Top Cigarillos


While relatively new and somewhat under-appreciated in North America, cigarillos have long been a favorite of Europeans looking for that perfect, quick, smoke.  Often referred to as a “7 minute smoke,” cigarillos have garnered a bit of a reputation among cigar aficionados as being cheap, low quality cigars.   Indeed, cigarillos carry a lower price tag than their larger, handmade cigar brothers.
 
But, are they really worthy of being snubbed from your cigar collection?  While the answer is of course a personal decision that will likely come down to your smoking taste, the top cigarillos bellow are some of our customer’s favorites and just might be worth a try:
 
Davidoff Cigarillos:  A favorite of cigarillos smokers around the world, Davidoff cigarillos are available in a variety of flavors and packaging.  If you’re looking for a place to start, check out the Davidoff Classic Series Primero Connecticut Cigarillos.  These easy to smoke cigarillos incorporate a lovely taste with a nice mild body.
 
Backwoods Cigars/Cigarillos:  Popular in the United States, Backwoods cigarillos offer a wide selection of flavors such as natural honey, honey berry, and a classic “sweet” flavor.  They are also very affordable.
 
Swisher Sweets Cigarillos:  Another top cigarillo amongst U.S. smokers, Swisher Sweets come in a wider range of flavors and styles than Backwoods.  A good place to start is with the classic Swisher Sweets Natural Cigarillo Sweet.
 
Dutch Masters Cigarillos:  Mild, machine-made Puerto Rican cigars crafted from Caribbean Basin Cuban seed tobacco, Dutch Masters offer a smooth smoke in mild to medium bodies.  Many of their cigarillos have a nice touch of sweet on the tips as well.
 


Getting to Know Arturo Fuente Cigars

Few cigar brands in the world can come close to the success or prowess of the Arturo Fuente cigar lines.  Each Arturo Fuente line carries its own unique intricacies that separate it not only from other cigars in the Fuente line, but from competitors around the world.  So what elements make each of these lines unique?  We thought you’d never ask…

Arturo Fuente OpusX: Extremely well rated around the world, this full-bodied cigar features rich and robust flavor with impeccable craftsmanship.  Extremely rare due to limited production, the Fuente OpusX was the first cigar to have a Dominican wrapper and be a Dominican “Puro” (all the tobacco comes from the Dominican Republic).   It also features distinct aromas between each size.

Arturo Fuente Hemingway:  The Hemingway line is regarded as the most popular Figurado line in the world.  It boasts a Cameroon wrapper with mellower flavors including espresso and a slight woodiness.  Production of all sizes is limited for this medium bodied cigar.

Arturo Fuente Don Carlos:  Cigars in the Don Carlos line are blended from rare vintage tobacco that has been hand selected and aged up to 10 years.  These cigars are richer and more flavorful with dark Cameroon wrappers.  These cigars are also limited release cigars and have flawless construction.

Arturo Fuente Gran Reserva line:  Cigars in this line are made from Cameroon Connecticut Shade and Ecuadorian Sungrown wrappers.  Excellent construction combined with their Dominican filler and binder provides a long, even, burn, sensational draw, and consistent flavor.

Arturo Fuente Cubanitos:  Unique from many Fuente cigars because of their size, these well-aged cigars are filled with vintage tobacco, creating classic flavors and body.

Arturo Fuente Curly Head:  An “Entry-level” Fuente, Curly Head’s are medium filler cigars made with the same tobacco as in the premium Arturo Fuente cigars.  Curly Head’s have a wonderful smooth, and distinctive flavor.

If you consider yourself a cigar connoisseur and you’ve never tried an Arturo Fuente, you must add one of their world-class cigars to your list.  With a carefully crafted range of flavours, bodies, tobaccos, wrappers, and sophistication, all matched with excellent craftsmanship, each Arturo Fuente cigar brings something unique to the table that makes it, well, a Fuente.

