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JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2019

The

BEST CIGARS of

2018


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EVERYDAY BOLD SMOKES BUILT TO INTENSIFY YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE No journey is complete without Camacho’s Everyday Bold Smokes. Built to intensify your next adventure, each blend is crafted with our legendary Original Corojo at its core and blended with high-grade wrappers. This is a wakeup call to make every voyage a bold one, it’s the difference between a life lived, and a life lived loud.

JAN / FEB 2019 | CIGAR SNOB |

SHARE YOUR BOLD JOURNEY #BOLDANYTIME

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editorials JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2019

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PERFECT PAIRINGS

28

PERFECT PAIRINGS

37

TRAVEL – ARIZONA’S VALLEY OF THE SUN

AJ FERNANDEZ BELLAS ARTES / THE GLENDRONACH ORIGINAL

MY FATHER LE BIJOU 1922 / ZAFRA RUM 30 YEARS

Few places in the U.S. are more stogie crazed than the Valley of the Sun. Join us as we get to know the Phoenix area’s cigar scene, food, and desert landscapes.

53

TOP 25 OF 2018

64

2018 LIMITED EDITIONS

66

LOS CAIDOS

78

LECHÓN CHALLENGE

100

Q&A WITH NOVELIST KEITH SCRIBNER

Our annual ranking of the year’s best cigars is out. How many have you tried already? Take a look and let us know whether you’re on board with our picks.

Limited edition cigars aren’t eligible for our Top 25 list, but we wanted to recognize these special smokes. Don’t pass on any opportunities to bring them into your humidor.

Get to know Steve Zengel and the brand he created to help the families of fallen police officers and firefighters.

A recap of our first Cigar Snob Lechón Challenge, which pitted five cigar brands against one another in a whole hog roast off.

Keith’s latest novel is set in Connecticut tobacco country. We talked about the scenes and smells of his youth, as well as the role they play in his book, “Old Newgate Road.”

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features JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2019

16

LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER

18

FEEDBACK

22

WHAT’S BURNIN’

30

BRAND BREAKDOWN 30 ILLUSIONE ONEOFF 32 ALEC BRADLEY MAGIC TOAST

68

SMOKING HOT CIGAR SNOB

83

RATINGS

SUITE EMOTION

102

TWITTER SCOREBOARD

104

EVENT COVERAGE 104 106 108 110 112 114 116 118 120

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SMOKE THIS YBOR CITY CIGAR HERITAGE FESTIVAL FUENTE WITH STEFANO RICCI LA GALERA AT CAVA CIGARS CASA CUEVAS AT CASA DE MONTECRISTO BY PRIME PEPÍN GARCÍA AT BURN CHRISTMAS PARTY AT AFICIONADO’S FEATURING AJ FERNANDEZ LA ZONA PALOOZA CREATIVAS GROUP 17TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY TOY DRIVE


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JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2019

VO L . 11 IS SU E 1 www.cigarsnobmag.com PUBLISHER & EDITOR Erik Calviño SENIOR EDITOR Nicolás Antonio Jiménez COPY EDITOR Michael LaRocca SALES & OPERATIONS DIRECTOR Oscar M. Calviño PRODUCTION DIRECTOR Ivan Ocampo ART DIRECTOR Andy Astencio DIGITAL RETOUCHING SPECIALIST Ramón Santana CONTRIBUTING ILLUSTRATOR Florin Safner CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS David Benoliel Andy Astencio EVENT PHOTOGRAPHERS Jamilet Calviño Jerome Berry Paul Perdomo Ramón Santana Cover Photography by David Benoliel www.davidbenolielphotography.com Cover Model - Anna Louise Cigar Snob is published bi-monthly by Lockstock Publications, Inc. 1421-1 SW 107th Ave., #253 Miami, FL 33174-2509 Tel: 1 (786) 423-1015 Cigar Snob is a registered trademark of Lockstock Publications, Inc., all rights reserved. Reproduction in part or full without written permission from the publisher is prohibited. Cigar Snob is printed in the U.S. Contents copyright 2006, Lockstock Publications, Inc. To subscribe, visit www.cigarsnobmag.com

(SUBSCRIBE TODAY) - Only $18 for one Year (six issues) of -

- Magazine delivered to you Visit: www.cigarsnobmag.com or write: subscribe@cigarsnobmag.com

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In the history of the state of Florida, where I reside and from where this magazine is published, there have been exactly 100 Speakers of the state’s House of Representatives. The Speaker is the presiding member of the House and it is an incredibly powerful and prestigious position at the state level. To put it simply the Speaker of the House and the Senate President have a profound impact on what becomes law, what doesn’t become law, and which existing laws get repealed in the state during their term. When the 100th Speaker of the House was being sworn-in on November 20th, 2018, I had the distinct honor of being present alongside his family. Speaker Oliva and I have been the closest of friends for more than 25 years. We’ve been there for each other in the low times and have been blessed to celebrate many victories together, but nothing could have prepared me for the pride I felt as my friend, someone who is like a brother, was officially the state’s 100th Speaker of the House. To borrow a term from House Chamber protocol, I would like to take a personal privilege to congratulate José Oliva for following his passion, achieving his goals, and doing so with a level of integrity and class that is all but extinct in the public sector. We’re living in a time where thanks to social media; everyone has a very public opinion of what is wrong with our government at every level. If you’ve got opinions and think you know how to fix it, I challenge you to step up and run. The men and women elected to those positions, high and low, are mostly regular people like you, me, and José. This is our Top 25 issue! This is the issue where we look back at the best cigars of 2018, re-smoke them, re-rate them, and the rank the 25 best cigars. The culmination of this long and smoky exercise is… drumroll please…. You actually thought I would tell you here and ruin the surprise? Finish this letter and flip to p. 53 to see the list! Once you’ve looked it over, stressed out about it, and Tweeted @cigarsnobmag about how much you agree or disagree with our choices, flip to p. 68 to ease the tension. This issue’s photo shoot is nothing if not smokin’ hot! We basically followed the beautiful Anna Louise around with a camera in a penthouse suite as she smoked Casa Cuevas cigars. Yeah that wasn’t a terrible day. While this was going on in Miami, our senior editor and our art director were out in the desert being professional tourists working on a travel story about the cigar

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scene in the greater Phoenix area. It’s a fun piece that starts on p. 37. There’s a lot of good in this issue so I’ll let you go and get into it now. I hope you have an outrageous 2019 full of health, love, and the best cigars money can buy. Keep ‘em lit,

Erik Calviño ecalvino@cigarsnobmag.com


SMOCKING GUN On a recent episode of the Cigar Snob Podcast, we talked about Donald Trump’s “smocking gun” tweet and asked listeners to tweet at us with their ideas for how we might make “smocking gun” a part of the cigar world’s lexicon. Here’s what we got. That cigar store customer smelling a cigar through the cellophane

— @LigeroLuchador on Twitter El smocking gun is the old guy overdressed at the cigar lounge who is always winking at the ladies.

— @alexmacosta on Twitter That one guy in the lounge that has to give his in depth review of what he’s smoking to no one in particular…

— @theschmooz on Twitter

A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS My favorite episodes of the podcast included those remembering José Orlando Padrón, Arsenio Ramos and Gilberto Oliva, Sr.; those were special and I learned a lot. Thank you for that. I really loved listening to the episode with Joya de Nicaragua’s Alejandro Martínez-Cuenca because his stories were the best!

Rich C. Via Facebook All of them classics, Rich. Glad to see you’re enjoying the podcast and hope some upcoming episode becomes your new favorite soon.

MAKING MOVES Congratulations from me and my colleagues at Cigar Weekly. I saw a copy of Cigar Snob at my local grocery in Metairie, Louisiana yesterday. Never dreamed this would happen. Well done and much success.

Thomas Bender Via Facebook Thanks for the kind words. Always cool to see Cigar Snob on newsstands. Send us a photo next time!

SHOW ME THE WAY TO FLAVORTOWN I’ve been smoking cigars for years but I have never been able to recognize the various flavors like nut, cream, coffee, etc. I do know what I like and don’t like in cigars but I wish I could really pin that down. Any suggestions?

Dan Marsh Media, PA via info@cigarsnobmag.com Most issues of Cigar Snob have a feature in them called Brand Breakdown. There’s one in this issue, as a matter of fact. The flavor wheel we use there is a good guide to use as you smoke. Just let the smoke linger, try retrohaling, and think about what that experience reminds you of. And remember that your palate is yours alone. You might not pick up all the stuff we point to in tasting notes.

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MY FATHER

TORO

NUMBER

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| 21 3 0 5 . 4 6 8 . 9 5 0 1 | M Y F A T JAN H E/ FEB R C2019 I G| A R SSNOB .CO M CIGAR


DAVIDOFF WINSTON CHURCHILL LIMITED EDITION

Davidoff is releasing a limited edition cigar called The Traveller inside its Winston Churchill brand. Production of the 5 x 50 Robusto is limited to 8,000 boxes, all of which feature new artwork that references some of the places Winston Churchill visited in his life, like London, Washington and Marrakesh. There will also be an even more limited run of 4,500 packs of five Coronas (5 x 43) that will be available exclusively at Duty Free shops outside the United States. The blend comprises Dominican wrapper, Mexican binder, and fillers from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. In addition, Davidoff is releasing a collection of accessories with this cigar. There are two humidors (one with a capacity of about 75 cigars, while the other fits about 35), an ashtray, and a cutter.

That line includes five blends: Fonseca Classic, Fonseca Vintage, Fonseca Cubano Exclusivo, Fonseca Cubano Limitado and Fonseca Nicaragua (which Quesada listed in that order in a recent press release, noting that they’d put them in order of increasing “intensity”). “With Fonseca we have managed to offer cigar enthusiasts all types of smokes in one brand. From a medium but flavorful smoke such as the Fonseca Classic to a more intense and full-bodied smoke in the Fonseca Nicaragua. Now was the time to redesign the brand, and we have managed to do so with something that cannot be missed, a solid red lid with the iconic Fonseca Logo on it,” Quesada Cigars president Manuel “Manolo” Quesada in a press release. Updates to the line’s packaging design include a return to the original 1974 band for all the blends and a secondary band to identify each blend. Further, the Fonseca Cubano Exclusivo will no longer be box-pressed, although the blend will incorporate all the same tobaccos. Quesada celebrated these changes with a launch event Nov. 28 at the Nat Sherman Townhouse in New York City.

DREW ESTATE SHIPS NORTEÑO EDICIÓN LIMITADA

In the month of February, Davidoff is calling on smokers to post photos to social media “of their favorite Winston Churchill cigar at their preferred Davidoff location or favourite travel destination” using the #churchillthetraveller hashtag. Those posts get you a chance to win a Winston Churchill accessory.

QUESADA CIGARS REDESIGNS FONSECA BRAND Quesada Cigars announced a design overhaul for its Fonseca Classic premium line earlier this year; now the company has completed a redesign of the entire Fonseca line.

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Drew Estate shipped the Herrera Esteli Norteño Edicion Limitada to Drew Diplomat retailers. The original release was in 2015. The cigar blend features filler tobac-

cos from Nicaragua, binder from Honduras, and a Mexican San Andrés wrapper. In this release, the cigars were rolled in 2016 and aged two years in the molds from the initial production, according to a Drew Estate release. The 7x48 box-pressed Churchills are packaged in 15-count boxes with an MSRP of $217.96 per box. “The Norteño Edicion Limitada continues to be one of my favorite projects at Drew Estate,” said Drew Estate Master Blender Willy Herrera in that press release. “This cigar showcases the complexity in the blending process, requiring tweaks of the classic Norteño blend to really shine in the Churchill Vitola.”

RETURN OF NESTOR MIRANDA COLLECTION SPECIAL SELECTION Miami Cigar & Company will reintroduce the Nestor Miranda Collection Special Selection to its portfolio as part of the company’s 30th anniversary celebration. Special Selection was originally launched in the mid-2000s. Like the original release, this cigar will be manufactured by My Father Cigars in Nicaragua. The Miami Cigar release that announced this relaunch didn’t list vitolas, but did note that they would all be priced in the $7.00 range. “2019 is going to be an exciting year,” said Jason Wood, MCC Vice President. “We try as much as possible not just to hear customer feedback but to act on it, and one common request was to bring Special Selection back to retail. Customers will know it the moment they see it as well because of our choice to enact very minimal adjustments to packaging and presentation. We can’t wait to share the enthusiasm with cigar enthusiasts again around this line. For now, we’re only bringing back the Habano Rosado, with much more to come this year in celebration of our 30th anniversary at MCC.” The cigar is scheduled to ship to retailers in the Spring.


FOUNDATION SHIPS NEW CIGAR WITH NEW WRAPPER DEVELOPED BY NICHOLAS MELILLO Foundation Cigars began shipping its Tabernacle Havana Seed CT #142 to retailers. The blend comprises a Mexican San Andrés binder, Nicaraguan filler, and the wrapper from which the cigar takes its name. According to a release from Foundation Cigars, “Master Blender Nicholas Melillo has been working with choice farmers in the Connecticut River Valley since 2014 to develop the Havana Seed CT #142 wrapper. “The seed is extremely rare and unlike any other tobacco in the world. Due to the incredible amount of oil from the plant, it takes 3 years to undergo the fermentation

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process. The results make for a delicious medium to full bodied blend with hints of cedar, spice, rich earthiness and natural sweetness.” The cigar is available in four vitolas: Doble Corona (7 x 54), Toro (6 x 52), Corona (5 ¼ x 46) and Robusto (5 x 50).

NEW STUDY REEXAMINES AND CALLS INTO QUESTION FDA CONCLUSIONS ON THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF CIGAR REGULATION Consulting firm Magnum Economics has released a report that examines the Food and Drug Administration’s economic analysis of the potential economic impact of regulating premium cigars. Cigar Rights of America shared the report

with its mailing list. In a statement that accompanied the Magnum Economics analysis, CRA wrote, “The report uses FDA’s own assumptions about the effects of the regulations and updates the calculations to use more recent government data. It also depicts that compliance with the regulation will be so difficult and costly that it threatens the very existence of almost all handmade U.S. cigar manufacturers and importers based in the United States.” CRA went on to quote the report’s author, Antonin Scalia Law School adjunct professor and former FDA economist Dr. David Zorn, as saying, “Using FDA’s own cost estimates, the regulations will likely cause 85 to 90 percent of domestic cigar manufacturers and importers (320-338 small businesses) to go out of business, leading to the loss of over 3,500 U.S. manufacturing jobs and almost 1,800 jobs at U.S. importers.”


AJ Fernandez Bellas Artes the GlenDronach Original Aged 12 Years Back on November 17 of last year, we hosted the Cigar Snob Lechón Challenge at the InterContinental Hotel in Downtown Miami (there’s a coverage of the event on p. 78). The event was the first of its kind and it took our team months of planning to pull off. On the day of the event, it was all hands on deck to ensure it went off without a hitch. Thankfully, save for the broken hearts of the competitors who didn’t win, it ran about as smoothly as one of these multi-vendor cook-offs can. After the winners were announced, the raffle items were doled out and the last of the 382 pork-filled, boozed up guests left the venue. Our exhausted crew gathered for a ceremonial toast and cigar. We’d spent so much time planning everything else that we didn’t set aside any cigars or booze for the occasion. But as the cleanup crew was packing up the leftover hooch and smokes, we snagged a bottle of GlenDronach Original 12 and a box of AJ Fernandez Bellas Artes. Although there were other cigars to choose from, we chose the Bellas Artes because AJ Fernandez’s team had won the Lechón Challenge so we thought it’d be fitting. Little did we know what the pairing had in store for us. The GlenDronach Original 12 is a Highland single malt Scotch matured in a combination of Spanish Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry casks. The distillery, located deep in the East Highland hills, has been perfecting the method of sherry cask maturation since its founding in 1826 by James Allardice.

