Cigar Buying Guides

2018 CA Report: 12 Dream Cigars for the Holidays


Seems like every winter we dream of a “White Christmas,” at least in most of the country. Thanks to the song by Irving Berlin, which inspired the Hollywood musical, White Christmas, not to mention those charming greeting cards by Currier & Ives, it’s a nostalgic image that’s become part of our American culture. The reality, of course, is that a white Christmas sounds wonderful until you have to go outside and shovel.

Yet, there is more than one way to experience a white Christmas. Since this is the time of year for celebrations, in the spirit of the holidays, I’ve put together this “album” of 12 top shelf cigars adorned with white and gold bands. (Think the 12 Days of Christmas.)

So, if you’ve been searching for some last-minute gift ideas, or are simply curious about what other humidor-worthy cigars may appeal to your palate, sing along with me.

Track 1: Aganorsa Leaf Signature Selection Toro

Size: 6″ x 52
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo ’99 Rosado Claro
Binder: Nicaraguan Corojo ’99
Filler: Nicaraguan Criollo ’98 and Corojo ’99
Body: Medium-plus

One of the finest creations to-date from Fernandez brothers, Ernest and Max. Sheathed in a gold foil wrapper, this cigar looks like a Christmas tree ornament. Blended with all Aganorsa Criollo ’98 and Corojo ’99 tobaccos grown in Estelí and Jalapa, the smoke is especially rich, creamy, nutty, and perfectly-balanced with a savory sweetness throughout. Earth, cedar, sweet spices and graham cracker meld into a virtual banquet of medium-plus goodness on a long finish.

Track 2: Davidoff Signature Series No. 6000

Size: 5″ x 48 Robusto
Wrapper: Connecticut Shade (Ecuador)
Binder & Filler: Dominican Republic
Body: Mellow – Medium

Formerly referred to as the “White Label” line, the Davidoff Signature Series No. 6000 embodies all of that Davidoff opulence and flawless construction, but its beauty is more than skin deep. The silky Connecticut wrapper is seamlessly rolled around a well-balanced blend of perfectly-aged Dominican long-fillers, revealing a creamy and subtly complex smoke with base notes of cedar, spice, and roasted nuts. Easily one of the most relaxing cigars in the Signature Series. Perfect for enjoying during the holiday downtime.

Track 3: Don Pepin Series JJ Belicoso

Size: 5¾” x 52 Figurado
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo
Binder & Filler: Nicaragua
Body: Full

Just about any Don Pepin or My Father cigar would suffice during the holidays, but this Series JJ in the Belicoso format is arguably the most exquisite. Handcrafted to perfection, the cigar draws effortlessly with a marvelous mix of cedar, leather, coffee and sweet spices from end-to-end. The smoke is especially creamy and well-balanced with a full, yet non-overpowering body. Even though it has a long burn time, it’s one of those nub-worthy cigars you wish would never end.

Track 4: Fratello Navetta Discovery

Size: 5″ x 50 Robusto
Wrapper: Connecticut Oscuro (Ecuador)
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Nicaragua
Body: Full

Named after the Space Shuttle Discovery (all Navettas are named after space shuttles), this cigar boasts a dark, glossy Connecticut-seed wrapper grown in Ecuador. Starting out with sweet notes of chocolate and dried fruit, the creamy smoke later reveals hints of coffee, caramel, earth, light peppery spice, herbal spice and cocoa. The flavors change hands at different points along the journey, culminating in an intensely, full-flavored final act. If you like complex cigars, there are plenty of flavors to be discovered in this Robusto.

Track 5: La Fontana Vintage Michelangelo

Size: 7½” x 52 Churchill
Wrapper: Connecticut Shade (Honduras)
Binder & Filler: Honduras
Body: Mellow

Some call it a “poor man’s Davidoff” for its similar-looking white label, graceful appearance, and affordable price. I call it a mighty tasty mellow cigar that can also serve as a gateway to Honduran cigars for newbs. The cap is sweetened, while the toasty smoke issues flavors of cedar, nutmeg, and some sweet tobacco notes. Ideal for that first cigar on Christmas morning – or any morning – for those who prefer lighter smokes. These cigars have been around a long time, and when you fire-up this Churchill, you’ll know why.

Track 6: Macanudo Inspirado White Robusto

Size: 5″x 50
Wrapper: 6-year-aged Connecticut-seed (Ecuador)
Binder: Indonesia
Filler: 4-year-aged Nicaragua (Condega & Jalapa), Mexican San Andrés
Body: Medium

One of three Inspirado releases from Macanudo this year created to appeal to both younger cigar smokers and Macanudo disciples who want something with more balls. All of the tobaccos are long-aged for extra smoothness and the construction is everything you’d expect from Macanudo. The smoke is medium in body issuing bold pepper upfront that rounds-out to rich, creamy flavors of earth, oak, and sweet spices. You can’t reinvent the wheel, but the Inspirado White Robusto makes it quite clear that this ain’t your grandfather’s Macanudo.

