The Battle: Big Balls Edition - Cigar Buying Guide
Cigar Buying Guide: Big Balls Edition
Welcome to the Battle! You know what's funny? After doing a whole bunch of these Battles - you'd think we'd run out of things to say about these cigars. But that's not a problem, since we love these smokes - and we love a good competition. And after all this time, we still blow the whistle and call foul on pulling bogus "ratings" out of thin air. Instead, it's best to let the cigars do the talkin'. Our criteria for choosing these cigars haven't changed, either - we just happen to like 'em for one reason or another. But for comparison purposes, it's all about complexity for this Battle. By all accounts, each of these cigars are worthy of a smoke-filled victory lap thanks to a rich array of flavors. As for the individual descriptions themselves, we're going off of what flavor and body the fillers have, what qualities the wrappers have, and so on...plus a little bit of personal experience. So we present to you another set of smokes, laid out in a particular set of categories, ready to Battle.
For our competitors...consider this our current rendition of a cigar buying guide for sports fans. You'll also see that given the generous mix of tobaccos inside each one, these smokes are thick with body and flavor. In other words: for the most part, these are some serious cigars with some balls.
This month: behold the spectacle of sport! Though we were bribed to include soccer (hey man - everyone has a price) - each grouping is matched up with the most popular sports on earth...or that we, the Advisors, will at least watch on television. We've broken down each category by wrapper: Maduro, Connecticut, Sumatra & Habano...four totally different looks, feels, tastes and aromas. And to fight it out, we've matched each smoke with epic moments, people and influences each sport has had to offer. So think about it - where does Babe Ruth lie in the pantheon of sport vs. the Immaculate Reception? Is the "Super Bowl Shuffle" more important to history than the hockey fight? That's up to you to decide - as each category is a match for the ages that'll have you reaching for the Gatorade when you're done.
Read on, before we run out the clock in this month's Battle!
Perdomo's Champagne Noir makes us think of Philadelphia Eagle great Chuck Bednarik. Nick Perdomo has created his own "60-minute man" who plays both sides of the ball in a great balance between flavor and strength, thanks to its Maduro wrapper. And like Chuck, the Noir gets better with age: 20 months, to be exact. In 1960, "Concrete Charlie" - one of the most ferocious tacklers in football history - hit NY Giant Frank Gifford so hard he not only knocked the ball loose, but knocked Gifford into temporary retirement. This stick has some balls; and while the Noir won't level you like Bednarik hit Gifford, you'll hear its footsteps.
Onyx Reserve Maduro - a medium to full-bodied handmade that'll make you say, "Holy..." Which you heard loudly in 1972, as the Immaculate Reception unfolded. It's one of the most famous plays in the history of football, where the ball looked like it bounced off everything and into the hands of Franco Harris, who rumbled for 6 to give the Steelers the AFC divisional playoff win over Raiders. An instant classic, like the Onyx - which has a DR/Nicaraguan blend with a ballsy dash of Peruvian Ligero, that has a fiery-boldness equal to the Raiders' ruthlessness on the field for the rest of the decade after that mishap.
One look at the full-bodied 262 Revere, and selecting its match was unanimous: the 1985 Bears. The 15-1, "Super Bowl Shuffle" Chicago Bears. The Grammy-nominated (really) song sold a half-million records as the Bears beat the piss out of the Patriots that year. So get ready, or this Nicaraguan Puro will go Walter Payton on you and run all over yo' face. We're not sure which is more complex: the flavor of the 262, or Jim McMahon's lyrics.
Alec Bradley Connecticut cigars are - to us, anyway - akin to the only perfect game in the history of the World Series: Don Larsen pitching for the Yankees in Game 5 of the '56 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Here's why...a perfect game requires finesse, control and more than just a little spice in your pitch selection - all of which fit the AB Connecticut nicely. A blend of Nicaraguan and Honduran longfillers, it's mild to medium in strength with a little more balls, spice and complexity (in that order) than you'd expect from a Connecticut cigar. Larsen needed just 97 pitches to complete the game - the 97th, and last, was a called strike - and won him the Series MVP award. You just might want to give this flavorful burner an award of its own.
