Gary Korb presents his review of the Villiger La Meridiana Toro Box Press cigar in this #nowsmoking cigar review video. Gary paired the cigar with coffee and 1804 Grand Imperial Orange Liqueur. To get his take on this cigar, click here.
2016 CA Report: Top 10 Most Affordable Mild Cigars
The Top 10 Most Affordable Mild Cigars
by Gary Korb
Let’s begin with the question, What is “affordable?” The way I see it, affordable doesn’t mean cheap, it means “value.” You want the best cigar you can buy for your buck – period. But if I had to put a number on it, a high-quality, handmade cigar should cost you no more than $5.00, which by today’s standards is pretty reasonable.
The second question is, “What is “mild?” If you’re already a pretty experienced cigar smoker, you can skip the next two paragraphs. But if you’re still slashing your machete through a jungle thick with options, here are two things to keep in mind:
For one, the more mild cigars tend to have lighter colored wrappers. These leaves are often “shade grown” to avoid excessive sun light, which would otherwise make the leaves darker and stronger in flavor. The most popular mild wrapper is the U.S. Connecticut Shade for its mellow flavor and sweet aroma. Ecuadorian Connecticut seed is also mild and often used in lieu of the pricier U.S.-grown variety. Connecticut wrapper is also grown in Honduras. Generally speaking, cigar wrappers grown from Connecticut seeds are going to be on the mild side, but the flavor will vary depending on the soil and weather of the country in which they are grown. Other “popular” mild wrapper tobaccos include Sumatra and Indonesian, which have a delicately spicy note to them; African Cameroon, which has an appealing mix of sweetness & spice (more “Cuban” in flavor), and most Mexican wrapper leaf.
Secondly, whether a cigar is “mild,” or not, is a matter of personal taste, which is why sometimes cigars are ranked as “mild-medium,” or “medium-full.” Depending on your palate or experience, some cigars labeled by the manufacturer as “medium” may taste very mild to you, whereas a “mild” cigar may taste more “full.” Note here, that I’m referring to the cigar’s body, not its strength, so, as mild is to medium and vice-versa, there’s always going to be that grey area in-between that’s best defined by the smoker himself, or herself, as the case may be.
For the purposes of this report, I’ve listed 10 cigars in a variety of shapes, sizes, and wrappers that fall in to “mild,” “mild-medium,” and “medium” body class, but they’re all relatively mild cigars. The per-cigar prices are based on the box prices shown under each selection.*
Number 1: Arturo Fuente 8-5-8 Flor Fina Maduro (6″ x 47 Corona Gorda)
Price: $114.99/Box of 25
I’ve written about this dark and delicious classic on numerous occasions, and it deserves a spot in this list as well. The Connecticut Broadleaf maduro wrappers are some of the best you’ll find. Selling for around $4.60 a pop, the smoke is consistently sweet, mellow, and woodsy with a wisp of nutmeg. Just one Fuente Flor Fina 8-5-8 is enough to convince you why this cigar is so universally lauded by cigar smokers of every stripe.
Number 2: Gispert Churchill (7″ x 54)
Price: $53.99/Box of 15
The whole Gispert line is affordable, and I usually go for the Robusto, but a recent experience with the Churchill wowed me even more. And at around $3.60 a stick, this big boy offers tons of value. Rolled in buttery Ecuadorian Connecticut wrappers, the smoke is smooth and creamy offering flavors of sweet spice, coffee, and cedar, which has also made it one of my favorite “morning” cigars.
Number 3: Gran Habano #1 Connecticut Gran Robusto (6″ x 54)
Price: $83.99/Box of 20
I was a regular smoker of this cigar for years until I grew out of it and moved to the more full-bodied Gran Habano Corojo #5. If you want a mild cigar with more flavor, this is it, and at around $4.20 a cigar you get a lot of smoke for the money. The Ecuadorian wrappers are very delicate, so handle carefully, but when lit, the smoke is very creamy, mellow, and sweet, while the Nicaraguan fillers offer an impressive earthy-richness that’s often lacking in some mild cigars.
