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- Halfwheel.com (Cigar Blog & Reviews)
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Manufacturers & Brands [Menu]
Imperial Brands (formerly Imperial Tobacco Group) is traded as IMB on the London Stock Exchange. Tabacalera is IMB’s international premium cigar business (HQ in Madrid, Spain). Tabacalera’s Cuban cigars are marketed via Habanos S.A. (Cuban state-run organization) where they hold a 50% stake. Tabacalera USA oversees their cigar businesses in the US.
IMB acquired Altadis in 1999 making Tabacalera USA the world’s largest premium cigar company. Altadis (now Altadis U.S.A.) is now one of Tabacalera’s subsidiaries. Tabacalera U.S.A. also owns online retailers JR Cigars and Cigars.com.
Some of my favorite Altadis U.S.A.‘s brands include:
- Aging Room
- Casa de Garcia (good bargain brand)
- H Upmann
- Henry Clay
- Romeo y Julieta
- Saint Louis Rey
They also produce:
- Don Diego
- La Bohime
- Omar Ortez
- Primo del Rey
AJ Fernandez‘ initial brands were Diesel and Man ‘O War which are still very popular. Other AJF brands include Ramon Allones (which I’ve yet to try), and Bellas Artes, Enclave, New World, and San Lotano (all great smokes). New World Cameroon is one of my very favorite cigars. Last Call is also a good low-budget cigar produced by AJ Fernandez.
General Cigar owns the following brands:
- Don Tomas
- Hoyo de Monterrey
- La Gloria Cubana
- Sancho Panza
- Alec Bradley Connecticut
- American Classic Blend
- American Sun Grown
- Black Market
- Family Blend
- Fine & Rare
- Harvest Selection ’97
- Nica Puro
- Occidental Reserve
- Post Embargo
- Raices Cubanas
- Select Cabinet Reserve
- Spirit of Cuba
- Angel’s Share
- Casa Cuba – “A tribute to the early days of cigar making”
Ecuador | Dominican | Dominican
- Chateau Fuente – Line named after the Fuente farm; cedar sleeve; ribbon foot
- Fuente Fuente Opus X
- Gran Reserva – Fuente’s flagship line
- Hemingway – Named for the cigar-smoking, celebrated American novelist, Ernest Hemingway; all are Perfectos; the Hemingway Short Story is excellent; the Hemingway Between the Lines is one of the most beautiful cigars I’ve ever seen
Medium Cameroon | Dominican | Dominican
(except for the Hemingway Untold Story which is Connecticut Broad Leaf | Dominican | Dominican)
- Oscuro Oro
- BG Meyer
- Room 101
- Brick House – my Go-To brand – love this line
- Churchill – M – 7.25×50 – $6 – #91 – “subtly sweet cigar with flavors of nougat and caramel with notes of pepper and cream”
- Corona Larga – MF – 6.25×46 – $5 – #93 – “tea-like and tangy with cherry notes lingering on the finish”
- Robusto – M – 5×54 – $5 – #92 – “soft, cedary smoke to the palate … finish is very fruity”
- Robusto Maduro – MF – 5×54 – $5 – # – “notes of cocoa and sweetness”
- Mighty Mighty – MF – 6.25×60 – $6 – #91 – “cedar-spice and sweet nutty notes”
- Mighty Mighty Maduro – M – 6.25×60 – $6 – #87 – “cocoa and pepper”
- Short Torp – M – 5.5×52 – $5 – #90 – “woody character balanced by plenty of sweet notes and coffee”
- Toro – MF – 6×52 – $6 – #91 – “mostly cedar smoke with dried apple noted and some spice on the finish”
- Brick House Fumas
- Diamond Crown
- El Baton – Love this one!
