Montecristo is arguably one of the most well-known cigar brands in the history of the industry. The iconic brand is constantly releasing innovative premium blends with the same devotion to the highest quality standards that has helped it gain generations of loyal enthusiasts. That inventive spirit lead to a collaboration between the renowned Plasencia Family and Montecristo’s Grupo de Maestros, resulting in the luxurious Epic Craft Cured series. The Plasencia Family’s mastery of growing, aging, blending and flawlessly hand-rolling premium Nicaraguan tobacco is unrivaled, creating a truly remarkable smoking experience.

An unorthodox fermentation process marries together Plasencia’s superior craftsmanship and the versatile arrangement of tobaccos. Rather than fermenting each tobacco varietal in separate large pilones, the different tobaccos in Craft Cured are fermented together in smaller sized pilones. This process allows each distinguishing tobacco characteristics to intertwine and mesh together, resulting in an unparalleled aromatic bouquet and a luxurious array of textures.

Medium to full in strength, this decadent blend liberates palates from the status quo. The immaculate construction that Epic Craft Cured flaunts unapologetically is complements of the Plasencia Family’s factory in Estelí. With help from the Grupo de Maestros, the finest tobaccos from Nicaragua’s four growing regions were selected to create a rich, well-balanced flavor profile. Blending a cigar with tobaccos harvested from different parts of the same country might not sound special, but the unique geography of Nicaragua produces an incredibly complex smoke.

The filler is a medley of leaves from Estelí, Jalapa and Condega, which all bring different characteristics to the blend. Estelí adds distinct spiciness and potent strength, Jalapa infuses sweet aromas and delicate textures, while Condega melds the blended filler together with honey-like flavors and mineral undertones. Epic Craft Cured is furnished with a choice binder from the volcanic island of Ometempe, known for producing Nicaragua’s most prized and rare tobacco. A gorgeous, oily Nicaraguan Rosado Oscuro 2006 wrapper cloaks the cigar with an eye-catching reddish-brown hue.

Epic Craft Cured is the ultimate Nicaraguan puro and needs to be experienced by every true aficionado. Order yours online today at SeriousCigars.com and change your palate forever!

Although understanding cigar measurements and vitolas can seem a bit overwhelming and confusing, they are both crucial elements when selecting a cigar. Being able to distinguish between shapes and sizes enables aficionados to recognize the impact it will make on their overall smoking experience. The foundation begins with two basic concepts: the length and the diameter, known as the ring gauge.

The length is most commonly measured in inches, but aficionados may find the occasional odd-ball cigar that uses centimeters. Ring gauge is measured in 64ths of an inch, so the diameter of a smoke with a 64-ring gauge is an inch. For example, the dimensions of a premium cigar with a length of 5 inches and a 46-ring gauge is 5 x 46.

Feel free to put your calculator away since categorizing vitolas is much less technical and far more imprecise. Manufacturers construct cigars with their own size parameters, cap style and vitola names. Also, keep in mind that there are traditional Havana terms and non-Cuban names. The shape of a cigar has two general categories known as Parejos and Figurados, which both have underlying sub-categories. Designed with a straight-edged body and a classically rounded head, Parejos represent the standard cigar shape. Figurados are crafted in irregular shapes and tend to be more of a wild-card category for reasons we’ll delve into shortly.

A favorite Parejo shape is the Churchill, named after history’s most well-known aficionado, Winston Churchill. Generally, a standard Churchill is constructed with a 7-inch length and a ring gauge ranging from 47 to 54 (7 x 47 to 54). Due to the rounded head and meaty diameter, Churchills can be enjoyed with any type of cigar cut. Davidoff Winston Churchill The Late Hour is a superb example of this iconic vitola. The longer, fuller shape of a Churchill enables the flavors to develop into a more complex profile further into the smoke. The science behind this attribute is that even though the tobaccos towards the head and center may not have an ember yet, they are influenced by the continuous heat.

