FrontRunner: Select Smoke

    Cusano 18
    Choosing a brand name so audaciously close to “Cubano” invites ridicule, but the Cusano 18 earns the connoisseur’s respect on the first draw. With its powerful, peppery punch, the 18 approaches the intoxicating force of Fidel’s favorite cigar, the Cohiba Habano. Cusano accomplishes this challenging feat in part through the use of Dominican Oro filler, harvested in 1985 and aged 18 years. The binder and the beautifully buttery wrapper both hail from Connecticut. It seems almost a shame to ignite tobacco that has survived since the Reagan era, but the intense flavor and perfect burn of the 71¼4-inch, 50-ring-size Churchill quieted our initial trauma. ($79.95 for a box of 18)

    www.cusanocigars.com

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