THE PAIRING After the dust had settled from the Lechón Challenge, we recreated the pairing back at Cigar Snob HQ and to our delight, it tasted even better after a good night’s rest. The GlenDronach pours into a Glencairn whiskey glass with a deep amber color glistening in gold. Rather than rush right in, we let the spirit swirl in the glass for a bit, admiring the nose. After adding a few drops of spring water, the bouquet of caramel, vanilla, spice and pear comes through in waves. On the palate the whisky is rich and creamy up front with a marked sherry sweetness accompanied by fruit, spice, and a light touch of oak. At this point it was time to introduce the Bellas Artes with a well-balanced profile of pepper, cedar, and nuts with a bit of cream on the finish. The cigar’s pepper and cedar helped to accentuate the GlenDronach’s caramel and vanilla notes exceptionally well. LOCATION: JoJo Tea (sipjojo.com)

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My Father Le Bijou Box-Pressed Zafra Master Series Aged 30 Years At Cigar Snob Magazine, we’re in the business of tasting and scrutinizing, be it cigars, food, wine, or spirits. After a particularly good tasting, we’re always asking, “Did it change your life?” That’s our goofy way of asking, “Did it change your notion or understanding of what that product is and could be?” Think of something you tasted for the first time as an adult that made you change the way you looked at that product category. Maybe it was an artisanal salted caramel with the perfect combination of sea salt with rich, sweet caramel. Or perhaps your first real Chicago stuffed pizza; it’s obviously pizza, but it’s almost something else. In cigars it would be like smoking low quality, short-filler cigars all of your life and then smoking a super premium cigar for the first time. From that moment on, your understanding of what a cigar is has changed dramatically. Back in our 10th Anniversary Issue in May 2016, we published a pairing featuring the Zafra Master Series Aged 30 Years from the 2015 limited edition bottling. To be specific, we had bottle 3008 of 6720. It was life changing, the rum of our dreams. It was sweet but not sugary, viscous but not syrupy, and balanced but never boring. So when Zafra’s owner, Gardner Blandon, asked if we’d give the 2016 bottling a taste we jumped at the chance. He brought over bottle 0017 of 7920. After getting over the initial combination of shock and gratitude that we had bottle 17 of the bottling, we went to work finding the perfect match. We needed something that could stand up to this spirit without overpowering or masking the delicate notes of the long, boozy-sweet finish. We eventually settled on a box of My Father Le Bijou Box-Pressed torpedos that we’d been aging for three years. What ensued was a beautiful marriage of complementary products at the peak of quality.

THE PAIRING Once lit, the cigar kicks open the doors with a bold assertion of earth, cocoa, and smooth pepper. We let the cigar settle into its groove and were able to pick up additional notes of coffee, cream, and leather. We drew in the smoke, retrohaled, then let the rest go. With the cigar’s flavors still lingering on the palate, we tasted the rum. The Zafra Master Series 30 is full-bodied and loaded with flavors of vanilla, oak, banana, and cinnamon complemented by notes of dried fruit and spice. The rum’s long, lingering finish begs for the next draw from the cigar and vice versa. Meanwhile the cigar’s earth and pepper goes toe to toe with the rum’s oaky vanilla, setting the stage for the complementary flavors to dance freely on your palate. A world-class pairing. LOCATION: JoJo Tea (sipjojo.com)

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ASHTRAY: Oh!Val Ashtray


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CORONA GORDA

ILLUSIONE ONEOFF COUNTRY

Nicaragua

WRAPPER

Nicaragua

BINDER

Nicaragua

FILLER

Nicaragua

PRICE

$ 11.95 - $ 30.00

Dion Giolito Owner

What drew you to using Aganorsa tobacco? There’s so much talk of trying to recreate what Cuba does. It’s like French wines. Everybody says French wines are the best. But which wines? France makes some of the best wines in the world, but not all French wines are world-class. There are world-class wines that come from Spain, Australia, Napa Valley. When I found the tobacco that Pedro Martín (the tobacco legend whose operation was purchased by Aganorsa founder Eduardo Fernández) was sourcing, it was unlike anything else out of Nicaragua. Taking the traditional techniques of Cuba and implementing them in Nicaragua, he made the best of what Nicaragua had to offer. With Eduardo Fernandez’s materials, we consider that these are the best standalone products that come out of Nicaragua. What does it mean to be working with someone like Eduardo Fernandez at Aganorsa? You don’t have a farm or a factory, but you are very hands on and you have credibility in your own right.

AVAILABLE IN 8 SIZES

TOP 3 SHOWN

Canonazo 6 1/8 x 52

+53 Super Robusto 5 3/4 x 48

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Corona Gorda 5 3/8 x 46

It’s a really special relationship that a brand like mine has with Aganorsa and Eduardo. Eduardo has afforded me the luxury of letting me root through his entire business. He’s really entrusted a person like me to be able to go look at pilones. That’s 90 percent of what I do

when I’m here — just making sure the tobacco of the quality I look for makes its way to the galera so that we can get that consistency, not only with Illusione but everything. It trickles down. Having that access to be able to put my hands on any and all of his tobaccos is a rare opportunity for a person like me in this business. The more I immerse myself in that, the more I feel that passion. How do you go about translating this traditional product into a story for your non-traditional brand? Everybody has a story in this business. A lot of those stories run into each other. Everybody says they have the best tobaccos and the best rollers. In our case, I can say it’s true. From my standpoint, Aganorsa is as close to being vertically integrated as you can possibly be. It helps that I have 25 years of experience in retail and have a sense of market trends. I was able to bridge that gap and bring some of that information to people like Eduardo and my other friends in the industry. One Off is a cigar that people might remember from many years ago. Why acquire this brand for Illusione? I was able to procure the brand a couple of years ago. It was a grandfathered brand and I remember that it was like a Roman candle. It made a huge impact. And when the dust settled, for whatever reason, it went away. But it left a real viable impact. It was one of the only brands, in my experience, that people still had a story about. Other brands come and go and people forget about them. But you hold up the One Off and people say, “Yeah, I remember that!” So I kept my eye on it for years. The opportunity arose to get it and now we’re making it here at Aganorsa. The stars aligned. The tobaccos we use came together immediately because of the abundance of tobaccos that Eduardo has from superior crop years. Everything came together. The market will tell. We know it’s a beautiful cigar and we hope that everyone else agrees.

SWEET

CHOCOLATE

NUT

EARTH

CREAM

WOOD

COFFEE

SPICE


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ALEC BRADLEY MAGIC TOAST

TORO

BINDER

Honduras & Nicaragua

FILLER

Honduras & Nicaragua

the business. They’re second-generation cigar makers now, and I have to do everything I can to make sure we’re still here in the end. I made those changes and I think we’re producing the best cigars we’ve ever made. We are the most efficient company we’ve ever been. And our people are in it, man. They’re so passionate about it. It’s been a cool time.

$ 8.95 - $ 10.25

Magic Toast. Where’d that name come from?

COUNTRY

Honduras

WRAPPER

Honduras

PRICE

Alan Rubin Owner

You’re a busy man. You have your kids, Alec and Bradley, working with you now, but you’re still hustling. There’s no reason to stop doing what you love. It doesn’t make sense. People have asked me, “With Alec and Bradley now in the business, is this your succession plan?” I’m not going anywhere. I love it and I have nothing else to do. Are you still having fun? That’s a fair question. I’ve been in it over 20 years. There was definitely a lull period. I was tired. I was pulled in so many different directions going into 2012, 2013, I was in a funk. And then Alec came back and started working with us when he graduated from school. It was a way to kind of get me more involved. And Bradley graduated from the university. He came in. I told them, “There’s no pressure for you guys to come and work in the company. You have to decide who you are and what drives you. Whatever makes you want to get up, go do that.” And they both decided to come in. When they both came in, it just clicked. And I said, “I have to right all the wrongs that I know are taking place. Things we can make better, things we can improve on.” In 2017, I took six months assessing our entire company, then three months to formulate a plan, and then three months to make sure I had everything in line and everything was making sense. In 2018, we instituted all these new plans that I put in place. At the end of the first quarter, it was the best quarter we’d had in five years.

AVAILABLE IN 3 SIZES

The company has my kids’ names on it. And they are in

We had somehow gone in this somewhat traditional direction as a company. But there’s stuff I like. I don’t want to be that. I’m a child at heart. I want to do what I want to do. So if I see something that I want to do creatively, I’m just going to do it. I want to produce the cigars I want to produce, I want it to look the way that I want it to look. I want to be able to have fun. So Magic Toast was a way for me to do that. The tobacco itself looks very different. It’s a thick, dark, oily wrapper and it comes across immediately when you fire it up. We were supposed to go to fields the day after I arrived on a trip to Honduras, but we ended up driving directly to the fields after I landed. It was a flight and a five-hour drive. So we get in and I’m tired. We’re on our way there and I’m like “Why are we going to the fields now?” I’m looking, and I can see the fields look dark, green, rich, sturdy, strong. We go into the barns. They had taken tobacco from the first primings and did a quick fermentation to show me what was happening. When you take a hand of leaves and you light it, the aromatics are different. It’s not as concentrated. So they lit it up and the aromatics were amazing. It had this sweetness and this richness. I thought, “OK, I get why you wanted me to come right away. You’re excited. This is magical. This is something I haven’t smelled in a long time. This is going to be good.” And they said, “Yeah, and we brought your bottle of Glenfiddich for you.” So I said, “Let’s make a toast. To the future.” Things were looking bright and it was a magical toast we were making. That’s a rich, sturdy, strong tobacco and you can really work it in fermentation. You can really get a lot of the flavor out of it. That was the whole deal, man.

SWEET

Toro 6 x 52

Robusto 5 x 52

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Gordo 6 x 60

CHOCOLATE

NUT

EARTH

CREAM

WOOD

COFFEE

SPICE


We invite you to discover and enjoy our combined artistic expression, DUETO.

SERIE SIGNATURAS DUETO is the result of a special collaboration between two of the most passionate and dedicated Dominican boutique premium cigar makers, Ernesto Pérez-Carrillo and Boris Wintermans. While each cigar maker has a unique and distinguished personal tobacco history, they share the philosophy that relentless, passionate curiosity is essential to discovering and enjoying the best life has to offer. Blended by the legendary Ernesto Pérez-Carrillo to excite the senses, DUETO captures the complex intersection of two distinct premium cigar blending signatures. Incorporating each cigar makers’ hand-selected, preferred tobaccos, this cigar blend delivers a special, one-of-a-kind sensorial experience for the curious – the signature elegant robustness of Ernesto Pérez-Carrillo cigars and the signature balance of sophisticated complexity and smoothness of Boris Wintermans’ Balmoral handmade cigars.

BALMORALCIGARS.COM

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IN THE VALLEY OF THE SUN

Papago Park, Phoenix

BY NICOLÁS ANTONIO JIMÉNEZ / PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDY ASTENCIO


moking a cigar can transport you. No matter where you are in the world, lighting up and experiencing those flavors and aromas can be a way to connect with the places where the tobaccos were grown and the cigars were made. From a cigar lounge in Manhattan, a domino table in Miami, or a backyard in L.A., you can take a puff, close your eyes, and feel a little closer to those lush tropical valleys. So it can seem a little surprising that one of the most cigar-crazed places in the U.S. is a growing metropolis nestled into an arid desert in the American southwest. We ventured to the Valley of the Sun to get to know the Phoenix area’s cigar scene and explore some of its vast desert landscape. After landing at Phoenix Sky Harbor International, we headed north to Paradise Valley Village, a mostly residential suburb that’s littered with restaurants and sports bars. After making a pit stop for lunch, we made our way to our first stogies of the trip at Ambassador Fine Cigars. Ambassador is the perfect picture of high-end cigar retail. The whole place feels clean, sleek, well ordered, but still inviting. There’s a cozy Montecristo-branded lounge area that’s open to any customer as well as a far swankier, more secluded Davidoff lounge that’s open to either members or anyone who purchases a day pass. If you’re on a leisurely trip, you’ll probably want to get out some, but this is a great place to get work done if you’re on a business trip and want to enjoy a cigar while you’re being productive. It’s also decidedly Davidoff in its design — an elegant blend of classically

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plush cigar lounge with sleek, modern art everywhere you look. Even if you don’t get yourself a day pass, ask if you can take a look at the large Sedona landscape in the Davidoff lounge that was painted by artists and Davidoff brand ambassadors Mike Baca and Fernando Romero. The 1,000-square-foot humidor houses a selection that can stand toe-to-toe with — if not surpass — that of any retailer in the metro area on variety, depth and quality. Two things stand out here. First, there’s the ample selection of all the staple luxury brands — Padrón, Fuente, My Father, and especially Davidoff. This is one of a select few stores in the country, for instance, that carries Davidoff’s ultrarare Oro Blanco cigar (which was recently featured on GQ’s web series called “Most Expensivest Shit” featuring rapper 2 Chainz). The second thing that stands out is the pair of Vartan cigars, named for Ambassador’s dapper owner, Vartan Seferian. “I have two blends made by Davidoff. The first is a medium body, which is the Vartan,” said Vartan. That core blend comprises Dominican filler and binder with an Ecuadorian Connecticut-Habano hybrid wrapper. “I liked the cigar, so I put my name on it. It comes from Davidoff, so you know we use aged tobaccos.” “A few years later, I introduced the Vartan Zoravar, which is the fuller bodied blend and that’s a phenomenal cigar,” he said. The Vartan Zoravar features Dominican filler, an Ecuadorian Connecticut-Habano hybrid binder and a Nicaraguan wrapper. “I’m Armenian, and Zoravar in Armenian means ‘strong man.’” Those cigars cost around $15, depending on the vitola. Vartan got his start in the business with a single 750-square-foot store in 1997. Now he’s got two

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: The private Davidoff Lounge at Ambassador Fine Cigars; The view on the trail at McDowell Sonoran Preserve; the bar, lounge and humidor at Churchill’s Fine Cigars in Scottsdale; a special exhibit at the Musical Instrument Museum stores — one 2,600-square-foot location in Peoria and one 4,100-square-foot store in Paradise Valley, near Scottsdale. Vartan’s expansion is a thing to celebrate if you love cigars, but it’s also best understood in the context of Phoenix’s ongoing cigar boom. “Tampa, Atlanta and Phoenix are three cities that sales reps and others in the industry who travel the country always mention (for their cigar saturation). But 21 years ago, when I started, there weren’t this many shops. Now it seems like for every couple of shops that might close over the course of a year, three or four pop up in their place. We’re all different, and you have to differentiate yourself.” From Ambassador, we made our way north to the Musical Instrument Museum, which Vartan and some others had recommended highly. Now, there’s a good chance you’re thinking the same thing we were. To put it plainly, “That sounds lame as hell.” But we took Vartan’s word for it, and man, were we glad we did. The Musical Instrument Museum is a sprawling facility with a collection of nearly 14,000 instruments from 200 countries. At any given time, about half of those are on display. Whether you have curious kids you want to tire out letting them beat on some drums in the Experience Gallery, you’re a musical nerd ready to geek out on the collection, or you’re a history buff and want to view a world of history through a new lens, the MIM is a place you can easily spend several hours. No, you won’t be


smoking cigars while you walk through the exhibits, but that’s about the only knock I can offer on this place. When we visited, there was a special exhibit on the history of the electric guitar, which featured a jaw-dropping collection of historical artifacts from across the evolution of the instrument. Ready to relax with a cigar and a drink, we headed back south again to Churchill’s Fine Cigars, which is in a small shopping center between Phoenix Mountains Preserve and Papago Park (more on that later). That’s the Phoenix location. Churchill’s also has stores in Tempe, Glendale and Ahwatukee. “We’re a full-service cigar shop and also have a cocktail lounge,” said Churchill’s owner, Bart Gerber. “We have a pretty awesome selection of cigars and we’re a TAA member, so we have all the TAA-exclusive cigars. We’re a craft cocktail lounge and have a lot of bourbons, like Pappy Van Winkle and Buffalo Trace, along with a big selection of single malt Scotches. The atmosphere is low key,

upscale, and it’s one of the few places in Arizona where you can smoke and drink inside.” Just a ten-minute drive from the airport, this is a great place to hang out during a long layover if you can swing it. The Phoenix Churchill’s is also a short distance from some of the large resorts in the area, making it an excellent place to stock up on cigars or get a change of scenery if you’re staying at one of those. The selection is excellent, and Bart says that Padrón has become his customers’ favorite among all the brands he stocks. “Phoenix’s cigar scene came of age during the boom in the mid 90s. We opened in early ‘95,” said Bart. “We’re the second oldest store in town. So we’ve grown as the town has grown. The cigar scene is very vibrant.” When you’re not smoking, Phoenix is loaded with events and activities for sports fans to enjoy — provided the weather is right.

