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2018 CA Report: Classic Cigar Brands That You Forgot How Good They Were

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10 Classic Cigar Brands That You Forgot How Good They Were

By Tommy Zman Zarzecki

Over the past ten years or so, a new crop of cigars by master blenders have taken the industry by storm. The likes of Don Pepin, AJ Fernandez, Perdomo and Drew Estate have been creating amazing cigars that are complex in body and loaded with flavors that come from multiple aged tobaccos. The world has gone ga-ga over these delicious blends and rightfully so; but the problem that has generated is that so many of the older, more classic cigar brands and blends just don’t get the love they deserve anymore, and unfortunately, I have been one of the prime culprits.

So many of us got caught up in these newer offerings, that the old classic standbys have become ignored by so many – well, so I thought. But when I searched on the Famous website for many of the great older brands that I smoked regularly during the boom era in the mid-nineties, I was blown away by the incredibly high customer ratings these so-called forgotten gems have received. So, I did like any lover of Latin American leafiness would do, and I started smoking them again… and DAMN, I can honestly admit that I forgot how good those premium sticks were! Shame on me, well not really, because now I’ve written this fine piece to remind you that it’s time you went back to your cigar roots and gave these beauties another go-around. And, if perhaps you never tried these classic cigar brands, get ready for a nice surprise for your taste buds, as well as your wallet.



Recommended: Fabuloso (Natural)

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Partagas is originally a classic Cuban cigar whose domestic cousins have been a hit for a very long time. The Fabuloso is a 7 x 52 Churchill that’ll last you a good 2 hours if you take it nice and slow. It has a ton of rich medium to full-bodied flavor, with notes of coffee, wood and earth that come from that Dominican and Mexican fillers and a beauty of a Cameroon wrapper. A highly rated throwback.


Sancho Panza Extra Fuerte

Recommended: Madrid

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Sancho Panza, another Cuban original comes in several blends, but damn, I forgot how delicious the Extra Fuerte is. This is a full-bodied, dark and natural toro (but not strong), featuring an all Honduran inner core and a gorgeous Rosado colored sun grown Habano wrapper. It’s a little peppery at the start, but then some nice caramelized flavors come in to play with a smack of black cherry. Me love this long time.



Recommended: Punch (Natural)

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And yet another cigar with a Cuban bloodline, the Punch is a Honduran made stick brimming with full flavor. This one may be a slim shaped Lonsdale, but man does it ever smoke rich, bold, and fragrant. Inside you’ve got a three-country mix of Nicaraguan, Honduran and Dominican tobacco, and the outer leaf is a nice chocolate-brown Ecuadorian Sumatra. I smoked a lot of these along with the Punch Pita, and I’m gonna smoke even more.


Arturo Fuente

Recommended: 858 Natural

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The 858 was one of the very first cigars I got hooked on in the mid-1990’s and my dad, to this day, smokes them like crazy. In fact, one side of his garage is lined from floor to ceiling with the beautiful little cedar chests that they are packaged in. Made in the Dominican Republic, as all Fuentes are, it’s a 6 x 47 corona that sports a lovely Cameroon grown wrapper leaf that surrounds delicious, medium-bodied Dominican aged inner goodness. Notes of cedar and coffee make it a true go-to smoke.


AVO Classic

Recommended: Classic No. 2

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Top of the line and smooth as silk, the Avo Classic is just that. The great Avo Uvezian loved the finer things in life, and he had master blender, Henke Kelner create him a cigar that met his high standards. This No. 2 is actually a toro size made with five different Dominican tobaccos aged from the Ciabo Valley and wrapped in a silky Ecuadorian Connecticut leaf. Sweet and creamy, it’s a masterpiece that has gotten raves for ever.



Recommended: Montecristo (Yellow) Churchill

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Among the classic cigar brands, everyone knows the name of the Monte…it set the standard for Cuban cigars, while its Dominican counterpart is known for its golden and silky-sweet Connecticut wrapper leaf. It’s milder to medium-bodied, producing one heck of a mellow smoking treat. You’ll enjoy wonderfully pronounced notes of cedar, coffee, and a lingering nuttiness on the palate. This Monte is a very longtime fave of many and highly rated for a good reason.


La Gloria Cubana

Recommended: Wavell Maduro

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I smoked the hell out of the Wavell back in the day and when I tried one last week, I was banging myself over the head for turning my back on the little fireplug. This 5 x 50 true robusto isn’t a complex smoke, but it sure delivers consistently bold flavor for the entire ride. The outside wears an oily, thick, Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper that imparts a wonderful natural sweetness. Straight-up notes of spice, black pepper, and dark coffee are what you get and you’ll like it!


Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real

Recommended: Porta Real

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And yet another cigar I smoked the bejeezuz out of in the past, that is so smooth and so tasty that I question my judgement for ignoring this naturally sweet taste treat. This one is a thin, 7 x 36 Lancero that is perfectly constructed for an immaculate draw. Medium-bodied with a naturally sweet Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, the inside features a zesty blend of Nicaraguan and Dominican leaves. This is another one I smoked a ton of, and I don’t understand why I stopped – but that’s all about to change.


Hoyo de Monterrey

Recommended: Rothschilds Maduro

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BOOM THERE IT IS! Among the classic cigar brands, these are the ultimate little dark chocolate bars of the cigar world. I smoked so many of these back in the day that the Hoyo logo started to form on my forehead. While the inner leaves are from Nicaragua, Honduras and the DR, it’s that sinfully oily, Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper that makes this the flavor explosion I love so much. They’re great dessert cigars that pair amazingly with a Tawny Port wine and a rich dark coffee. More please.


Joya de Nicaragua

Recommended: Antaño 1970 Alisado

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DOUBLE BOOM! Full-bodied and kick-ass from start to finish, and definitely NOT for the beginner. I remember I tried one of these when I was a noobie and I started seeing colors that don’t exist as well as dead relatives walking around the room. After a couple years of experience I tried it again and man, did I ever fall in love with this nitro bomb. This 6 x 52 dark natural toro may be strong from its aged Nicaraguan ligero leaves, but it’s a very smooth smoke that is capped by a gleaming Nicaraguan Criollo. Pour yourself a stiff belt, make sure your stomach is nice and full, then sit back and enjoy the hell out of it.


So, tell me what you guys think about these throwback beauties. And, if you haven’t had one of these classic cigar brands in a while, it’s definitely time to partake once again.

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Tommy Zman Zarzecki

Tommy Zman Zarzecki


Tommy Zman, is an obsessive enjoyer of life’s leafy pleasures. Growing up in the bowels of northern New Jersey, parented by an eccentric Polish father and a neurotic Italian mother, what else could this man possibly be other than a humorist? ZMan’s a real throwback to a time when men were kings of the castle and smoking a cigar in public didn’t label you an outcast and a pariah. He’s an old–school down to earth guy - but when it comes to p.c. tyranny and nanny-state legislature, he’ll draw his sword and swing for the fences. Tommy gathered a faithful following as a longtime feature writer at Cigar Magazine, and his testosterone laden FaceBook community, CROMAG NATION™ is truly the last great bastion for Men’s Men.

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