How to Season a Humidor

Proper storage of cigars is a fundamental part of enjoying the perfect smoke. A seasoned humidor helps prevent cigars maintain their flavor and prevents them from drying out.  The following is a step-by-step guide to help you correctly set up your humidor. 

  1. After unpacking and inspecting your humidor, check the instructions that come with your humidor to see if there are any unique steps you need to follow.
  2. Next, wipe the interior of the humidor with a new, damp sponge.  Do not over soak the wood, as it will warp. The sponge should be wrung out and mostly dry.  
  3. At this point you’re ready to start humidifying your humidor. Fill a cup with water and place it inside the humidor.  Some people choose to utilize sponges instead of cups. If you do this, place something underneath the sponge so that the water doesn’t damage the wood, like plastic wrap.  
  4. Place a hygrometer in your humidor. After 24-48 hours check the humidity.  Make sure you don’t add your cigars until your relative humidity is between (65-67%, low end) - (70-72%, upper end).  If needed, add more water to the cup or replace sponges with fresh ones and wait another 24-48 hours. 
  5. Once your humidor is at the right humidity, add propylene Glycol activation solution to your humidifier until saturated.  Dry the surface of your humidifier and watch for an hour or two for any dripping, leaks or oddities.  Insert your humidifier into the bottom of your humidor.
  6. After 24-48 hours, check your humidifier to make sure it is not drastically changing humidity levels. They should not change by more than about 1%.  Remember to calibrate your analog hygrometer and remove the digitals as well if you’ve gone ahead with this setup.  When you achieve a consistent proper level of humidity, cigars can be added.

Proper seasoning of your humidor can take a month or more.  Your patience and attention to detail will be rewarded!

Wrappers, Binders, and Fillers Explained


Wrapper 
The wrapper is the outside layer of tobacco and gives a cigar one of its primary flavor components. Wrappers are usually very high quality leaves, available in colors ranging from Double Claro (the lightest), to Oscuro (the darkest). Wrappers are very important to taste.

Binders 
The intermediate leaf used to hold the filler tobacco together. Binder leaves vary from one manufacturer to the next.

Filler

The bunch of tobacco the forms the center of the cigar. Generally, filler is responsible for determining how strong a cigar smokes. There are two types of filler: long filler (which contains the whole leaf running from the head to the foot of the cigar) and short filler (comprised of scraps of tobacco - often the trimmed ends of long fillers).

Blending

The blending of wrapper, filler and binder is what determines the overall flavor of a cigar. There is a definite art blending tobaccos to achieve particular flavors. As you smoke different cigars, you’ll notice how the various tobaccos used interact with each other. One thing manufacturers do is use the same blend in different sizes, thus producing different tastes. The blend is the same, but the there is a difference in the proportions of each type of leaf used.

A veteran, experienced cigar roller will use different proportions in different sizes In a smaller ring cigar, the binder and wrapper have moreinfluence on taste. The roller accomodate this difference by using a different proportion of filler.

Wrapper Types

Double Claro (also called Candela or American Market Select) - green to greenish brown. The color is achieved by picking the leaf before it reaches maturity, and then drying it rapidly. Very mild, almost bland with very little oil.

Claro - Light tan. Usually this is the color of shade grown tobacco. Connecticut Shade wrappers are said to be some of the finest in the world. Shade grown tobacco is grown under large canopies to protect the tobacco from harsh sunlight. Neutral flavor and smooth smoking.

Natural (see also English Market Selection) - Light brown to brown. These are most often sun grown, meaning they are not protected by canopies like shade grown leaves. Fuller bodied flavor than shade grown leaves, but still very smooth.

Colorado Claro - Mid-brown, tawny. (For example, brands such as Dominican Partagas or Fuentes, using Camaroon wrappers.)

Colorado - Reddish dark brown, aromatic. A cigar with this wrapper tastes robust and rich.

Colorado Maduro - Dark brown, medium strength, slightly more aromatic the maduro. Usually gives a rich flavor, as found in many of the best Honduran cigars.