Another popular Parejo shape is the Toro, known as a Double Robusto in Havana terms. Generally, the standard dimensions are 6 to 6.5 inches in length with a ring gauge between 50 and 54. A prime specimen of a classic Toro is the Montecristo Epic, which has 6 x 52 dimensions and holds up perfectly with any type of cut. The Toro size offers aficionados a luxurious, savory smoke that enables flavors and textures to mature evenly.

Aficionados should be on the lookout for Lanceros, a Parejo first developed in Cuba by Cohiba. Originally, the Lancero was only rolled for Fidel Castro, but quickly began building popularity among cigar enthusiasts. Savvy connoisseurs know that roughly 85% of a cigar’s flavor comes from the wrapper. By crafting a thinner smoke with less filler and binder tobaccos, the wrapper’s rich flavors become more pronounced, disproving the misnomer that bigger smokes are better. Measuring in at 7 x 40, the Liga Privada Unico Serie L40 Lancero by Drew Estate Cigars is a top-rated smoke that needs to be in the repertoire of anyone who considers themselves a true aficionado.

The Petit Corona is a tinier version of the traditional Parejo Corona shape. Typically, the dimensions for a Petit Corona ranges from 4.5 to 5 inches in length with a ring gauge between 38 and 42. The Rocky Patel Java Petit Corona flaunts a dainty size so the ideal cut would be a straight guillotine, as the ring gauge is too small to accommodate a punch and V-Cut.

The more diverse and less standardized Figurado category ranges from iconic shapes like the Torpedo to eye-catching designs like Culebra, which was developed for cigar factory’s torcedors. It is important to always remember that cigar companies have carte blanche when it comes to construction and naming the final product. For aficionados, this means that although a cigar might be labeled as a Pyramid, it could more closely resemble a Torpedo leading to some confusion.

An attribute unique to Torpedos is a sharply pointed tapered head that serves to centralize the draw. This often results in Torpedos concentrating a cigar’s flavor profile onto the taste buds and burning slower, however factors like craftsmanship and tobacco varieties may affect those characteristics. Typically, aficionados give Torpedos a straight guillotine cut or in some cases a V-cut. Some of the most recognizable cigars in the world are available as a Torpedo, such as the Montecristo No.2. For a more modern version of this shape, you should also check out the El Gueguense Torpedo by Foundation Cigars. Overall, Torpedos give blends a sophisticated appearance, while also siphoning the flavors directly onto the palate.    

Another member of the Figurado family is the Belicoso, which can also easily be mistaken for a Torpedo due to their similar appearances. A major telltale difference is the shorter length of a Belicoso. The other distinguishing attribute is the tapered head, which is historically more rounded in a Belicoso size. La Aroma de Cuba Belicoso is a great example of the traditionally accepted format of the elegant vitola.

Although understanding the breakdown of sizes and shapes is important in helping aficionados select the ideal smoke, it does not account for other crucial factors. The quality of tobacco and construction coupled with if a cigar was adequately humidified affects the flavor profile and smoking experience. The best way for aficionados to figure out their palate preferences is to experiment. Explore the amazing collection of blends available on SeriousCigars.com today and find your new favorite smoke. Be sure to join the email list to receive exclusive offers and special discounts!

At Serious Cigars we take our cigars very seriously, as you can tell. We also take our bourbon seriously. It is safe to say we have no sense of humor and we take everything seriously. So, when we do our research and layout a cigar and bourbon pairing, it would behoove you to take it seriously as well. In our minds, nothing compares to the flavorful experience of matching up a cigar with its perfect bourbon. At the end of a long day, a good smoke and a stiff drink helps you forget your worries and helps you push on to the next day and the day after that. Now for the laymen, you may have not heard of some of these whiskies, but that’s the point. Serious Cigars wants to provide you with new experiences and we think we have done just that… seriously.


