Masters of Modern Luxury: Carlos Fuente Jr.
Like many in the cigar business, Carlos Fuente Jr. traces his lineage to Cuba. In 1912, his grandfather Arturo came from that country to Florida, where he founded what is now Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia. Under the direction of Carlos Jr. (who prefers to be called Carlito), the business produces 30 million cigars a year at its factories in the Dominican Republic, making it the world’s largest privately held company for handmade cigars. While increasing the brand’s production, Carlito has also built its cachet by creating OpusX and other limited releases, developing a tobacco farm inspired by a French château, and packaging cigars with distinctive boxes and bands.
Taking Stock of Cigars
Today there is so much more in the way of luxury—in consumables, in jewelry, in the things that people just love to look at, whether it’s fabric, fine jewelry, or artwork. There seems to be more awareness of luxury, which is all around us. In many ways, cigars are a modern luxury. They go back over 500 years, but they really became evident during the 1990s, when Wall Street was at its peak and young executives began seeing them as a luxury item. At the same time, premium cigars started being developed in a way that had never been seen before. Thus, beautifully constructed, high-end cigars became a way of life and have since become collectable for people who seek out the very finest things—just like fine watches, fine wines, and vintage automobiles.
Creating a Collectible
We specialize in making very rare cigars, with special tobaccos and special shapes, and that all started when we began making cigars to auction off for charities such as our Cigar Family Charitable Foundation. That, in turn, started the modern trend of collecting cigars, over and above just aging them. Most of the cigars that I make today are designed for long aging. They’re heavier bodied and hand-rolled with very complex tobaccos. They are already well aged before they’re released, but after that, they continue to develop and change.
A rare cigar will become collectible because it is made in small batches. For example, there’s the Lost City, which we made from tobacco originally planted as a late-summer crop just so my friend Andy Garcia could use it as a background for his movie The Lost City. When he finished shooting, he suggested we use these tobaccos to make cigars banded with the Lost City logo to benefit our foundation. We ended up aging the tobacco for five years, and the cigars are superb. Other cigars—like our 100th-anniversary cigars, which are just coming out—have a specific meaning. Last year, a warehouse fire destroyed a lot of the tobacco we were going to use for our 100th-anniversary cigars, so we postponed them and now look at 2013 as the first year of our second century. With cigars such as these, most collectors will date them and put them in humidors for further aging.
I consider making cigars very much like being an artist. We don’t do things to fit a market trend, because once you do that, you’re a follower. Instead, I believe in creating a trend, just like an artist takes different colors or textures and creates something that no one else sees. We also respect and honor the traditions of generations before us by trying to take those traditions to another level. Every time you’re able to achieve this, you find a way to do something that’s a little more intense, a little bit bolder. This is what I love. It’s the passion that runs through my veins.
Limited by Nature
The world is becoming a single entity, and even though the cultures may be different, human beings have similar tastes. A great cigar is a great cigar—simple as that. It has complexity, balance, and sweetness.
Even though the market is growing, our principles and integrity are nonnegotiable. It’s not like we’re buying man-made commodities that can be produced in greater quantities to meet greater demand. We walk a very fine line using natural products like tobaccos. Ours come from a specific estate, Chateau de la Fuente, which can produce only a limited amount of tobacco. So as these global markets open, our cigars will become more difficult to find and even rarer. We are a family company, family owned and run, and regardless of the pressure to produce more cigars, there are only so many we can make in a day and still maintain our quality.
A Matter of Taste
Luxury in general brings people together to share their passions, but one thing that distinguishes cigars from, for example, fine jewelry and automobiles is that you can taste them. With a cigar, you use all the senses—for the aroma and the flavor of the smoke, the beauty of the tobacco, the way it feels in your hand. A cigar even has a sound of its own, because it inspires conversation.
FrontRunners: Casa Fuente
Smoking the new Casa Fuente 800 Series cigar (www.casafuente.com) could require a trip to Las Vegas. Like the first Casa Fuente–branded cigar from Arturo Fuente, which debuted in 2005 and is said to be filled with a variation of the company’s Opus X blend and wrapped in Cameroon leaf, the new one is available only at the Casa Fuente Cigar Lounge at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
The 800 Series has a more pungent, fuller taste than its predecessor, thanks to its rich and silky Ecuadoran sun-grown Havana wrapper—rumored to have been saved from the fire that destroyed two Arturo Fuente tobacco warehouses last August. The filler is an undisclosed Dominican blend likely from the Chateau de la Fuente farm. The cigar is available in three sizes, all at 52 ring gauge: the 806 robusto ($21), the 807 toro ($22), and the 808 short Churchill ($24).
