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Smoking Some of the Best

Cigar Aficionado editors and two cigarmakers compare six great smokes
James Suckling
From the Print Edition:
Antonio Banderas, Nov/Dec 2005

(continued from page 2)

Indeed, they were all superb, and it was difficult to say which was better. They all delivered fabulous aromas and flavors and smoked with great ease and satisfaction. As Gomez said, "These are cigars for cigar smokers. They have balance and flavor."

Everyone commented on how a lot of new cigars in the U.S. market are focusing too much on strength rather than balance and flavor. They are cigars with no finesse. They hit you over the head with nicotine and deliver very little smoking pleasure. "This search for body and strength often misses balance," added Mott.

While the torpedos we were smoking all had balance and lots of flavor, the Flor Dominicana and Hoyo, interestingly, were closer in style to each other than to the Padrón. The latter was slightly more flavorful, with coffee and earthy notes, while the other two were more spicy and refined. Thinking back to the first three cigars, the Hoyo also had more flavor than the Cohiba.

"The bottom line is that it's all about where the tobacco comes from that is used in the blend," said Padrón. "It gives you that distinctive character."

That was in fact the most fascinating aspect of our evening of excessive cigar smoking in New Orleans. All the cigars were distinctively different in aroma and flavor. Each was a unique smoke with its own character, even though they shared the same level of quality from their excellent construction to well-cured leaf.

Today, it's much less a question of what country makes the best cigars, because a number of places—in particular, Cuba, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic make excellent cigars. Anyone who says that only Cuba makes great cigars is simply wrong.

That may have been the case even 10 years ago. The improvements in tobacco cultivation and cigar making in countries other than Cuba are giving the world more excellent cigars. It's like wine making around the world, an area I know well because I have worked for Wine Spectator, Cigar Aficionado's sister magazine, for 24 years. At one time, only the French made truly world-class wines, but today the same can be said for many countries, including the United States, Italy, Spain and Australia, among others. That's why it's never been a better time to drink great wines, and smoke great cigars.

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