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.
Cuban Heritage Cigars Buying Guide
Cuban Heritage Cigars: How Castro’s Communist Revolution Created a New Cigar Industry
By Gary Korb
The names are familiar. Cohiba, Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, H. Upmann, Hoyo De Monterrey, Punch, Partagas, and more, all of which are identified with Cuba’s “Golden Age,” when cigars were king and Havana was the brightest star in the Caribbean. Then, in January 1959, came the ultimate buzzkill. Fidel Castro and his Communist regime force Batista out, and shortly thereafter begin nationalizing the tobacco farms. Families such as the Toraños, the Plasencias, the Perdomos, Olivas, Padrons, and others had little choice but to leave their native country, some with nothing more than the shirts on their backs and some loose change in their pockets. Generations of master tobacco growers and cigar makers were uprooted taking their talent, and thankfully, their seeds, not only to the United States, but to other Caribbean nations such as The Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua. However, these weren’t any ordinary emigres; they had an undying passion for what they did.
They had the last laugh, too. Not only did they build a new cigar industry, but they took it to new heights. Today they all produce cigars that have not only equaled the quality and flavor of Cuban cigars, but far exceeded their expectations. As a result, many of the classic brands listed above have been reinvented, and in most cases become as lauded and coveted as their Cuban originals. But don’t thank Fidel. Thank the families who, through their sheer determination and innate resourcefulness found a way to continue their fine tradition of growing great tobacco and producing great cigars.
How to help keep your cigars from turning bitter in the last act
Some cigars start out great, but turn bitter near the end. Often it’s just the nature of the cigar, but if it happens a lot, it may be more about your smoking technique. Cigars naturally build up bitter-tasting tars as they burn. If you draw too hard and/or too often, even more tars will build up in that last section. So here’s one solution: When you get down toward the band, let your cigar rest longer between puffs. About two minutes should do it. By taking it slow during that last act, you’ll preserve more of your cigar’s core flavors, and get more cigar for your money, too.
Arguably more popular than it’s Cuban cousin, this “red dot” version offers a marvelously rich-tasting smoke rolled in naturally sweet Cameroon wrappers. Now, it’s among the most popular Cuban heritage cigars.
Renowned for its sensational aroma, these Cuban heritage cigars are made in the Dominican. They’re mellow-smoking, and offer rich, creamy flavors. Perfect for that first cigar of the day.
Another Cuban classic, Gispert is now made in Honduras – it’s one that offers plenty of creamy-nutty flavors, as it’s rolled in rich-tasting Ecuadorian Connecticut wrappers.
H. Upmann Vintage Cameroon
This figurado didn’t earn a “92” for nothing. This once-Cuban brand hits on all cylinders for its depth, balance and delectable Cameroon wrapper.
Hoyo de Monterrey
Leaving Cuba hasn’t hurt this popular maduro selection made with a savory Honduran, Nicaraguan and Dominican tobacco blend.
La Gloria Cubana
Ernesto Perez-Carrillo’s first legacy, blended with Dominican & Nicaraguan long fillers rolled in lush Ecuadorian wrappers for a smooth, flavorful and extra rich-tasting smoke.
The cigar that made Montecristo famous! This highly-rated Dominican version boasts mild, perfectly-aged Dominican long fillers rolled in golden, silky Connecticut wrappers.
From the gifted hands of Ramon Cifuentes to worldwide acclaim, these Cuban heritage cigars boast a rich-tasting blend of Dominican & Mexican Cuban-seed tobaccos rolled in toothy Cameroon wrappers.
Famous for their “punchy” Cuban-like taste, this Honduran, Nicaraguan and Dominican blend offers an extra smack of goodness rolled in a variety of wrapper choices – each delicious.
The talk of Havana in 1928, today’s medium-bodied Honduran version offers a creamy, nutty 3-nation blend rolled in silky, aromatic U.S. Connecticut wrappers.
Romeo y Julieta
So good, it sells itself. Like Cohiba, a legend among Cuban cigar brands – thisDominican-made Romeo, however, offers rich cedar and roasted nut flavors rolled in aromatic Indonesian shade-grown wrappers.
Saint Luis Rey
A hearty Nicaraguan-Honduran blend rolled in dark, sultry Mexican wrappers. An extraordinary smoke, chock full of earthy, spicy and semi-sweet flavors.
A complex, full-flavored experience that will have your palate turning cartwheels: this Pepin Garcia recreation of the original Cuban brand is now a Nicaraguan puro offering hints of chocolate, nuts, espresso, earth and cedar.
Blows the current Cuban version away with a toasty, nutty and mildly spicy blend of Honduran, Nicaraguan and Dominican tobaccos pressed inside tasty Connecticut wrappers.