Thinking Inside the Box for a Pairing of Single Malt and Cigars
Ever wonder what happens to all those used Scotch-whisky barrels once the distilleries are through with them? Up until now, huge planters and awkward-looking furniture were among the most viable solutions. But Daniel Marshall, who has been making luxury cigar humidors since 1982, had a better idea: Why not turn them into humidors? After all, single-malt whisky and cigars are one of the world’s classic pairings. But specifically, it was The Balvenie 21 Year Old Portwood casks that caught Marshall’s attention. After aging the whisky in ex-bourbon barrels, The Balvenie’s master blender, Brian Kinsman, transfers it into European-oak port casks or “pipes” for additional finishing, thus giving this already mellow and honeyed whisky a deeper raisin-and-nut spiciness.
Seizing upon the opportunity, Marshall has created the Daniel Marshall 1962 Balvenie Whisky Stave Humidor. At the distillery in Dufftown, The Balvenie—one of the few distilleries that still employs its own on-site barrel makers—has the master cooper Ian McDonald hand-select a number of 50-year-old, uncharred ex-Portwood barrels, which are then shipped to Marshall’s Tustin, Calif., workshop. There, Marshall carefully selects the best of the aged and gray weathered staves, which still bear iron-strap marks in the wood.
“We want the staves to be old and rich in texture and color,” Marshall says, “both on the outside of the stave and on the inside.” He cuts the curved pieces out of the stave and uses only the straight pieces, which means half of each barrel is unusable (thus limiting the number of humidors he can make). Each humidor is lined on the inside with the inside of the barrel; the outside of the barrel is left untouched as the box’s exterior.
Plus, the cigars will be subtly infused with the faint aroma of The Balvenie 21 Year Old Portwood. Adorned with 24-karat-gold-plated hinges and large enough to hold 125 cigars, each humidor is individually numbered and signed. Priced at $3,995, only 50 humidors are available. Each comes with a bottle of The Balvenie 12 Year Old DoubleWood single malt (aged in bourbon barrels and finished in sherry casks), two tasting glasses, and a pictorial commemorative booklet about the unique humidor. (714.973.8660, www.thegoldencigar.com)
Gifts of the Season 2013: Smoke Symbols
A Swiss tobacconist’s 10-year approach to Nicaraguan cigars and the limited-edition humidor that celebrates the journey.
Ten years ago, the Davidoff team of tobacco specialists set out to discover new, raw tobaccos that would contribute to a revolutionary taste profile for the brand—one that delivered bittersweet palate stimulation. Up to that point, Davidoff had worked with tobaccos sourced from numerous countries, including Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, and Peru; but to produce something distinctive, the brand set its sights on crafting a cigar made exclusively from Nicaragua-sourced tobacco. As the brand’s tobacco masters acknowledged, the venture was no easy undertaking.
According to Edward Simon, Davidoff’s global marketing director, Nicaraguan tobacco is known for its rough and aggressive flavor, a characteristic influenced by the country’s volcanic soil. Davidoff didn’t intend to reinvent the wheel with its Nicaraguan emersion; other cigar makers have produced 100 percent Nicaraguan cigars for years. Instead, Davidoff aimed to produce a finished product that held up to the brand’s standards of balance and taste—and that required years of experimentation with blending, aging, and fermenting the tobacco. “It’s not about delivering as many spices or as much of a peppery smoke as you can,” Simon says. “The challenge was to tame the wild tendencies of the Nicaraguan tobacco. We ventured out to Nicaragua and came back with a pure Nicaragua cigar. That pureness of origin is very special. These cigars are round, balanced, aromatic, and sophisticated smokes.”