“If you’re a golfer, there are great courses here,” he said. “Troon North is generally considered to be the best public course in town. Spring training for baseball is great if you’re a baseball fan. We have the Fiesta Bowl, NASCAR races. There’s always something going on during the winter months. Just stay away during the summer.” We loved Churchill’s Casa de Montecristo lounge and the wide selection of spirits, but the most compelling reason to choose this bar might be across the parking lot. “Right next door we have Steak 44,” Bart said, “which is generally considered to be the top steakhouse in the city. So we get a lot of customers who go there for dinner and then come in here for an after-dinner cigar. We have a such a great relationship with Steak 44 that every year we do a cigar dinner here in the store. They bring the food straight over from there, so we become an extension of the restaurant.” After a Casa by Caldwell (which Caldwell Cigars makes exclusively for Casa de Montecristo lounges) and a glass of Cooper City Bourbon by Arizona Distilling Co. (when in Rome), we made our way to Steak 44, where our Art Director Andy Astencio commenced his usual routine of torturing me by making me wait until he was done taking pictures of our food before digging into it. Steak 44 is everything you want a great steakhouse to be. It was opened in 2014 by Jeffrey and Michael Mastro (the guys who founded the more famous Mastro’s steakhouse brand, which they sold to Houston-based Landry’s the previous year when they’d built 11 restaurants around the country) along with their father Dennis and Scott Troilo. The atmosphere is unmistakably upscale, but the

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: The Clarendon Hotel & Spa (with Café Trandquilo in the near corner); The Arizona Canal Trail in Old Town Scottsdale; inside the humidor at Cigar King; Carolina’s, our new favorite burrito dive

was instant: Carolina’s.

attitude of the place is as casual, friendly and unpretentious as any in Phoenix. From the irresistible garlic bread rolls that start your meal in a cast iron skillet to the flawless bonein ribeye and classic, comforting mac and cheese, the meal was both familiar and unforgettable. It helped that we got a little something different for dessert in the cookies & cream popcorn sundae (vanilla bean gelato, homemade hot fudge, cookies and cream popcorn). After a five-hour flight, a time change and all the running around, we were spent. We called it a night and headed to The Clarendon Hotel, a boutique hotel just north of downtown Phoenix. While it’s not especially cigar friendly, there are all sorts of other selling points here. For instance, a rooftop bar and lounge, a central location that gives you easy access to every part of the metro area, a spa, a pool, and an excellent lobby restaurant.

DIVING IN We fueled up for the first full day in Phoenix with a recommendation we’d gotten from the staff at Churchill’s. Having committed to Steak 44 that first night, we made it clear that we needed a dive to work into this story. They found their resident dive dude and his answer

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The original Carolina’s Mexican Food — there are, it appears, some imitators out there — is south of downtown, just west of the airport, in a nondescript part of town that’s more asphalt than anything else, kitty-corner from a place called Homer’s Christian Auto Care (so you know you can trust them). The unassuming building of white-painted brick is bright as hell in the Phoenix sun, and that white is interrupted by a deep red hand-painted, rough explanation of what goes on inside. HANDMADE FLOUR TORTILLAS HANDMADE TAMALES — CHORIZO MENUDO SAT. Once inside, you understand you don’t quite belong here. You’re on a vacation. You’re traveling. You’re supposed to be looking for experiences and ambience and service and comfort. A morning trip to Carolina’s isn’t about any of that. It’s about walking into a building that would be ready to turn into a body shop or a storage unit or a warehouse with little more than 25 minutes and a sledgehammer, sitting your ass down on a hard plastic chair on a concrete floor that’s only been polished by footsteps and residual tortilla grease, and moving a damn good breakfast burrito from a paper plate into its new home in your gut. And that’s the thing. The burrito is damn good. Eggs, chorizo, potato, some salsa. Very few things on this menu are priced above $5, even though most of it could and should be. Throw it down your

tortilla chute and get the hell out of here with a smile on your face. There are few times a morning cigar hits the spot more squarely than immediately after a breakfast burrito. So we got in the car and headed way up north into Scottsdale to pay a visit to Cigar King. This is, frankly, an odd location for a traveler to visit. In a warehouse district up against Scottsdale Airport (which is among the busiest single-runway airports in the country), Cigar King isn’t quite about hospitality. It’s not that they’re not friendly; Mitch Hirsh and his team are some of the best people you could hope to meet in cigars. It’s that their business is more about bringing you an incredible selection of the good stuff than it is about doing that in a cozy lounge. When I say “good stuff,” I’m not just talking about cigars, either. Mitch is a tobacconist. But more than that, he deals in luxury. So when you walk into Cigar King and you’re done in the humidor, you can also check out their showroom of watches, or his high-end shaving supply brands. And yes, there’s a lounge you can hang out and watch TV in, but this is more a destination for the guy who wants to smoke a cigar after stocking up on boxes or treating himself to a new timepiece. On the cigar front, Cigar King carries just about any brand you might be hoping to find, but what makes this a must-visit spot is Cigar King’s own brands. It’s one thing to have a brand or two that’s exclusive to your store. But Cigar King — which can pull this off largely because of their online busi-


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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Talking Stick Golf Club; the cigar lounge adjacent to the casino floor at Talking Stick Resort; The Capital Grille Scottsdale; our Capital Grille burger and steak sandwich on the cigar-friendly patio

ness — has its own brands made by a variety of well-respected manufacturers, including (but not limited to) Aganorsa, Aladino, PDR, Cubanacan, AJ Fernandez, General Cigar, and My Father. “I was involved in all these blends, so they’re all personal favorites of mine,” Mitch said as he gave us the tour of the humidor and pointed out the two shelves that carried his blends. Back in Mitch’s office, we talked about what our plans were for the rest of the day. Knowing this trip would feel incomplete without at least some time in the outdoors, we let him know we were considering checking out Camelback Mountain. “Yeah. Don’t do that,” he said, saving us from our ignorant tourist selves. Apparently, while Camelback is the hike that will come up in most of the searches you do, it’s also one of the toughest. We, with our jeans and camera gear, were not prepared for this. Instead, he said, we should head to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. It was a great recommendation and certainly a thing to add to your to-do list. Whether you’re dressed for meetings or ready for a mountainside hike or run, McDowell is a great way to immerse yourself in some of that desert landscape you probably don’t get back home. At more than 30,000 acres, it’s the largest urban park in the contiguous 48 (Alaska’s Chugach State Park is more than 495,000 acres). Mitch also advised against an intense hike because he knew we’d be making our way from our short desert excursion to The Capital Grille for lunch. There’s a good chance you know the name and have even been to one of these yourself. But the special thing about the Scottsdale location is

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that there’s a cigar-friendly patio out front. And if the temperature’s right, you just can’t beat a killer steak sandwich followed by a cigar for lunch. The restaurant is at the front end of The Promenade, a mix of recognizable and boutique retail where you and your fellow travelers can do any shopping you might need to get out of your system. A lot of the tourism that comes through this area is concentrated in casino- and golf-centric resorts. One of the biggest players there is Talking Stick Resort. Unfortunately, you can’t smoke cigars on the casino floor, but the resort has more than made up for this with a gorgeous cigar bar that’s easily accessible from the casino floor. There’s live music in there every night and the small cabinet humidor has enough of a selection to keep you satisfied if you’ve already gone through your stash. There are other cigar bars in town, of course. What you can’t miss, regardless of whether you’re staying at Talking Stick, is Orange Sky, the resort’s 15th-floor restaurant. Because Talking Stick is on an Indian reservation — it’s owned and operated by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community — they’re free to build to heights that aren’t permitted elsewhere due to zoning laws. In Scottsdale, for example, buildings are generally not permitted to rise above 84 feet. The result is views from Orange Sky that are positively unbeatable in every direction, and the seating takes that into account, with some tables placed right up against the floor-to-

ceiling windows so you can take it all in over dinner. By this point in the trip, we were beginning to realize that a trip to Phoenix — especially for a cigar smoker — is really a trip to Scottsdale. Downtown Phoenix is a growing urban center, but it’s tough to find cigar-friendly places there, and it’s even harder to find cigars. So we figured we should get to know the heart of Scottsdale, or Old Town Scottsdale, as it’s known. This is where the highest concentration of bars, art, and nightlife are for the city. Bring a cigar along, and after a drink (check out the bar at Olive & Ivy), consider taking your smoke for a stroll along the Arizona Canal Trail. It’s a great waterfront walk that’ll take you across a variety of other bars and restaurants. After another Old Town drink, we made our last cigar stop of the day at Fox Cigar Bar in Scottsdale. A cigar bar through and through, this is the place to smoke at night. The selection of cigars and the bar are excellent, but what really makes this is the fun atmosphere. Everybody’s got their thing, but what I love to find in a cigar bar is a place that feels like it would be a great place to drink and hang out, even if there weren’t a humidor. And that’s what they’ve pulled off here (there’s also the original location in Gilbert). If you’re a beer nut, you might be interested to know that Fox updates its website’s beer board frequently, so you can always get a sense of


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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Fox Cigar Bar Scottsdale; Smoke and Joe in Cave Creek, The Hideaway Grill in Vace Creek; Basil Hayden’s Old Fashioned at Talking Stick’s Orangs Sky Lounge; Olive & Ivy in Old Town Scottsdale

what’s on draft before you head over.

BIKERS AND DOWNTOWN We didn’t have to go far for our second breakfast of the trip. Café Tranquilo, the restaurant adjacent to the lobby of The Clarendon Hotel, serves some of the best Southwestern breakfast around. I’m not usually a fan of having chicken for breakfast, but the chicken chilaquiles — tortilla strips, chicken in a spicy green salsa, and a couple of fried eggs on top — was a dish I could easily have turned to to start every last day of this time in Arizona (and I did do it again before our flight out the next day). If you’re not into spicy Mexican-inspired breakfasts, you can follow Andy’s lead and order “The Gringo” — the classic eggs, bacon and potatoes. Our day started at Tranquilo, but we booked it north to Smoke and Joe Lounge, where new owner John LaClere introduced us to his team and some of his regulars. It’s a nice retail shop with a

friendly lounge in the back. Just the right blend of neighborhood hangout and man cave. We had — as the name of the place suggests — smokes and a cup o’ Joe before we made our way just a little farther north to Cave Creek, where John and his buddies introduced us to the area’s biker bar scene. Specifically, we shared cigars and drinks at The Hideaway, a dinky roadside bar that’s all fun, all the time. It’s the kind of place where everybody either knows everybody or is getting to know everybody, where the head bartender is somehow everybody’s best friend and the ceiling and walls are covered from end to end with dollar bills for who-knows-what-reason. “This is the kind of place we love around here,” John said. He’s a Baltimore native, but you’ll find no more passionate ambassador for Cave Creek than him. A couple of beers in, I ventured next door to a taco counter that’s tucked away at the back of a gift shop called Indian Village. We bought all the tacos and Indian fry bread (think loaded elephant ears, some sweet, some savory) we could carry and brought it back over to the Hideaway for our crew and the friends we’d just made at our table. There was no pulling John or the Smoke and Joe gang away at this point, but we had more to do, so we said our goodbyes to the Smoke and Joe guys, waved to our leftover tacos, and drove back

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south to North Scottsdale, where we met with our friend Brad Berko at Cedar Room Fine Cigars & Lounge. Brad’s been in the cigar business in some capacity or another a long time and has been doing some work with Fox, but since we’d already been there, he thought he’d introduce us to another spot. Cedar Room is a truly unique lounge, with ultra-high ceilings, great art, and a selection of cigars that runs the gamut from the staples to the rare and aged. The bar serves wine and beer, and the lounge is situated on a strip loaded with high-end dining and retail. We enjoyed a couple of stogies and glasses of cabernet while we caught up with Brad before heading downtown to explore that area. No story can be loaded with high highs from start to finish. We’d been warned by everyone that unless you were there for some kind of event — maybe a Suns or Diamondbacks game or a concert — there just wasn’t a whole lot going on in downtown Phoenix after business hours. But we had to see for ourselves. Unfortunately, what we’d heard was spot on. Downtown Phoenix is just not the place to be after hours. Walking around the area, you do get the sense that some things are changing, but the heart of the city just isn’t ready to call itself a travel destination just yet.


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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Cedar Room Fine Cigars & Lounge wine bar and lounge area; The Kettle Black Kitchen & Pub in downtown Phoenix; Stag Tobacconist’s humidor; Cedar Room’s exterior

Scottsdale.

That said, we were hungry, and there were places to eat. Should you find yourself in downtown Phoenix and craving pub fare, consider The Kettle Black Kitchen & Pub. It’s walking distance from most of the bars, theaters and sports venues you might find yourself visiting in Phoenix, and the food is an excellent, elevated take on bar classics. I had the Guinness braised beef short ribs, which are served over creamed spaghetti squash with bacon Brussels sprouts. Andy had the fish and chips. The Kettle Black sits right in the heart of a stretch of downtown that’s several blocks long (running roughly along Washington Street) that’s home to a concentration of bars and restaurants, along with Talking Stick Resort Arena (Phoenix Suns) and Chase Field (Arizona Diamondbacks). But none of that is really enough to make you feel like making a night of visiting this part of town for its own sake.

ONE LAST LOOK Before we headed back home, we wanted to make sure we’d covered as much ground as possible on the cigar tour and taken one last detour to take in the desert landscape. So after I downed another order of those chilaquiles for breakfast and we loaded our luggage into the rental car, we headed west to pay a visit to one of Stag Tobacconists’ two locations. This one’s on the outskirts of Phoenix. The other is, as you might have guessed, in

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Stag is a welcoming, comfortable neighborhood shop with an absurdly large selection of cigars loaded into its deceptive walk-in humidor. As soon as you walk in, you’ll find all the Padrón, Fuente, My Father, and boutique brands you could ever want to choose from. And they carry the Cohiba Spectre, that rare, ultra-premium cigar that General released at the last IPCPR trade show. When you drive into this place, you don’t get the sense from the surrounding neighborhood that you’re going to find much in the cigar lounge, but this place is worth stopping into if you’re in the area — not only for its excellent humidor, but just to hang out in a comfortable neighborhood shop. I’ll admit some bias here. I’m a sucker for dogs, and we met a pretty cool dog here. According to her owner, she’s part wolf and is trained to detect heart conditions and aid with sleep apnea. Who knew? I can’t promise you’ll meet the dog, but I was pretty happy about it.

that serves ultra-premium spirits. Or, if you’re showing up on the early side, espresso. Finally, we rounded out the trip with a visit to Papago Park, which is back near Sky Harbor Airport and is absolutely crammed with things to do. We started at the Hole in the Rock, which is a sort of natural observation deck created by … well … a hole in a rock. After a very easy climb up a trail, you climb through a hole and find yourself in what amounts to a naturally formed auditorium that an eternity of erosion carved into a sandstone rock. Sitting way above the city, it’s a great place to sit, relax, meditate, take some photos, eat a sandwich, smoke a cigar — whatever does it for you. But it’s too cool and too conveniently located to pass up. In other parts of the park, you’ll find Papago Golf Course, Rolling Hills Golf Course, the Phoenix Zoo, the Desert Botanical Garden, and the Hall of Flame Fire Museum (again, an easy stop for the kids if they’re into that sort of thing). We did our best to explore as much of all that as we could but we had a flight to catch and were in a bit of a rush by then.

If you’re traveling with the kids, you’ll want to bear in mind that an amusement park called Castles N’ Coasters is right around the corner. Stag is also the shop you might find yourself stopping at before or after a drive to State Farm Field (another 25 minutes west) to see the Arizona Cardinals play.

