His father is one of the cigar industry’s legendary master blenders; Avo was his adopted uncle, he knows the cigar business inside and out. He’s also just a really nice guy: Klaas Pieter Kelner, Davidoff Cigars Brand Ambassador, who talks with us about growing up at the heart of the business, the appreciation of a fine cigar, and more
2016 CA Report: Top Cigar Box Buys Under $100
Top Cigar Box Buys Under $100
By Gary Korb
The world turns and cigar prices continue to rise. So where are the bargains these days? Truth be told, they’re getting rarer. After making a list of the premium cigar brands I wanted to feature, I actually had a hard time finding boxes under $100 for this article; some didn’t even make the cut! But I prevailed and finally came up with 10 top-quality cigar box picks that you can still add to your collection for less than a C-note. Presented in alphabetical order, they may not all be boxes of 25 or 20, and a couple scrape the ceiling at $99.99 – but depending on your personal taste and budget, you’ll discover a number of jewels which I’m certain will pay-off for you in satisfaction.
Ed. Note: box prices shown are accurate as of the time of publication, and are subject to change.
ACID Kuba Deluxe
(6″ x 50) $87.99 – Box of 10 Tubos
Odds are, if you’re already an ACID cigar smoker – and I know a lot of folks reading this list are – either you already smoke the ACID Kuba Kuba, or you’ve been meaning to get around to it. Undoubtedly, the bestselling cigar in the ACID stable, not to mention the blend that put the brand on the map, you can score a box of 10 Kuba Deluxe tubos for around 88 bucks. You get the same uber-fragrant and medium-bodied blend as the 5″ x 54 version, in a longer cigar with a slightly slimmer ring gauge. Plus, the tubos not only keep the cigars protected, but you don’t have to separate them from your traditionally-blended cigars.
Arturo Fuente Chateau Fuente Maduro
(4½” x 50) $91.99 – Box of 20
Since Arturo Fuente cigars are so incredibly popular, no list of the best cigars in any category would be complete without ’em. Fuente has always been known for making great cigars at reasonable prices, and at around $92 a box for these Rothschilds, they continue to be an excellent buy. The smoke is always smooth, mild-to-medium in body, rich in nutty-woody flavors, and the Connecticut Broadleaf maduro wrappers are toothy, attractively oily, and add a nice note of sweetness to the mix. A “can’t miss” cigar in this particular shape.
CAO America Monument
(6¼” x 54) $92.99 – Box of 20
Here’s a cigar that I stumbled upon in my search, and I realized that it not only comes at a good box price, but the America line is one of the better offerings that gets lost among the myriad other cigars made by CAO. Deftly rolled to a Torpedo shape (hence, the Monument moniker) by way of twin wrappers – a U.S. Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro and a U.S. Connecticut Shade – the result is a slick-looking take on the traditional “barber pole” cigar. Because only a thin strip of the lighter wrapper is exposed, both wrappers meld perfectly for a totally unique taste. Add to that the high priming filler leaves from Nicaragua, Italy, and the Dominican, plus a Brazilian binder, and you’ve got a cigar that is extraordinarily flavorful, well-balanced, and complex. If you want a really impressive cigar that pairs well with just about everything, too, grab a box of these.
(6″ x 54) $98.99 – Box of 20
I’ve included this phenom of a cigar in some of my prior lists. Still under $100 for a box of 20, the Gran Habano Corojo #5 Gran Robusto remains one of my personal favorites for a number of reasons, including the 6″ x 54 dimensions, but mostly, it never disappoints on flavor, making it remarkably consistent. Maybe it’s the combination of Costa Rican and Nicaraguan long-fillers. Additionally, there are a ton of cigars that have “Corojo” wrappers, but the Nicaraguan used for this line is spectacular. Suffice it to say that, once lit, earth, sweet spice, and cedar wax poetically on the palate from end-to-end. Another “can’t miss” for full-flavor fans that’s also a great value.
(5¼” x 50) $93.99 – Box of 25
Another great cigar box find that gets you 25 cigars for around $94. You don’t see too many boxes of 25 these days, either. I’ve always been drawn to Hoyo de Monterrey cigars for their Honduran tobaccos, and when they released this box-pressed Hoyo de Tradicion cigar line in 2007, I was hooked and never looked back. The Honduran Viso Rosado wrappers surround a blend of Honduran San Agustin and Dominican Piloto Cubano, plus some Nicaraguan Ometepe that doesn’t add strength as you’d find in other cigars with this leaf; rather, it simply adds that savory Nicaraguan spice to the mix rounding out the flavors that I liken to a piece of rich chocolate cake. Not that it tastes like chocolate cake – it’s just that kind of delicious. In addition to all of the caramelized flavors this cigar offers, it’s also magnificently creamy, offering a more medium-bodied smoke with just the right amount of sweetness. This cigar could easily sell for several dollars more, so before General Cigar gets any ideas, get some of these in your humidor. If you want a lot of flavor without the high-octane blitz, this is it.