- La Unica
- Perla del Mar (Pearl of the Sea)
- Perla G – MM – 6.25×54 – $5 – # – “”
- Perla G Maduro – MM – 6.25×54 – $5 – # – “”
- Perla M – MM – 4.75×56 – $5 – # – “”
- Perla M Maduro – MM – 4.75×56 – $5 – # – “”
- Perla L – – 5.5×46 – $5 – # – “”
- Perla L Maduro – – 5.5×46 – $5 – # – “”
- Perla P – MM – 3.75×56 – $5 – # – “”
- Perla TG – MM – 6×60
- Perla TG Maduro – MM – 6×60
- Flor de Oliva
- Georges Reserve
- Master Blends
- Oliva G: Medium body and strength
- Oliva O: A Nicaraguan puro (wrapper, binder, filler are all come from the same Nicaraguan source or region). Similar to the Oliva G, except slightly darker, spicier, and richer in flavor.
- Oliva V: Generally considered to be the best of the 3. Darker, richer flavor, yet maintains a smoothness. Fuller body and med-full to full in strength due to the generous use of Ligero leaves (the top third most “potent” part of the tobacco plant) and a Sun grown wrapper.
- Sol Cubano
ACID, Undercrown, Liga Privada, Florida Sun Grown, Nica Rustica, MUWAT, Kentucky Fire Cured, Herrera Esteli, Larutan, Deadwood, Tabak Especial, Pappy Van Winkle, Isla del Sol, La Vieja Habana, Ambrosia, Factory Smokes, and Subculture.
Padron, 1964 Anniversary Series, 1926 Serie, and Family Reserve
Azan, Baracoa, Neya, Nicatabaco Factory Blend No. 2
Rocky Patel Cigars
- Rocky Patel
- Cargo by Rocky Patel
- VigilantE by Rocky Patel
- Cruz Real
- Gold by Rocky Patel (a Thompson Cigars exclusive)
- Chicago Reserve Torpedo by Rocky Patel
- Nørding by Rocky Patel for [Eric Nørding Pipemaker]
- Rocky Patel Ocean Club (a Holts Cigar Company exclusive)
- Prodigy by Rocky Patel (a BestCigarPrices exclusive)
Top Ten – Favorites [Menu]
- H. Upmann Magnum (Cuba)
- Brick House (JC Newman)
- Trinidad Paradox
- H. Upmann Vintage Cameroon
- Nica Rustica (Drew Estate)
- Perla del Mar (JC Newman)
- Cuba Libre (by Nestor Plasencia)
- Nica Puro Rosado (Alec Bradley)
- Oliva G Connecticut (Great morning cigar)
- Undercrown (Drew Estate)
Top Ten – Under $3 per Stick [Menu]
- New Cuba (by Casa Fernandez (now Aganorsa Leaf), blended by Jose Blanco)
- Palma Real Maduro (blended by Jose Blanco)
- Nicatabaco Factory #5 (Roberto Duran)
- Nicatabaco Factory #2 (Roberto Duran)
- JR Alternative Ashton Corona
- Casa de Garcia
- Don Mateo
- Nicaraguan Short Run (NSR)
- Nat Cicco
Cuban Cigars [Menu]
Habanos S.A. controls the promotion, distribution, and export of Cuban cigars worldwide.
U.S. residents, see this FAQ from Cigar Aficionado regarding buying and transporting Cuban Cigars.
- Can I purchase Cuban cigars in the U.S.? Not legally.
- Can I purchase Cuban cigars online? Not legally.
- Can I purchase Cuban cigars from Cuba or other countries and bring them into the U.S.? Yes. Up to 100 cigars or $800 without being taxed (you should confirm this before acting on it as laws frequently change).
Cigar Sizes (Vitolas) [Menu]
Cigar Parts [Menu]
See this figure for a great visual of cigar parts.
(modified from http://blogcritics.org/the-ten-things-to-know-about/)
The cigar wrapper isn’t just one more component to a cigar — it carries the majority of the cigar’s flavor and nearly all of its aesthetic appeal. In fact, publications like The Cigar Encyclopedia and Cigar Aficionado suggest that the wrapper is responsible for 60% or more of the cigar’s flavor and value. With more diverse wrappers being released than ever before, getting a handle on their styles and terminology has never been more important. Fortunately, comprehending these subtleties is easy with a little effort. The following ten points will help you understand, identify and discuss the majority of cigar wrappers available today.
