Aficionados say a great Cuban cigar can make smoking a divine experience. Here are four handmade cigars to get you started on that journey. By Shweta Gandhi
Smoking a cigar has over the years become a mark of social prestige, of power and wealth. And it goes without saying that the experience of smoking a hand-rolled cigar cannot be replaced with a machine-made one. Cuba established itself as the best producer of tobacco and cigars in the 1800s and it has maintained that standard ever since. “Cuban cigars are the most prominent of all the brands out there in the market,” says Abhilash Ramani, Managing Director at CigarsIndia.in. “They are those lovely cigars that a man would want to smoke while taking in a gorgeous view on a balcony.” He helps us narrow down the best handmade Cuban cigars to try.
The name Cohiba comes from the Taino word meaning, quite rightly, ‘tobacco.’ The tobacco for this cigar comes from the Vuelta Abajo region of Cuba where it undergoes extra fermentation. The Cohiba brand has developed a cult status, often being given as a diplomatic gift. The cigar to try is the Cohiba Behike, which has a very limited run, and is therefore very exclusive. It’s made with a bit of Media Tiempo (the small leaves that grow at the top of of some Cuban tobacco plants) and the filler is fermented on its own. This gives the cigar an earth core, with a rich woody flavour. One of the most expensive cigars available these cigars are known for their intense, rich flavour.
Price: Rs 3,850 (approx) for the Cohiba Behike BHK 54 (single stick)
Often considered the king of torpedos (a type of cigar shape), the Montecristo is one of the best-selling Cuban cigars. The Montecristo #2 is the most popular of the lot and is powerful from the start. It tantalises the palatte with hints of sweet spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and has a trademark tangy woody note. It maintains a creamy feel all the way and is great option for those who don’t smoke regularly as the flavours aren’t overwhelming.
Price: Rs 950 (approx) for the Montecristo #2
Established in Havana in 1845, Partagas is among the oldest Cuban cigar brands. The Partagas Serie D is a true cigar connoisseur’s choice and has to be tried for its sweet natural tobacco, cedar and delicious woody finish and robust size. They are smooth cigars, making them ideal for any time of the day. They’re great for smoking now, but will taste even better after they’ve been aged in your humidor.
Price: Rs 1,000 onwards for the Partagas Serie D No. 4 A/T (single stick)
This brand of premium cigars was also established in 1844 and ranks as one of the oldest. The must-try is the H. Upmann Petit Corona. True to its name, it is but a small dynamite full of flavours. It has a lush draw that reveals a blend of spices and coffee notes, with earthy, nutty flavours. This was the favourite cigar brand of former US president John F Kennedy, and it’s said that the night before the Cuban embargo was signed he had his aide buy all the boxes he could find in Washington, DC.
Price: Rs 750 (approx) for the H. Upmann Petit Corona
Photograph courtesy: Jorge Royan/Wikimedia Commons