Gary Korb takes one more look at the Holidays with his list of top shelf cigars adorned with fancy white & gold bands. Whether it’s a last minute gift idea or a humidor-worthy primo to ring-in the New Year, you’ll find 12 of them all dressed-up and ready to smoke.
2012 CA Report: Best Torpedo Cigar Recommendations
Tapered Head Heaven: Over a Dozen Torpedo Cigar Recommendations
By Gary Korb
The list of recommended smokes I’m about to lay out today are all tapered head cigars, also referred to as “Figurados.” A figurado is also identified by its non-straight-sided shape, which is why they are given names like Torpedo, Belicoso, Pyramid, Diademas, Perfecto, and Double Perfecto (tapered at both ends). Not surprisingly, the names of these frontmarks originated in Cuba. Since figurados are commonly rolled to wider ring gauges, they naturally offer more flavor and complexity. Moreover, by design, the atypical tapered head is intended to concentrate the smoke as it passes through the head’s narrow pathway. The narrower you make the cut, the more concentrated the smoke, whereas the wider you make the cut, the thicker the smoke.
To the novice, a Torpedo cigar, a Belicoso and a Pyramid all look identical, but there is a difference. Torpedoes have a rounder tapered head with a body that’s a little thicker in the middle (traditionally bulged), a flat foot, and are normally about 6 to 6 1/2 inches in length. Belicosos are generally about the same length as Torpedoes, but have a much sharper head. Pyramids share the same pointed head as Belicosos, but the body tends to flare out to a wider ring at the foot. Of course, frontmarks are named at the discretion of the manufacturer. For example, the Mi Barrio “El Billetero” is a Belicoso with a fancy name. Most Pyramids (or Piramides), are labeled as a “No.2,” like the legendary Montecristo No.2.
Figurados are often higher in price, too. One reason is the extra tobacco used in the cigar. But it has more to do with the skill required to roll them properly, which is why figurados are only assigned to the factory’s most experienced tabaqueros. If you’re a regular cigar smoker and have never smoked a figurado like a torpedo cigar, you’re really missing out on some marvelous smokes.
Expertly crafted by Erik Espinosa, this dark, ultra-smooth smoking cigar lacks the peppery spice of the 601 Red, but more than makes up for it in naturally-derived sweetness that comes with the maduro’s extra fermentaion energy. Full bodied, to be sure (and especially so, in torpedo format) – 601 Blue brims with an unexpected complexity that’s underscored by lush caramelized flavors.
From the company who earned the #1 spot for the “Top 25 cigars” in 2011, yet another figurado flavorfest: the T11’s 3-nation blend offers a smoke that’s well-balanced, medium-bodied and naturally sweet – and laced with toasty caramelized flavors, a treat to behold.
A heady blend of dark, rich-tasting tobaccos from Colombia, Nicaragua, Mexico, Hondura and Costa Rica, seamlessly rolled in oily Nicaraguan Habano wrappers offer a long, full-bodied torpedo cigar teeming with dark, complex flavors.
[Ed. Note: Alec Bradley MAXX The Curve cigars are no longer in stock at Famous Smoke Shop; click the image to view the updated look and size options now available in the MAXX cigar line.]
A TRUE double maduro with a robust 4-nation blend, Brazilian maduro binder and a mouthwatering, extra-fermented Connecticut broadleaf maduro wrapper offer a super-smooth, naturally sweet and luxuriously full-flavored smoke.
A toasty, creamy-smoking pyramide cigar blended with rich-tasting Honduran and Nicaraguan long filler tobaccos that have been tamed by a golden, silky Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper. The smoke is mellow, well-balanced and aromatic with some sweet spice on the finish.
A dynamite double perfecto deftly rolled in a golden Connecticut wrapper leaf that’s been aged 7 years. The smoke is perfectly balanced, ultra-smooth & creamy, and has not one iota of bitterness. Arguably, the best blend in the Preferidos collection.
How to cut a figurado or torpedo cigar
V-cutters tend to be the most effective way to clip tapered head cigars. Here’s why: For one, the V-cutter clips the head of the cigar leaving a cleft-shaped cut. It should be deep enough to give you a good draw, too. A standard double or single blade cutter will also do the trick, but if you cut the head too far down, the wrapper could unfurl, and there’s little hope for repairing it. Cut it too short and you may have a draw problem. That said, if you prefer using a double blade cutter on your “regular” shape cigars, here’s a fool-proof way to get a good cut on a parejo: Open the cutter and lay it flat on a table. Place the head in the middle of the cutter, clip it, and test the draw. The first clip will probably be too short. If so, repeat the process, take another draw, and see if it improved. It usually takes about two or three cuts to get the cigar to draw well, plus, you’ll keep the wrapper intact. This also allows you to customize the amount of smoke you want to draw through the head.
Blended with an all-Nicaraguan recipe, these full-bodied cigars hit on all cylinders. Dark, earthy-woody flavors with a shot of sweetness in the mix, and a dash of spice arguably classify this extraordinary figurado as “a perfect cigar.”
Reminiscent of the original Cuban Montecristo #2, the Montecristo White has a lush Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper that caps a Dominican & Nicaraguan long filler blend for a medium-bodied smoke that’s loaded with flavor.
A full-bodied, “straight-ligero” cigar blended with triple-fermented long fillers rolled in a savory maduro leaf. The smoke is extra-rich in flavor, perfectly balanced, and conveys a cocoa-infected sweetness laced with notes leather and spice.
This uniquely-blended torpedo cigar from Oliva Cigars is achieved by growing the same Cuban-seed tobaccos in different regions of northern Nicaragua. All of the tobaccos are aged a full 5 years for a memorable and complex smoke that’s so smooth, it’s never overpowering.
A 94-rated cigar with a classic blend of Dominican, Nicaraguan and Peruvian tobaccos, pressed in a dark, semi-sweet Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. This evergreen favorite gets its signature kick from a dash of spicy Peruvian ligero.
One of the bestselling blends among all of the Romeo y Julieta lines, the Reserva Real boasts an attractive Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper with a Nicaraguan/Dominican core. The smoke is toasty, sweet, well-balanced and medium-to-full in body.
A robust cigar with plenty of dark, spicy flavor. A Nicaraguan Habano wrapper & binder combo surrounds a zesty core of Honduran and Nicaraguan long fillers. Expect a rich, earthy smoke with notes of cocoa, coffee and some sweet spices.