Eagle Rare 10 Year Old Bourbon & Laranja Reserva

Eagle Rare is a member of the first family of whiskey. They are crafted by Buffalo trace, who, along with its name brands, is also responsible for the legendary Pappy Van Winkle. It has a heritage and tradition of fine American bourbons. It is soft and slightly sweet with an orange zest aroma that continues into your first sips. Being the dominant orange themed cigar, Laranja is an easy match up for this. I’d recommend this pairing on a nice spring day. .

Michters US 1 Straight Kentucky Bourbon & Southern Draw Rose of Sharon

If it’s a hot summer day and you are looking for a mellow, smooth smoking and drinking experience, this is the matchup id go for. Michters has become a favorite in our office. It is smooth, creamy and has a good sweetness to it. The Rose of Sharon from Southern Draw will change the way you look at Connecticut wrappers. It remains mellow and creamy, but has a lot more flavor to it then you’d think, including a subtle sweet spice that pairs well with the whiskey. .

Blantons Original Single Barrel & Caldwell Hit and Run

Every time I go to my local water hole, I ask if they have Blantons. Some days I get a yes, more often I get a know. But on those yes days, I am more excited than a kid on Christmas. It is an exquisite bourbon, made it limited batches making it harder to find. It was originally created only to be given to foreign ambassadors and dignities, and when you taste it you will see why. It is incredibly well balanced with notes of caramel, roasted nuts, and an underlying sweetness. The new Hit & Run from Robert Caldwell and Matt Booth is the epitome of a medium bodied, well balanced smoke. With notes of nuts, caramel and a dash of sweet spice, I cannot think of a better partner for the elegant Blantons. .

Basil Haydens Kentucky Straight Bourbon & El Gueguense

Basil Hayden has become a more recent favorite of mine. A bottle was gifted to me during the holidays by a dear friend. He used to be an acquaintance, but after gifting me the luscious notes of Basil for the first time, he is now in my wedding party. It is an almost perfect whiskey for the fan of a little more body. It has a great spice to it but it is not overbearing. It is well balanced with a dry finish and notes of spice and leather. Where else can I find a well-balanced, medium bodied product with notes of spice and leather? Well Nick Melillo of course. His debut brand, El Gueguense has become one of my favorite cigars of all time. It is the epitome of craftsmanship with a wonderful bouquet of flavors and a near perfect draw. .

Elijah Craig Small Batch & Monte by Montecristo by AJ

When thinking of Elijah Craig, two words come to mind. Those words are rich and full. The small batch is a hearty bourbon, with bold notes of nutmeg, nuts, spice and a little smoke while it has a sweet and toasty finish. For this pairing I headed to the latest Altadis USA/AJ Fernandez collaboration. This box pressed cigar was listed on several top 10 lists due to its Altadis reliability and its AJ craftsmanship. It is rich and bold, similar to the Elijah Craig and adds in wonderful notes of coffee, chocolate and a rich smoky aroma. .

Serious Cigars is always open to new experiences, so if there is a whiskey and cigar pairing that you’d like to mention just let us know…until then try out our selection of amazing premium cigars…seriously.

There is a new dawn in the cigar industry. With the advent of the internet, information gathering by the general public is at an all-time high. Cigar smokers now know the blends and the process and the story behind each cigar they smoke. Long gone are the days where you can throw together a cigar, sell it for cheap, and make a lot of money. Customers today yearn for something new, something original. This is where the newest generation of cigar manufacturers will play a pivotal role. With the FDA regulations looming, new is going to be a relative term. The newest companies are already 3-4 years old, but when compared to manufacturers like Altadis, General, or Fuente, who have been crafting premium cigars for almost 50 years, these new companies are still in their infancy.