Maduro - Dark brown to very dark brown. These usually have more texture and veining than the lighter wrappers. They are often described as oily looking, with stronger taste - sweet to some palates with a unique aroma.

Oscuro - Very dark brown or almost black. They are the strongest tasting of all wrappers. These wrappers tend to be from Nicaragua, Brazil, Mexico, or Connecticut Broadleaf.

English Market Selection - A broad designation refering to brown cigars (anything other double claro essentially). The darker the color, the sweeter and stronger the flavor and the greater the oil and sugar content of the wrapper. Darker wrappers normally spend longer on the plant or come from greater altitudes. The additional exposure to the sun at higher altitudes tends to enhance the production of oil (which protects the plant) and sugar (because of increased photosynthesis). Sure leaves are typically fermented for longer as well.

Taste and Flavor


"As concerns tobacco, there are many superstitions. And the chiefest is this—that there is a standard governing the matter, whereas there is nothing of the kind. Each man’s preference is the only standard for him,the only one which can command him. A congress of all the tobacco-lovers in the world could not elect a standard which would be binding upon you or me, or would even influence us." 
— Mark Twain, Concerning Tobacco (1893)

Why construction is important.

If a cigar is under-filled, constructed by skimping on the number of leaves in the filler, it will draw easily. Some consider an easy draw to be a benefit, but the ultra-easy draw will be offset by hot burning and harshness. In an under-filled cigar, there are too many air pockets, causing a fast burn and a hot smoke.

If a cigar is over-filled, it will be hard to draw, sometimes impossible (termed “plugged”). A hard-to-draw cigar gives a much lower volume of smoke, resulting in less taste and aroma and a lot of frustration.

You can use the best, most expensive tobacco in the world, put together by the most creative and knowledgeable blenders, but if the cigar is not constructed properly, none of the intrinsic quality of that tobacco can be brought home to the smoker.

Body and Flavor

Many smokers, new and experienced alike, often confuse concepts of body and flavor. Most smokers use these two primary components to define a cigar’s character:

Body - also referred to as strength or intensity, primarily by the the descriptive term full, medium, or light.

Flavor - the actual taste of the cigar

The ring gauge of the cigar will give you a general indication of how full the body is. The larger the ring size, generally, the fuller, smoother, cooler, and slower the smoke will be.

Ultimately, experience will be your guide. When selecting cigars, personal taste, occasion and size should all be considered.

Humidor Care

roper care of your humidor will help to give you years of smoking pleasure. The following are basic guidelines for humidor care. (If the vendor has provided initial instructions for them and refer to these instructions for long term maintenance.)

1. Do not put cigars in the humidor until all steps have been completed and the humidity level has been stabilized. If the humidor does not come with a gauge (hygrometer), we recommend purchasing one to correctly monitor humidity levels.

2. To activate the hygrometer, wrap it in a warm, damp towel for 30 minutes. Upon removing it from the towel, you must calibrate the hygrometer by adjusting it until it reads 95 - 97% (by use of a screw on the back or other method—the documentation that comes with the hygrometer should explain how to do this). If it already reads 95-97%, then you are ready to go. Now install it in the humidor and proceed with prep instructions.

3. Use only distilled water or, 100% Mystic or 100% Thompson solutions in you humidor. Place humidifier in a bowl and fill with distilled water or, 100% Mystic or 100% Thompson solutions. Submerge the humidifier halfway, face down in the bowl of water for 2-3 minutes. Remove the humidifier and wipe off excess water with a paper towel.

4. Dampen a new sponge or towel with distilled water or, 100% Mystic or 100% Thompson solutions and wipe the interior (sides, bottom, inside of lid, and any dividers or trays). Do NOT soak the cedar. Dampen only enough to darken the wood.

5. Place a plastic bag on the bottom of the humidor. Place the damp sponge or towel (not dripping) on top of the plastic.

