In this audio podcast, Dominican Republic native, Francisco Batista, talks to Gary Korb about his gig as General Manager and Premium Cigar Master Blender for Agio Caribbean Tobacco, whose brands include Royal Agio Cigars’ highly-acclaimed Balmoral and San Pedro de Macoris cigars. Click and listen now!
2019 CA Report: The Best Cigars for Morning, Noon and Night
The Best Cigars for Mornin’, Noon, n’ Nite
A 5-Day Prescription of Top-Rated Cigars You Can Enjoy Three Times a Day
Once upon a time in the cigar business, one of the big manufacturers released a premium cigar selection titled, “Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.” It came in a box divided into three sections with mellow, medium-bodied, and full-bodied cigars, respectively. Made by a very highly-respected tobacco grower at the time, the construction of the cigars was first-rate. Unfortunately, the blends didn’t get enough love from cigar smokers and faded quietly into extinction.
Many cigar smokers, at least those who smoke around three cigars a day on average, often start with a mild to medium-bodied cigar. Then, for the afternoon and evening, they’ll reach for something more full-bodied. I find myself doing this as well. Of course, there are always exceptions, but that seems to be the pattern.
So with that in mind, I cobbled together a list of 15 different cigars and broke them down into “Morning,” “Afternoon,” and “Evening.” All totaled, the cigars cover five days. I also thought it would be more interesting if I mixed-up the sizes so they didn’t repeat. Plus, I included some Corona-style formats in the “Morning” selections, mostly because their dimensions offer unique flavor profiles.
Since most cigar smokers’ tastes vary, they don’t necessarily have to be smoked in the specific order listed, either. Feel free to mix ’em up however you like, or use the suggestions for your next vacation. Of course, if you have some favorite daily combinations of your own, list them in a comment. In the meantime, somewhere in the world right now it’s Cigar O’Clock. . .so let’s get smokin’!
Morning: Arturo Fuente Hemingway Signature
Wake-up with one of Arturo Fuente’s finest cigars that’s just about perfect in every way. It lights with barely any effort, offering a smooth, creamy smoke teeming with notes of earth, cedar, and spice. It also pairs perfectly with coffee. For later in the day, pair it with one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite drinks – a whiskey & soda or a Daiquiri. Finally, one neat little thing I observed while smoking my last Hemingway Signature is that it’s shaped like a pen. Nice coincidence.
Noon: Rocky Patel Vintage 2003 Cameroon Churchill
Size: 7″ x 48
Wrapper: African Cameroon (aged 8 years)
Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua
Let’s take it up a notch with another outstanding Cameroon-forward vitola. Heartier and more complex than the aforementioned Hemingway, the Rocky Patel Vintage 2003 Cameroon Churchill never disappoints. The dark Cameroon wrapper from a 2003 crop is dark and oily, making it especially inviting, too. Notes of cedar, caramel, coffee, and a nip of pepper prevail, making this long-smoking cigar a real gem. I also wasn’t surprised when it landed in the Top 25 Cigars of 2017 with a 92 rating.
Night: Alec Bradley Prensado Lost Art Robusto
Size: 5″ x 52 box-pressed
Wrapper: Honduran Trojés Corojo
Binder: Nicaragua & Honduras (dual binder)
Filler: Nicaragua & Honduras
The Alec Bradley Prensado Lost Art Robusto serves up a juicy nightcap in a luscious 52-ring masterpiece. Entubado-rolled and soft-pressed in a shimmering Honduran Corojo wrapper, the double binder in the Lost Art helps crank up the mix. Compared to the original Prensado blend, it’s every bit as full-bodied, and arguably the richest tasting size in the line. Black pepper, dark chocolate, cedar, and espresso sail along a sea of creamy-nutty smoke from end-to-end. Moreover, this cigar cruises with complexity for well over an hour.