To celebrate that success, Davidoff unveiled a limited-edition Nicaragua humidor earlier this year. It features a magnetized closing mechanism and a removable accessories compartment, but the humidor, which costs $3,900, turns heads due to its unusual, triangular shape—an ode to Nicaragua’s volcanic landscape. Only 250 examples were made, with 100 designated for sale in the United States. In addition, each humidor is stocked with 48 Nicaragua Belicosos—cigars with a unique tobacco blend compared to the brand’s traditional line of Nicaraguan smokes, and which are obtainable only with the purchase of a humidor. The Belicoso shape also allows the smoker to better appreciate the cigar’s nuanced flavors. “The Belicoso packs a bit more punch,” Simon says. “It’s a bit stronger because the ring gauge is a bit smaller, so this helps to pronounce and bring out the characteristics of the smoke. It’s more of an intense pleasure compared to other Nicaraguan cigars.
“We blended this cigar with the goal of delivering just a bit more of an intense sensation,” he continues. “A Davidoff Nicaragua is not for beginners. It has a fuller body compared to the Davidoff Classic. This is for a more seasoned smoker who appreciates the bigger intensity of the smoke.”
Simon has smoked fine cigars for more than a decade and says that the enjoyment of a complex, well-crafted cigar can transport him to a state of mind where the stress and the frenzied pace of life fade away. The Nicaragua Belicoso, according to Simon, has that capability, and it exists in three phases. The first third of the cigar delivers more pronounced spices and earthy tones. That mellows into an enjoyable sweetness and culminates with a developing creaminess. “What we really wanted to make was an entertaining cigar,” Simon says. “It lives a bit of a life while you are enjoying it.”
And to All a Good Light
Cigar smokers have cause to be especially joyous this season, for not since the Great Cigar Boom of the 1990s has such an abundance of hand-rolled riches been laid before them. This bounty has resulted, in part, from increased competition, as new cigar makers have entered the field and older, more established brands have felt compelled to introduce new offerings. Consequently, this year’s cigars are fatter, stronger, more exotic, and better embellished. Ring gauges have expanded to 60, and rumors suggest that 70-ring stogies—more than an inch in diameter—are in the works. Bands have morphed into miniature works of modern art: One steampunk-style cigar is even fitted with a metal cog. Meanwhile, the cigars themselves—made with vintage and exotic tobaccos blended in a growing array of styles—have become ever more complex and powerful. So sit back, light up, and savor the scents and tastes of this season’s extraordinary smokes.
The Inch Series by E.P. Carrillo
The diameter of a cigar is measured in rings, a unit unique to the industry that equals one-sixty-fourth of an inch. Now, with 60 as the ring gauge du jour, Ernesto Perez-Carrillo brings us a cigar that surpasses even this milestone. EPC’s No. 64 Inch, a 6? × 64 behemoth, is exactly 1 inch in diameter. Appropriately, the band is copied from a 1950s ruler. With Nicaraguan and Dominican filler, Nicaraguan binder, and a choice of Ecuador Sumatra or Connecticut broadleaf wrappers, the cigar has a strength that, while mildly spicy, is not overpowering. Less intimidating ring gauges of 60 and 62 are also included in the Inch family. ($7.75–$10) www.epcarrillo.com
Arsen Pink for Men
We will admit to being at first put off by the color of the band: Pink is a color virtually unseen in the predominantly male world of cigars. But appearances can be deceiving. This Dominican Republic puro, with its 3-year-old, shade-grown Habano Vuelta Abajo wrapper, is a decidedly muscular smoke. The maker offers four different sizes, each crafted in the Augusto Reyes factory and then aged for a minimum of five months. The toro is our particular favorite. ($6.40–$7) www.arsencigars.com, www.vitolier.net
On meeting the quiet, unassuming Paul Stulac at his Smoke on the Water tobacco shop in Nova Scotia, few would guess that he is responsible for conjuring such Goth-themed cigars. Despite their slightly ominous bands bearing winged skulls, these gently box-pressed Nicaraguan smokes impart rich, engaging, and flavorful leather and wood essences—the results of an all-Nicaraguan binder and filler teamed with 4-year-old Ecuador Habano or Brazilian Araparica maduro wrappers. Five sizes are on offer: 6 × 58 Ghost, 5 × 58 Angel, 6 × 53 Phantom, 7 × 58 Skull, and 6 × 64 Cross. Lurking in the shadows is the tubed 6 × 58 Vampire, which will be available in the New Year. ($8–$10) www.paulstulac.com
