What Makes a Cigar a “Best Cigar Value?”
By Gary Korb
For this December 2012 issue of our Best Cigar Value Buying Guide, we thought it would be fitting to bring you some of the best buys, and arguably, some of the best cigars of the year. That said, you can argue ad-infinitum over what makes a cigar “the best,” but it’s a lot easier to agree on “value.” Therefore, a “best buy” isn’t necessarily the best cigar; it’s a cigar that offers consistently good quality and flavor at a reasonable price.
Take this Buyer’s Guide, for example: five of the cigars are by Perdomo, CAO, Oliva, Montecristo and Rocky Patel. Most experienced cigar smokers would recognize these names instantly. Why? Because, high-rating scores and awards aside, they have proven to be companies that consumers trust to produce well-made and flavorful cigars year after year. As for the others, they may not have instantly recognizable brands on their collars, but they’ve been blended by tabaqueros who have earned the respect of their peers, and some of the blenders, such as Don Pepin, Jesus Fuego and Nestor Plasencia, market cigars under their own names. That reason alone makes them at least worth trying. The point is, you don’t have to spend a lot of money or go with a “name brand” to get the best cigar – or even a good one.
Most cigar smokers start out by choosing name brands for the reason I noted above – reputation. However, some name brands can take a big bite out of your budget, and like most consumers, cigar smokers want the most for their money, too.
By educating yourself about “alternative” cigars, you can buy cigars which, for the most part, have the same high quality tobaccos, craftsmanship and flavor with confidence. After all, when you think about it, you’re getting name brand cigars without the name brand price. Plus, in this case, you’re getting the best buys of both worlds. And so it goes…
Clipping your cigars: Make sure you get enough cap
Every cigar smoker has a preference in terms of how they clip their cigars. The key is, try to expose as much of the cap as possible without taking out the shoulders. Not doing so may lead to an uneven burn due to irregular air flow. Removing too much could cause the cigar to unravel. Therefore, don’t just snip the head of your cigar with the speed of a bartender opening a beer bottle on a busy night. Instead, clip the cap carefully by slowly squeezing and gently twisting the cutter. If you position the blades in just the right spot, the cap should literally pop off in a near perfect circle.
Don Tomas Special Edition Connecticut…A genuine U.S. Connecticut wrapper (the priciest of them all) gives these Honduran-made cigars a creamy, toasty and nutty character.
Gran Habano #1 Connecticut…A creamy, earthy & sweet-smoking Honduran cigar rolled in very delicate Ecuadorian wrappers. Gran Habano has consistently proven its value, and been called “the best cigar for the money” – and not a lot of it.
Montecristo…The legend. A fantastic cigar that combines lush Connecticut shade wrapper, surrounding an all-Dominican leaf core; the result is a luxuriously smooth, creamy smoke.
Nub Connecticut…A Connecticut wrapper with a Nicaraguan core render a smooth, medium-bodied smoke laced with complex woody and toasty flavors. More robust than you’d expect from a Connecticut, which makes for a solid value proposition.
Perdomo Habano Connecticut…Robust Nicaraguan long fillers are swathed in a perfectly-aged Connecticut wrapper, making for a full-flavored and complex smoke. One of Perdomo’s finest smokes, hands down.
601 Habano Oscuro (Green Label)…601’s Green Label selection is, by all accounts, perhaps the most flavorful and complex cigar in Espinosa’s entire line; rolled in an oily Nicaraguan-grown maduro leaf, for extra flavor points.