Morning: Undercrown Sun Grown Corona
Size: 5 5/8″ x 46
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sun Grown Sumatra-seed
Binder: U.S. Connecticut River Valley stalk cut & cured Habano
Filler: Nicaragua, including extra-long-aged Nueva Segovia Ligero
Starting your day with this Undercrown Sun Grown Corona is almost like spoiling your diet with an extra slice of Danish. Zesty and confident, this superb Willy Herrera blend, reveals a well-balanced mix of earth, sweet spice, cedar, and a tart, fruity note. Better yet, it’s got zero calories, so go ahead and savor this medium-bodied delight to your heart’s content. Ideal with coffee, this Corona satisfies with sweet, creamy goodness all the way down to the nub.
Noon: Southern Draw Rose of Sharon Desert Rose
Size: 5½” x 52 box-pressed Belicoso
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Claro
Binder: Nicaraguan Condega Habano
Filler: Honduran Corojo 99, Dominican Piloto Cubano Ligero
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” wrote Shakespeare. That’s certainly true of Southern Draw’s “Desert Rose,” the follow-up to their highly celebrated Rose of Sharon cigars. The Desert Rose also comes with some impressive new features – a more adventurous filler core, and a voluptuous, box-pressed Belicoso shape. This more robust Sharon retains her commanding balance as notes of earth, leather, oak, and spice bloom unabashedly on the palate. A fragrant, flavor-packed, mid-day treat that by any other name would be as pleasurable.
Night: Villiger La Meridiana Toro Box Press
Size: 6″ x 54 box-pressed
Strength: Medium to Medium-Full
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Named for one of Cuba’s most prestigious bygone cigar factories, Villiger La Meridiana cigars come by way of Heinrich Villiger’s fascination with Cuban history. Serving a full-flavored complement of oak, leather, caramel, and diverse spices, the Toro Box Press is pure Nicaraguan perfection. Smoke it with its recommended pairing, 1804 Grand Imperial Orange Liqueur, and it’s a marriage made in nirvana. Whether you’re basking in your favorite chair, or exploring constellations in the evening sky, this lush, opulent cigar will fascinate you in all the right ways.
Morning: Perdomo 20th Anniversary Connecticut Corona Grande
Size: 6½” x 48
Strength: Mellow-plus to Medium
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade
Let’s say you’re having one of those mornings where you overreached on the cocktails the night before. Handcrafted to perfect proportions, the Perdomo 20th Anniversary Connecticut Corona Grande cigar is so well-rounded it’ll take the hang out of a hangover. The sweet, sobering aroma coming off its silky Connecticut wrapper sets the stage for an idyllic medley of earthy spice, sweet cedar, coffee bean, and toasted almonds. Paired with a mug of bold coffee, within the hour you’re ready to seize the day.
Noon: Aganorsa Leaf Connecticut Robusto
Size: 5¼” x 50
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade
Binder: Aganorsa Leaf Nicaraguan
Filler: Aganorsa Leaf Nicaraguan
Presenting a very similar blend to the Perdomo 20th above, yet, a very different cigar. The Aganorsa Leaf Connecticut Robusto imparts a creamy, stimulating mix of earth, black pepper, oak, toasted nuts, and sweet spice on a long finish. And if that doesn’t get your motor runnin’, the pepper-laden retrohale will hoist your heels just above ground. Loaded with some of the finest Nicaraguan estate-grown tobaccos, this beautifully-balanced smoke checks all the right boxes.
Night: Davidoff Nicaragua Box Pressed Toro
Size: 6″ x 52 box-pressed
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro (aged 10 years)
Binder: Nicaraguan Habano Jalapa
Filler: Nicaraguan Estelí ligero, Ometepe, Condega
The Davidoff Nicaragua Box Pressed Toro is the perfect ending to a day well spent. A decade in the making, this puro beams with opulence starting at the capa – a pristine, 10-year-aged Habano Oscuro wrapper. Dense, chewy smoke oozes intense notes of earth, salted caramel, charred cedar, dark chocolate, and peppery spice, teasing the bitter and sweet regions of the palate. Creamy, complex, and otherworldly, this bona fide aficionado’s cigar is more than just a smoke – it’s an adventure.