Top marks for innovation go to this cigar, which invokes both the fiction of H. G. Wells (after whom one of the shapes is named) and the modern steampunk movement. Four shapes are available, each made of five proprietary tobaccos—aged from three to six years—from four unnamed countries and sporting an 8-year-old wrapper known only as H-47 Pleno Sol. The Cayley, a 6½ × 60 figurado that resembles Dr. Zarkov’s spaceship from the Flash Gordon television series, caught our attention, as did the metal gear serving as a band on each cigar. ($7.95–$9.45) www.cigarworld.com
La Gloria Cubana Liga LR-1 and Liga YG-23
It is always a pleasure to find a cigar that one can smoke down to the band, but we have recently discovered two that one can smoke beyond that point. Both LR-1 and YG-23 are factory codes for these medium- to full-bodied cigars. The 7 × 52 Liga LR-1 features a die-cut tobacco-leaf band, while the Liga YG-23 sports a band of HTL (homogenized tobacco leaf) imprinted with vegetable dye. Smokers with moustaches and beards should take extra care. ($8.95–$9.45) www.cigarworld.com
Davidoff Golden Band Awards 2012
The motion-picture industry has its Academy Awards—and beginning this year, Davidoff presents its Golden Band Awards. Cast by the same company that produces the Oscar statuettes, the Golden Band trophies are presented to the 8 Davidoff merchants who best exemplify the spirit of the company’s founder, the late Zino Davidoff. The winners also receive an exclusive 6 × 50 Golden Band Toro, which was created especially for these tobacconists to sell; the cigar is unobtainable anywhere else. Featuring all-Dominican tobaccos and a rare Yamasá wrapper, this toro has a smooth, mild flavor that makes it a winner. ($17.90) www.davidoff.com
Davidoff White Edition 2012
With its embossed mother-of-pearl band and equally distinctive 5¾ × 52 robusto gordo shape, this White Edition is the second in that series of full-bodied cigars from Davidoff. Only 8,000 individually numbered, 10-count boxes of this Dominican puro are available worldwide. ($21.50 each/$215 per box) www.davidoff.com
Nestor Miranda Grand Reserve 2012
The elegant blue-and-gold band of this box-pressed cigar encircles an oily Connecticut broadleaf maduro wrapper and Nicaraguan binder and filler. The combination produces a medium-full, semisweet smoke that is a natural accompaniment to a Sazerac 18 Year Old Rye. Only 1,500 boxes of 10 were produced. ($12 each/$120 per box) www.miamicigarandcompany.com
We did not include this limited-edition Dominican Republic puro on our list of holiday recommendations when it was introduced last year because it had sold out by press time. However, thanks to demand, the Quesada Oktoberfest has been reintroduced in three new sizes: the 4 × 50 Kurz ("short"), the 6 × 52 Das Boot ("the boat"—fittingly, a torpedo), and the 6 × 49 box-pressed Kaiser Ludwig. Blended to complement a malty, German-style Märzenbier, this puro also pairs well with single malts, such as the Auchentoshan Three Wood or Glenlivet 15 Year Old. ($7.25–$9.50) www.sagimports.com
When Raquel and Patricia Quesada, daughters of noted Dominican Republic cigar maker Manuel Quesada, teamed up with Janny Garcia, the daughter of equally renowned Nicaraguan cigar maker Pepín Garcia, to make a classic cigar like their fathers’ creations, the result was Tres Reynas, or "three queens." With a hefty Connecticut broadleaf wrapper and Nicaraguan filler and binder, this collaboration is available in three sizes: robusto, gordo, and torpedo. Only 1,000 of each were produced. ($7.50–$8.25) www.sagimports.com
Macanudo Vintage 2006
This Connecticut Shade version of last year’s 2006 Vintage Maduro features a rich, golden-hued wrapper from the same spectacular growing season. The embossed metal band on each of the two shapes, a robusto and a toro, further distinguishes this offering from its predecessor. ($8.39–$8.99) www.cigarworld.com
Cohiba Edición Diamante
Enthusiasts who missed last year’s very limited editions sporting 32-year-old Cameroon wrappers now have the opportunity to acquire two new shapes—a robusto, packed in an individual cedar "coffin," and a toro in a crystal tube. Both versions have a little more ligero for a beefier taste and are available in 10-count mahogany boxes. ($22–$25) www.cigarworld.com
Montecristo Epic No. 2