1. The Concept of Veins:
When blind tasting a cigar, aficionados will look at the veins in the wrapper. In the case of shade grown wrappers, the smaller and smoother these veins are, the higher the tobacco leaf quality. The wrapper should be appropriately thick and have an oily feel — suggesting that it is not dried out or brittle. As a rule, cigar wrappers are aged for at least a year or two, and the longer they age the smoother they will smoke.
2. Understanding Shade Grown vs. Sun Grown:
Tobacco plants that are grown specifically for wrappers beneath a shaded tent are called Shade Grown. The reason these leaves are grown in the shade is to keep their surface smoother and prevent the veins from becoming too large. Leaves grown directly in the sun, after all, are forced to become resilient to the heat and grow thick with more veins. In contrast to Shade Grown wrappers, tobacco grown in direct sunlight, called Sun Grown, produces a thick, dark wrapper. If grown correctly, Sun Grown wrappers will have more sweetness.
3. American Market Standard (AMS) Wrappers:
Once popular in the United States, these wrappers are light green and have a sour characteristic. They are sometimes referred to as Candela, Jade and Double Claro. Because of the off-color and sourness, they are out of favor with today’s tastes.
4. English Market Standard (EMS) Wrappers:
The English Market Standard has roots that go back to the 19th century and is the benchmark for most cigar wrappers manufactured today. It includes the term Claro, Colorado and Natural (in ascending order from lighter to darker). Wrappers in this group are grown in Cuba, Cameroon and Connecticut.
5. Why are Two Countries Sometimes Referenced?
As the number of creative cigar makers grow, experimenting with growing different tobacco seeds in different regions is becoming more common. It is not unusual to find a wrapper labeled Dominican Sumatra, or Ecuadorian Connecticut. In the case of Dominican Sumatra, it means that the seeds from Sumatran tobacco have been transplanted to Ecuador and grown there. The first country is always the place in which the wrapper was grown, and the second country is the origin of the seed.
Sumatra wrappers are grown in Indonesia and typically carry a milder, more neutral flavor. They are dark brown with a hint of spice and a sweet aroma.
7. Connecticut Shade Wrappers:
Perhaps the silkiest wrappers around, Connecticut Shade wrappers are recognizable for their light, golden brown color. They are mild and have remarkably unobtrusive veins. For more flavor, look for the seed grown in Honduras or the volcanic soil of Ecuador.
8. Broadleaf Maduro:
This sun grown leaf is grown in Connecticut, Honduras, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Brazil. As to be expected from the Maduro method, it is very dark with rich, sweet flavors and aromas. Though the wrapper will be thick and veiny, a well crafted one will have a texture like velvet.
These are synonymous with Jade wrappers. They are light in color and can even be a bit green. Becoming harder and harder to find, they are mild with a hint of sourness.
African-raised Cameroon wrappers are becoming increasingly popular among cigar makers, who are developing an appreciation for their spicy flavor and sweet aromas. They are dark brown and can be found in cigars made by Alec Bradley, Arturo Fuente, and La Aurora, among others.
To be sure, you will recognize many of the above terms from your experience with cigars to date. They are commonly used as part of a cigar’s name, and frequently referenced by cigar merchants and magazines. Now that you are equipped with this arsenal, you can more freely explore the wide range of tastes, aromas and visual aesthetics available in cigars, and perhaps more accurately describe your preferences. For those of you that are interested in exploring cigars for the first time, selecting several that each embody one of the above concepts is a fun and educational starting point!
Anejo. Aged in Spanish. Anejo is one of the types of Tequila (aged a minimum of one year, but less than three years in small oak barrels). Anejo was the name given to an Arturo Fuente line as stated here. It’s also a name given to other cigars (like the Romeo Anejo by Romeo y Julieta).