You say "steroids," we say "so what?" The 1998 home run chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa - where both players broke Roger Maris's home run record - made us care about baseball again. Glen Case has done the same for cigars, getting people to think a little differently about flavor in his smokes. Kristoff Brittania Reserva swings for the bleacher seats with Nicaraguan and Dominican long-fillers, but with a mild to medium-bodied profile that will get you as tingly as either of these guys staring at a high heater over the middle of the dish. It's a home run.
[Ed. Note: Kristoff Brittania Reserva cigars are no longer in stock at Famous Smoke Shop; click the image to view other Kristoff cigar options.]
It's a Connecticut - but like Babe Ruth, there's nothing mild when a name like Camacho gets involved. Camacho Connecticut is a blend of Honduran and Dominican longfillers, where spice still performs like The Sultan of Swat, who debuted in 1914 as a Red Sox starting pitcher (94-46 with a 2.28 ERA? Bitch, please.) Legend abounds in what happens next: Red Sox owner Harry Frazee trades Ruth to the Yankees for cash, which he used to back a Broadway show. What a deal: the Bambino retires as the greatest of all time, and the Sox walk away with a curse bearing his name, and go without a championship until 2004. The smart money, then, is on Camacho - full flavor without all the strength.
Rocky Patel Decade - it'll give you a warm, fuzzy feeling, like what we got when watching the "Miracle on Ice" - even though it was on a tape delay in 1980 (no kidding). It was instant history when a bunch of amateur and collegiate players took down the Soviets in a medal-round hockey game during the Lake Placid Olympics...and Rocky Patel broke through much the same way, when making his debut in the cigar world. Nicaraguan longfillers in Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper is Rocky's gold medal for his 10th Anniversary in the business, as it boasts body and flavor as soon as the puck is dropped.
There are moments in life - sports, and otherwise - when things evolve. The Toraños did it when they debuted Loyal, a medium body smoke that's as solid as Jacques Plante between the pipes. The Montreal Canadien did it in 1959 when he took a slapshot to the face, three minutes into a game against the Rangers - once stitched up, he returned to the ice wearing a homemade goaltender mask that he had been using in practice...and hockey changed forever. Plante helped the Canadiens win their fifth straight Stanley Cup that year - will Toraño's peppery blend of tobacco from Nicaragua and the DR win your heart in this Battle?
Remember Victory? Only in America can a movie about Allied POWs playing soccer against the Nazis bring together Sylvester Stallone, Pelé, Max von Sydow and Michael Caine. And it's that kind of amazing braintrust that came together to make CyB - a complex and balanced smoke comprised of tobaccos from Nicaragua, the Dominican, Ecuador and Peru - all places that Pelé is not from (he's from Brazil). The final product is medium-to-full in strength; which means you can kick back just fine with one and watch Victory on NetFlix in all of its footballing glory. Spoiler alert: the soccer match at the end of Victory ends in a draw; smoke the CyB and go for the win.
We have tailgating; they have soccer riots. We have die-hard fans; they have hooligans. Four Kicks kind of straddles the line, with a medium-bodied, full-flavored blend that opens big, bold, and in your face. Now, we're not saying that the spice in Four Kicks' Nicaraguan longfiller will make you want to knock down stadium walls and force us to call in the riot police...but we're not saying it won't, either. It's been said the Habano wrapper "leaves its fingerprints on your palate to remind you that it was there" - which will at least cause you to act somewhat disorderly like the more rabid soccer fans. No tear gas, we promise...
It would take a pretty important life event to make us want to spontaneously remove our clothes in public. Brandi Chastain did just that in '99, at the Women's World Cup, when her penalty kick gave the US the win over China in the final game. The image of her celebrating in her sports bra is now considered "one of the most famous photographs of a woman celebrating an athletic victory." We tend to have a similar reaction whenever we smoke La Aroma de Cuba: all Nicaraguan to the heart, it's wrapped in Ecuadorian Sun-Grown that already has us contemplating tearing our shirts off. Yep - it's that important.