There is a new Montecristo Epic this year, a limited edition from the 2007 crop called the Epic No. 2. Available only in a 6 × 50 size, it is the most intense Montecristo yet. This cigar comes double-banded in a modern red box of 10 that also contains a certificate signed by ;the nine members of the Grupo de Maestros who made the cigars. ($19 each/$190 per box) www.altadisusa.com
Most Nicaraguan cigars are positioned as alternatives to Havanas, which remain illegal in the United States. But the Nicaraguan-made Regius, which premiered in London, competes directly against its Cuban counterparts. Acclaimed by some of London’s top tobacconists—among them J. J. Fox and Sautter’s—this cigar has come to the States. With elegant packaging that befits its regal name, the Regius has a rich Cubanesque flavor and comes in four sizes; the box of 10 4? × 50 robustos makes an excellent host gift. A white-banded Dominican version is coming soon. ($6.45–$8.25) www.sagimports.com, www.regiuscigars.com
Room 101 Daruma
With its Ecuadoran Habano wrapper, Brazilian Matafino binder, and Honduran and Dominican fillers, this full-bodied smoke exudes raw power in the true Daruma tradition. Available in five sizes, including the new 5 × 60 Monstro, this cigar is sure to mitigate any gastronomic complications resulting from that third helping of turkey. ($6.25–$10.25) www.davidoff.com
Padrón 1964 Anniversary No. 4
Though this is not the first 60-ring gauge the Padrón family has produced, it is the first in the company’s Anniversary line of Nicaraguan puros, whose component tobaccos are aged a minimum of four years. No. 4 refers to the December 4 birthday of Saint Barbara, a favorite in Cuba. The larger ring and the cigar’s 6½-inch length intensify Padrón’s characteristically subtle chocolate taste. ($20) www.padron.com
By far the best cigar to have come out of the Dominican-made Trinidad line, this example offers a new take on the well-known brand. The differences begin with the band, as it takes the famous triple-T logo and chops it into fragments that form a framework for the Trinidad Paradox name, which is printed parallel to the length of the cigar. A San Andres Criollo 98 wrapper, Dominican binder, and Nicaraguan filler combine to create a rich, full-bodied smoke with a complex character. ($6.50–$7.50) www.altadisusa.com
El Diario KB Petite Corona
Last year, La Palina created El Diario, a line of cigars blended to be smoked any time of day. But La Palina jefe Bill Paley asked the Raices Cubanas factory in Honduras to make him a few coronas—"because that’s what I like to smoke," he recalls. "But when I lit up the first samples, they hadn’t been aged, and it nearly killed me. Naturally, once it was aged, it became a totally different cigar, and it was great. So I put it in the line." Paley’s coworkers began to jokingly refer to the petite 4¼ × 40 powerhouse as the "Kill Bill," which evolved into the KB, "a Petite Corona with the heart of a Churchill," Paley says. ($8.75) www.lapalinacigars.com
With a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper, a Connecticut broadleaf and Nicaraguan double binder, and a Connecticut broadleaf and Nicaraguan filler, this cigar—blended by Pepín Garcia’s son, Jaime, and Pete Johnson, of Tatuaje fame—should be a powerhouse. Yet just the opposite is true. This medium-strength smoke was made to please the tastes of Janny Garcia, Pepín’s daughter, and it has a flavor reminiscent of a slightly sweet lemon cake. Of the five sizes, our pick is the petit robusto. ($7–$8.75) www.myfathercigars.com
Alec Bradley Nica Puro 1685
As its name clearly implies, this is a Nicaraguan puro, the first in Alec Bradley’s line. The 1685 designation refers to the year when the city of Estelí, where the cigar is made, was founded. Medium strength yet packed with deep, earthy flavors, the blend was perfected in legendary cigar maker Nestor Plasencia’s factory. The six sizes range from a 4¼ × 52 Bahito to a trendy 6 × 60 gordo. ($6.75–$8.50) www.alecbradley.com
La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor Reserva
Made in Nicaragua by Pepín Garcia, this blend, which is heavier and richer than the standard La Aroma de Cuba, receives extra, mouthwatering spice from a Mexican oscuro wrapper taken from the highest priming on the plant. Four sizes are produced, but we especially like the 5½ × 54 Maximo, paired with a Balvenie 14-year-old Caribbean Cask single malt. ($8.50–$9.95) www.ashtoncigar.com
Burn Naples Florida