When looking at these companies, I’d like to start with Nick Melillo and Foundation Cigars. Nick is an old soul, even though he dresses like a college bro. This is not an insult, but a compliment. Nick has mastered the cigar making process, from cultivating and purchasing the correct tobaccos, to the aging process and then turning them into new and innovative blends. He has a marketing strategy that has every cigar fan boy pining for his newest releases. Nick is not a passing trend, but a pillar of the new generation of cigar manufacturers that should be taken seriously. Each of his major releases including the Tabernacle, El Gueguense and El Gueguense Maduro were each named to Top 10 lists in their respective release years. Serious Cigars is very excited to provide you with Foundation Cigars and we look forward to whatever new projects Nick has planned.

Next, we have the great Steve Saka and his newest venture, Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust. Steve has the benefit of experience at the highest levels of the cigar industry. He was an innovator in the use of online cigar forums back in the 1990s, when the internet was just getting its start among the populace. He was an executive consultant to Lew Rothman, the preeminent cigar retailer during the boom. He was then named President of Drew Estate and helped take that company from is fun quirky origins to one of the largest premium cigar manufacturers in the world. Steve is a seasoned cigar veteran, and his releases over the past 3 years show this. Sobremesa, Mi Querida, and most recently Todos Las Dias were all massive hits with the cigar community. He is also skillful in the art of the small batch limited cigar, such as the Muestra de Saka, and the old fashioned budget smoke like the Umbagog. If you want an idea of where the industry is heading, take a good look at Steve Saka.

This next choice may seem an unusual and many will feel it should have been included on my previous list. The Plasencia family is the most knowledgeable tobacco families in the world. Nestor Plasencia Sr. was born into a tobacco framing family in Cuba in the pre revolution days. Following their emigration out of the country, Nestor and his family continued to grow and cultivate cigar tobacco in Honduras and Nicaragua. During the cigar boom, they became well known in the industry for creating masterful blends, however they were mostly for other companies. Anytime a newer manufacturer needed the expertise and strategy of a seasoned cigar maker, they would go to Plasencia. In 2016, Nestor and his sons developed one of their first name brands. While they have had cigars with their name on it before, they were mostly unknown to the general public. With the release of the Plasencia Alma Fuerte, this company skyrocketed to the top of almost every Top 10 list. It was a new Plasencia, bold and edgy with a modern twist but using age old techniques. This demonstrated Plasencias ability to adapt to the new market, without sacrificing the knowledge and traditions that had got them to this point. The follow up, the Alma de Campo, is garnering rave reviews as we speak. This is a new Plasencia company, one that will capture the hearts and minds of cigar smokers everywhere.

At Serious Cigars, we pride ourselves on our selection. We will always carry the staples, the Montecristo Whites and the Macanudos and Partagas. These cigars have weathered the test of time and will always be favorites among the premium cigar community. However, we are also looking to the future. Serious Cigars will always be the place where you can find the newest brands at the best prices.

The past year, the cigar industry has seen its fair share of hardships. The FDA regulations have many people confused and has all but stopped new companies from entering the market place. The industry was also dealt three serious blows since last summer. In July of 2016 we lost the great Don Carlos Fuente, founder and patriarch of the Fuente Cigar company. This March saw the loss of renowned manufacturer and musician Avo Uvezian. Then this December, both Jose Padron and Gilberto Oliva passed on, within two weeks of each other. These men were on the Mount Rushmore of the cigar world. They were innovators, creators, masters of their craft. However, the cigar industry has always been resilient and must look to a newer brighter future. Let us see who we have to lead us into the next generation

In terms of the companies mentioned above, it is safe to say they are in good hands. While Carlos Fuente built the company up from nothing and was instrumental in developing there entire business plan, his son Carlito has played a major role for decades. It was Carlito who developed the legendary Opus X line which has become the most sought after cigar in the entire world. Carlito has become an expert in marketing and releasing desirable small batch products while maintain the quality of their general releases.