6. Install the humidifier and gauge (hygrometer) to the inside lid. Leave the humidor lid closed for 12-24 hours.

7. Open the humidor and remove the sponge and plastic. Refill the humidifier (step 3) and reinstall in the humidor.

8. Leave the humidor lid closed for 12-24 hours. This will season the wood and raise the humidity level to between 65% and 75%.

9. Do not be concerned if the humidity level is high. It takes a period of time for the level to stabilize and the gauge to adjust. Place cigars in a humidor only when level has decreased to between 65%-75%. To lower level open the lid of the humidor for 1-2 hours. Close the lid and periodically check the humidity level with a gauge.

10. If humidity level is below 65%, follow steps 1-7 again.

Long term maintenance to achieve the best results from you humidor.

1. Periodically rotate your cigars (once a month).

2. Keep your humidor away from direct sunlight, heat/air conditioning ducts, and direct interior lighting. Dust only with a cloth (polishes may affect the wood and cigar flavor).

3. Open your humidor as little as possible to maintain the humidity level.

4. If cigars are wrapped, remove from cellophane to maintain freshness and enhance curing.

5. Periodically check humidity level and remoisten humidifier (step 3) with distilled water or, 100% Mystic or 100% Thompson solutions to maintain 65%-75%.

Should you require any other information, please feel free to contact our Customer Service Department at 1-800-237-2559.

How to Store Your Cigars


humidor is a specially designed box for holding cigars. It’s most often made of Spanish cedar and contains a hygrometer to maintain a constant humidity. A constant and proper humidity is essential to keep cigars from drying out or from being too moist and developing mold. A consistent temperature of 68°-70° F and a relative humidity of 70-72% keep your smokes in perfect shape. Proper storage at the appropriate humidity and temperature is the most critical factor in maintaining the quality of cigars.

For guidelines on how to condition and maintain your humidor, go here.

What you should look for in a good humidor.

Make sure the box is perfectly squared and that all seams fit without gapping - gaps inhibit your humidor’s ability to maintain a constant humidity. Unfinished Spanish Cedar is considered to be the best wood for the interior. The lid should close tightly and evenly and with a snug fit. The humidification device should maintain a constant and consistent level of humidity with as little maintenance as possible.

What temperature is best for storage?

The best temperature is 70° F, although slightly cooler storage temperatures are all right as long as you maintain a reasonable relative humidity. There is a difference between stable storage and true aging. Lower temperatures will store your cigars fine, but they won’t age. This means they won’t mature, mellow, or develop the complex characteristics of well-aged smokes. At temperatures too much below 70° , the blended tobaccos will not “marry”; as a result you won’t get the subtle changes in flavor many cigar connoisseurs seek.

Horizontal or vertical; how should I store my cigars?

Even if you’re not ready to make the investment for a good humidor, you should still store your cigars horizontally. In a still environment, moist air is very slow to mix with drier air. The air will stabilize eventually, but with frequent opening and closing of whatever container you keep your cigars in, this layering effect could make your cigars burn irregularly. If you store cigars horizontally, you can minimize this effect. You can also minimize this effect by not opening your storage box too often. Standing cigars on their end can cause damage, especially if you stand a cigar on its cap. If you don’t have a humidor and are serious about storing and enjoying your cigars, you ought to make the investment. A small humidor doesn’t cost much more than a few premium cigars and is well worth the price.

Other ways to store your cigars

As mentioned above, you don’t have to have a humidor to store your cigars (though to properly age them, you’ll need one). Some smokers use a Tupperware container or even a sealed jar. For short-term storage (not more than a year) such containers work fine as long as you properly maintain the proper temperature and humidity.

While suitable for short-term storage, these containers aren’t suitable for aging. The porous nature of wood used in a humidor allows for some seepage and mixing of the inside air. This slow mixing results in what is termed “marrying”. This is when the varying qualities of different cigars (filler, wrapper and blend) mix with each other and produce unique tastes. You don’t get this effect with a sealed container.

Size Guide

Cigar Size Guide


here are 64 rings to an inch, so a ring size of 46 equal 46/64 of an inch in diameter (thickness).




