You see the word “vintage” in a cigar’s name – but what does that actually mean? Go beyond the marketing-speak and get our close-up look at the tobaccos used for premium cigars, what constitutes a true “vintage cigar” and our 10 top “vintage” picks.
2018 CA REPORT: Thanksgiving Cigars – Different Smokes for Different Folks
I was watching a Thanksgiving special on the Food Network the other day, and the host kept saying that it’s all about food and family. Well, when you hang around my neck of the woods (which will have 28 ravenous people descending upon my home this Turkey Day) it’s always going to be about a little something more than just food and family. Everyone knows that I’m a cigar-a-holic, and I don’t just serve up after-dinner smokes – I also break out the premiums for appetizers, and between courses.
Hey, don’t get me wrong, I’m an admitted gluttonous sociopath when it comes to the massive variety of chow we serve at my abode. We seriously pig-out on a wide array of appetizers like cheeses, salami, pepperoni, chips and dips, buffalo wings, tiny hotdogs in their cozy lil’ blankets, cream cheese chili-dip, and so much other pre-game fare, bloating us all until the main courses are ready hours later. Which makes for the perfect time to invite the manly primordial beasts out into the garage to light up cigars along with our libations of choice.
First off – I’ll light up a stick before any of my guests arrive, a mellower kind of appetizer smoke, something to get the palate prepared for a long day of textures and flavors. Then, when I head to the garage between courses, I’ll smoke something more medium bodied. And when dinner is done and I’m in beached whale mode, a tasty, full-bodied dessert cigar will be chosen, one with enough oomph to cut through the cornucopia of dinner and dessert insanity. For the main courses, we do a big-ass turkey in the 25lb range, but there’s also a ham and a tray of lasagna.
But it’s the endless side dishes that go deep into the realm of epicurean overkill. The wife’s stuffing seasoned with ground Italian sweet sausage is the yearly staple. There are mounds of whipped mashed taters slathered in butter. My mother-in-law’s homemade, mayo-laden coleslaw is amazing, and as always, her Polish powered kielbasa in kraut continues to tip the scales. Can’t forget the sweet potato pie with them melty little marshmallows, and my daughter’s homemade cranberry sauce, much to the chagrin of my pop, who actually likes the jellied cranberry slop from a can. Sweet creamed corn makes its way around the table along with the broccoli n’ cheese casserole, and my Italian mom always brings her meatballs in red sauce. Holy good God, I’m stuffed just writing this. Say… did I forget to mention dessert? There’s at least a dozen pies, cookies, cakes and confections that has every guy’s pants unbuttoned while we’re all rubbing our Buddha-like bellies as we’re gasping for air.
“Just like each dish served on Turkey Day isn’t for everyone…not everyone smokes the same kind of cigars.”
Ahhhhhh, it’s now time for some premium hand-rolled goodness. What’s actually pretty cool is that at least 7-8 of the guys enjoy a cigar after dinner, but there are different levels of smokers. Just like each dish served on Turkey Day isn’t for everyone, well, not everyone smokes the same kind of cigars. So, kind of the same way I treat wedding cigars, I’ll have 3 choices for my guests: mellow gars for the newbies and occasional smokers, medium-bodied for the guys that do enjoy a nice stick, and full-flavored for the hardcore aficionados.
So, for this article, I’ve chosen 9 cigars that I’m recommending for Thanksgiving Day: 3 mellow, 3 medium, and 3 full. There’s a good cigar here for everybody and I’ve picked each one with a reasoning behind them.
Lonsdale/6 1/4″ x 46 – Wrapper: Connecticut
The Charter Oak is getting rave reviews from so many because it just has so much damned flavor for a Connecticut wrapped cigar – using real-deal US Connecticut shade-grown leaf. What’s amazing is that Nick Melillo of Foundation Cigars is working with very high-quality leaf but sells these treats at an incredibly low price. They are drop-dead delicious with prominent notes of cedar, honey and sweet ripened fruit. This is the one I’ll be kicking off Turkey Day with and I’ll be damned if the newbies will get their greasy mitts on them.