Fans of Padron also have nothing to fear. Jose’s son, Jorge, has been the leader of the company in all but name for quite a while. While his father was always diligent, even in his final years, Jorge has lead the company to new heights. He is become a master of aged tobaccos and quality control, ensuring each cigar coming out of their factory is flawless. He is also responsible for releasing the Family Reserve lines, which have become the highest rated line of cigars ever released in Nicaragua. Padron will remain at the top of the premium cigar industry for years to come.

Oliva seems to have just hit its stride in the past few years. The Oliva V and V Melanio have been rated in the Top 25 more times then I can remember. Their Nub and Nub Café lines are popular among that the younger demographic, while the Master Series and O lines have become staples for the seasoned smokers. The Oliva family, now run by the four Oliva siblings, have a business strategy in place that will continue to expand their products into humidors around the world.

Now, we have to look towards newer companies. The established fan bases of Fuente, Padron and Oliva will always remain and they will continue to produce fine products. Yet, it is the emerging boutique companies, that many may view as a fad or trend, that really hold the industry in the palm of its hand. Serious cigars has always stocked the newest hottest brands, but we have never forgotten these titans of industry. Padron, Fuente, and Oliva will always be a staple of our business and we are proud to be working with the new regime and are excited to see what the future holds.

While many consider boutique cigars a trend, we couldn’t disagree more. If you look at the whiskey and beer industry, the small batch products are more popular then ever. In 10 years, people who drink Buffalo Trace aren’t going to switch to Jack Daniels and people who prefer Dog Fish Head aren’t going to start drinking Budweiser. The same can be said for the cigar industry, so as a beginner it is wise to get to know some of the more popular boutique companies and what makes them special. Serious Cigars has always been a bastion for the boutique, small batch cigar smoker, and we look forward to continuing this tradition.

Tatuaje
No boutique list can be complete without Tatuaje. Yes, the company has grown exponentially over the past few years, but at their core they are a small batch boutique cigar company. Their Yearly Monsters release is always highly anticipated and represents the truest form of the boutique cigar. The LAtelier line has also garnered a dedicated following, which has enhanced Pete Johnson as one of the kings of boutique cigars. .

Caldwell Cigar Co.
Robert Caldwell is the epitome of the boutique cigar manufacturer. He keeps his blends limited and uses increasingly creative artwork and themes. His uses aged tobaccos from several different manufacturers, so there is no gurantee that the next batch tastes the same as the orinigal, although so far they have. With his vintage style, surprise event only releases, and recent collaborations, Robert Caldwell is a great place for the new smoker to test the boutique waters. .

Foundation Cigars
Nick Melillo started out in a small shop in Connecticut before moving onto becoming one of the master blenders for Drew Estate. Even with its immense size, Drew Estate has always been considered a boutique company and with Nick creating the Liga Privada line, he was the heart of that company. In 2015, Nick went out on his own and created Foundation Cigars. From its first line, El Gueguense, ever cigar industry expert knew that Nick was to be taken seriously. Each of his blends is considered a stand out in its field. The Tabernacle is one of the most popular broadleaf cigars on shelves today while his most recent release, the Wise Man Maduro was named in several Top 10 lists for this year including Cigar Dojo. He has products for every palet and flavor profile, so make sure to try out the whole range. .

RoMa Craft Tobac
Mike Rosales and Skip Martin had there hearts set on creating a premium, boutique cigar company. Even with their massive success and their cigars remaining in the highest demand, they refuse to alter their plan. They set a limit of cigars they will produce of each line and never make more. This would sacrifice quality for quantity, which goes against the unspoken mantra of the boutique manufacturer. From the Neanderthal and CroMagnon to the limited Wunderlust, RoMa Craft is a boutique smokers dream. I have yet to smoke a bad one and I honestly don’t think I ever will.

