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Best of the Best 2013: Cigars: Flor de las Antillas

  • Richard Carleton Hacker

Last summer, we held the tip of a butane flame to the finely crafted foot of this cigar and marveled at the taste of the sweet, cedar-soaked smoke that curled from a wrapper as soft and burnished as tanned leather. As a thin black ring formed behind the fresh ash—a sign of perfectly aged tobaccos—we were tempted then and there to proclaim Flor de las Antillas ($7 to $9.10) the best cigar of the year.

Flor de las Antillas is aptly named; its English translation, “flower of the Antilles,” is both a sobriquet for Cuba and a lyrical reference to the medium-strength finesse and delicate softness of this Nicaraguan puro, which is made with tobaccos that come tantalizingly close to the rich earthiness of Cuban leaf. Indeed, although Flor de las Antillas is hand-rolled in Estelí, Nicaragua, this box-pressed cigar is a tribute to Cuba’s cigar artistry. Made in José “Pepin” Garcia’s My Father Cigars factory under the supervision of his son, the master blender Jaime Garcia, this cigar embodies the skills the elder Garcia learned in Havana and passed down to the next generation of his family.

Pepin began rolling cigars in Cuba more than 50 years ago, when he was 11 years old. He became a roller for Cohiba, Montecristo, and Partagás and was eventually put in charge of quality assurance for Havana’s prestigious Cohiba brand. He fled his homeland in 2001, finding fame as a cigar maker in Miami and, later, as a master blender in Nicaragua. Flor de las Antillas is the pinnacle of his collaboration with Jaime. Expertly hand-rolled using a sun-grown wrapper, a unique double binder, and Cuban-seed filler, this luxurious smoke is available in four sizes: robusto, belicoso, toro, and toro gordo. Although its red-ribboned foot and nostalgic-looking band and box lend this puro the appearance of a cigar from another era, the seductive Flor de las Antillas tenders a taste—we hope—of future smokes from this respected family.

My Father Cigars, www.myfathercigars.com