After another interminably long, cold and snowy winter, we’re ready to break out the shorts, t-shirts, cold brews and great cigars to celebrate the fact that we survived with our sanity intact. The months ahead should prove to be good for the mind, soul and vitamin D intake, and though a cigar won’t improve your health, it’s easily the best cylindrical invitation to kick back (outside of, maybe, a can of suds).
Whether you light up in celebration of a good buddy’s nuptials (or your own, for that matter), on a much-needed break from office hell or just in the privacy of your own backyard while grilling some choice steaks, a flavorful cigar can make the difference between a good time and a great one. We’ve selected a handful of excellent smokes to kick off our favorite season, so kick back, cut above the cap and enjoy.
Where to Buy Cigars Online
Not everyone has access to a great cigar shop. So, the next-best (and typically least expensive) place is the web. Don’t shy away from online purveyors, since they have ample stock, huge selections and no taxes if you buy out of state (for now). Here are a few trustworthy sites you can feel comfortable buying from. Cigars International | JR Cigars | Payless Cigars | Atlantic Cigar
Oliva Serie V Melanio Figurado
Best After-Dinner Stogie: Oliva launched their Serie V line back in 2007 and immediately earned rave reviews for quality, complexity and flavor. They recently added the Melanio, which they’ve distinguished from their original V by using Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper and a Nicaraguan ligero long filler leaf. This results in a smoke that’s full-bodied but incredibly smooth.
Flavor Notes: Upon first light, the bold flavors hit and then everything smooths out from there. There’s clear black coffee and cedary flavors, along with a mild citrus undertone. Set this one aside for the long evenings when a satisfying meal has filled you up, and take your sweet time. It’s worth it.
Ring Gauge: 52
Length: 6.5 inches
Body: medium to full
Companion Beverage: Highland Park 12 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Joya De Nicaragua JOYA RED Robusto
Best Bachelor Party Stogie: Like the Oliva Serie V line, Joya De Nicaragua has always been known for bold, strong stogies that put noobs on their butts. This time, the JOYA RED Robusto delivers a milder, easier-going palate for novices and the seasoned stogie smoker alike. The Nicaraguan Habano wrapper around the delicious long filler leaf from the Esteli, Condega and Jalapa regions combine for a full flavorful smoke, so just because it’s milder doesn’t mean the stick lacks.
Flavor Notes: Leather, toast, dark cocoa and black pepper all hit without being overpowering. The mildly sweet, fruity undertones are a welcomed surprise, as is the thick white smoke emitted from this great-drawing short smoke. Because it’s packed with flavor and not overly strong, it’s the right smoke (and the right price) for a celebration of the end of bachelorhood.
Ring Gauge: 50
Length: 5.2 inches
Companion Beverage: Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23 Year
Tatuaje Havana VI Verocu No. 5
Best Golf Outing Cigar: Tatuaje is about as close as you’ll get to a Cuban cigar without traveling to Havana. The Tatuaje Havana VI Verocu No. 5 is a Nicaraguan puro that emulates the best of Cuba. There’s peerless and nearly veinless construction, a Havana-like triple cap and rich complexity in a small 40-ring gauge package.
Flavor Notes: Upon first lighting, you can smell the dark cocoa, and from front to back the blend of strong pepper, fruit and spice makes for a rich but medium-bodied smoke. For a cigar this size, the draw is near perfect, as is the ridiculously even burn. Plus, it’s not long enough to get in the way of your golf swing, and a fat box of 50 ensures that you won’t come close to running out, even if you play two rounds.
Ring Gauge: 40
Length: 5.4 inches
Companion Beverage: Bell’s Oberon Ale
Rocky Patel Vintage 1999 Sixty
Best BBQ Stogie: If you’re like us, you didn’t stop grilling during the winter — but summer presents more enjoyable moments by the open flame. Rocky Patel’s Vintage 1999 Sixty can easily be smoked on an empty stomach due to its mild, incredibly creamy flavor that will whet your appetite as you man the grill.
Flavor Notes: Peppery undertones give it just the right amount of oomph, without betraying the overall mellowness. The fact that the filler is aged seven years helps eliminate any potential bite, along with the paper-like 1999 vintage Connecticut Shade wrapper. The big 60-ring gauge ensures delightful draw with that never gets too hot, unlike the charcoal fire that just singed your eyebrows.
Ring Gauge: 60
Length: 6 inches
Body: mild to medium
Wrapper/Binder/Filler: Connecticut/Nicaragua/Nicaragua & Dominican Republic
Companion Beverage: Mojito
Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure Especial
Best Cuban Vacation Stogie: What’s a tasty cigar list without paying homage to Cuba? Thanks to the eased sanctions against Cuba, we now have freedom to bring back a handful of Havanas without being questioned, and that’s cause to celebrate. The Epicure Especial is a relatively new Cuban, and it builds (with an extra 5/8 of an inch) on the reputation of the positively delectable Hoyo Epicure No. 2 — a stogie that’s in its own right a fantastic smoke.
Flavor Notes:The Especial has a rich, earthy smoke, and the play of coffee, Cuban soil and cocoa give it complexity from the first light to the last puff. And, contrary to popular belief about Cuban cigars, the Especial is not harsh in spite of its unabashedly full body.
Ring Gauge: 50
Length: 5.5 inches
Companion Beverage: Havana Club 15 Year Old Cuban Rum