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.
Q. What’s the deal with box-formed or square cigars? I’m new to good cigars and tried (and enjoyed) CAO Cameroon Churchills. The shape kind of threw me though.
A. “Box-pressed,” or “square-pressed” cigars are a method by which the cigars are either pressed into square molds prior to packaging or placed in the box round, and when closed, the box literally presses the round cigar into a square. I believe this latter shaping method started in Cuba early in the 20th century. This may have begun as a result of the size of the box being just slightly smaller than the quanity of round cigars it would normally be able to contain.
The box or square-pressed cigar was exclusive to Cuban cigars until Padron introduced it to the American market with the release of the Padron Anniversary 1964 series. Moreover, cigar manufacturers will tell you that making square-pressed cigars is risky, since the wrappers have a tendency to break during the process.
Allegedly, square-pressed cigars smoke longer. Some square cigars are more square than others. The CAO Cameroon, CAO eXtreme, and Padron Anniversary 1964 cigars have a very sharp edge, whereas the Rocky Patel Vintage is a little more rounded. Often, if the cigars are left in your humidor long enough, they will eventually regain some of their original rounder shape.
Some cigar smokers do not like the way the “boxy” shape feels in their hand and/or mouth, so they avoid them. Others, love it. I don’t have a preference, since I tend to go more for the taste than the shape.