Supermodels: Six of the Hottest Lanceros
By Gary Korb
Because bigger isn’t always better…
Or so they say. The question is: are you willing to put down one of your chubby Churchills and try something in a 38 regular to prove it? I’m talking about lancero cigars, or what I call, the cigar world’s supermodels. They’re slim, sexy, and look drop-dead gorgeous in perfectly-aged wrapper leaf.
Admittedly, lanceros aren’t in every humidor, but they’re more popular than you think. Moreover, some of the biggest names in the cigar business have had a love affair with the lancero for years: Carlos “Carlito” Fuente of Arturo Fuente cigars, Pete (Tatuaje cigars) Johnson, and George A. Rico of Gran Habano STK cigars, to name but a few.
Lancero is Spanish for “lancer” and may have been named so because the cigar looked like the lances used by the knights of the Middle Ages; or, perhaps it was inspired by the lance Don Quixote carried in the famous Spanish novel.
The first lancero cigar debuted during the 1960’s as part of the Cuban Cohiba cigars brand. Because they were rolled at the El Laguito factory, other Cuban cigar factories referred to a lancero as an “El Laguito No. 1.” Davidoff was next to follow with their Cuban-made “Davidoff No.1.”
The standard dimensions for a Cuban lancero cigar are 7½ inches long with a 38 ring width, and a twisted pigtail-style wrapper cap. Most lanceros rolled outside of Cuba have kept the 38 ring, but shortened the length to an even seven inches. (This could be an economic factor). Almost all of the 6 best lanceros noted in this blog measure 7″ x 38, and some even have the classic pigtail. Like all cigar sizes, the final dimensions are made at the sole discretion of the manufacturer.
Due to their size, lanceros are also one of the hardest and most expensive cigars to roll. They can easily be under-filled or overfilled, so quality control is important. If the rollers do not have the proper experience, the rejection rate can be high. Too little tobacco and the cigar will burn hot; too much and the cigar may not draw well, or at all. Another reason lanceros are more costly to make is because they have a higher wrapper-to-filler ratio, which can either make or break the blend.
Today, just about every major manufacturer offers at least one Lancero in their stable. Many of them always made the shape, but in 2008, the Lancero (like the now popular 60+ ring gauge giants), had somewhat of a cult following, and everybody got into the act. So, without further adieu, let’s get to some of the best lanceros on the market today.
When I did my research on lancero cigars for this piece, I discovered that the Oliva Serie V Lancero came up a LOT. This is one hot cigar, folks. According to a 2008 Aficionado article on the subject, José Oliva said: “The wrapper-to-filler ratio is so much in favor of the wrapper that it really has to be able to stand on its own, which is why we made [a lancero] for the Serie V. The [Nicaraguan Habano] wrapper is so unique and rich, we created a lancero so that people had a chance to really taste it.” ‘Nuf said.
If you’ve followed me over the years, you may already know that this was the cigar that got me deep into premium cigars. This 7″ x 36 vitola offers a nutty, toasty and cedary smoke with a fantastic aroma. The wrapper flavor is especially appealing because it’s genuine U.S. Connecticut shade-grown, and when done right, it’s the best.
Also presented in a tubo, this is a great lancero to contrast with the Don Tomás SEC #400. First of all, it has the same 7″ x 36 dimensions. The core blend is richer in flavor, more complex, and is rolled in an Ecuadorian-grown Connecticut wrapper. The smoke is well-balanced, and like the #400, offers a redolent aroma, but depending on your palate, the finish may or may not taste sweeter than the U.S. Connecticut.
One thing Rafael Nodal of Boutique Brands has mastered is the art of making amazing tasting Dominican puros. (They’re also very stealthily heady.) Rolled to 7″ x 38, the potent and perfectly-aged Habano ligero wrapper on the SWAG Puro Dominicano Elite is protected by an outer-wrapper. The line is known for its earthy and spicy flavors, but in this slimmer size, you’ll pick up a lot more tanginess on the palate. Try one and compare it to the 6¼” x 39 Fuente Fuente OpusX Petite Lancero.
Adorned with a Cuban pigtail, this 7″ x 38 Edgar Hoill lancero boasts an all Nicaraguan leaf blend rolled in a lovely dark Habano wrapper. This boutique line has hit the ground running for its stunning construction and flavor, making it one of the top word-of-mouth cigars out there. Blended with the rarest tobaccos, the smoke is creamy, full-bodied and as complex as it gets. The wrapper-to-filler ratio also offers perfect balance, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself reaching for this lancero more often than you thought.
One of the most talked-about brands among the top boutique cigars, La Palina was smart enough to include this untraditional-sized 6″ x 40 lancero in its El Diario cigars selection. Draped in an even-toned, brick-hued Honduran Rosado wrapper, the Nicaraguan filler and Honduran binder dovetail perfectly for a naturally sweet and spicy smoke that’s well-rounded with dead-center balance.
Finally, keep in mind that the secret to the lancero’s success is mainly its wrapper. The wrapper to filler ratio is higher than large cigars, so if you want to get the most out of a great wrapper leaf, make a date with a lancero.