ONE LAST THING

For our last cigar stop, we made our way to Magnum’s Cigars Wine & Liquor on the northern edge of Phoenix near the 101 (which wraps around the west, north, and east of the city). Magnum’s is one of the most beautiful retail experiences around, and it marries that with an excellent bar

There is something noteworthy about Phoenix that we haven’t touched on here, but which did come up over and over in our conversations with the locals. These travel stories tend to be focused on what our team actually did and saw in a given town, but in this case, it seems like it’s worth mentioning a


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2530 E Bell Rd suite a, Phoenix

29. Carolina’s Mexican Food

cigarsdaily.com

1202 E Mohave St, Phoenix

16. 21 Degrees Cigar Lounge

carolinasmex.com

9375 E Shea Blvd #175, Scottsdale

6746 E Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek

21cigar.com

31. The Capital Grille

7443 E 6th Ave, Scottsdale

17. Anthony’s Cigar Emporium

16489 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale

foxcigarbar.com

5563 N 7th St #130, Phoenix

thecapitalgrille.com

anthonyscigars.com

32. Tranquilo

5041 N 44th St, Phoenix

18. Don’s Cigars

401 W Clarendon Ave, Phoenix

churchillsaz.com

5036 N Central Ave, Phoenix

goclarendon.com

donscigars.com

33. The Kettle Black Kitchen & Pub

SHOPS & LOUNGES 1. Ambassador Fine Cigars 10810 N Tatum Blvd #140, Phoenix ambassadorcigars.com

2. Fox Cigar Bar Scottsdale

3. Churchill’s Fine Cigars

4. Stag Tobacconists & Gifts 9201 N 29th Ave #47, Phoenix aztobacco.com

5. Cigar King 7830 E Gelding Dr #100, Scottsdale

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34. Hideaway

20. Hiland’s Cigar’s

6746 E Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek

6917 E Thomas Rd, Scottsdale

hideaway-usa.com

640 S Mill Ave #117, Tempe

oliveandivyrestaurant.com

churchillsaz.com

22. Big Sticks Fine Cigars

36. Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour

1907 W Main St #4b, Mesa

1 W Jefferson St, Phoenix

bigsticksfinecigars.com

bitterandtwistedaz.com

731 E Union Hills Dr B10, Phoenix

Or just plan for breakfast burritos and holes in the rocks. The Valley of the Sun has it all.

aztobacco.com

20715 N Pima Rd, Suite F-100, Scottsdale

8. Magnum’s Cigars Wine & Liquor

There’s more to say here, but I didn’t want to write all this about Phoenix without making note of it. First, because Phoenicians are, in my experience, proud of how much of the sports world passes through their town. But second, because if I’d been planning this trip as a personal vacation, I would have accounted for it and built a Suns game into my itinerary. If you’re a sports fan, make sure you account for this when you’re making your travel plans.

thekettleblackpub.com

21. Churchill’s Fine Cigars

smokeandjoelounge.com

All this is to say nothing, of course, of all the incredible golf you have access to when you’re here.

4525 N 24th St, Phoenix

6. Cedar Room Fine Cigars & Lounge

29850 N Tatum Blvd #115, Cave Creek

Phoenix doesn’t get its due for this in the rest of the country, but it is, by any objective measure, a world class sports town. First, consider that this is one of only 13 cities that is home to teams in all four major sports leagues. That alone makes it a top tier sports destination. Then there’s ISM Raceway, which hosts two NASCAR race weekends annually, along with IndyCar events. In golf, there’s the Phoenix Open. There’s ASU and the Fiesta Bowl.

1 N 1st St, Phoenix, AZ 85004

hilandscigars.com

7. Smoke and Joe Lounge

whole category of thing we never got to experience: sports.

19. Ye Olde Pipe & Tobacco Shoppe

30. Indian Village

cigarking.com

cedarroomcigars.com

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: A cactus at McDowell Sonoran Preserve; some of the decar outside Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks; the bar at Magnum Cigar Lounge

15. Cigars Daily

9. Fumar Cigars Inc.

tntcigars.com

24. Churchill’s Fine Cigars

fumarcigarsusa.com

churchillsaz.com

10. Stag Tobacconist

25. Puro Cigar Bar

11. Torch Cigar Bar 5450 E High St #115, Phoenix torchcigarbar.com

12. Churchill’s Fine Cigars Glendale 19420 N 59th Ave, Glendale

OTHER

2826 E Baseline Rd, Mesa

6413, 4940 E Ray Rd, Phoenix

aztobacco.com

7135 E Camelback Rd #195, Scottsdale

23. Cigar Warehouse Mesa

2010 W Parkside Ln, Phoenix

23535 N Scottsdale Rd #104, Scottsdale

35. Olive & Ivy

111 W Boston St, Chandler, AZ 85225

37. Talking Stick Resort 9800 Talking Stick Way, Scottsdale talkingstickresort.com

38. Musical Instrument Museum 4725 E Mayo Blvd, Phoenix

purocigarbar.com

mim.org

26. Fox Cigar Bar

39. The Clarendon Hotel and Spa

1464 E Williams Field Rd, Gilbert foxcigarbar.com

RESTAURANTS & BARS

churchillsaz.com

401 W Clarendon Ave, Phoenix goclarendon.com

40. McDowell Sonoran Preserve 18333 N Thompson Peak Pkwy, Scottsdale

13. Ambassador Fine Cigars

27. Steak 44

mcdowellsonoran.org

5101 N 44th St, Phoenix

41. Chase Field

7545 W Bell Rd #101, Peoria

steak44.com

401 E Jefferson St, Phoenix mlb.com

14. Cigar Warehouse

28. Nick’s Italian Restaurant

4227 W Bell Rd, Phoenix

10810 N Tatum Blvd, Phoenix

625 N Galvin Pkwy

tntcigars.com

nicks-italian.com

phoenix.gov

ambassadorcigars.com

42. Papago Park


PHOENIX

CR EE K

RD

VILLAGE AT CAVE CREEK 30 34

7

CAVE BUTTES RECREATION AREA W HAPPY VALLEY RD

PARK LANE 9 DEER VALLEY

101

VALLEY

17 18

60

E CAMELBACK RD 19 E INDIAN SCHOOL RD

W INDIAN SCHOOL RD

27 3

37

TALKING STICK WAY

101 87

2 35 SCOTTSDALE 20

39 32

51

16

THOMAS RD E MCDOWELL RD

W VAN BUREN ST W BUCKEYE RD

17

36 33 41 29

202

202

42 21

S DOBSON RD

10

22 W MAIN ST

10

87

MESA

S LINDSAY RD

N 7TH ST

N CENTRAL AVE

PHOENIX MOUNTAINS PRESERVE PARADISE

EN AYD RD NH

GLENDALE

MCDOWELL MOUNTAIN REGIONAL PARK HUNTING AREA

CENTRAL SCOTTSDALE

E SHEA BLVD

4

W GLENDALE AVE

W CAMELBACK RD

28 1

51

NORTH MOUNTAIN VILLAGE W DUNLAP AVE

E BELL RD 40

31 5

60

101

6 SCOTTSDALE

38

15 E BELL RD NORTH RANCH

14

17

PEORIA

11

DR

8

W BELL RD

13

DESERT RIDGE E DEER VALLEY

12

101

E PINNACLE PEAK RD 10

N SCOTTSDALE RD

ARROWHEAD RANCH

TATUM

ATUM BLVD

NT

N PIMA RD

NC

303

N SCOTTSDALE RD

AV E

74

60

60 E BASELINE RD

101

23

E ELLIOT RD

SOUTH MOUNTAIN PARK

10 24

W RAY RD

CHANDLER W CHANDLER BLVD

202

25

E RAY RD E CHANDLER BLVD

26

202 JAN / FEB 2019 | CIGAR SNOB |

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50 | CIGAR SNOB | JAN / FEB 2019


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fter several rounds of blind tastings, we’ve compiled our list of the Top 25 Cigars of 2018. Here’s how it works, for those of you who are new here. We went back into our ratings for the entire calendar year and isolated all the cigars that scored 91 or higher in 2018. Then our panel tasted the products under consideration until, finally, we arrived at this list of the best, most exciting cigars in the bunch. For the purposes of this list, we only considered regular-production cigars. That means that we did not consider one-off products that you’ll never find again once the supply is gone. That said, some of these cigars are made in small quantities, but the idea here is that production is ongoing. While we add weight to products released during the 2018 calendar year, the focus is on quality and consistency; you’ll find that even with that adjustment made, there are brands that appear on this list year after year. This year, the number one spot went to a cigar and a brand that not many in or out of the industry expected would win Cigar of the Year, but the product was impossible to deny as the unanimous favorite among our blind tasters. Between pressure from the FDA and political upheaval in Nicaragua, it was a strange year in the cigar world to be sure. While that might have resulted in fewer new entrants into the market or some uncertainty about launch dates, the cigar makers on this list and the work they did to create these 25 smokes are proof positive that it’s hard to keep the cigar industry down. Take a look. What have you smoked? What haven’t you gotten around to? What have you not even heard of? Where did we miss the mark? Let us know your thoughts on this ranking by writing us at feedback@cigarsnobmag.com ; we might just publish your letter in an upcoming issue of the print magazine or read it on the Cigar Snob Podcast.

Nº 1 Sin Compromiso

WRAPPER: Mexico BINDER: Ecuador FILLER: Nicaragua VITOLA: No. 5 Parejo PHYSICAL SIZE: 6 x 54 MSRP: $ 17.45 RATING: 94

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Fábrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua in Nicaragua

When Steve Saka launched Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust in 2015, anybody who knew him and his history understood it was only a matter of time before his boutique cigar brand forced its way into the Top 25. Even knowing how credible and capable Steve is, nobody could have predicted Sin Compromiso. We smoked and smoked and smoked some more. Not because we had to settle differences on this ranking, but because we aren’t used to unanimity. Never has the consensus been so strong on a pick for Cigar Snob’s Cigar of the Year. Sin Compromiso — with its deep, dark flavors, rich aromas, impeccable construction, complexity, and unwavering excellence from the first time we tried it in July until our most recent tastings this month — was the universal pick among our tasters for this No. 1 spot.


Nº 2 Oliva Serie V Melanio Maduro

WRAPPER: Mexico BINDER: Nicaragua FILLER: Nicaragua VITOLA: Robusto PHYSICAL SIZE: 5 x 52 MSRP: $ 10.22 RATING: 93

The Melanio name — which is a tribute to Melanio Oliva, who started the Oliva family’s tobacco tradition — is a familiar one to anybody who follows our Top 25 lists. In fact, when we rated the Melanio Maduro a year ago, its natural counterpart was listed in that same January 2018 issue as the No. 6 cigar of 2017. The continued excellence of this and other Oliva cigars has put to rest any concern over the impact that J. Cortès would have when it acquired the company. The Mexican-wrapped Maduro has wowed us all year with its bold flavors, consistently flawless construction, and the beautiful aromas that can only come from extremely well aged tobaccos. We can’t get enough.

Nº 3 Vegas del Purial Gran Reserva

WRAPPER: Ecuador BINDER: Nicaragua FILLER: Nicaragua VITOLA: Lancero PHYSICAL SIZE: 7 x 38 MSRP: $ 9.80

Tabacalera Oliva in Nicaragua

El Galán Cigars in Nicaragua

Last year, we put El Galán Cigars’ Doña Nieves Sentimiento Ternura (6 x 54) in the No. 19 spot on our list. Since then, it was announced that Félix Mesa would be helming the Arturo Fuente Cigars expansion into Estelí — but none of that slowed down the progress being made at El Galán. This time around, Félix Mesa’s brand takes a giant leap forward to No. 3 with Vegas del Purial, an elegant cigar that brings a new level of balance and complexity to the El Galán portfolio. That leap forward is most pronounced in this Lancero format, which also highlights the craftsmanship Félix and his team are capable of delivering.

RATING: 93

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Nº 4 Padrón family reserve 50 Years Maduro

WRAPPER: Nicaragua BINDER: Nicaragua FILLER: Nicaragua

Tabacos Cubanica in Nicaragua

When you light a Padrón, you know what you’re in for. There’s a reason that the company has developed a cult following of uber-loyal superfans. And yet, even with a reputation built on a foundation of legendary consistency, the Padrón experience never gets any less exciting.

VITOLA: Robusto PHYSICAL SIZE: 5 x 54 MSRP: $ 25.50

Released in 2014, 50 years after the late José Orlando Padrón founded the company, this cigar commemorates the start of one of the most storied brands in cigars. The Padrón family delivered a milestone cigar for a milestone anniversary.

RATING: 93

Nº 5 A. Fuente Don Carlos

WRAPPER: Cameroon BINDER: Dominican Republic FILLER: Dominican Republic VITOLA: No. 2 PHYSICAL SIZE: 6 x 55 MSRP: $ 12.60 RATING: 93

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Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia in the Dominican Republic

It’s hard to imagine any discussion of the cigar world’s cream of the crop that doesn’t include Arturo Fuente Cigars. The celebrated Dominican cigar maker is a giant in the industry, and for good reason. While some other Fuente cigars are the objects of more hype and fanfare, the Don Carlos — named for the late Fuente patriarch Carlos Fuente, Sr. — was the one that stood out to us this year. The cigar is all about a beautiful balance of nut, cream and spice notes. Its full flavor and consistency keep us coming back again and again.


Nº 6 AJ Fernandez Bellas Artes Maduro

WRAPPER: Brazil BINDER: Mexico FILLER: Nicaragua

VITOLA: PHYSICAL SIZE: MSRP: RATING:

Tabacalera Fernandez in Nicaragua

A.J. Fernández is as dominant as ever in the cigar industry. What people once termed “the year of A.J.” is bleeding into a new calendar and shows no signs of slowing down. This is one of the few brands with multiple wrapper variations that have made our Top 25 lists. The cigar’s dark, rich profile is classic AJ.

Toro 6 x 54 $ 10.00 93

Nº 7 Tatuaje Black Label Private Reserve

WRAPPER: Nicaragua BINDER: Nicaragua FILLER: Nicaragua

VITOLA: PHYSICAL SIZE: MSRP: RATING:

Corona Gorda 5 5/8 x 46 $ 10.00 93

My Father Cigars in Nicaragua

The Black Label Corona Gorda was one of the most sought after cigars of the early 2000s and wowed us all over again this year. The Private Reserve stands apart from other Black Labels with a blacker, more ornate band and a subtle nipple on the head of the cigar.

Nº 8 The Wise Man

WRAPPER: Mexico BINDER: Nicaragua FILLER: Nicaragua

Aganorsa in Nicaragua

VITOLA: PHYSICAL SIZE: MSRP: RATING:

Corona Gorda 5 5/8 x 46 $ 9.90 93

When Nicholas Melillo launched Foundation Cigar Co., his inaugural brand was called El Güegüense. The name means “The Wise Man,” and it refers to an ancient piece of folkloric Nicaraguan art. The English translation now has its own blend. It’s a stellar cigar and the first of several on this list made at Aganorsa.

Nº 9 La Flor de las Antillas TAA Exclusive 2018

WRAPPER: Nicaragua BINDER: Nicaragua FILLER: Nicaragua

VITOLA: PHYSICAL SIZE: MSRP: RATING:

TAA Lancero 7 1/2 x 38 $ 9.50 92

My Father Cigars in Nicaragua

For years this has been one of My Father Cigars’ most celebrated brands, but we can’t remember loving it more than we did in this special lancero vitola. Available exclusively at TAA member retailers, this lancero showcases My Father’s ability to successfully scale a blend that goes up to a 60 ring gauge and down to a 38 ring.

