Looking at Bigger Cigars
Posted: Jul 28, 2010 9:16am ET
Back in 1995, when I was hired by Cigar Aficionado, I was a huge fan of big cigars (I was also thinner, had no beard, and my hair was all black, but that's another story.) When I wanted a cigar—and I always wanted a cigar—I reached for the big ones, double coronas and Churchills especially. Sure, I loved robustos too, enjoyed big pyramids as well, but I didn’t look upon coronas and petit coronas with as much favor.
Things changed. I had my smaller cigar revelations that opened my eyes to just how good a smaller smoke can be. First came the Arturo Fuente Don Carlos No. 3, which is 5 1/2 inches long by 44 ring gauge. (We include them in our corona category when we rate them.) If you haven’t smoked one of these, stop reading my blog right now, go to your favorite cigar store and buy one (better yet, buy a couple.) You’ll know what I mean. It’s one of the all-time great cigars, and it’s downright diminutive.
Then came the Cohiba Siglo I experience. It was 1996, and I was sitting on a balcony in Pinar del Río, Cuba. I opened up a box of Cohiba Siglo Is for the first time. Puny little smoke I thought, looking at the four inch long, 40 ring gauge petit corona. I didn’t expect much. Wow, was I wrong. It was bold and full of taste. How could there be so much flavor in such a small package?
I moved away from really big cigars for awhile. Sure, I smoked them (I smoke cigars of all sizes, for tasting as part of my job) but when I smoked for pleasure I tended to go with robustos, corona gordas, coronas, lanceros, almost anything but the doubles and Churchills I loved as a younger smoker. One reason was my newfound love for the smaller cigars, but another was the constraints of time on smoking large format smokes.
But recent events have put me back on the big cigar train. I got a hold of some glorious Ramon Allones Gigantes recently (one of Cuba’s superb double coronas), and puffing on them reminded me of just how good big format cigars can be. They are cigars that cannot be rushed, cigars that command as much as two hours of smoking time. I fired up one recently with a good friend on my deck, sitting outside on a not-too-hot summer evening, catching up on things. The cigars, each one brilliantly made, with wrappers as fine as silk, got better with every puff, and were eminently complex, rich and delicious.
Double coronas and Churchills aren’t the hottest sellers in cigar stores—the best sellers are robustos and corona gordas—but when they’re great, they are very hard to beat. If you’ve drifted away from them, consider making time for them once again.
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