Starting with La Gloria Cubana, Michael Giannini has worked shoulder-to-shoulder with many of the best people in the premium cigar business – so which cigars have had the most impact on his nearly 40-year career? Watch Michael count them back to Gary Korb in this Advisor exclusive.
CA Report: Green Cigars For St. Patrick’s Day
Go Green: Green Cigars For St. Patrick’s Day!
Updated March 2018
March is painted green as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day every March 17th. To help spread some green around the interwebs, I took it upon myself to highlight some of my favorite Candela wrapper (you might also see them called Claro or “jade”) stogies, commonly referred to as Green Cigars, for St. Patrick’s Day. Now, I know you’re thinking green cigars are weird and don’t look like traditional cigars. Let me put your fears to rest right now: Candela cigars were just as popular back in the ’60s as our traditional brown cigars are in the present. It’s true – so isn’t it about time we cast off this stigma that green is a bad thing, and start embracing the real traditional cigar again?
Before I jump right into my list, I couldn’t go without telling you how Candela wrappers are made. And unlike that atrocious green beer you’re compelled to drink on Parade day, there’s actually some care and preparation that goes into making green cigars.
We all know, or at least should know, the fermentation process and curing process of brown cigars takes a long time. It’s normally a pain in the tuckus, and takes up a lot of real estate for a long period of time. This is quite the opposite for Candela wrappers, which take a matter of days to create: by essentially blasting some massive heat by means of charcoal or electric heaters at the leaves while they are hanging in the barns (up to about 165 degrees Fahrenheit, or the average temperature on a mild summer’s day in Phoenix). Vents are also opened at the top of the barns so the heat can carry the moisture out, creating the most ungodly dry heat you’ll ever experience. This dries the leaves out at an incredibly quick pace (about 48-72 hours); on the final day of curing, the leaves are simply left hanging with the barn doors essentially left wide open. This allows a small amount of moisture to naturally be absorbed by the leaves. If the last step in the process was skipped, the leaves would be too brittle to roll cigars and would crumble. This process eliminates the need for fermentation as well, which is also a massive time saver. After all this is done, boom – you’ve got a green wrapper.
You now know everything there is to know about Candela wrappers. Congratulations. Now let’s get into our “Lucky 7” picks for top St. Patrick’s Day cigars that’ll shake your shamrock:
Alec Bradley Black Market Filthy Hooligan
So to kick off my list of green cigars for St. Patrick’s Day, I have selected the ultimate no-brainer: The Alec Bradley Black Market Filthy Hooligan. You can’t really get more St. Patrick’s Day themed than this sucker. Made by the Filthy Hooligans at Alec Bradley Cigars, these offer a crazy amount of flavor, all presented in one of the best looking boxes out there. It just screams cool. This is of course an extension of the Alec Bradley Black Market that has been wildly popular with cigar smokers everywhere, only this now comes equipped with a Candela/Maduro barber pole wrapper. I had the pleasure of smoking the original Hooligan (it was just Candela) when it came out, which was also my first green cigar – and was blown away by it. Expect the same flavor you love from a Black Market, updated with a more pronounced sweetness. But don’t worry, it still packs a bit of a punch with a medium-bodied strength level. Don’t let the easygoing green coloration fool you, if you only smoke mellow cigars; however, this may be a good stepping stone if you’re looking to explore stronger cigars.
Arturo Fuente Claro
If you are a mellow cigar smoker, give this Fuente a shot. In my list of Candela Cigars for St. Patrick’s Day, you may be thrown by the use of the word Claro. En Español, this simply means “Clear,” or for our purposes “Light.” Essentially, any time you see the word Claro in the cigar biz, we’re talking about a light colored cigar which can be anything from a Connecticut Shade-Grown wrapper to a Candela. In any case, Arturo Fuente Claros are actually one of the hottest selling cigars – and not just during St. Patrick’s Day! It’s an everyday go-to cigar for a lot of Candela lovers who shop with us. They swear up and down it’s the best mellow cigar money can buy – and yes, they are in fact scrumptious.
The thing about Candela wrapper cigars…they’re kind of few and far between, these days. But that hasn’t stopped big names like Camacho from rolling out their signature feisty-as-hell Corojo tobaccos in Claro form, making these green cigars among the most potent little lucky charms of the pack. That’s a bit of a surprise, as green cigars are historically known to carry tasting notes that lean grassy, sweet and mellow; some would even call them an acquired taste. But the intensity of a cigar is the sum of its parts: even on a good day, the Camacho Corojo is inclined to rough house your taste buds a little…so expect more of the same, tinged this time with a bit more sweetness.
La Flor Dominicana Double Claro
Okay all you full-bodied junkies out there. The next two are stronger than Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime only without the funny accent. The LFD Double Claro is an essential on our list of green cigars for St. Patrick’s Day. How can it not be? I’m a little biased when it comes to La Flor Dominicana, to be honest – it’s a fantastic cigar company with a lot to offer with every cigar they make. Plus I love strong cigars and these guys are the masters at knocking people on their asses. The Double Claro is different though. This is more of a medium offering from the lighter Candela wrapper that is featured with the cigar, but still offers a ton of flavor from its Dominican longfillers. I never got a spicy taste with this cigar though others claim they taste a bit of pepper at the beginning, but it smoothes out into a sweet, earthy taste.
ACID Blondie Green
At some point, the chiefs at Drew Estate decided that the ACID fans deserved to get in on the action…and because you can’t get enough o’ the sweets on St. Patty’s Day, your infused green cigar fix has arrived. Everything you love about the Blondie is here…the sweet taste, the head-turning aroma, Drew Estate’s super-top secret infusion recipe. But upping the game on this ACID Blue label staple is a smooth n’ sweet Candela wrapper, which serves to amplify the mellow-yet-aromatic taste of the original. Like ’em bigger? It’s your lucky day: opt for the ACID Kuba Kuba Green, a bigger 5 x 54 smoke that’ll have your Irish eyes smiling in no time.
The Upsetters Para El Sapo
And now for something completely different…Nick Melillo goes way off the reservation to make this figurado – Jamaica, to be exact, where a strain of tobacco called “cow tongue” has been grown for generations. A Drew alum, Nick stumbled across this tobacco while visiting/celebrating Bob Marley’s 70th birthday…infused it with his own blend of herbs and spices…wrapped it in a traditional Candela finish, and ta-dahhh: The Upsetters. There’s a hefty dose of Nicaraguan tobacco in there too, because (a) it adds complexity and (b) Nicaragua has its own flavor of reggae. The perfect smoke, if your Irish tunes are more “Paddyrasta” than Dropkick Murphys.
The Illusione 88 Robust Candela is the final primo choice on my “Green Cigars for St. Patrick’s Day” list. Honestly, any Illusione cigar can be on this list. If you’ve never tried any Illusione, you’re really missing out. The MJ12 Maduro is my top recommendation out of anything they make, but the 88 Candela makes the cut because it’s green. This is another full-bodied offering that can roundhouse kick you harder than Chuck Norris if you aren’t careful, but is sure to offer you the most complexity out of any cigar on the list. Spicy tones are consistent throughout yet die down a bit towards the end with an underlying sweetness coming to the forefront from a toasted nutty flavor.
So there you have it, folks – the green cigars you should try, plus a side of knowledge. Go green – and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!