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Nº 10 Rocky Patel Decade

WRAPPER: Ecuador BINDER: Nicaragua FILLER: Nicaragua

Nº 11

VITOLA: PHYSICAL SIZE: MSRP: RATING:

El Paraíso in Honduras

Toro 6 1/2 x 52 $ 11.70 92

Davidoff Yamasa

WRAPPER: Dominican Republic BINDER: Dominican Republic FILLER: Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

Cigars Davidoff in the Dominican Republic

VITOLA: PHYSICAL SIZE: MSRP: RATING:

Piramides 6 1/8 x 52 $ 23.00 92

Nº 12 Mombacho Liga Maestro

WRAPPER: Nicaragua BINDER: Nicaragua FILLER: Nicaragua

VITOLA: PHYSICAL SIZE: MSRP: RATING:

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Yamasá is named for a region of the Dominican Republic where Davidoff put in years of work to figure out how to grow world-class tobacco. It’s not naturally hospitable to the crop, but Davidoff saw the potential. This cigar’s wrapper and binder are the latest way they’ve showcased one of their agricultural passion projects.

Casa Favilli in Nicaragua

Hermoso 6 x 46 $ 9.96 92

Nº 13 Liga Privada T52

WRAPPER: USA/Connecticut BINDER: Brazil FILLER: Nicaragua & Honduras

We didn’t do this on purpose, but can you think of a more aptly named number 10 pick? Though it’s the highest-ranking Honduran cigar in this year’s Top 25, it doesn’t make use of any Honduran tobacco. The Decade embodies all the things that make Rocky Rocky; it’s bold in its flavor, but elegant and balanced in its approach.

Located in historic Granada, Nicaragua, Casa Favilli is easily among the most beautiful factories in premium cigars. But they’re more than a postcard-perfect building. The sweet, spicy, earthy complexity of Liga Maestro is an example of why Mombacho cigars have been earning an outsized reputation for quality.

La Gran Fábrica Drew Estate in Nicaragua

VITOLA: PHYSICAL SIZE: MSRP: RATING:

Robusto 5 x 54 $ 13.10 92

One of Drew Estate’s most sought-after blends, the T52 represents the big flavor that people love from Liga Privada smokes and the special relationship that Drew Estate has with the Connecticut River Valley. The T52 sports a stalk-cut Connecticut Habano wrapper, giving it a spicy and sweet character that’s impossible to forget.


Nº 14 Illusione Haut 10

WRAPPER: Nicaragua BINDER: Nicaragua FILLER: Nicaragua

Aganorsa in Nicaragua

VITOLA: PHYSICAL SIZE: MSRP: RATING:

HAUT 10 5 1/2 x 52 $ 15.95 92

Nº 15 Balmoral Serie Signaturas Dueto

WRAPPER: Nicaragua BINDER: Nicaragua FILLER: Brazil & Nicaragua

VITOLA: PHYSICAL SIZE: MSRP: RATING:

Gran Toro 6 x 52 $ 10.50 92

Nº 16 Camacho Ecuador BXP

WRAPPER: Ecuador BINDER: Brazil FILLER: Honduras & Dominican Republic

VITOLA: PHYSICAL SIZE: MSRP: RATING:

VITOLA: PHYSICAL SIZE: MSRP: RATING:

Tabacalera La Alianza in the Dominican Republic

A collaboration between two companies — Agio and EPC — this cigar brings together the blending sensibilities of Ernesto Pérez-Carrillo and the Brazilian tobacco obsession of the Wintermans family from Royal Agio. When the cigar’s in your hands, note the band’s nods to Ernesto’s drumming background.

Diadema Cigars de Honduras in Honduras

Toro 6 x 50 $ 8.50 92

Nº 17 Leaf by Oscar Sumatra

WRAPPER: Ecuador BINDER: Honduras FILLER: Honduras

Released in 2016 to mark Illusione’s tenth anniversary, Haut 10 is a complex smoke that showcases some of the best of what can be done with Aganorsa tobacco. Understated presentation, from the nondescript band to the somewhat rustic fantail, belies the excitement of being taken through this cigar’s transitions.

Originally released in 2014, the Camacho Ecuador line was extended in 2017 to include this BXP version, BXP being short for box-pressed. Camacho didn’t just box press the existing Camacho Ecuador blend, which was #11 on our 2014 Top 25 list, they modified the blend to better suit the press. The results speak for themselves.

Oscar Valladares Tobacco & Co. in Honduras

Toro 6 x 52 $ 9.50 92

Once you’ve tasted this for yourself and realized how good the cigar is, you’ll love handing them to friends who’ve never seen the rough tobacco leaf each cigar is packaged in. The leaf — an innovative alternative to cellophane — hides an immaculately constructed cigar that surprises every first-timer.

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Nº 18 Perdomo 20th Anniversary Maduro

WRAPPER: Nicaragua BINDER: Nicaragua FILLER: Nicaragua

VITOLA: PHYSICAL SIZE: MSRP: RATING:

Epicure 6 x 56 $ 9.00 92

Nº 19 Caldwell The T

WRAPPER: Nicaragua BINDER: Nicaragua FILLER: Nicaragua

VITOLA: PHYSICAL SIZE: MSRP: RATING:

Toro Grande 6 1/2 x 56 $ 12.00 92

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A.J. Fernandez. Robert Caldwell. Matt Booth. That sounds like a party we want to be invited to. But hey, at least we get to enjoy the cigar that came out of this collaboration among three of the most interesting brands in the cigar world. The boxpressed Nicaraguan puro delivers on big flavor and superb construction.

La Zona Cigar Factory in Nicaragua

VITOLA: PHYSICAL SIZE: MSRP: RATING:

No. 5 6 x 52 $ 7.25 91

Nº 21 2012 by Oscar Valladares Maduro

WRAPPER: Mexico BINDER: Honduras FILLER: Honduras & Nicaragua

Perdomo’s 20th anniversary actually took place back in 2012, but our panel continues to love this blend coming out of Perdomo’s Estelí factory. After going through the standard fermentation process, the Maduro wrapper is finished an additional 14 months in used Bourbon barrels before being applied to the cigar.

Tabacalera Fernandez in Nicaragua

Nº 20 Espinosa Habano

WRAPPER: Nicaragua BINDER: Nicaragua FILLER: Nicaragua

Tabacalera Perdomo in Nicaragua

VITOLA: PHYSICAL SIZE: MSRP: RATING:

Toro 6 x 52 $ 8.50 91

Espinosa has fun with branding, but we’ve been drawn to one of their traditionallooking smokes this year. The Habano is a no-nonsense Nicaraguan puro that delivers all the best La Zona has to offer. Espinosa also won the People’s Choice trophy at our recent Lechón Challenge — things are going pretty well for these guys.

Oscar Valladares Tobacco & Co. in Honduras

Named for the year Oscar Valladares Tobacco & Co. was founded, this debuted in 2017 to commemorate the company’s fifth anniversary. In his second year on our Top 25 rankings, Oscar Valladares is building on his success with not one, but two cigars making the list. He’s a passionate, capable champion for Honduran cigars.


Nº 22 Romeo y Julieta 1875 Nicaragua

WRAPPER: Nicaragua BINDER: Nicaragua FILLER: Nicaragua

Nº 23

VITOLA: PHYSICAL SIZE: MSRP: RATING:

Toro 6 x 50 $ 7.10 91

La Galera Maduro

WRAPPER: Mexico BINDER: Dominican Republic FILLER: Dominican Republic

VITOLA: PHYSICAL SIZE: MSRP: RATING:

Cortador 6 1/4 x 52 $ 6.50 91

In this cigar, Mexican San Andrés comes together with tobaccos from Tabacalera Palma’s own Dominican farms in Jacagua and Gurabo. The result is a big, bold cigar rich in chocolate, wood and spice. Jochy Blanco, the fourth-generation tobacco man behind this brand, has put his talents on full display here.

Fábrica de Puros Aladino in Honduras

VITOLA: PHYSICAL SIZE: MSRP: RATING:

Palmas 6 x 43 $ 6.50 91

Nº 25 Joya Silver

WRAPPER: Ecuador BINDER: Mexico FILLER: Nicaragua

Plasencia was the first factory to make an all-Nicaraguan Romeo for Altadis U.S.A., and Nicaraguan tobaccos have figured heavily in the development of Altadis’ portfolio ever since. It only makes sense that they’d go back to Plasencia (maker of 2017’s Cigar of the Year), with its attention to detail and massive stores of aged tobacco.

Tabacalera Palma in the Dominican Republic

Nº 24 Aladino

WRAPPER: Honduras BINDER: Honduras FILLER: Honduras

Plasencia in Nicaragua

JRE Tobacco, the company founded by father and son team Julio R. and Justo M. Eiroa, sought to make this blend one that hearkened back to the profiles of ‘50s-era Cuban cigars. It’s a tall order, but one that the Eiroas were ready to take on from the Honduran movie-theater-turned-cigar-factory after which this cigar was named.

Joya de Nicaragua in Nicaragua

VITOLA: PHYSICAL SIZE: MSRP: RATING:

Toro 6 x 52 $ 7.80 91

With Joya Red, Cabinetta and Black, Joya de Nicaragua brought some modern style to their otherwise traditional portfolio. With the release of Silver, the company brought a new dimension to that lineup. The medium-to-full strength cigar with notes of chocolate, cherry and spice is a delicious way to round out our list.

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2018 limited editions Whether out of necessity or a desire to have fun with a one-off project, cigar makers’ best work is often on full display in their limited edition releases. Because these are one-and-done products, they’re made with no regard for whether the profile that came out of the blending process is replicable year after year. If you’re an adventurous smoker who likes to try new things or a collector looking to build a stockpile of rare smokes, limited edition cigars should always be on your radar. These are just some of our favorite limited edition cigars that were released over the course of 2018.

DAVIDOFF 50 YEARS LIMITED EDITION DIADEMA FINA

COUNTRY: Dominican Republic

LENGTH: 6 3/4

WRAPPER: Ecuador BINDER: Dominican Republic FILLER: Dominican Republic FACTORY: Cigars Davidoff

VITOLA: Diadema RING: 50 PRODUCTION: 8,000 jars of 10 PRICE: $ 36.00

First released in 2006, Diademas Finas celebrated what would have been Zino Davidoff’s 100th birthday. As part of the celebration of Davidoff’s fiftieth year as a cigar brand, the cigar was re-released — this time with a special band and packaged in jars that you might want to display even after they’re empty. While details of the 2006 blend weren’t public, we know that this anniversary cigar sports an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper around Dominican binder and filler.

DON PEPÍN GARCÍA 15TH ANNIVERSARY LIMITED EDITION

COUNTRY: Nicaragua

VITOLA: Toro

WRAPPER: Nicaragua

LENGTH: 6 1/2

BINDER: Nicaragua FILLER: Nicaragua FACTORY: My Father Cigars

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RING: 52 PRODUCTION: 2,000 boxes of 14 PRICE: $ 24.00

We all know that My Father makes excellent cigars. So can we talk for a moment about the fact that nobody makes a limited edition look limited edition quite like the Garcías? Created to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Don Pepín line, each of these ornate cigars (which are made with tobaccos from the family’s farms) comes in its own coffin, which makes this a great item to pick up for gift giving — if you can stand to part with them, that is.


CASA FERNANDEZ MIAMI ANIVERSARIO 2018

COUNTRY: United States WRAPPER: Nicaragua BINDER: Nicaragua FILLER: Nicaragua FACTORY: Aganorsa Leaf Miami

VITOLA: Perfecto LENGTH: 6 1/4 RING: 52 PRODUCTION: 250 boxes of 10 PRICE: $ 13.50

Aganorsa tobacco is some of the most recognizable in cigars, and this limited Casa Fernandez product is a prime example of why. Made right in Cigar Snob’s backyard in Miami, this Nicaraguan puro with a Corojo wrapper is easily the most limited of all the cigars we chose to highlight here. Considering just how rare it is, the price point is surprisingly low. Good luck finding them, but don’t pass them up if you do!

JOYA DE NICARAGUA CINCO DÉCADAS

COUNTRY: Nicaragua WRAPPER: Nicaragua BINDER: Mexico FILLER: Nicaragua FACTORY: Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua

VITOLA: Diadema LENGTH: 6 RING: 54 PRODUCTION: 5,000 boxes of 10 PRICE: $ 19.99

For half a century, Joya de Nicaragua has not only been making cigars, but playing a crucial role in the life and culture of Estelí, the Nicaraguan cigar capital. Cinco Décadas is a fitting tribute to a company that has survived dictatorship, become the official cigar of the White House, and led the charge in Estelí’s cigar renaissance. While Joya hasn’t said much about the blend, it’s not a secret that these are worth trying.

NESTOR MIRANDA COLLECTION 75TH ANNIVERSARY

COUNTRY: Dominican Republic WRAPPER: Nicaragua BINDER: Nicaragua FILLER: Nicaragua FACTORY: My Father Cigars

VITOLA: Salomon LENGTH: 7 1/4 RING: 57 PRODUCTION: 1,000 boxes of 15 PRICE: $ 19.00

What good is being the most interesting man in the cigar industry if you can’t get an anniversary cigar to mark your birthday? Nestor Miranda’s 75th year was celebrated with a cigar made by My Father Cigars. Nestor is a once-in-a-lifetime character, so it’s fitting that he mark his birthday — which happens to fall on Valentine’s Day — with a smoke that only comes around that often.

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LOS CAIDOS (THE FALLEN)

New Jersey native Steve Zengel combined his love of cigars, motorcycles, and helping others into a charitable cigar company that seeks to help the families of fallen law enforcement officers and firefighters all over the country by giving back $1 for every cigar sold.

the famed Nicaraguan cigar maker Aganorsa and blended an excellent medium-bodied cigar packaged in a somber black and blue cigar box with meaningful details to celebrate the lives of the fallen. They named it Los Caidos. “I scraped together what money I had and released 500 boxes and started going to [charity] events not as Beach House Cigars but as Los Caidos and the community received it very well,” Steve said.

On a cool, rainy evening in Midtown Manhattan, a group of supporters of the initial Los Caidos release gathered at Club Macanudo with Steve and his team to celebrate the return of Los Caidos. Much like the first release, the new Los Caidos is made by Aganorsa in Nicaragua, but one of the things they learned from the “film room” was that firefighters needed a cigar to honor their fallen from the get-go. “The firemen were a little pissed at first, they kept saying ‘when are you doing the red version?’ Steve explained. “So we got that done before the FDA deadline and it was well received.”

fter a career as a high school head basketball coach and later a stint as an assistant coach in college, Steve decided to combine his love of cigars with his finely honed people skills. And after a crash course in the cigar business from Virginia Beach retailer Scott Regina of Emerson’s Cigars, he opened Beach House Cigars in Seaside Heights, NJ in March 2012. You might recognize the town of Seaside Heights from news coverage of Hurricane Sandy. The town was leveled by the devastating storm in October 2012. Beach House Cigars was located a mere 1,000 feet from the beach. Steve eventually re-opened Beach House Cigars in his hometown of Wall Township, NJ. That’s where the Los Caidos story begins.

LOS CAIDOS PART I To create the cigar, Steve collaborated with

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“One of the things you do as a coach is go into the film room, because the film doesn’t lie, and you see where you got your ass beat. So that when you come back on the floor it doesn’t happen again. So 2017 was my time in the film room and I came back onto the floor in 2018 and I’m not getting my ass beat this time.”

THE RETURN

INTERVIEW BY ERIK CALVIÑO

After the tragic deaths of two local law enforcement officers, Steve’s Beach House Cigars started getting involved in the small charities being set up by the families and friends of the fallen. They’d host charity events and invite Beach House Cigars to sell cigars to raise money for the families. “I was going out there constantly with Beach House Cigars branded cigars,” said Steve, “and I was giving a couple hundred bucks back at the end of the day. But these families needed $20,000, not $200. I felt like it was a drop in a bucket. It felt insignificant.” Steve shared his thoughts with a friend and Jersey Mike’s franchisee who told him all about the sandwich chain’s charity initiatives. The idea to launch a charity-driven cigar brand was born.

and some funds were distributed to families of fallen law enforcement, it didn’t turn out exactly as he had planned. Steve compared the mistakes he made with the initial release to losing a game in basketball.