When it comes to the cigar industry, it is safe to say that almost all cigar factories are in a very concentrated area. Central America and the Caribbean are host to nearly every cigar factory in the world, with the concentration being in Cuba, Nicaragua, The Dominican Republic and Honduras. With the port of Miami being the go to shipping destination for nearly all cigar manufacturers, it only makes sense that most companies are headquartered somewhere in Florida. Atladis USA, Fuente, Padron, Drew Estate and EP Carillo are each based in Florida, with there main manufacturing facilities stretched out among the different Hispanic nations.

However, recently we have seen a trend of Southern based cigar companies. Yes, I know Florida is in the South, but lets be honest… Miami is not really a Southern town. With the advent of the boutique market, several companies have sprouted up below the Mason Dixon line that still have their operations abroad, but wish to keep their hometown charm. With Serious Cigars being founded in Texas, this was an article we were very proud to write.

The first of these is The Crowned Heads . This Nashville based company was created by former members of CAO. CAO was originally based in Nashville before its acquisition by General Cigars. These former employees, being lead by Jon Huber, wished to maintain their Tennessee esthetic and began to work with other major manufacturers to bring their dream to life. Many of their releases are steeped in Southern tradition. The Jericho Hill takes its name and the name of each of its front marks from Johnny Cash Lyrics. The JD Howard Reserve is based upon a former alias of legendary out law Jesse James. There is the limited edition Tennessee Waltz and their most recent collaboration… the Montecristo Ciudad de Musica, which is Spanish for “City of Music”. Any fan of music knows this is the nick name for Nashville, having spawned many legendary music stars over the past century. For a true Nashville experience, The Crowned Heads is the perfect choice.

One of the fastest growing brands in America right now Is RoMa Craft. Their blends are impeccable, their names are creative and intriguing, and their social presence has almost no equal. Founders Skip Martin and Mike Rosales were both Texas natives who worked for spate companies before coming together to form RoMa Craft. While Skip spends most of his time in Nicaragua managing the tobacco and factory and Skip is hosting events around the country, they will always call Austin home. In fact, not even a year ago they opened their now infamous headquarters in Austin. Complete with a craft beer bar and smoking lounge, this facility is the crown jewel of the RoMa Craft empire and is open to all cigar retailers to stop by for a smoke. On the RoMa Craft logo, three cities are listed. Esteli and San Jose, where a majority of their products are made, and Austin, which they call home.

You would be hard pressed to find a cigar more at home in the South then Southern Draw. Founded by veterans and with Robert Holt at the helm, this company’s mantra is all about expressing southern hospitality. This can be seen not only in their blends and their names, but by how they perform as a company. Robert is always the first to like or comment on your social pictures and loves doing in person events. The man, whose official title is Chief Evangelist, epitomizes the best parts of the South. Even the names of their lines ooze southern charm such as the Kudzu, which is a vine plant rampant throughout the south and the new Rose of Sharon, which sounds like a Hank Williams song. With their lines being made my legendary AJ Fernandez, this is a company with amazing products and an even more amazing attitude.

Lastly, we have the newest company to enter what I call the Cigar SEC. Cornelius and Anthony is steeped in Southern history. Founder Steven Bailey is a fifth-generation Virginian tobacco man. His great-great-grandfather began cultivating tobacco in the 1860s, and since then the Bailey family has been a major player in the cigarette world. Steven wished to take his knowledge and heritage and enter into the premium cigar industry, an endeavor for which he has been quite successful. The company is named after both Steven Anthony Bailey and his ancestor Cornelius Bailey who planted his first crops over 150 years ago. Each of their lines represents their dedication to carrying on their legacy. Their premier line also takes its name from the families founder, Cornelius, while the Daddy Mac is named after Stevens father, Mac Bailey. Their most recent release, Senor Esugars is named for Stevens family dog. We are very excited to see what he has up his sleeve.

Serious Cigars may be different then you remember it, but we are proud of our Southern heritage. We will also try to represent the loyalty, passion and dedication of the Southern people and are pleased to work with these companies in bringing you the newest generation of Southern inspired cigars.

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