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Holiday Stars: Nicaragua

ASHTON SAN CRISTOBAL REVELATION The only new cigar to be introduced by Ashton this year features an Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper, the same oily leaf found on the company’s best-selling VSG (Virgin Sun Grown) brand. But the Revelation’s wrapper is harvested from a lower portion of the plant, giving it a slightly lighter hue and taste. The wrapper combines with the Nicaraguan filler and binder for a medium-strength Kobe rib eye of a smoke that is richly textured and memorable. Three of the five sizes—Mystic, Prophet, and Legend—are box pressed, while the remaining two—Odyssey and Leviathan—are parejos (round bodied). All are made by My Father Cigars in Estelí, Nicaragua. ($6.95–$9.50) www.ashtoncigar.com

DON PEPIN 10TH ANNIVERSARY TORO To celebrate the 10th anniversary of his company this year, Don Pepin Garcia has released a slightly cranked-up version of his original Blue Label blend. Available in only one size—a 6½×52 toro—it features a vintage Nicaraguan binder and filler and a vintage Ecuadoran Habano rosado-oscuro wrapper. This is a muscular cigar, bench-pressing to the max yet smokable down to its ultrawide band. Only 2,500 individually numbered boxes of 14 cigars each are available worldwide. Fortunately, most are reserved for the United States. ($29.05 each/$308 per box) www.myfathercigars.com

REGIUS CULEBRA The culebra is a twisted, three-cigar style that originated in 19th-century Cuba. It is extremely labor intensive and can only be fashioned when the cigars are wet, so that they can be intertwined without cracking the wrappers. The filler blend is the same in all three of the 5¾×39 petite lanceros, but the wrapper of each is different: a Cuban-seed Criollo 98, a shade-grown Connecticut, and a Cuban-seed oscuro, allowing smokers to discover how dramatically the wrapper affects flavor. Yes, you take these cigars apart and smoke each separately. ($24 each/$72 for a box of three) www.sagimports.com


ROCKY PATEL PLATINUM Do not be misled by the rough-textured oscuro Habano wrapper of this box-pressed cigar. This is a well-structured, flavor-packed smoke that can be equally enjoyed by a campfire or by a fireplace at the lodge. Of the three sizes in the line, our choice for a winter’s evening with a small-batch bourbon is the torpedo. ($10.30–$11) www.rockypatel.com

ROCKY PATEL ROYALE Gently transitioning from medium- to full-bodied as it is smoked, the box-pressed Royale makes optimum use of its Sumatra wrapper, Nicaraguan filler, and Connecticut broadleaf binder to produce a combination of rich earthy spices with a pungent espresso finish. There are five shapes, ranging from a corona to a 7×62 colossal. ($8.95–$11.60) www.rockypatel.com

TATUAJE BELLE ENCRE This year marks the 10th anniversary of Tatuaje, a highly respected brand started by Pete Johnson and made by Don José (Pepin) Garcia. In celebration, Johnson has introduced two cigars from the My Father Cigars factory, the 53/8×52 Bon Chasseur and the 53/8×48 Belle Encre perfecto with a clipped foot, our uncontested favorite for a full-flavored smoke in a deceptively small package. ($10) www.tatuajecigars.com

TORAÑO EXODUS 1959 FINITE 2013 While the Exodus 1959 Gold, Silver, and 50 Year Anniversary are produced every year, the Exodus Finite is not because of a shortage of the superpremium aged tobaccos that Charlie Toraño requires for this Nicaraguan puro. This year, however, the company has produced a limited run of Exodus 1959 Finite 2013 in three sizes. Only 25,000 cigars—1,000 boxes of 25 cigars each—have been made. ($8–$9.50) www.torano.com

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