Incredibly, their first order came from Cigars International, the giant online cigar retailer. Steve related these events to us during a recent interview: “Someone from [Cigars International] had been vacationing at the Jersey Shore and inquired about all the boxes of Los Caidos that had just been delivered to the store.” He explained what he was trying to do with this charity brand, and before long they placed an order of Los Caidos to sell on their site. The exposure proved to be invaluable. “They picked it up before any other retailer and not a lot of people know that, but it tremendously helped. Once that visibility got out there, we quickly sold out within a year.” The original idea had been to take the proceeds from the sale of the cigars and distribute checks to families of the fallen nationwide as part of a cross-country motorcycle ride that Steve called Life of a Ridetime. And while the cross-country ride did take place

This time around, Los Caidos released 1500 boxes for police and 1500 for firemen. “In the box there are 12 spaces, the first 10 contain a 6 x 54 toro, the eleventh is a 6 x 54 torpedo, and the 12th space is left open.” Steve clarified the meaning behind the empty slot and the torpedo saying, “The torpedo is what we call the ‘end of watch’ cigar and it’s intended for the box purchaser to honor their fallen brother or sister. When they pull it, the empty space is for the one their friend or family member is having with them upstairs because they’re no longer with us.” All of this would be beautiful, but mostly empty if the cigar was not good. In other words, if you purchased the box to celebrate the life of a fallen brother and when you lit this meaningful, emotion-filled cigar, it was harsh or tasted like moldy socks, the moment would be ruined. That is not the case with this cigar. By partnering with Aganorsa, one of the most decorated cigar factories in the cigar business, Steve ensured that the cigar’s quality would stand up to the weight of cause.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED WITH LOS CAIDOS OR TO PURCHASE A BOX, VISIT LOSCAIDOS.COM.


PICK THE CIGAR THAT SUITS YOUR SPEED

ACID KRUSH CLASSICS, AMBROSIA CLOVE TIKIS, DEADWOOD SWEET JANE, ISLA DEL SOL, KENTUCKY FIRE CURED, LA VIEJA HABANA, LARUTAN DIRTIES, LIGA PRIVADA CORONETS, TABAK ESPECIAL CAFECITAS, UNDERCROWN CORONETS.

WWW.DREWESTATE.COM JAN / FEB 2019 | CIGAR SNOB |

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LUCIA ABUIN www.limitededitionmanagement.com

BRA & UNDERWEAR EBERJEY SHOES CECCONELLO

CIGARS CASA CUEVAS MADURO, HABANO, CONNECTICUT www.casacuevascigars.com


DRESS ZARA BELT BOSSA CONCEPT SHOES CECCONELLO


2018 - MIAMI Cigars. Pork. Booze. Music. If that doesn’t sounds like a good time to you, then we can’t be friends. Our very own pig roast-off was the most fun we’ve had at work in a long time — so you can imagine how much the guests in attendance enjoyed themselves. On arrival at the terrace of the InterContinental Hotel in downtown Miami, they were greeted with gifts. A cutter, lighter and butane (thanks to Xikar), 15 cigars from sponsor brands in a Cigar Caddy travel humidor and a separate cigar box containing an additional 5 cigars — one from each of the companies competing in the cook-off. Many thanks to Casa Cuevas for sponsoring the bag check that made it so our 382 guests didn’t need to lug all their cigars around all night. Of course, that pig roasting contest was the main event. Five cigar makers each cooked a whole hog over the course of the day: Espinosa Cigars, Arturo Fuente Cigars, Villiger, Oliva Cigar, and AJ Fernandez. In the end, two companies emerged victorious. AJ Fernandez took home the Grand Champion trophy after garnering the highest score from the judges, while Espinosa was the favorite of the crowd and won the People’s Choice trophy. A few acknowledgements are in order. Michael Peña of Hialeah’s La Bodeguita Restaurant and his team were instrumental in planning and executing the event. Our friends at La Caja China not only provided their famous pig roasting boxes for our competitors, but also supplied a custom Cigar Snob SP-300 Caja China valued at $1,500 that went to a very lucky raffle winner who we’re sure has been hosting way more parties lately. Villiger Cigars and Jack Daniel’s sponsored the event’s exclusive VIP section. Total Wine, Revolución Tequila, and D’Cata Wine all helped keep the crowd lubricated. Stay tuned for news on upcoming events. We have big plans!

78 | CIGAR SNOB | JAN / FEB 2019

Luís and Denise Cuevas, Humberto Ares, Gabriel and Grace Álvarez and Gabriel Piñeres

Carl and Irma Zogby

Albert Montserrat and Sara Tío

Alberto Hernández and Lissette Leiva

José “Pepito” Martínez and Oscar Calviño

PHOTO CREDIT: Paul Perdomo, Ramón Santana


Erik Espinosa sabotaging Villiger’s Héctor Pires and Máximo Díaz

Paul Palmer and Steve Zengel

Lily Armas

Robert Singer, Rocío Montoya-Singer and Ozzie Gómez

Odalys Hernández, Arancha De Mata, Tirza Fernández, Nelson Hernández and Iván Fernández

Eiler Mesa, Daimel Hernández, Ivon Diaz, Olga Rodríguez, Magela Montoya and Berta Bravo

RAFFLE TICKETS!!!!!

Olga Rodríguez, Félix, Eiler and Jorge Mesa

Dave Wagner, Bernie Rodríguez, Albert Sosa and Oswaldo Carrera

Ibis Lu and Monica Martínez

JAN / FEB 2019 | CIGAR SNOB |

79


George Rami, Manny Rodríguez, Osvaldo Alba, Carlos Escalona and Aldo Farraz

Jerome Berry

Erik Calviño and Erik Espinosa

Roberto Guerra, Erik Calviño and Alex Malek

Ozzie Gómez, Robert Singer and Erik Calviño

The Caja China winner, Clara Palmeiro Benedit

Gina Rosario, Lulu Salgado, Yadira Creighton, Tania Gutiérrez and Kimberly Ramírez

80 | CIGAR SNOB | JAN / FEB 2019

Ozzie Gómez, Rocío Montoya-Singer, Robert Singer, Erik Espinosa, Jr. and Jorge Reyes


JAN / FEB 2019 | CIGAR SNOB |

81


82 | CIGAR SNOB | JAN / FEB 2019


48 cigars

RUM: Ron Barcelo Imperial Premium Blend 30 Aniversario (ronbarcelo.com) LIGHTER: Le Grand S.T. Dupont (st-dupont.com) CUTTER: stainless steel cigar scissor

JAN / FEB 2019 | CIGAR SNOB |

83


TORO Tatuaje Nuevitas Jibaro

$ 9.50

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

92

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

No. 2 6 52 Nicaragua Nicaragua Nicaragua

Hoyo La Amistad

$ 7.99

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

91

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 50 Ecuador Nicaragua Nicaragua

)

Montecristo Nicaragua Series

)

91

Opens with a blast of red pepper, which settles to incorporate flavors of cinnamon, wood, leather, and a touch of cream. This mediumplus strength blend is consistently well-made providing a perfect draw and burn.

$ 12.25

N I CA R AG UA VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 54 Nicaragua Nicaragua Nicaragua

Camacho Hard Charger

This beautifully constructed blend delivers a flavorful core of red pepper, cedar, roasted nuts, and cinnamon. Produces an excellent output of thick, aromatic smoke along an easy draw and an even burn. Medium-plus strength.

$ 13.00

)

H O N D UR AS

)

90

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 50 USA/Connecticut Honduras Honduras

)

Villiger San’Doro Colorado

)

89

Delivers a smooth and earthy core with notes of soft pepper, charred oak, and a touch of roasted almond. This medium-plus strength blend is consistently well-constructed providing a firm draw and an even burn.

$ 8.50

N I CA R AG UA VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 50 Ecuador Nicaragua Nicaragua

La Palina LP01

A flavorful blend with notes of red pepper, earth, leather, and a touch of cream. This medium bodied toro consistently provides a good draw and leaves behind a solid, compact ash.

)

$ 10.00

)

88

84 | CIGAR SNOB | JAN / FEB 2019

An impeccably constructed toro covered in a nearly flawless, reddish brown wrapper and sporting a neat, unfinished foot, which gives you a savory start with notes of wood and pepper until the wrapper brings in rich flavors of nuts, cream, and milk chocolate. Medium-plus strength.

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

H O N D UR AS Toro 6 1/2 52 Ecuador Costa Rica Honduras & Nicaragua

Covered with an attractive, even-colored wrapper with sheen. This medium strength blend delivers a savory profile of wood, spice, earth, and pepper. Produces an excellent smoke output along a perfect draw.


JAN / FEB 2019 | CIGAR SNOB |

85


86 | CIGAR SNOB | JAN / FEB 2019


TORO Herrera Esteli Norteño

$ 8.75 VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro Especial 6 50 Mexico Honduras Nicaragua

92

)

Opens with flavors of cocoa powder, soft pepper, and a touch of oak complemented by an aroma of dark roast coffee. This medium strength blend is soft-pressed and covered with an even-colored, dark reddish brown wrapper.

)

N I CA R AGUA

Sindicato Maduro

$ 12.00 VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 54 Mexico Nicaragua Nicaragua

92

)

An ultra-flavorful blend with a balanced profile of cedar, baker’s spice, and leather accompanied by rich flavors of espresso and bittersweet chocolate. This beautifully box-pressed toro is topped with a tight pigtail and a covered foot.

)

N I CA R AGUA

San Lotano Dominicano

D OM I NI CAN REPUBLIC

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 50 Brazil Dominican Republic Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

91

)

Covered with a thick, oily wrapper with a toothy texture. Delivers a powerful blend of raisin, pepper, and intense espresso complemented by a touch of cedar and chocolate. Consistently well-constructed and provides a perfect draw.

)

$ 9.00

The Oscar Maduro

$ 12.00 VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 52 Mexico Honduras Honduras & Nicaragua

91

)

Impeccably constructed and covered with a dark wrapper with the color and sheen of a dark roast coffee bean. Produces an excellent smoke output with a profile of earth, oak, and espresso complemented by a sweet, creamy finish. Medium strength.

)

H O ND U R AS

Vicarias Red Label

D OM I NI CAN REPUBLIC

Toro 6 54 Brazil Nicaragua Nicaragua, USA & Dominican Republic

90

)

Covered with a dark wrapper with slight veins, this medium plus strength blend is consistently well-constructed. Delivers intense flavors of wood, pepper, and raisin accompanied by more subtle notes of earth, cocoa, and cinnamon.

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

)

$ 9.00

CLE Azabache

H O ND U R AS

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

654 6 54 Mexico Honduras Peru, Nicaragua & Honduras

90

)

A flavorful, box-pressed blend with some veins and wrinkles on the dark brown wrapper. Flavors of bittersweet dark chocolate, wood, soft pepper, and a touch of earth complemented by a note of leather in the aroma. Draws well and produces tons of thick, white smoke.

)

$ 8.66

JAN / FEB 2019 | CIGAR SNOB |

87


TORO

)

Plasencia Reserva Original

)

91

$ 8.90

H O N D UR AS VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 50 Nicaragua Nicaragua Nicaragua

)

Montecristo Epic - Craft Cured

)

91

$ 15.75

N I CA R AG UA VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 52 Nicaragua Nicaragua Nicaragua

)

Altar Q by Oscar Valladares

)

91

H O N D UR AS VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 52 Ecuador Honduras Honduras

) )

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 1/2 52 Cameroon Nicaragua Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

)

H O N D UR AS Consistently well-made and finished with a good-looking wrapper with minimal veins. This medium strength blend has a core of earth and pepper accompanied by notes of wood, nuts, and cream. Draws and burns exceptionally well.

$ 6.00

N I CA R AG UA

)

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 50 Cameroon Nicaragua Nicaragua

Victor Calvo VC50

Neatly box-pressed and covered with a thin wrapper with only the thinnest veins showing. Opens with intense pepper, which settles to incorporate subtle notes of nuts, coffee, and wood. This medium-plus strength blend consistently draws and burns perfectly.

)

$ 9.00

)

90

88 | CIGAR SNOB | JAN / FEB 2019

A beautifully constructed toro covered with a clean, neatly applied wrapper topped with a tight, diminutive pigtail. Opens with a rich blend of sweet cedar, nuts, and honey, later accompanied by intense pepper and earth. Mediumplus strength.

$ 10.10

New World Cameroon Selection

90

Well-balanced and clean delivering notes of cedar, baker’s spices, and a touch of pepper complemented by a touch of vanilla cream. This thick toro is beautifully constructed and covered with a reddish brown wrapper with a velvet feel. Mild to medium bodied.

$ 10.50

Rocky Patel Vintage 2003 Cameroon

90

A smooth and flavorful blend finished with a neatly applied, milk chocolate colored wrapper. Consistently draws and burns well producing an excellent smoke output with flavors of wood, pepper, and nougat complemented by subtle notes of caramel and leather.

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Sublime 6 1/2 54 Ecuador USA Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

N I CA R AG UA Delivers a core of earth and pepper accompanied by a rich combination of leather, coffee, and a touch of sweet cream. Impeccably pressed and covered with a clean, milk chocolate colored wrapper with excellent oils.


JAN / FEB 2019 | CIGAR SNOB |

89


ROBUSTO

)

Aganorsa Leaf Signature Selection

)

92

$ 9.80

N I CA R AG UA VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Robusto 5 52 Nicaragua Nicaragua Nicaragua

Herrera Esteli

$ 9.12

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

92

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Robusto Extra 5 1/2 52 Ecuador Honduras Nicaragua

Plasencia Cosecha 146

Exceptionally balanced and consistently well made, this medium strength smoke delivers a profile of nuts, soft pepper, and caramel complemented by a touch of espresso and earth. This cigar produces an excellent smoke output along a perfect draw and burn.

$ 11.00

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

91

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

La Musica 5 50 Honduras Nicaragua Honduras & Nicaragua

)

H.Upmann by AJ Fernandez

)

91

Delivers a medium-plus bodied profile dominated by nuts, earth, and cream accompanied by a touch of wood and leather. Draws perfectly and produces an abundant output of highly aromatic smoke.

$ 7.69 VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Robusto 5 52 Ecuador Nicaragua Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

El Galan DoĂąa Nieves

N I CA R AG UA Opens with a zing of pepper with earthy and woody flavors, which settle to incorporate balanced notes of cream, cinnamon, and cocoa. Consistently well made and densely packed delivering tons of medium to full strength smoke.

5.95

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

91

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Nievita 5 1/2 50 Ecuador Nicaragua Nicaragua

)

Padilla Reserva Criollo 98

)

90

90 | CIGAR SNOB | JAN / FEB 2019

A powerful and complex blend with a profile of pepper, cedar, and cocoa balanced by notes of vanilla, cream, and roasted almond. This medium to full strength robusto is impeccably constructed and finished with a light brown wrapper with thin veins.

Flavorful and balanced, this medium strength robusto is consistently well constructed leaving behind a solid, compact ash. Delivers a core of earth and pepper complemented by notes of cinnamon, cedar, and black coffee.

$ 6.00

H O N D UR AS VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Robusto 5 54 Honduras Nicaragua Nicaragua

A balanced blend with a profile of cedar, spice, nuts, cinnamon, and a touch of cream. This medium strength blend is well-constructed and finished with a light, reddish brown wrapper with some tooth. Medium bodied.


JAN / FEB 2019 | CIGAR SNOB |

91


ROBUSTO Ashton Virgin Sun Grown

$ 12.00

)

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C

)

92

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Pegasus 5 54 Ecuador Dominican Republic Dominican Republic

)

Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Dark Corojo

)

91

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

$ 8.50

N I CA R AG UA El Martillo 5 1/2 54 Nicaragua Nicaragua Nicaragua

)

Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder

)

91

Flavorful and intense, this medium to full strength offering produces a good smoke output with notes of oak, nuts, cocoa, and spice accompanied by a creamy, leather finish. A neatly constructed, thick robusto covered with a dark brown wrapper with some tooth.

$ 9.50

N I CA R AG UA VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Robusto 5 1/2 54 USA Ecuador Nicaragua

Victor Calvo Maduro

Impeccably constructed and covered with an exceedingly dark and even-colored wrapper with sheen. Medium to full strength with a profile of dark chocolate, espresso, charred oak, and roasted nuts. Draws and burns perfectly, leaving behind a slightly flaky ash.

