Rafael Nodal has had a hand in blending some of the most renowned cigars in the world, gathering huge ratings and prestigious awards along the way…not bad for a kid who was picking oranges in Cuba at 15. Today, we sit with Rafael to discover the 5 cigars that influenced his style, earned him success, and give some little-known facts about your favorite Altadis and Boutique Blends.
2015 CA Report: Top Seven 7 x 70 Ring Gauge Cigars
Top 7: 7 x 70 Ring Gauge Cigars You Need to Try
There is a great debate about 70 ring gauge cigars – not just the fact that they’re big, fat smokes, but the smoky benefits enjoyed among those who swear by these jawbreakers: a cooler burn, they say…bigger flavor, they argue…more cigar for the money – which is indisputable. And it seems that the mindset among big ring devotees is, “if some is good, more is better.” More! Better! Smaller ring smokers probably say, “that’s why TV shows about hoarders exist.”
Having had the experience of smoking my share of these big ring monsters, it’s fair to say that you certainly don’t forget it. So, do you smoke 70s? Even if it wasn’t for the taste, you probably recall how tired your hand was from holding it for 2+ hours, or the Kilimanjaro-sized heap of ash left at the end. Good or bad, you remember these Super Hits of the 70s…I know I do. In a former life, I worked at a classic rock radio station in Springfield, Massachusetts…and every night, loaded up “another hour of non-stop classic rock – it’s the 70s at 7 on Rock 102! He-yeah!” For an hour, I played some really great stuff (Frampton, Zeppelin, GOOD Aerosmith, the Who, and a veritable motherlode of one-hit wonders…do you remember Dave Edmunds and Rockpile?), as well as a fair share of duds (to this day I cringe when I hear the Doors, Seger or Van Morrison’s only 2 songs that ever get played on the radio, both of which are older than me. And I still hate them.). Massive 70 ring gauge cigars can be the same way – you’ll remember them all, good or…not so much.
When it comes to XXL smokes, the thing to remember is, as a blender, you have a lot of space to work with to deliver the flavor. By and large, they’re doing it well – so as more of these hefty smokes appear, I almost wish cigar shops would have a Big & Tall section to show them off – so I could shop big without the critical looks.
One thing to keep in mind…your regular cigar cutter may not stack up to the job when popping the cap off these 70RG tree trunks. Scissors, v-cutters and small hatchets may get you by in a pinch – but a specialized job calls for specialized equipment. Here are 3 blades to help you:
So if my wish ever becomes reality, here’s the list of 70 ring gauge cigars I’d like to see in my favorite shop’s Big & Tall section – I’d call them my “70s at 7”…but with no duds!
SWAG S Maduro “The Bawse”
“If it cost to be the bawse, oh well…I guess I gotta pay.” Or so says Lil’ Wayne, and it was Tha Carter who had a heavy hand in Rafael Nodal’s name choice for the original line of SWAG cigars. The only thing The Bawse is gonna cost you is 2 hours of smoking time: big and burly yet well-balanced, this spicy Dominican spits rhymes of spice and pepper like no other…but its full-bodied flow is smoothed over, thanks to a rich San Andres maduro wrapper.
Toraño Master Colossal
First, some backstory: the whole Master line was intended only to be a limited production batch of smokes. But fate smiled upon the Toraños, bestowing them with enough Nicaraguan tobacco to make this masterfully-blended, medium bodied smoke a regular on the menu. Toraño pressed his luck, doubled down on his leaf supply and began rolling these 70-ring redwoods – and we have all been rewarded. Serving up a smorg of flavors combined with big rips of smoke, you won’t mind one bit that the Master Colossal takes up a little more room in the humi.
INCH by E. P. Carrillo No. 70
Earlier we discussed the massive amount of space within a giant cigar, that the blender has to fill – and Ernesto Perez Carrillo has become a master in packing every cubic millimeter with big flavor. Because he couldn’t stop at just an inch in diameter, EPC embraced the “more is better” philosophy by combining 70 ring gauge cigars worth of all-Dominican vintage Piloto Cubano, Corojo, and Criollo ’98 – added Nicaraguan Viso (more tobacco, Carrillo!) – a Nicaraguan binder (Carrillo! Yes, add more!), and rolled it in a dark Ecuador Sumatra. The INCH No. 70 is more complex than algorithmic number theory, and so heavy you almost need 2 hands to hold it.
INCH C-99 by E.P. Carrillo No. 70
Ernesto Carrillo is in here twice because, like I said, he has perfected the art of “more.” The INCH C-99 is an extension of everything good about his insanely popular cigar above, so take all that you just read and wrap it in a 15-year aged Corojo (“C-99”) leaf. As in, grown in 1999. This brawny strongman displays full-body flavor prominently; factor in the especially well-aged Corojo wrapper’s smoothness, and you have a brew that demands you not to put it down.
Amazingly, the same cigar maker responsible for the $1,150 Black Dragon is also home to the proudly sub-$6 Templar. Yes, they’re completely different animals – but the track record speaks volumes. Originally Gurkha’s all-60 ring line, Templar swelled another 1/5 of an inch in thickness to unleash the Crusade – and by packing in even more savory and well-seasoned Nicaraguan and Columbian tobaccos under that Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, proudly made an über-smoke that doesn’t beat your wallet into submission…bringing home a big Templar haul means you can still smoke well and pay the rent – but by virtue of the Crusade’s size alone, these 70 ring gauge cigars may end up evicting many of the other inhabitants of your humidor.
The name was born in describing the now-modestly sized 6×60 JdN-Subculture blend collaboration, and the feat of strength it took to pick up a round of 50 of those cigars. SIX strains of leaf are involved, and the taste is uniquely Drew Estate: rich, medium-full, savory…and in husky 70-ring form, there’s even more of it. We should ask Drew Estate to consider renaming this My Uzi Weighs a Megaton. They must need a crane to pack these smokes in the box, and you a forklift to get them into your humidor. Hope your furniture is sturdy.
Gran Reserva #5 Grandioso
George Rico and Gran Habano are no stranger to rotund cigars, having made GH #5 El Gigante – a 19’ x 3’, 1600 pound (without the box) premium that sold for $185,000. The Gran Reserva #5 2010, though significantly smaller, is certainly no stranger to the all-you-can-eat buffet: a limited edition 70-ring puro blended with prime vintage ligero tobaccos (circa 2003 – 2005) from across Nicaragua for world-class complexity, it is bold and full-bodied while being exceptionally smooth and aromatic thanks to the Jalapa Corojo wrapper draped over top of this Fat Camp-ready smoke.
These are biiiig smokes – and we could always add to the list. Since there are more than just my “70s at 7,” comment with your favorites, or try one of these and reward yourself with 2+ hours well-spent with a cigar.