Number 4: La Fontana Vintage Michelangelo (7½” x 52 Double Corona)
Price: $65.99/Box of 20
What I like about these mellow, sweet-capped Honduran puros is that they give your palate a sense of how quality, Honduran-grown tobaccos taste, and at around $3.30 a smoke, the price is nice, too. All of the fillers & binders are long-aged and rolled in velvety Connecticut seed wrappers offering a true mild cigar that’s mellow, creamy, and woody with a honey-like flavor profile.
Number 5: Macanudo Café Lords (4¾” x 49 Robusto)
Price: $108.95/Box of 25
If you thought Macanudo cigars were too expensive, check this out: Sized right between a classic Rothschild and a Robusto in length, the Lords puts a classic mild smoke between your fingers for around $4.36 apiece. The silky U.S. Connecticut wrappers used on Macanudo Café cigars are the best in the world, and they’re cured using a proprietary method that’s used only for this brand. The smoke is mellow, well-rounded, and fragrantly sweet, with a nutty-cedary flavor profile.
Number 6: Occidental Reserve Robusto (4 7/8” x 50)
Price: $48.99/Mazo of 20
If you like the Macanudo Lords above, you’ll almost certainly enjoy these Occidental Reserve Robustos. The consistently high quality and low retail price of these mild cigars has made them one of the hottest-selling brands on the market for years, and a mazo of these comes to around $2.45 a smoke. Here again, you’re get that marvelously silky U.S. Connecticut wrapper leaf and Dominican long-filler blend for a smoke that’s crisp and mellow with an appealing nutty-woody flavor.
Number 7: Oliva Serie G Torpedo (6½” x 52/Box pressed)
Price: $120.99/Box of 25
Here’s a cigar that offers all the rich, earthy flavor of prime Nicaraguan tobacco mellowed by an African Cameroon wrapper in a beautifully box-pressed Torpedo shape. This savory combination offers a more medium-bodied smoke that’s very smooth, yet a little more robust, with notes of cedar, spice and coffee. This is a great gateway cigar for new cigar smokers who want a good example of what a fine Nicaraguan cigar tastes like, and the $4.84 per cigar price makes this Oliva gem a great buy, too.
Number 8: Rocky Patel American Market Selection Toro (6″ x 52)
Price: $81.99/Box of 20
No affordable mild cigar list would be complete without this bestseller from Rocky Patel. I chose the Toro not only for its value at around $4.10 a smoke, but it’s been one of my “go-to’s” for years, and I’ve never been disappointed. A well-balanced blend of Nicaraguan & Honduran tobaccos rolled in buttery Ecuadorian Connecticut wrappers makes for a sweet, creamy, and cedary smoke that’s especially tasty in the morning, but enjoyable any time of day.
Number 9: Romeo y Julieta 1875 Cedro Deluxe No.1 (6½” x 44 Lonsdale)
Price: $113.03/Box of 25
I selected these Romeos for a few reasons that go beyond their affordable price – about $4.53 apiece: For one, I think the Lonsdale is one of the most flavorful, yet underrated cigar shapes; secondly, it has an Indonesian shade-grown wrapper used exclusively for this RyJ selection; and thirdly, these mild cigars taste great. Well-balanced flavors of cedar, oak, sweet-spice, and nuts make for a mellow, creamy, and complex treat.
Number 10: Vudu Sacrifice No.9 (6½” x 50 Churchill)
Price: $68.99/Humidification Jar of 19
At around $3.63 per smoke, these Vudu Sacrifice Churchills not only come with a great Jesus Fuego-blended pedigree, they come in their own edgy-designed, air-tight humidor that can be refilled with more of your favorite cigars almost indefinitely. Using a rich-tasting core blend of Honduran & Nicaraguan long-fillers capped with a savory Corojo wrapper, the smoke leans more to the medium-body side, and offers a little more spice, but thanks to the larger Churchill dimensions, the overall flavor profile is very smooth and creamy with notes of nutmeg, caramel, and cedar.
So, there you have it. 10 top-quality cigars, all affordable, all tasty, all-mild, and ready for your enjoyment. I’ll end it here by stating that, even if the shapes I chose aren’t your usual choice, the lines themselves still meet the flavor, body and “value” criteria I wanted to impart. Let me know if you try them, and leave a comment as to which cigars you smoked, and how you liked them.
* Prices shown are based on Famous Smoke Shop box prices at the time of writing, and are subject to change.