$ 6.50

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

90

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Robusto 5 50 USA/Connecticut Ecuador Nicaragua

Gurkha Ghost

A beautifully constructed, box-pressed robusto covered with an impeccable, reddish brown wrapper with only minimal veins showing. Produces a medium bodied smoke with notes of red pepper, caramel, wood, and a touch of cream.

)

$ 6.2 9

)

89

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Shadow 5 52 Brazil Dominican Republic Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

)

Blanco - Liga Exclusivo de Familia

)

88

92 | CIGAR SNOB | JAN / FEB 2019

Ultra-smooth and flavorful with a balanced profile of cocoa, pepper, leather, and wood complemented by a rich, caramel note. Consistently well made and covered with a dark, toothy wrapper with good oils. Medium to full strength.

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C Opens with a blast of pepper that settles to incorporate notes of dark roast coffee, earth, and nuts. This medium-plus strength robusto is covered with a dark, toothy wrapper with a somewhat mottled color.

$ 8.30

N I CA R AG UA VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Robusto 5 54 USA/Connecticut Nicaragua Nicaragua

Covered with a dark, toothy, and oily wrapper with a coarse texture. This slow-burning robusto has a firm draw and an even burn leaving behind a solid ash. Delivers an earthy and peppery profile accompanied by subtle hints of leather, oak, and molasses.


Alejandro MartĂ­nez Cuenca Joya De Nicaragua

Dion Giolito Illusione Cigars

Carlos "Carlito" Fuente, Jr. Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia.

Erik Espinosa Espinosa Cigars

Karl Malone Barrel-Aged by Karl Malone

cigarsnobmag.com/podcast

JAN / FEB 2019 | CIGAR SNOB |

93


ROBUSTO

)

RoMa Craft CroMagnon Aquitaine

)

92

$ 8.35

N I CA R AG UA VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

EMH Robusto Extra 5 56 Ecuador Cameroon Nicaragua

)

La Galera 1936 Box Pressed

)

92

$ 7.20

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Chaveta 5 50 Ecuador Dominican Republic Dominican Republic

)

Las Calaveras Edicion Limitada 2017

)

91

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

N I CA R AG UA LC50 5 50 Ecuador Nicaragua Nicaragua

)

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C

)

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Robusto 5 52 Ecuador Dominican Republic Dominican Republic

) ) ) ) 94 | CIGAR SNOB | JAN / FEB 2019

Delivers a balanced and flavorful profile with heavy notes of black coffee, dark chocolate, and currant complemented by lighter hints of wood, herbs, and a touch of spice. Produces an excellent smoke output with a long finish. Medium bodied.

$ 7.50

H O N D UR AS VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Terra Novo 5 50 Nicaragua Nicaragua Nicaragua

UR NewYork Back2Back Nicaragua

90

Opens with up-front flavors of charred wood, molasses, and pepper that settle to incorporate notes of almond, leather, and sweet cream. This medium strength blend is consistently well-constructed and finished with a clean, oily wrapper topped with a triple cap.

$ 13.70

Alec Bradley Tempus Nicaragua

91

Impeccably box-pressed and covered with a clean, oily wrapper with a velvet feel. This flavorful blend has a core of sweet cedar, spice, and rich caramel complemented by a touch of pepper. Produces an excellent smoke output with medium-plus strength.

$ 10.75

AVO Signature 30 Years LE

91

A thick, well-constructed robusto with a profile of soft pepper, roasted almonds, and cream complemented by a rich, leather aroma. This medium to full strength blend produces an excellent smoke output along a perfect draw.

Covered with an oily, reddish brown wrapper with minimal veins, this consistently wellmade robusto delivers a core of red pepper, sweet cedar, and roasted nuts complemented by a touch of cinnamon and leather. Mediumplus strength.

$ 6.69

H O N D UR AS VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Robusto 5 50 Nicaragua Nicaragua Nicaragua

A flavorful blend covered with a clean, dark brown wrapper with a velvet feel. This medium to full strength robusto has a core of earth, pepper, citrus, and oak complemented by an herbal note on the finish. Draws and burns beautifully.


JAN / FEB 2019 | CIGAR SNOB |

95


TORPEDO

)

Flor de las Antillas Maduro

)

91

$ 9.00

N I CA R AG UA VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Torpedo 6 1/8 52 Ecuador Nicaragua Nicaragua

Chinnock Cellars Pressoir

$ 11.00

)

H O N D UR AS

)

91

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Torpedo 6 52 Mexico Honduras Nicaragua, Honduras

La Aurora Untamed

A soft-pressed torpedo covered with a dark brown, toothy wrapper. Draws and burns beautifully producing a generous smoke output with notes of espresso, cocoa, charred oak, and a hint of roasted almond. Medium strength.

)

$ 9.50

)

90

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Torpedo 6 1/2 52 USA/Connecticut Dominican Republic Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

)

Quesada Oktoberfest 2016

)

89

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C Covered with a dark and rustic-looking wrapper with good oils. This medium strength torpedo produces an excellent output of thick, heavy smoke with a complex profile of red pepper, oak, and espresso complemented by subtle notes of leather and molasses.

$ 9.80

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Das Boot 6 52 Dominican Republic Dominican Republic Dominican Republic

CAO Brazilia

Soft-pressed and covered with a dark brown wrapper with a somewhat course texture. Medium to full strength with dark flavors of wood, spice, and bittersweet chocolate complemented by a subtle touch of sweetness.

$ 7.49

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

89

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Samba 6 1/4 54 Brazil Nicaragua Nicaragua

Kristoff Maduro

Delivers an earthy profile complemented by notes of oak, pepper, and dark roast coffee. This medium-plus strength blend is covered with a dark and somewhat rustic looking wrapper and provides an open draw leaving behind a flaky ash.

)

$ 9.26

)

88

96 | CIGAR SNOB | JAN / FEB 2019

Flavorful and consistent, this medium-plus strength blend delivers a core of earth, soft pepper, nuts, and a touch of bittersweet chocolate along a flawless draw and burn. Neatly pressed and covered with a good-looking, dark brown wrapper with sheen.

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Torpedo 6 1/8 52 Brazil Dominican Republic Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C A good-looking, densely packed cigar covered with a smooth, dark brown wrapper and finished with a covered foot. Produces a good smoke output along a firm draw and an even burn. Delivers a profile of earth, wood, and nuts complemented by a hint of oats.


JAN / FEB 2019 | CIGAR SNOB |

97


LONSDALE

)

La Mission de L’Atelier 1955

)

92

$ 9.25

N I CA R AG UA VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Lonsdale 6 3/4 44 Mexico Nicaragua Nicaragua

)

Herrera Esteli Brazilian Maduro

)

91

$ 9.28

N I CA R AG UA VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Lonsdale Deluxe 6 44 Brazil USA/Connecticut Nicaragua

Murcielago

Consistently well made and covered with a neatly applied dark, toothy wrapper with excellent oils. Delivers an excellent smoke output with a smooth profile of sweet molasses, earth, and soft pepper accompanied by a hint of black coffee.

$ 8.60

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

91

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Rabito 6 1/2 46 Mexico Nicaragua Nicaragua

Nat Sherman 1930

Covered with an exceedingly dark wrapper and finished with a tight-cropped pigtail, this medium to full strength blend consistently provides a perfect draw and burn with flavors of earth, dark roast coffee, and bittersweet chocolate balanced by a touch of pepper.

)

$ 10.30

)

90

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Corona Grande 6 46 Dominican Republic Dominican Republic Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

Partagas Legend

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C An ultra-flavorful blend with a profile of sweet cedar, soft spice, and leather accompanied by cinnamon and cocoa on the finish. This medium-plus strength smoke provides a firm draw and an even burn leaving behind a beautiful, compact ash.

$ 12.49

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

89

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Corona Extra 6 1/2 48 USA/Connecticut Honduras Dominican Republic

Chogüí Dos77

A square-pressed blend covered with a dark, reddish brown wrapper with excellent oils. This medium to full strength blend delivers a thick, heavy smoke with notes of earth and pepper balanced by a subtle sweet creaminess.

$ 9.75

)

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C

)

88

98 | CIGAR SNOB | JAN / FEB 2019

A flavorful and complex blend with a balanced profile of roasted almonds, subtle earth, dark chocolate, and hickory complemented by notes of caramel and espresso on the finish. This cigar is slightly pressed and topped with a small pigtail.

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Lonsdale 6 46 Dominican Republic Dominican Republic Dominican Republic

Consistently delivers a core of wood and spice accompanied by a subtle hint of sweetness. This medium-plus strength Lonsdale produces an excellent smoke output leaving behind a solid, compact ash.


JAN / FEB 2019 | CIGAR SNOB |

99


and even at that time in the ‘70s, the fields around our house had changed to nursery growers. I know that is happening more and more.

WITH In “Old Newgate Road,” novelist Keith Scribner tells the story of Cole Callahan, a Connecticut native who moved to the West Coast after violence tore his family apart. Now Cole is back in Connecticut’s tobacco country, where he’s coming face to face with the characters, landscapes and relics of his past — including his father and childhood home, which he’d left behind decades before. It’s all set against a backdrop of tobacco fields, sheds loaded with curing Broadleaf, and the culture that has developed around the crop. INTERVIEW BY NICOLÁS ANTONIO JIMÉNEZ

At that time, [working tobacco fields] was still a kid’s local summer job and that’s not really the case now, but a lot of my friends worked tobacco when they turned 14. My uncle worked tobacco and he got very excited to do the research [for the book] with me. We traveled together some years ago. I worked on a truck farm nearby, picking vegetables – cucumbers and squash – and so I actually never worked tobacco but it was so much in my childhood, and it was so much in the landscape. The seasons of tobacco, seeing the plants go in, seeing the nets go up everywhere and then watching the tobacco grow. There were the school buses that look like they were painted the color of coffee with lots of cream in it; those were everywhere. There were lots of dormitories that were filled with migrant workers. That was the landscape, and as kids of course we knew that if you are looking to hide out or do something secret, then it was tobacco fields and tobacco sheds where we did that. I sort of took it for granted. I’ve lived out here on the West Coast for some time now, first California and then Oregon, and I am so surprised that so many people don’t know that by some accounts the best cigar wrappers are grown in Connecticut and have been for years. Even people from the Hartford area would say, “Yeah I saw those fields with those nets, I saw those barns, but never knew what they were” and that always surprised me. With this novel, here is, for me, sort of a big part of New England culture and landscape, and isn’t it interesting that so many people don’t know about it? So, that was one cool reason to set a novel there.

Naturally, this being Cigar Snob, we’re most intrigued by where Old Newgate Road’s story takes place. The tobacco is almost a character in its own right in the story. What’s your personal connection to Connecticut tobacco? Even though I live in Oregon now and teach at Oregon State University, I grew up in East Granby, Connecticut, which is right there in the heart of tobacco country in Connecticut. Our town was full of tobacco fields, Broadleaf tobacco fields, and of course the sheds. The sheds were everywhere. I grew up in an old colonial house that my family was restoring, and more than any of my past novels, there is a lot of autobiography in this one. About setting and about working on that house as kids and as a family. Our house wasn’t completely surrounded by tobacco fields, but it had been a few decades before

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Also, the novel is about time. Cole Callahan, who is a builder and a woodworker in Portland, goes back to Connecticut for the first time in 30 years. His family was shattered in this house and he fled Connecticut. When he goes back, the house is in a half-restored state, same as it was years ago. As he looks around the house, it’s almost as if time has stood still, as if his past has been sitting and waiting for him. I don’t know which came first and it’s a long evolution as you sit and piece together the novel, but cigars and tobacco in Connecticut ended up being the perfect setting for that, because nothing has changed. In several generations, the sewing machines that they use are the same ones I used to see when I was a kid, and then my uncle said, “Those are the same ones that I saw when I was a kid.” So, very quickly those sorts of things came into play in the novel. Cole, his 15-year-old son who he brings from Portland with him and his father are all living in this same house together — the house he grew up in — and they all work in tobacco, in the same sheds, in the same machines, same fields, and same technology. The idea I am exploring in most of my novels, but more explicitly in this one, is that the past lives with us in the present, and you can’t deny that. To have this setting be the tobacco industry in Connecticut where the past and the present are so one … there is no big distinction between 30 years ago and now in that industry, except that it is shrinking. But it continues to be [important]; I read a 2007 New York Times article that said [tobacco] was the biggest agricultural export for the state of Connecticut.

I think it’s also easy for people to lose sight of the fact that while it’s a rela-


tively small scale agricultural product, Connecticut tobacco is a super premium commodity. It is very much a luxury good that you might compare with certain artisan cheeses or something. The revenue is enormous. It’s also very labor intensive because there is no technology, so it is still using those very labor-intensive ways of producing it. I also have a very hard time convincing people that yes, some people think Connecticut Shade is the best wrapper in the world. Everyone just says no, it must be Cuba or Indonesia or North Carolina. So that aspect is kind of fun to write about as well.

You’re talking about Cole returning to his home in Connecticut, where he hasn’t been in decades. And then there’s your experience educating people on this aspect of your background. Being Cuban, it’s difficult not to point to parallels with the Cuban experience. When I was reading the book, the fact that tobacco is sort of the backdrop here brought to mind how this is a story that much of the cigar world would connect with because it’s about someone who left a place because of trauma and returned only to find all of these things exactly how he’d left them. And then he’s surprised by his emotional response to these things that he knew were coming. You could almost swap out Connecticut for Cuba. In our world, it’s a story that has been told so many times, and it’s nice to see it told through this Connecticut lens. I do think that this is a story that has been told so many times, but one of the reasons is that I think we just continue to want to resist — and perhaps people will always resist — the truth that when you leave trauma behind, it stays right there. And it’s just waiting to catch up with you or waiting for you to come back to it. So I like how you expressed that. That the trauma is sitting there unchanged and waiting for Cole just like when he fled it.

Cubans also have a hard time resisting the urge to constantly teach people about Cuba. Was there any of that for you here with Connecticut, where maybe you had to stop yourself from teaching people about a thing that is so close to you? I imagine in the course of telling this story, there had to be a bit of that tugging on you. I think that is an issue with writing any kind of novel, and then a novel that requires research or a historical novel, for sure. These are lines we are going to be walking. I think there are going to be some readers who think there isn’t enough about tobacco in this and then there are going to be some readers who feel there is too much. I hope I found that balance. There was a time four or five years ago where I think I knew so much about tobacco that I could have started my own farm quite easily, and of course there is a temptation to put all of that in. Typically I put more in there than I need, and then I tend to pull it out. I hope the depth of the tobacco setting resonates without having to say how many plants are in a bent for example.

Were you a cigar smoker before this project? Only a casual one. However, I’ve always had it be part of the atmosphere in which I lived, and I also have loved the smell of a cigar whether burning or not. Of course, in the writing of the novel, I had people teach me more and more about cigars.

In learning a lot about cigars, has your relationship with cigars changed at all? I’m not smoking them more than I was. But I am interested and curious about them. One of the characters in my last novel has a genius nose and she makes perfume. Before that I was never interested in perfume and just like with cigars I became so interested in how they’re put together — the high notes, middle notes, low notes. I still don’t wear a fragrance myself, but I remain intensely interested in the topic.

Do you see yourself coming back to stories set against the backdrop of Connecticut and tobacco? My next novel is probably not set in Connecticut, but frankly it was so much fun, and also a growing experience for me to write such an autobiographical novel and to explore my own childhood so closely. So I do imagine I will write another novel with some similar material and if it’s in Connecticut it will surely involve tobacco, because when I list the five things I think of when I think of that place, that’s on the list.

