In this audio podcast, Dominican Republic native, Francisco Batista, talks to Gary Korb about his gig as General Manager and Premium Cigar Master Blender for Agio Caribbean Tobacco, whose brands include Royal Agio Cigars’ highly-acclaimed Balmoral and San Pedro de Macoris cigars. Click and listen now!
2010 CA Report: Corona Cigar Buying Guide
When was the last time you smoked a Corona cigar?
From what I’ve observed since I’ve been in this business, it seems like the Corona has taken a back seat to other sizes, mostly larger sizes such as the Robusto at 5″ x 50 and the Toro at 6″ x 50. I have some of my own ideas about why this may be the case, which I’ll touch on later, but for this guide I thought I’d point out some of the finer aspects of these very flavorful cigars. Interestingly enough, the Corona (Spanish for “crown”) is the only cigar shape that has the most size variations.
For example, there’s the Petit Corona (5″ x 42)
the Corona Extra (5½” x 46),
the Long Corona (6″ x 42),
the Corona Grande (6½” x 46),
the Giant Corona (7½ ” x 44),
and the Double Corona (7¾” x 49).
What’s so great about Corona cigars?
As I noted above, Coronas don’t seem to enjoy the recognition they had before the 5″ x 50 Robusto shape took-off in popularity during the 1990’s. According to an article I read by James Suckling, former editor and Cuban cigar reporter for Cigar Aficionado, most of the cigars Cubans were smoking in the 1990s were “lonsdales and coronas.” My theory is that today cigar smokers feel they are getting more cigar for their buck with a Robusto for around the same price, and the thicker shape offers arguably more flavor. Additionally, some manufacturers don’t even offer Coronas anymore in their new line extensions.
Economics aside, there are some nice advantages to Coronas. As I wrote on CigarAdvisor.com a couple of years ago, one of the best shapes for tasting what the ‘Master Blender’ intended is the Corona. This could be why the Corona cigar size was so popular in Cuba for so many years. Because Coronas have a smaller ring gauge, you get more flavor from the wrapper leaf. A Corona can be consumed in a relatively reasonable amount of time. Combine that with a great blend and you’ve got the makings of a wonderful experience, like the Coronas featured below.
How to properly light a cigar
The Corona is not only a good shape for trying a new brand, its smaller ring-size makes it a little easier to light. So before you light, get it right. The preferred fire of choice is the torch lighter, which has a blue pinpoint flame. The advantage torch lighters have over matches, Bics, etc., is that you can toast and light the cigar more accurately. And since it takes longer to light cigars, torch lighters not only save time, they save burned fingers, too.
1. Hold the cigar out in front of you
2. Position the foot of the cigar above the flame and try not to touch the flame to the tobacco
3. Toast the foot starting at the edges, and work toward the center while slowly rotating the cigar
4. Gently blow on the foot to make it glow
5. Repeat steps 3 & 4 as necessary until the entire foot of the cigar is glowing evenly across
6. Puff gently to avoid tar build-up which can cause bitterness
All Nicaraguan, this Corona cigar utilizes a very rich, very dark Oscuro wrapper; suffice it to say, 601 Green is also a very full bodied cigar. But being so rich and heavy, this cigar delivers an array of outstanding flavor – and in this smaller size, more of that Oscuro taste.
Fuente’s Cuban Corona cigar is offered in both natural and maduro wrapper; both feature tobaccos grown exclusively on Fuente’s Dominican estate farms, and both exhibit a rich taste without beating up the taste buds – or your wallet.
A mild Corona, with a nod to its Cuban heritage: the Honduran core tobaccos are rolled in a smooth wrapper whose cap is sweetened, in the old Cuban style. Nicely aromatic, Baccarat is a go-to cigar for veteran cigar smokers as well as those new to cigars.
A CAO Gold Maduro corona cigar is a whole different animal, with that simple wrapper change: the Nicaraguan long fillers are enhanced by a naturally-sweet taste from the Brazilian maduro wrapper. Medium-bodied, and thick with creamy smoke that’s laced with espresso and spice.
[Ed. Note: CAO Gold Maduro Corona cigars are no longer in stock at Famous Smoke Shop; click the image to view other CAO Gold Maduro cigar sizes and options.]
Quesada shows how smooth-smoking a cigar can be: Olor Momentos blend fine Dominican longfillers, and wrap them in a buttery U.S. Connecticut wrapper; it’s then rolled into the classic Cuban corona cigar shape. Very smooth, very mellow – a Dominican standard!
The quintessential Nicaraguan cigar: Padron combines aged Cuban-seed tobaccos with an extra-fermented, rustic-looking maduro wrapper to produce their patented coffee and pepper notes. Square-pressed, the Londres is medium to full body with flavor to match.
Small in size, but certainly not lacking in flavor – this Petit Corona cigar is covered in an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper that’s been fermented to a rosado finish…delicately spicy thanks to long-aged Nicaraguan tobaccos inside, balanced by milder Dominican filler and binder tobaccos to be smooth and complex.