Morning: Espinosa Crema Rabito
Size: 6″ x 46 Corona Gorda
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade
Draped in a blonde Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper, the Espinosa Crema Rabito joins the recent resurgence of fuller Connecticut wrapper blends. Translating to “small tail” in Spanish, the “Rabito” is so-named for its short, pigtail-spiked cap. A toasty patchwork of cedar, buttercream, nuts, and honey reign throughout in this well-proportioned cigar with a rich, creamy body. A neighborly coffee companion, the Rabito may also remind you of the last time you cozied-up to eggs & buttered toast at your favorite breakfast haunt.
Noon: Henry Clay War Hawk Toro
Size: 6″ x 50
Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut Shade
Binder: U.S Connecticut Shade
To put it ironically, the Henry Clay War Hawk Toro could pacify John Bolton. True, this Hawk is less aggressive than its name suggests, but it still packs a pretty provocative arsenal. For starters, it comes armed with a unique Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper and U.S Connecticut binder combo over Honduran long-fillers. Next, earth, oak, toasted nuts, and sweet spice strike the palate, as light pepper lingers in their wake. And although it flirts with treading into full-bodied territory, this Toro fares much better on calmer seas.
Night: Oliva Serie V Lancero
Size: 7″ x 38 Panatela
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sun Grown Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan Jalapa Valley Ligero
Submitted in the interest of cigar smokers who have a special place in their hearts for Lanceros and Panatelas: When it comes to the top of the after dinner cigar food chain, the Oliva Serie V Lancero is the O.G. Achieving cigar rating scores as high as 95, its skinny frame harbors a reservoir of flavors so abundant it can barely contain itself. Espresso, dark chocolate, nutmeg, almonds, and a rack’s worth of spices wind through an ever-changing terrain for a rich, complex, and memorable cigar.
Morning: Trinidad Estelí by Plasencia Robusto
Size: 6″ x 50
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Jalapa Habano (vintage 2010)
Filler:Nicaraguan Jalapa Habano Seco and Viso, Ometepe Habano, plus Condega Habano Ligero (all vintage 2008)
Binder: Nicaraguan Jalapa Habano (vintage 2009)
This is one of those sleeper cigars that’s finally getting some long-overdue publicity. Built on a framework of vintage Jalapa-grown tobaccos, this classic Cuban cigar has been redefined with a diverse, all-Nicaraguan blend. Creamy notes of cedar, sweet spices, and citrusy notes abound, as floral notes dance in the aroma – a fragrant reminder of Trinidad’s Cuban roots. Ribbons of dark roast coffee, nutmeg, and caramel provide a pleasant change at several intervals, like turning over the cool side of the pillow. Rare is the cigar that can provide such a welcome wake-up call.
Noon: Macanudo Inspirado Orange Toro
Size: 5 3/4″ x 52
Wrapper: Honduran OSA (Olancho San Agustin)
Binder: Honduras (Jamastran)
Filler: Dominican Republic (Piloto Cubano), Honduras (Jamastran), Nicaragua (Ometepe)
If you’re a veteran cigar smoker who has put Macanudo cigars behind you, the Inspirado Orange Toro could be just the cigar to pull you back into the fold. Featuring a mostly Honduran leaf blend highlighted by a proprietary OSA wrapper, the creamy smoke wastes little time serving-up a well-balanced menu of light saltiness, earth, cedar, tea, ripe berries, and sweet spice. As the flavors roll merrily-along, it’ll have you anticipating what goodies it’s going to bring next to the party. Rich and complex throughout, the Macanudo Inspirado Toro is eager to please, and damn good at it, too.
Night: Enclave Broadleaf Churchill by AJ Fernandez
Size: 7″ x 52
Wrapper: U.S. Connecticut Broadleaf
Filler: Nicaraguan Estelí, Jalapa, Pueblo Nuevo
Coming off a 93 rating in the August 2019 issue of Aficionado, this dark cigar is a sight to behold and a pleasure to smoke. Solidly built, the oily Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper has a lustrous, mouthwatering glow, while the cold draw offers flavors of cocoa and coffee bean. Once lit, earth, salt, leather, pepper, and a zesty citrus note are revealed. The body shifts from medium to full at the midsection, and it’s all uphill from there in this after-dinner undertaking that’s nothing short of stunning.