(5″ x 50) $99.99 – Box of 25
If there’s a true classic in this list, the La Gloria Cubana Wavell is it. To those who’ve been smoking cigars for the past 20 years, you could say the Wavell defined the illustrious Cigar Boom 90’s. Created by renowned master blender, Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, in many ways it’s the ultimate Robusto. The blend consists of Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers rolled in an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper (one of the recipes the Ernesto continues to use today on many of his E.P. Carrillo cigars). Simple in its construction and earthy-woody flavor profile, it offers a rich-tasting, medium-bodied smoke with superb balance, and tastes like a cigar at twice the price, which is about what the Wavells were going for during the Boom. At a very reasonable $99.99 for a box of 25, you not only get your money’s worth, but you can reach for these with the confidence of knowing this cigar is going to taste good every time you fire it up.
(6½” x 48) $99.99 – Humidor jar of 10
When Eric Espinosa released his Laranja cigars line in 2015, cigar smokers and the critics alike went gaga for it. (The Laranja Reserva Toro got a well-deserved, 94 “Classic” rating from Cigar Aficionado and took the #13 slot in their Top 25 of 2015.) Now, this savory Nicaraguan-filled juggernaut with its brassy Brazilian wrapper, is made in a special Volta edition of 10 cigars presented in an attractive, air-tight humidor jar – as opposed to the traditional cigar box format. It’s only a hair under a $100, but this cigar is a real class act, folks. Expertly rolled, full-bodied, rich, creamy, complex, and loaded with a perfectly-balanced serving of earthy spice, graham cracker, and citrusy notes, it’s become one of my regular favorites. If you want a cigar that’s got it all, you’ll enjoy these tenfold.
Oliva Baptiste Presidente
(7″ x 52) $81.99 – Box of 20
I mentioned this cigar in my article, 8 Nicaraguan Cigars You Should Be Smoking Right Now. Oliva has been making outstanding cigars forever, and this Baptiste Presidente is no exception. At around $82 for a box of 20 7″ x 52’s it’s an excellent deal. The oval-pressing is kind of neat and sits comfortably in both your hand and mouth. The blend is all Nicaraguan long-filler enveloped by an attractive Habano wrapper grown in Ecuador. The smoke is full-bodied, yet far from overpowering, and issues a well-balanced mix of earth, spice, cedar, espresso, some sweet tobacco, and you may even catch some citrusy notes in there. Great with coffee, but equally satisfying with bourbon, rum, port, single malts and hearty craft beers, it’s a cigar for all seasons. If you’re already an Oliva fan, or you’ve developed a taste for the best Nicaraguan cigars, the Oliva Baptiste Presidente is right up your street.
(6″ x 50) $76.99 – Box of 12
Arguably one of Nick Perdomo’s bestselling cigars, the Perdomo 10th Anniversary Champagne series has become a favorite of cigar smokers drawn to cigars with Connecticut shade wrappers that offer a lot more flavor than your average Connecticut shade primo – and this one delivers in spades. At around $77 a box, you get a dozen 6″ x 50’s brimming with rich Nicaraguan flavor, sweetened by those silky wrappers for a solid, medium-bodied smoke that’s great any time of day, or after dinner. I also like the fact that Nick made it a box of 12 tubos rather than the usual 10, proof that he’s always been committed to delivering more bang for your buck.
FYI: If you want an even more affordable cigar box value for under $100, I suggest you also check out the Perdomo Cuban Bullet cigars selection.
(5½” x 50) $80.99 – Box of 20
If you ask any of the number crunchers at Famous Smoke Shop what cigars are their top sellers, they’ll tell you that the Rocky Patel Cuban Blend cigars are continually among the top three. Similar in body and flavor to Rocky’s bestselling “The Edge” line, the Cuban Blend hits on all cylinders with a full-bodied complement of Honduran ligeros seamlessly rolled in spicy Nicaraguan Corojo wrappers. At around $81 for a box of 20 5½” x 50 Robustos, they’re a great buy if you want a smooth-smoking cigar with lots of earthy spice, a note of espresso and a pinch of pepper in the mix. Do they taste like Cuban cigars? Please . . . if you pressed me, I’d say they’re not far from the Havanas of old, but you’re getting a lot more cigar for your coin. Any way you slice it, this cigar’s a winner.