Buying Guide
By Amos Kwon
on 8.30.13
Photo by Eric Yang

With the onset of colder months just around the corner and ever-increasing smoking bans across the globe, it’s about time we send some stogie wisdom your way. While the weather permits, slip on the flip flops, get a good adult beverage in your hand, fire up a great cigar and relax that red hot brain of yours as the sun starts to set. Though we certainly don’t recommend a George Burnsian affinity for copious cigar consumption, we do recommend a good cigar every now and then to remind you of your manhood and the finer things in life. We’ve assembled an array of smoking pleasure to please the range of palates, along with our recommendations for matching liquid delights. The corresponding snack? Well, that’s up to you. Just don’t tell us if it happens to be a Lunchable.

Additional contribution by Chris Wright

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Montecristo White Belicoso

Drink Pairing: Cappuccino
Best Stogie for the Mild Mannered Smoker: It’s a cigar that could do modeling work. From the flawless Connecticut shade wrapper to the perfectly wrapped tapered head, the Monte White takes cigar construction to a new level. Nevermind the fact that it’s got near perfect draw and burn, as well. Light one up, and you’ll experience a light bodied cigar with great flavor — perfect for a post-breakfast vacation smoke (we know this, because we’ve done it). From the get-go, the White has a consistent creamy flavor with mild spice to accentuate it. It’s never overwhelming or bitter throughout the entire experience, and it’s about as tasty as a mild cigar can get. But we wouldn’t suggest this fine of a cigar to go to one of your smoking newbie friends. It’s just that good and even better with a well-concocted cappuccino (extra shot, please!).

Oliva Serie V Double Toro

Drink Pairing: High Note Elevated Malbec Uco Valley Mendoza
Best Stogie for the Post-Dinner Smoker: Oliva has done up their stronger blend line extremely well. Similar in execution to the La Gloria Cubana Series R line, the Series V is dark, oily and delicious. Made with Nicaraguan Ligero long leaf filler and Nicaraguan Sun Grown wrapper, it smokes as full and rich as it looks. The fat 60 ring gauge sure doesn’t hurt, either. Distinct dark chocolate and coffee make for a big smoking experience, and the taste lingers. Though the dark and handsome cigar is truly a full-bodied smoke, it’s impressivly smooth and well-balanced. It’s just the kind of stogie that’s perfect for capping off a good meal, and your taste buds would best be served by pairing it with a meaty red wine, like the High Note Elevated Malbec. Consider it a big-gun salute to the onset of autumn.

My Father Flor de las Antilles Robusto

Drink Pairing: Angel’s Envy Bourbon
Best Stogie for the Aesthete Smoker: The Toro size of this stick won Cigar Aficionado‘s Cigar of the Year award in 2012 — so there’s that. The Garcia family’s (father Jose began rolling cigars in his native Cuba at age 11 before escaping to Florida) resume began with the Tatuaje brand, another big success, and their My Father line is their latest, most delicious, venture. The Flor de las Antilles is rolled with entirely Nicaraguan tobacco and stands on its measured boldness of creaminess, spice, and a decent amount of sweetness; prepare for a large quantity of silky white smoke. Its slightly spongy construction can be a bit disconcerting but holds up just fine throughout the smoke; it does, however, have a very loose draw. Slightly box pressed, with a reddish brown sungrown wrapper and a band that recalls Classical art, it’s an extremely handsome stick. The Robusto size provides a more succinct smoking experience, and as the Flor de las Antilles is a medium bodied cigar, it’s entirely manageable for newer smokers.

Nub Connecticut 358

Drink Pairing: Americano
Best Stogie for the New Smoker: Oliva’s stunt in stubbiness may seem a bit gimmicky at first, and it kind of is. But there’s more to this cigar than its snub-nosed appearance (which is cool, for some). The Connecticut wrapper provides a perfect set of flavors for the newbie smoker in nuttiness, plenty of leather, sweetness and a touch of hay, all of which comes across gently in a mild to mild-medium profile. Again reassuring to the new-to-cigars set, there’s an incredible amount of creamy smoke, providing excellent visual and tactile feedback due to an easy draw. Start with the smaller 358 size before moving into the 460, which truly utilizes the cigar’s stocky profile. Though either is a relatively quick smoke, it’s a stick that won’t break the bank. An Americano pairs perfectly due to contrasting bitterness and a parallel nuttiness.

