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2016 CA Report: Best Premium Cigars Under $3
Five of the Best Premium Cigars Under $3
By Gary Korb
Let’s start with a simple fact: there’s a virtual sea of cheap cigars to wade through on the market. I’m not even talking about the machine-made cigars; I’m referring to premium imported handmade cigars, many of which are listed under oddball names among a whole host of mail-order cigar catalogues. Cigar smokers love a great deal, but as the saying goes, you usually get what you pay for. It’s no wonder a lot of cigar smokers get the impression that really well-made premium cigars for $3.00 or less are rarer than black pearls. However, if you dive deep enough, you can always find some incredible values.
The real question is, which cigars offer the best quality, taste, and satisfaction at that price?
Here at CigarAdvisor.com, our editorial staff has written a lot of articles on the best cigar values; be it the best cigars under $5, or the best cigar values with regard to their respective countries of origin, or the most affordable cigars respective of strength, and just about every other category you can imagine, we’ve always tried to point our readers to the best cigar deals.
Now, when it comes to cigars under $3, specifically those that offer many of the same characteristics as the best premium cigars costing three, four and five times as much – generally speaking, that is – you usually have to look to the bundle cigar. Before you say, “WHAAAA?” note that the quality of many bundle cigars has come a long way from the 50¢ bargain bin cheapo.
Last year, my colleague, Tommy Zman, wrote about the best value bundle cigars, many of which came immediately to mind when I began to write this report, such as the La Zona Factory Selects, Connecticut by J. Fuego, and Perdomo Fresco, to name a few. I also thought of my old standbys like Flor de Oliva, or the Occidental Reserve and National Brand cigars, which have always been popular.
Rather than rehash cigars that are already known entities, I began looking for a handful of quality-made premium cigars under $3 that may not be on your radar screen. Additionally, the following five cigars are all premium class and made at some of the best cigar factories in Central America.
El Suelo Vuelos (4½” x 38 / 5 packs & sleeves of 50 cigars = $2.90 ea. MSRP / $2.61 ea. based on current Famous Smoke Shop pack price)
Leading off our list of sub-$3 Best Premium Cigars is El Suelo. I discovered this Pete Johnson (of Tatuaje Cigars fame) creation late last year when I picked-up a bundle of his El Suelo Terreno, which cost just a little more than $3 apiece. The El Suelo Vuelos come in at just under the $3 price tag, and offer a medium-bodied Petite Corona that’s stoked with earthy Nicaraguan flavor and sweet-spicy notes in the mix. Made by the Garcia family at their My Father Factory in Estelí, the Oscuro wrappers are dark, oily, rich in flavor, and smoke like a dream. All I can add to that is, if Pete Johnson is behind the blend, you’re going to get a top quality smoke, regardless of the price.
How does under $2 a smoke sound? That’s about what you’ll pay for this exquisite smoke from Gran Habano Cigars who, under the guidance of George Rico, have consistently produced some of the most flavorful cigars on the market. This delectably complex blend was originally released as “3 Siglos,” but a trademark dispute forced them to discontinue the line. Despite the name change, the blend remains the same and consists of Colombian, Costa Rican and Nicaraguan Ligero longfillers rolled in a dark, savory Nicaraguan wrapper. Expect a smooth, creamy, full-flavored smoke brimming with toasty-woody flavors accentuated by notes of cocoa, roasted almonds, and sweet spice. I chose the Torpedo, but you can’t miss with any of the sizes.
[Ed. Note: Gran Habano Triple cigars are no longer in stock at Famous Smoke Shop; click the image to view other affordable Gran Habano cigar options.]
When you look at the reviews and actually taste what’s in this ample-sized Robusto, you’ll understand why I included the La Floridita Pancho Maduro. We’re talkin’ Plasencia-quality tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic neatly rolled inside a semi-sweet Habano maduro wrapper. If you’re wondering why this brand has now grown into four selections, this is the blend that started it all. For around $2.40 a smoke (MSRP, less on sale), you get a full-flavored, well-balanced cigar at a consistently low price across the entire line. If you prefer a natural wrapper, you’ll find them in the line, too, at the same price.
The cigars coming out of Erik Espinosa’s La Zona factory have had their share of high-scoring success of late, and riding that wave are La Sirena Cigars, which have also come into their own as some of the best boutique cigars in their division. For around $2.70 apiece (based on the bundle price), the Mermaid by La Sirena line offers superb quality and taste from an all-Nicaraguan tobacco blend wrapped in attractive Habano Rosado wrappers. The cigar leads with peppery spice then rounds-out to offer notes of coffee and cedar for a well-balanced, medium-bodied smoke that belies its remarkably low price.
Another incredible find from one of the manufacturers of the world’s best premium cigars, J.C. Newman-better known for Brick House, Julius Ceaser, and Diamond Crown cigars, to name a few. Quorum Classic cigars are handmade in their Nicaragua facility with high-quality Nicaraguan fillers & binders rolled in Ecuadorian Sun Grown wrappers, and in recent years have become the #1 selling imported handmade bundle cigars. The Classic Toro will cost you anywhere from $1.90 to $2.36 a cigar depending on whether you find them on sale. (The latter price is based on the MSRP.) The smoke is medium-bodied with earthy-spicy notes and they make a wonderful “starter cigar” for new cigar smokers on a budget. Quorum are also made in Shade and Maduro lines at equally affordable prices.
These five sticks should give you a pretty good idea of what you can find with a gentle Cigar Advisor nudge. Whether they end up becoming your yard gars or a part of your regular rotation, they share the same quality craftsmanship, fully-aged tobaccos, well-rounded flavor, and affordable price.
If you’ve already discovered some of these blends, or plan on picking some of them up in the near future, please leave a comment and let us know what you thought.
Note: Prices mentioned reflect Famous Smoke Shop prices at the time of publication, per stick by box/bundle purchase, and are subject to change.