This cigar not only was named for Rocky Patel’s popular cigar lounge in Naples, Fla., but also was created to reflect the ambience of that smoke-friendly nightspot. This medium-strength Honduran puro brims with coffee and deep, earthy flavors that channel the sensuous vibe of the club. Of the three available sizes, our preference is the 5 × 50 robusto ($7.75–$8.60) www.rockypatel.com
Rocky Patel Private Cellar
We have always held that certain red wines can be paired successfully with cigars. Rocky Patel feels the same way. This medium- to full-bodied smoke’s Nicaraguan binder and filler and Connecticut broadleaf wrapper evoke nuances of chocolate and espresso that perfectly complement a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon or a Super Tuscan. ($8.50–$8.85) www.rockypatel.com
Pete Johnson is famous for his hip and highly successful Tatuaje line, which taps into the world of high-end Harleys and elaborate tattoos. Now Johnson has shifted to the realm of gin martinis and white dinner jackets with his new L’Atelier line. Its namesake cigar has a slightly more subdued taste than many of the smokes from Tatuaje, yet it still offers plenty of depth cushioned by a wonderfully smooth flavor. The binder and filler are Nicaraguan, but the wrapper is Sancti Spiritus, a new hybrid grown in Ecuador. L’Atelier is made in the My Father Cigars factory in Estelí, and its three sizes (of which the 5? × 54 LAT54 is our favorite) are enticingly reminiscent of Cuba’s pigtailed Cohiba Behike. ($8–$10) www.latelierimports.com
Flor de las Antillas
This second offering from Jaime Garcia—Pepin Garcia’s son and a master blender in his own right—captured our attention with its well-defined, medium-to-full-strength finesse. The Garcia family’s first full-line, box-pressed cigar, this Nicaraguan puro is expertly constructed using a sun-grown wrapper and Cuban-seed filler. The result is a smooth and complex smoke dominated by cinnamon, cocoa, and cedar. Of the four sizes, the belicoso is our preferred choice. ($6.60–$8.70) www.myfathercigars.com
Sometimes one cigar is not enough—especially during this highly social season. Whether given or received, these three special editions are best appreciated by the box, thanks to their packages, which are as individual as the cigars themselves.
The Partagas 160 Limited Edición Elie Bleu Humidor ($4,500, www.cigarworld.com) contains a selection of the extremely rare 1977 Cameroon-wrapped Partagas 160, first introduced in 2006. There are 90 of these cigars encased in each of the 50 special humidors from Elie Bleu, which have been skillfully inlaid with the Partagas logo.
Avo Uvezian may be a vibrant 86 years old, but the cigars that bear his name just turned 25. To celebrate this milestone, the brand has introduced the Avo 25th Anniversary Edition ($400, www.davidoff.com): 25 special 6 × 52 Dominican puro toros housed in a black-lacquered wooden box shaped like a miniature piano—homage to Uvezian’s musical talents. The keyboard slides out to provide storage for matches and a cutter. A short-term humidification system keeps the cigars in perfect pitch throughout the holidays. Only 2,000 piano boxes are available.
Elegant in the manner of Graycliff—the Nassau, Bahamas, resort owned by the cigar-making Garzaroli family—the Graycliff Silver ($550 for a chest of 25, www.graycliffbahamas.com) comes in two sizes: a 6 × 52 Pirate (torpedo) and a 6 × 54 (called “the 54” but actually a toro). Both formats are rolled entubar-style from pre-2007 tobaccos and are slightly stronger than Graycliff’s Château Grand Cru, yet the addition of Filipino tobacco to the filler adds a touch of sweetness to the Silver. The chest containing 25 of these cigars, which have been aged for 10 and a half months, resembles a silver ingot and comes with a certificate of authenticity, as well as a pair of white gloves.
Teeing Off with Davidoff
Along with carts and clubs, a commonly encountered item on any golf course worth its greens fees is cigars. It seems most duffers cannot play their best game without one. But not just any cigar—it cannot be too strong or it will be distracting, yet it must possess enough strength to aid concentration.
In keeping with its new theme, “Time Beautifully Filled,” Davidoff has created just such a smoke. The limited-edition Masters Edition Club House Toro is a 6¼×52 gran toro, just the right length and strength for a nine-hole round. Seven thousand boxes, each containing 10 cigars ($219 per box/$21.90 each), have been produced, with half of these reserved for the United States.