CREME DE JAMAICA
Robusto/4 ¾” x 49 – Wrapper: U.S. Connecticut
While this is the perfect stick for the newbie or the once-in-a-while smoker, it really does have a lot of nice mellow flavor because of the genuine US shade leaf (grown in the Connecticut River Valley) that covers the Dominican filler and Indonesian binder. It’s very creamy and cedary tasting, with a slight nuttiness. Perfectly constructed, it lets off a lot of sweet smoke that even the non-smokers will enjoy – except my wife’s uncle Ned, a stick in the mud whiner who seriously needs to be uninvited every damned year. The guy’s a tool and I really don’t give a shit if he reads this.
Toro/6″ x 50 – Wrapper: Honduran Connecticut
Baccarat cigars are a top seller, year after year for Famous. Face it, a whole lot of people like mellow cigars and these are as easy going as it gets. The Honduran filler is held in a Mexican binder and wrapped with a golden Honduran Connecticut Shade outer leaf. The cap has a slightly sweetened tip and fans of these cigars can’t get enough of them. They are perfect cigars for serving the beginner smoker who wants to give it a go with everyone else.
ARTURO FUENTE HEMINGWAY WORK OF ART
Perfecto/4 7/8″ x 56 – Wrapper: African Cameroon
The Hemingway line has true medium-bodied cigars that deliver an awful lot of smooth tobacco flavor. This pudgy perfecto is aged for 6 full months in cedar-lined rooms after Fuente’s top torcedors are done rolling them. It’s those silky-sheer African Cameroon wrappers that deliver notes of sweet cedar, nuts and coffee with a nice bit of spice. This is an elegant smoke and a perfect addition to the holiday dinner line-up.
Toro/6″ x 50 – Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
While the Trinidad name isn’t on the tip of every smoker’s tongue, this fairly-new, well-made offering has surprised a heck out of a lot people. While it shows some nice complexity and is wonderfully full-flavored, it’s not a classic Nicaraguan powerhouse. It’s smooth as silk on the palate with woody notes and some earthiness and sweet spice. That oily, golden-brown Nicaraguan Habano wrapper is gorgeous and lets off a sumptuous, woody aroma. Absolute yum.
Magnum/6″ x 60 – Wrapper: Nicaraguan Rosado
Monte took a nice mellow Connecticut wrapper cigar and upped their game by creating a newer blend with a whole lot more pop in the flavor department. You won’t see a lot of all-Nicaraguan Montecristos around, and this exception to the rule is buttery-smooth and extremely flavorful. Notes of coffee bean and sweet wood are prominent throughout as it delivers straightforward rich tobacco flavor from start to finish.
CEDRUS by SOUTHERN DRAW
Belicoso Fino/5 ½” x 52 – Wrapper: Indonesian Besuki
Now THIS new offering from our friend, Robert Holt at Southern Draw is truly the perfect after Thanksgiving dinner smoke for a few good reasons. First off, it’s full-flavored with a whole lot of very interesting and unique tastes going on. There are five different types of premium aged leaf in there producing a full-bodied complexity that will have you enjoying a dark, rich sweetness, with an herbal quality that is so damned pleasant and delicious. It’s created by AJ Fernandez and the quality is impeccable. I will definitely be puffing this one come Turkey Day and many days after.
ALEC BRADLEY MAGIC TOAST
Gordo/6″ x 60 – Wrapper: Honduras
Alec Bradley is seriously cranking it out of the park as of late, and with the release of the all-new Magic Toast, the hits just keep on coming. The first thing you’ll notice is that incredibly oily, deep, dark Honduran outer wrapper leaf that gives this stick a sweetness that is so smooth from the second you light it to the moment you let it go out. There are notes of dense, dark chocolate, espresso, and the sweetness reminds me of rich molasses on the taste buds. This is another one I’ll be smoking on T-Day as it is beyond perfect for cutting through the cavalcade of food I’ll be pounding.
F75 By PADRON
Robusto/5″ x 54 – Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
When we set out to make a 75th anniversary cigar for Famous, we knew it had to be uber-special, and what’s more special than a 1926 Padron? With tobaccos aged five full years, this natural version is exploding with flavor in its square-pressed robusto size. The flawless, almost perfect Nicaraguan Habano wrapper gives off an aroma that is toasty and just perfect for a post dinner bourbon or Scotch. You’ll find notes of cocoa, sweet spice and coffee beans that please your palate. This one is decadent, and why not treat yourself to something so special on America’s favorite holiday.
So, how about posting your comments and suggestions below? And a Happy Thanksgiving to you all.