb loving maniac who eats ligero leaf for breakfast, La Fontana is definitely not for you. But people who smoke this golden beauty give it some very high ratings and swear by it.
So, what do you have to say about these cigars, as well as the whole vintage thing? I’d love to see your comments posted below.