Track 7: Montecristo White Churchill

Size: 7″ x 54
Wrapper: Connecticut Shade (Ecuador)
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua
Body: Medium

I have to confess that one of the reasons I chose this cigar and the White Vintage below was because they had “white” in the name. However, this Montecristo White Churchill is well-deserving of a place on this list. The construction is par excellence, and the Nicaraguan fillers give this cigar a lot more punch and complexity than the mainline Montes. Dominant notes of cedar and oak meld in harmony with sweet spice, coffee bean, and some Nicaraguan earthiness for a long, creamy, and full-flavored smoke with a seductive aroma.

Track 8: Montecristo White Vintage No.2

Size: 6″ x 50 Pyramid
Wrapper: U.S. Connecticut Shade wrapper (2008)
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Peru
Body: Medium

The No.2 is one of Montecristo’s most infamous shapes, and this true Pyramid from the White Vintage selection is one of their best. The vintage 2008 Connecticut Shade wrapper offers a redolent aroma, burns beautifully, and really shines when married to the three-nation core blend below. The smoke draws effortlessly through the narrow head, issuing a hardy helping of thick, creamy, medium-bodied smoke that smacks of sweet spices and cedar from end-to-end. Even the box has attractive, Christmassy-colored graphics.

Track 9: Oliva Reserve Gilberto Blanc Robusto

Size: 5″ x 50
Wrapper: Connecticut Shade (Ecuador)
Binder & Filler: Nicaragua
Body: Medium

Named for the most recent Oliva patriarch, Gilberto Oliva, this very special cigar is blended with a core of specially-selected tobaccos deftly rolled in a stunning Connecticut seed wrapper grown in Ecuador. Mellow enough to enjoy in the morning, yet flavorful enough to light-up at the end of a long day, or even after dinner, the medium-bodied smoke is delectably creamy issuing rich-tasting notes of earth, cedar, and sweet spice. Priced affordably, too, the Gilberto Blanc Robusto is the perfect anytime cigar with a savory Nicaraguan kick.

Track 10: Partagas Legend Fabuloso

Size: 6½” x 48 Churchill
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Honduran Olancho
Filler: Dominican Piloto Cubano
Body: Medium

This line extension took a little getting used to, but after several Partagas Legends, I was hooked on this outstanding Churchill. Set against the dark Connecticut Broadleaf wrappers, the white bands are strikingly elegant, while the core blend of choice Dominican Piloto Cubano long-fillers framed in a savory Honduran OSA binder make this another Jhonys Diaz masterpiece. The medium-bodied smoke issues a well-balanced serving of sweet spice, cocoa, and cedar – you may pick up a note of cinnamon, too. A luxurious smoke from start to finish.

Track 11: PDR 1878 Classic White Toro

Size: 6″ x 52
Wrapper: Connecticut Shade (Ecuador)
Binder: Dominican Criollo ’98
Filler: Dominican Criollo ’98, Nicaraguan Criollo ’98
Body: Medium

PDR was one of the early leaders in the boutique cigar category and this 1878 Classic White selection proves that they haven’t skipped a beat. Donned with a Cuban-style pigtail cap, the Dominican and Nicaraguan core of perfectly aged Criollo ’98 fillers seamlessly entubado rolled in a blonde Ecuador Connecticut wrapper give this medium-bodied cigar a rich, balanced, and creamy flavor profile. Notes of oak, vanilla, and sweet spice meld for a memorable journey in a cigar that’s also remarkably affordable.

Track 12: Rocky Patel ALR Toro

Size: 6″ x 52
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano-seed
Binder & Filler: Nicaragua
Body: Medium-plus

Blended with a glossy Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and an all-Nicaraguan core, the ALR Series was completed in 2015, but Rocky felt the flavors would develop even better flavor with longer aging, so the limited production run received three additional years of aging. YOWZA, was he right. With a smoke volume on steroids, this medium-plus cigar bubbles over with up-front notes of black pepper, then settles into a savory, well-balanced brew of cedar, espresso, and tangy berry notes on a long finish. As Rocky would say: “A really decadent smoke.”

BONUS TRACK: White Owl New Yorker

Size: 5 3/8″ x 41 Corona (Foil wrapped)
Wrapper & Binder: Homogenized
Filler: Mixed (Multi-nation)
Body: Mellow

This White Christmas album wouldn’t be complete without including one of the nation’s bestselling cigars—the White Owl New Yorker. It’s a classic, as machine-made cigars go, and the smokers of these Coronas are extremely loyal to them. The cigar issues a mucho mellow smoke with notes of sweet cedar, and it burns perfectly. Think of it as the Smart Car of the cigar world—it’s cheap and it’ll get you from Point A to Point B pretty efficiently.

I hope you’ve made some new discoveries, and if you enjoyed this article, or smoked any of the cigars in the list, please share it and leave a comment, too.