Well, Stuber was a dud, so here I am offering some cigar recommendations again!
There’s this misconception floating around that cigars (the handmade kind, not the gas-station fascimiles) are a wealthy man’s habit. That may have been the case a few decades ago, when you had to go to your neighborhood smoke shop or country club to buy a stick or a box at a big markup. And if you want, you still can. Some people prefer the personalized attention and atmosphere of a cigar lounge.
But now, not only do quite a few big-box wine retailers have walk-in humidors with excellent selection and low prices, but there’s a wealth of online cigar sellers. And due to the lack of overhead, they can offer big discounts on the usual MSRP.
This means that any average person can smoke an excellent, well-made cigar at an affordable price. But where to start?
Here’s a few of my favorite budget-priced cigars. Some are my favorite blends, period. They’re all sold in packs of 5 under $30 (sometimes even in larger sizes) on Cigars International. I’ll be moving from lighter to heavier in terms of strength.
SIZE: Toro (6.0″x50)
NOTES: An underrated brand with a long history. These cigars are well-constructed, with a lighter wrapper masking rich flavors of leather, minerals, and earth. I also found a pleasant lemon-drop sweetness. They produce velvety, pleasant smoke.
Alec Bradley American Classic
SIZE: Toro (6.0″x50)
NOTES: Critics have a weakness for the sun-grown variety of this cigar, but I prefer the original. It pairs wonderfully with summer, smiles, and the American flag. To me it’s reminiscent of a baseball game, with prominent coffee, cedar, peanut, and worn leather notes. These flavors meld together in a creamy treat.
La Perla Habana Black Pearl Morado
SIZE: Belicoso (6.2″x52)
NOTES: This is one of few perfectly balanced cigars I’ve had. Medium in strength, its wrapper’s smell is primarily cedar and hay. The innards are another matter, adding coffee and caramel notes to the vegetal ones I mentioned. The finish is a white pepper spice. It pairs well with rye bourbon.
Punch Gran Puro
SIZE: Rancho (5.5″x54)
NOTES: Honduran cigars are sometimes known for their inconsistency. But wherever Punch found this blend, they should keep going back. It’s made from 100% Honduran tobacco. Its sun-grown wrapper means fire and wood notes stay prominent, but not distractingly so. In fact, it’s sweet and herby, with a beefy leather undertone.
SIZE: Box-Press Robusto (5.5″x55)
NOTES: Probably my favorite brand on the market, CAO produces winner after winner, from their stellar Flathead and Italia blends to their milder La Traviata and Gold fare. But this is one of their best. Covered in a toothy Brazilian wrapper smelling of wet earth and sugar, it reveals a heavy, floral smoke fronted by strong cedar notes. I recommend enjoying one with an Australian, jammy red wine.