Shapes and Shades: What Does it All Mean?

igar size names originally specified the exact physical size and shape of cigars, but after a dozen decades of manufacturer individualizing, these original standards are long gone. Only Cuban manufacturers have stayed with these original standard shapes and sizes.

Cigars can be divided by shape into two broad categories: Parejos, which have straight sides, and Figurados, which include all “irregular” shapes.

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Parejos

Parejos include three basic divisions by the relative proportion of their dimensions: Coronas, Panatelas and Lonsdales.

Coronas

This is a broad category including Coronas, Double Coronas, Presidentes, Robustos, and Churchills. All Coronas are characterized by an open “foot” and a rounded “head”.

Panatelas

Longer than Coronas, Panatelas are usually considerably thinner.

Lonsdales

The third division is Lonsdales - thicker than Panatelas, but generally longer than Coronas.


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Figuardos

Figuardos, or “irregular” shaped cigars are better defined. Figuardos are very hard to make - a master roller’s job.

Belicoso

The smallest of the Figuardos, the Belicoso is a small tapered cigar with a rounded head and a larger foot.

Pyramids

Pyramids taper from a large foot to a small, pointed head. Although many smokers call a large pyramid a torpedo, a true torpedo has a slight bulge in the middle. Next to the Torpedo, the Pyramid is probably one of the most recogonized of the Figuardos.

Perfecto

A cigar that tapers at both ends and is closed at the head and foot. Once very popular in the early half of the 20th century, this cigar has fallen hard out of favor. As a result it has lost popularity with smokers and is hard to find, although many major brands still produce it.

Diademas

The Diademas is the giant of cigars, measuring eight inches or greater in length.


Culebra

Culebras

Culebras cigars are an odd size not often found on the market today. It involves three smaller cigars being “snaked” together into a braided final product. In fact, the word culebra means “snake” in Spanish.

Culebras first appeared when trouble arose around workers being able to take complementary cigars home at the end of the work day. It was soon discovered that they were taking premium cigars and putting their lesser-quality gift cigars into the the premium cigar boxes. To stop this, the practice of twisting the workers’ cigars together when they were still moist to identify what was a daily gift and what was the real thing was begun.

This unique cigar eventually found public demand, but such demand has dwindled recently. Hoyo De Monterrey dropped its production of Culebras in 1998, leaving Davidoff as the only manufacturer outside Cuba that still produces the shape.


Cigar Wrapper Shades

Candela - A green color that was first popularized in the U.S. in the 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Claro - Pale to light brown, this is the classic color of a Connecticut shade grown tobacco wrapper. This color can also be referred to as natural.

Colorado Claro - Darker brown in color and similar to a Cameroon wrapper from West Africa.

Colorado - A reddish brown wrapper most often seen in well-aged and mature cigars.

Colorado Maduro - A dark brown wrapper, usually seen on cigars produced in Honduras, Nicaragua and sometimes in Cuba.

Double Claro - A greenish-brown wrapper that produces a somewhat light and bland taste.

Maduro - A dark, almost coffee-like color associated with full flavored and slightly sweet-tasting cigars.

Oscuro - Very dark, strong-flavored wrapper produced in Mexico, Brazil and Nicaragua.

How to Select a Perfect Single


queeze gently up and down the length of the body, checking for lumps or soft spots. A well-made cigar shouldn’t have any. The cigar should have some give, but not be too soft. Rolling it between your fingers can damage the wrapper; just squeeze gently.

The wrapper should be smooth and tight and the ends should be undamaged. Check the size of the veins - smaller veins usually smoke smoother. Check the tobacco in the exposed end. Most cigars are made from a blend of tobaccos, so some color variation is normal, but extreme or abrupt color changes could indicate an inferior leaf, or that the leaves weren’t laid together properly in the bunching process.

Follow the guidelines above and you’re sure to end up with a winner. Now head off to your favorite cigar smoking spot, light up, and enjoy!