Seven Smokes For Your Fourth Of July
- June 29, 2016 |
It's inherently American to boldly assert your rights as a cigar smoker, but for this Independence Day, we suggest some star-spangled cigars (in no particular order) that are particularly American in either theme or composition. In case you've forgotten, the Fourth of July is next Monday, so get ready to wave the flag, smoke a cigar, grill some hot dogs and set off some fireworks. Just don't light the fireworks with your cigar—or vice versa. Be patriotic, but be smart and be safe. God Bless America.
Think stripes are just for flags and Uncle Sam's snazzy trousers? Think again. This barber-pole style cigar is made with a patriotic mix of wrapper leaves grown in the U.S. of A, specifically the Connecticut River Valley. The dark, broad stripes on the C.A.O. America are broadleaf, the lighter stripes, Connecticut shade. Inside is an intriguing mix of tobaccos from around the world, including Italy, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Our preferred smoke from this brand is the Potomac, which measures 5 inches by 56 ring (87 points). It has an herbal start before warming up to show a rich, woody character.
The name Liberty says it all, doesn't it? Like the Fourth of July, Camacho Liberty cigars only come around once a year. The annual release is usually rolled in the company's signature bulbous 11/18 figurado shape and typically contains older tobaccos. It's 6 inches long and swells to a thickness of 54 ring gauge in the middle. Kind of looks like a snake that swallowed a sow, if you think about it. This year marks the 14th release of the Camacho Liberty and the 2016 version is made up of an Ecuador Habano wrapper, Honduran binder and filler from Nicaragua, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The 2012 version made our Top 25 list of 2012 (earning No. 17) with a score of 92 points. The cigar has a taste ranging in flavors from almonds and cedar to peppercorns and floral notes.
Alec Bradley American Classic
Back before the Cuban embargo, most Americans smoked cigars made in Tampa with imported Cuban tobacco. According to brand owner Alan Rubin, they were "affordably priced, smooth, sweet and complex." Well, Rubin decided to honor that 20th century tradition with the Alec Bradley American Classic. First, he smoked some pre-embargo cigars made in Tampa. Then, he speculated on how they probably tasted at original strength. Finally, he used all his American ingenuity and figured out a period-style blend. The result was a Connecticut-seed wrapper from Honduras and mild Nicaraguan guts. It comes in Sungrown, too. "This is Americana," he said. "It's truly in our history."
La Casita Criolla
OK, so it sounds pretty foreign at first glance, but just keep your tights on, Captain America. Pete Johnson's La Casita Criolla brand might be made in Nicaragua but rest assured, it's a completely patriotic smoke. The entire cigar is made from tobaccos grown in the United States—it's composed of 100 percent pure American broadleaf grown in Connecticut from wrapper to filler. That's a long-lost American cigar tradition that Johnson has dutifully honored and he doesn't care if it's popular or not. Can you name one other premium cigar brand doing that? Every size is loaded with bold, American broadleaf that has the ripe, sweet taste of raisins, but our favorite is the La Casita Criolla HCBF Short Churchill (89 points), a medium-bodied smoke measuring 6 1/2 inches long by 48 ring gauge.
La Palina Goldie
Cigars once were rolled by hand in the United States in the hundreds of millions, but today few fabricas remain open here in this country. One exception is the El Titan de Bronze factory in Little Havana. Inside, a woman named Maria Serra carefully rolls Goldies for La Palina. These limited-edition smokes are carefully crafted and typically quite delicious. We gave the La Palina Golide Laguito Robusto Extra 2015 a score of 90 points, praising its medium body, impeccable construction and notes of cinnamon, spice and black tea.
Freedom by Rocky Patel
The box looks like a piece of American folk art and that's not by accident. Freedom doesn't just appeal to our sense of patriotism, but represents a common struggle against onerous taxation and regulation that all American cigar smokers understand, and Rocky Patel made a cigar in honor of this fight: Freedom by Rocky Patel. "I have spent a great deal of time in Washington fighting alongside others in our industry's fight to preserve our rights to smoke cigars—this cigar is representative of that," he says. It comes in four sizes—Robusto, Toro, Torpedo and the popular 6 by 60—so, you're given the freedom of choice. The tobacco is all Nicaraguan, but the heart and soul of this cigar brand is all American.
George Rico Miami STK American Puro
This cigar just might meet the criteria for most American. It's made in America by George Rico (an American) and uses only tobacco grown in U.S. soil. It even has an American flag slapped on the box proudly saying "Made in the U.S.A."—something we don't see much of anymore. The wrapper and binder are both Connecticut Habano while the filler is made up of Pennsylvania broadleaf and a bit of Kentucky fire-cured tobacco. Once you slide open the box lid of these American-made beauties, that fire-cured smell comes right at you like smoke from a charcoal barbecue. All three sizes are rolled in Miami's Little Havana and have pigtail caps. Our favorite is the Corona Gorda at 5 5/8 inches by 46 ring, but don't be afraid to go big. The largest is the Toro Grande at 5 7/8 by 54.