Ashton Cabinet Series #8

Drink Pairing: Old Fashioned
Best Stogie for the Gentleman Smoker: Some cigar smokers are faithful to one kind of cigar. They know what they like and never deviate from it. You know, the vintage Jag driver who looks “old money”. The Ashton Cabinet Series would be a fine choice if you were to go that route, largely due to its consistency, construction and rich roasted flavors. It’s an all Dominican Republic stogie that looks as handsome as they come. Creamy, like the Monte White, the Cabinet imparts coffee, spice, cocoa and roasted nuts. Talk about a delectable combination coming up through the thick white smoke. Though the burn is a bit on the uneven side, you certainly can’t complain about the rich flavors this medium bodied smoke imparts. Never hot or bitter, the Cabinet smoked as well as any Ashton we’ve encountered before, and the quality speaks for itself. This might be the one stogie we might be willing to don a smoking jacket for, coupled with a well muddled Old Fashioned at the beginning of a very mellow evening. Ah, we can taste it now.

Davidoff Puro d’Oro Gigantes

Drink Pairing: Lagavulin 16 Single Malt Scotch
Best Stogie for the Well-Seasoned Smoker: The world of Davidoff is one that garners respect in most cigar smoking circles thanks to great gentlemanly smoking accoutrements and some of the best made, milder smokes around. But now, they’ve introduced the Puro d’Oro line with a bright gold label and some serious strength. It’s Davidoff’s showier, louder big brother that isn’t afraid to put out some power. The stogie is made entirely from Dominican tobacco, but this one’s got more punch than most from that region. The nifty pigtail on the cap is a great touch and along with the gold band, makes the cigar feel a bit more special. From the first lighting, it’s medium bodied and grows in strength after about the first inch. Leather, raisins and a good amount of pepper make for a bold smoke. The 56 ring gauge makes it just about the perfect size and delivers great draw, even though the dark grey ash drops off sooner than we’d like. Go with a rich and complex single malt with earthiness for this cigar, but also don’t forget to meal up before smoking due to its potency. At about $20 a stick, they’re on the pricey side but worth every dollar.

Rocky Patel Vintage 2003 Cameroon Robusto

Drink Pairing: Founder’s Breakfast Stout
Best Stogie for the Singular Flavor Seeker: Rocky Patel’s Cameroon-wrappered stick strikes at the heart of consistency and hammers home a narrow set of beloved flavors. The toothy, African-grown wrapper takes center stage before you even light up with a mottled chocolate hue and a musky, earthy scent. Once you do get around to smoking it there’s a consistent theme of leather and woodiness through each third, with spice picking up near the end. Expect a slow, even burn, a mild-medium profile and a solid construction with a perfect draw. Simply put, it’s an exercise in dark flavors.

Romeo y Julieta Habana Reserve Toro

Drink Pairing: Zaya Gran Reserva Rum
Best Stogie for the Robust Stogie Smoker: R&J makes some of the most consistent medium-bodied smokes we’ve come across, but their Habana Reserve moves in a new stronger direction. Darker than their excellent Reserva Real line, it comes with potency from the first light. Pepper and wood flavors come through the great draw, and then the cigar progresses toward bits of cocoa and coffee and builds smooth strength the deeper you get into it. If you like a complex and full-bodied smoke, this is one that should be at the top of your list, despite its sometimes uneven burn. For an even tastier experience, let it age in your humidor for 2-4 months. Then it will have shed some of its bite and added even more complexity. It’s one of our favorites. Pair it with an excellent rum neat or on the rocks, and you’re set.

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