Appropriately packaged in a golf-ball-themed white-lacquered box, each cigar sports a matching “Club House” secondary band. With its Dominican Republic Yamasá wrapper, Mejorado Dominican filler, and Ecuadoran binder, the Masters Edition Club House Toro tastes of cedar and moist green grass, with a sweet, spicy finish. And best of all, you can put it down while looking for your ball and five minutes later, pick it up and find it still smoking—just like your game. (www.davidoff.com/)
Even back in the days when he was producing La Gloria Cubana, Ernesto Perez-Carrillowas not known for creating mild cigars. Now that he has established his own company, Perez-Carrillo maintains that reputation with his newest cigar, the E.P. Carrillo Cardinal Series ($7.25/$145–$8.75/$175), packaged by the score in a distinctive “cardinal red” box with a black E.P. Carrillo logo. Available in three sizes (5 × 52, 6 × 54, and 5½ × 56), the Cardinal Series represents the most full-bodied smoke to date in the E.P. Carrillo line. And yet this perfectly rolled cigar, while muscular, does not overwhelm. It is offered in a choice of wrappers: natural Ecuadoran Sumatra or Connecticut Broadleaf maduro. Both are complemented by filler tobaccos from three different Nicaraguan farms. This results in rich, spicy, flavors of cedar and port and a cigar that smokes evenly, right down to its distinctive gold-embossed red-black-and-yellow band. (www.epcarrillo.com)
A Major-League Smoke
On April 17, 2009, Major League Baseball outfielder Gary Sheffield hit his 500thhome run. He then went on to score nine more homers before retiring from an illustrious career playing for eight different ball clubs, with a .292 lifetime batting average. Now he has teamed up with another all-star, cigar maker Rocky Patel, to create the HR 500 ($12.20/$244 for a box of 20), a 6½ × 52 toro that commemorates Sheffield’s milestone batting record. Made at the Tavicusa Factory in Nicaragua, this limited-edition smoke has a medium-full body with a hefty dollop of spice, thanks to a dark Ecuadoran Habano-seed wrapper with Honduran and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos and a Honduran Jamastran binder.
“I’ve been a cigar smoker for 15 years,” said Sheffield, “but when I went down to the factory to help with the blend, we started with a medium cigar at first, for the beginning smoker. But Rocky wanted everyone to share what I smoke. And so it became one of those cigars where, at the beginning, it’s real smooth, and then once you get to the middle of it, the kick starts coming in.”
No less impressive is the HR 500’s 20-count cigar box. The outside is covered in white leather like a baseball, complete with red stitches, and is emblazoned with a brass plaque honoring Sheffield’s batting record, while the inside of the lid bears a color illustration of Sheffield knocking one into the stands. Indeed, it looks like “the Sheff” has hit another home run with this cigar. (www.rockypatel.com)
Romeo, O Romeo—What’s in a Name?
Reflecting the trend for fuller flavors and bigger ring gauges, the classic Romeo y Julieta is getting a face-lift for the first time in 137 years. In its newest Dominican Republic incarnation, the Romeo sub brand features a bold new red and white box and band, which give this 19th-century icon a modern look. Likewise, the taste has been upgraded to appease today’s aficionado. A new Ecuadoran Habano-seed wrapper has replaced the previous milder Indonesian wrapper, and it kicks into high gear about halfway through the smoke. Four new shapes—toro ($7.25), robusto ($6.95), Churchill ($7.75), and piramide ($7.50)—make this an entirely new cigar. (www.romeoyjulietacigars.com)
A Nicaraguan Homage to Cuba
Pepin Garcia and his family-owned My Father Cigars company in Estelí, Nicaragua, has garnered a well-deserved reputation for producing some of the finest cigars inside or outside of Cuba, the island nation that is also known as “the flower of the Antillas islands.” Now, the latest creation of Pepin’s son Jaime pays tribute to the family’s homeland with the aptly named Flor de las Antillas, a Nicaraguan puro made with a sun-grown wrapper and Cuban seed filler. The Garcia’s first box-pressed cigar, it is available in four sizes: robusto, belicoso, toro, and toro gordo (from $7 to $9.10). Cinnamon, cedar, and cocoa dominate this wonderfully smooth and complex smoke, which sports a red-ribboned foot band and features a nostalgic-looking box and band artwork that reflects the image of 19th-century Cuba, as does this rich-tasting cigar. (www.myfathercigars.com)