Were there things about Connecticut and tobacco that were difficult to convey to a reader who’s never been exposed to it? For example, there are those smells and those colors, which I think you did a brilliant job of putting in the reader’s head. But I wonder what feedback you’ve gotten from other people with less exposure to tobacco farms. One of the things that drew me to it that I have not mentioned yet is those smells. That’s part of why I thought this was such a rich setting for a novel. When I was doing research, I was with a leaf buyer and a farm manager who I spent the day with and they were really generous. They were doing the third priming at that time, and they let me pick leaves. They pamper them. There is so much pampering that goes on and there has to be. As you know, the slightest blemish can reduce the value of a leaf. In a shed where Broadleaf is drying, that sort of sensory relationship [tobacco growers have] to their work and what they are doing — most people won’t know or appreciate that. That’s something that was in the book more and I cut it out anticipating that some readers would think I went overboard with the details.

It’s a difficult thing to describe. Many times, I’ve been in factories and tobacco barns — or sheds as they call them in Connecticut — with people who are walking into them for the first time. You can see it in their faces; no one understands what those smells are until being enveloped in them. Yeah, and it’s magical! The sheds I was in were about half loaded, and they had the heaters going and the vents were open. It’s very quiet and kind of solemn. The temperature is high. If I recall, it’s 86 degrees which is ideal and 76 percent humidity. It’s a little bit solemn and sacred and beautiful, and everyone is a little anxious too because something could go wrong. I love that. I was really impressed with that feeling and the seriousness of that. I thought it was beautiful. Another one of the big surprises for me in the research was that my mother and grandmother had always told me Martin Luther King came to Simsbury in the ‘40s during the Second World War, along with other students from Morehouse College, to pick tobacco. I had never believed it. I always thought it was some legend that my mother was passing along and then in my research I found out it was true. There are pictures of him. So, he came in 1944 with some other students, for I believe only one season maybe two and because of the shortage of local labor from the war they were hiring students from the South. He writes about it and it’s fascinating. He writes a lot about civil rights and the freedoms he felt in Connecticut and he says he went back with a bitter heart because he knew he was leaving those freedoms behind.

You mentioned the fact that, in a tobacco barn, anything can go wrong. Everything in the novel is happening against the backdrop of a business in which things could go up in flames if you don’t pay attention to the process. To me, it established this quiet tension throughout the entire story. I thought it was a brilliant incorporation of tobacco and the tobacco world. I am really excited for the listeners and readers to pick up the book. When is the actual release of the book and are there places where people should go online to learn more or track a book tour or things like that? The release date is January 9 and I am giving readings on the West Coast in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and L.A.; otherwise mostly in the Northeast, with quite a few readings in Connecticut. I am really excited to go back there and that’s added another level to this going back thing. Now that the book is getting publicized a little, I have middle school friends pouring out of the woodwork and it’s actually really exciting!

Keith Scribner grew up in Troy, New York, and then East Granby, Connecticut. His previous novels are The Oregon Experiment, Miracle Girl, and The GoodLife, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. He currently teaches at Oregon State University in Corvallis, where he lives with his wife, the poet Jennifer Richter, and their children. THIS INTERVIEW WAS CUT FOR LENGTH. LISTEN TO THE WHOLE CONVERSATION AT CIGARSNOBMAG.COM/PODCAST

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The cigar world is on Twitter and we aim to keep track of who’s leading who. The following is a scoreboard of the cigar world’s most relevant Tweeples. The list is sorted by number of followers and broken into groups: Top 20 Twitter Cigar Companies & Reps, Top 10 Twitter Retailers, Top 10 Online Cigar Tweeps, Top 3 Twitter Cigar Organizations, and Top 3 Cigar Radio Twitter accounts. If you have the numbers and belong in one of these groups, stand up and be counted! Set us straight via Twitter @cigarsnobmag.

TOP CIGAR COMPANIES (sorted by Twitter followers) Rocky Patel @RockyPatelCigar......................................... Drew Estate Cigars @DrewEstateCigar............................. Padron Cigar @PadronCigars............................................ CAO International @CAOCigars......................................... Alec Bradley Cigars @AlecBradley.................................... La Flor Dominicana @LFDCigars....................................... Jonathan Drew @JonathanDrewArt.................................. Camacho Cigars @camachocigars.................................... Ashton Cigars @ashtoncigar............................................. Pete Johnson @TatuajeCigars........................................... Xikar Inc @XIKARinc......................................................... La Gloria Cubana @lagloriacubana.................................... Nick Perdomo @PerdomoCigars....................................... Miami Cigar Co @miamicigar............................................. Punch Cigars @punchcigars............................................. Ernesto Padilla @PadillaCigars......................................... Nat Sherman Intl. @Nat42nd............................................. Avo Cigars @AvoCigars..................................................... La Palina Cigars @La PalinaCigars.................................... AJ Fernandez @ajfcigars..................................................

32106 30682 26604 24936 21139 19393 19254 18842 17120 16754 14703 14288 12986 12977 12967 12188 11825 11778 11677 11218

TOP CIGAR ORGANIZATIONS CRA @cigarrights............................................................. 14504 IPCPR Staff @theIPCPR.................................................. 7875 Tobacconist University @tobacconistU............................. 4633

TOP CIGAR RADIO Cigar Dave Show @CigarDaveShow................................. 11516 Smooth Draws @SmoothDraws....................................... 4393 KMA Talk Radio @KMATalkRadio...................................... 2353

SOME OF OUR FAVORITE TWEETS, MENTIONS, AND RANDOM SOCIAL MEDIA GOODNESS.

TOP CIGAR RETAILERS & REPS Mulberry St. Cigars @MulberryStCigar............................. Famous Smoke Shop @FamousSmokeShop...................... Cigar Hustler @cigarhustler.............................................. Cigar Row @CigarRow..................................................... Jeff Borysiewicz – Corona Cigar Co @CoronaCigarCo....... Michael Herklots–Nat Sherman @MichaelHerklots............ Cheap Humidors @cheaphumidors................................... Lindsay Siddiqi @TheCigarChick....................................... Palm Desert Tobacco @palmdsrttobacco......................... Buckhead Cigar @BuckheadCigar.....................................

13678 12849 11734 8401 7268 6710 5605 5322 5250 4429

@toastandvine via Instagram Great night at the @cigarsnobmag #lechonchallenge ! #cigar #cigars #nowsmoking #botl #cigarsandwhiskey

TOP ONLINE CIGAR TWEEPLES David Voth–Sex, Cigars, & Booze @SexCigarsBooze......... Cigar News @CigaRSS .................................................... Cigar Events @CigarEvents............................................... Cigar Federation @CigarFederation.................................. Robusto Cigar Babe @RobustoBabe................................. Stogie Boys @StogieBoys ............................................... Cigar Evaluations @CigarEvaluation................................. Cigar Inspector @CigarInspector ..................................... The Stogie Guys @stogieguys........................................... Tom Ufer @cigarsmonkingman..........................................

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150673 15212 14568 12395 10037 9115 8954 8516 8168 6621

@cohibabe via Instagram “Excuse me, do y...” photo cred: Sala Jalkh #cohibabe


celebrate Twenty Years of Acid cigars! E XPERIENCE ACID.COM

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EVENTS SMOKE THIS! Doral, Fla.

Sabor Havana’s annual blowout event was as big as ever this time around. Smokers, cigar makers and cigar media converged on one of the Miami area’s favorite tobacconists for a day of live music, food, drinks and cigars. There were also raffles and a kickoff happy hour sponsored by Miami Cigar.

Sushi Sake in the house!

Ibis Lu and Mauro Caballero

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Jonathan Drew and Rocky Patel

Raquel González, Laura Reyes and Heidi Morales

Daniel Villareal, Helen and Hanna Meneses

Lauren Salter and Ray Torres

PHOTO CREDIT: Jerome Berry


Duvier González and Alma Valdés

Javier A. and Daniel Villareal and Lester Jiménez

Erik Espinosa, Jr., Jorge Reyes and Mike Denys

José Ovalles and César Villanueva

Fiorella Blanco and Charitin Chacón

Luís and Marjoris Gutiérrez

Juliannie Tacoronte and Michael Martínez

Maricelis Amaya and Carla Orantes

Mike Pérez

Alfredo Gómez and John Díaz

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EVENTS CIGAR HERITAGE FESTIVAL Tampa

Arturo Fuente and J.C. Newman were the marquee sponsors of Tampa’s annual celebration of its cigar history. There was great food, live music, beer, wine and spirits. It was all capped off with a cigar bar crawl that took Ybor City veterans and newcomers alike to some of the myriad cigar destinations in Cigar City, where they learned about that tobacco legacy up close and personal. Fuente Family

Sean De Leon and Val Kusse

Adam and Michelle Beale

Jamie and Jerry Bevan

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Tony Collazo, Jonathan Mercado, Franco Sanzo, Ricky Martínez, Ángel Santiago, Jeff Colonese and Ángel Rivera

Rick Rodríguez, Jeremy Weiner, Tamara Hoyland and Dan Gallagher

Berta Bravo, Alberto Hernández and Lissette Leiva

Samuel and Rita Pérez

Tony Kattengell and Emily Triplett


Howard Gross, Robert Allan and Tammy Rekito

Jaime Flórez-Estrada and George Margioukla

Tim and Aaron Ellerman and Rob Barbee

Sean and Katrina Jennison

Joseph and Anna Jenovese, Heidy Terrero, Ricky Martínez, Jerome Berry and Aníbal Carrero

Brian Chinnock and Toni Williams

Greg and Justine Frood

Jorge, Amanda and Jorge Morejón, Ramón Adato and Lori Morejon

Steve Bonner and Shawn Tieszen

Jorge and Maria Nichol

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EVENTS FUENTE WITH STEFANO RICCI Miami

When Italian menswear designer Stefano Ricci opened its Miami retail store in Miami’s Design District, Carlito Fuente was on hand to present Stefano Ricci’s first ever collaboration with another brand. The OpusX – STEFANO RICCI cigar is a 7 x 52 variant on the Opus X blend that is being made available to some of Stefano Ricci’s top clients. Niccolo Ricci, Carlos “Carlito” Fuente, Jr., Lidiana Fuente and Filippo Ricci

Norris and Aika Ali, Angela Mia and Isa Yamadoser

Margo Kane and Tara Kirstey

Macarena and Manny Iriarte

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Relinda Vasquez and Alicia Peristeris

Michael and Michael Bulnes

Martina and Fabian Basabe


Joshua Meerapfel and George Kauper

Camilo Iriarte and Peter Colón

Victor Bared, Melody De La Fe and Chris Dell

Lidiana and Carlos “Carlito” Fuente, Jr.

Ciro and Laura Cascella

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EVENTS JOCHY BLANCO AT CAVA CIGARS Miami

It’s rare to see Jochy Blanco of Tabacalera Palma make public appearances, but he’s been ramping up this aspect of his work ever since he launched his own La Galera brand of cigars. One such appearance was at Cava Cigars, right around the corner from Cigar Snob HQ. There was food, drinks, music, and of course, plenty of La Galera cigars. Oscar Butler, Ángel Aguayo, Jochy Blanco and Adrián Acosta

Berta Bravo and Laura Aguayo

Frank Corredero, Joshua Salazar, Roberto Campo, Chase Chávez and Ray Donovan

Carlos Jordan, Frank Serratore, Chela Chick and Lazaro Perez

Mileyvis and Laz Guzmán

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Ángel Aguayo and Jochy Blanco

Tony Diaz Jr.

Claudia Pérez and René Cardona


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EVENTS CASA CUEVAS LIMITED EDITION DEBUT AT PRIME BY CASA DE MONTECRISTO Miami

Casa Cuevas officially launched the Casa Cuevas Limited Edition “Flaco” Habano and Maduro during an event at Prime Cigar & Whiskey Bar by Casa de Montecristo in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood. Only 500 10-count boxes each were made of the Habano and the Maduro, which come in a single 7 x 48 Lonsdale format.

Gabriel Álvarez, Shiah Goldberg, Joel Capin, Adrián Acosta and Luís Cuevas

Elvin Bencosme and Mary Morcos

Jack Toraño, Denise Cuevas, Cecilia Toraño and Alex Pérez

Gabriel Álvarez, Nicholas Farradaz, Andy García and Christopher Farradaz

Willie Jorrin and Ramón Adato

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Iván Ocampo, Georges Midledje and Erik Calviño

Samantha Gestido, Ernesto and Albert Díaz

Adrian Acosta and Geniari Lora Vargas


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EVENTS PEPÍN GARCÍA AT BURN Naples, Fla.

Don Pepín García was joined by the entire My Father Cigars family and some other cigar industry stars (like Rocky Patel and Hamlet Paredes) for a special holiday event at Burn by Rocky Patel, the premier cigar bar in Naples. Guests enjoyed special pricing on boxes of My Father products and drink specials all night long.

Pete Johnson, Clay Roberts, Janny García, Pepín García and Rocky Patel

Hamlet and Laura Paredes

Patrick Vivalo and Mark Weissenberger

José Ortega, Richie Rodenhaus, Sammy Phillips and Joaquín Saladrigas

Patrick Schwindomar and Brett Harrington

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Lauren Rumbaugh, Isabelle Sadia and Jen Sharkley

Wanda and Chris Scanlan

Alex Beltrán, Katja Heikkinen, Jerry Schnelker and Don Johnson

Kristen and Bob Laccino


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EVENTS CHRISTMAS PARTY AT AFICIONADO’S FEAT. A.J. FERNÁNDEZ Pembroke Pines, Fla.

A.J. Fernández joined the Christmas celebration at Aficionado’s Premium Cigars & Wine. One lucky raffle winner took home a Ramon Allones humidor and got it signed by A.J., who had brought his mom, sister and brother-in-law along for the fun. A.J. also signed cigar boxes for other attendees. The night started as so many great nights do — with a tasting of wines from around the world.

Roberto Pelea and Efi Pérez

Yarai Fernández, María De Las Nieves, Elena and Armando Artamendi, A.J. Fernández and Yandy López

Tannya Pino and Jorge Delgado

Celestino Alonso and Todd De Angelis

José Del Pozo, Bárbara Meléndez and Julio Doval

Lily Prieto, Clara Benedit and Martha Collado

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Heather and John Callahan

Michael Giordano, A.J. Fernández and Marilyn Giordano


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EVENTS LA ZONA PALOOZA Miami

If you can’t get enough of the cigars made at Erik Espinosa’s La Zona Cigar Factory in Estelí, then this event needs to be on your calendar. More than 200 people were in attendance this year, with many of them flying in from all over the U.S. for several days of cigars, food, drinks, and deep dives into all things Espinosa. Guests also flexed their creative muscle in contests centered on hula hooping, imitations of Erik Espinosa, and dancing.

La Zona Team

Alfredo Cruz and Alan Kaye

Kimberly Flowers and Rauf Khoffner

Erica Arroyo, Nick Bailey, Todd Vance, Courtney Smith and Erik Espinosa

Anthony Jiménez, Héctor Alfonso, Jr. and Casey Haugen

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Maria Lapeter, Tony Anitra and Robyn Cosentino

Danilo Faulin and Larry Pangalangan

Juan Cancel, Bill Ives and Kevin Keithan

Erik Espinosa, Jordan and Eric Guttormson


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EVENTS CREATIVAS GROUP 17TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY TOY DRIVE Miami

Creativas Group is a PR agency that’s been active in the cigar industry a long time. Every year, they host a holiday party and toy drive. This year, the event had grown large enough that they moved to a new venue: the historic Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. Toys and any funds collected went to the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Foundation. Gabriel and Liza Piñeres

Leo and Yonie Mercado

Fernando Molina and Lázaro Marcos

María Cristina Arrazola, Liz Mayanz, Janine Hensley and Fernando Molina

Robert and Ivelisse Meneses and Milly López

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Maribel García and Marcela Paguaga

Tommy and Christine Crews, Oscar Calviño and Ramón Adato

Tank in the House!

Juan González, María and Enrique González


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Profile for Cigar Snob Magazine

Cigar Snob Magazine January February 2019  

The Top 25 Issue! Every January, Cigar Snob Magazine's panel of experts compiles a list of the 25 best cigars smoked during the previous yea...

Cigar Snob Magazine January February 2019  

The Top 25 Issue! Every January, Cigar Snob Magazine's panel of experts compiles a list of the 25 best cigars smoked during the previous yea...