Millennials are drinking more wine than ever before. It is about time the younger generation began to appreciate the sophistication, craftsmanship and pride that goes into crafting a superb bottle of wine. As the popularity of the magic grape grows, cigar aficionados are going to begin to experiment with different wine and cigar pairings. While the pairings aren't as straight forward as lets say whiskey or even coffee, there are some fantastic wines out there that pair up perfectly with your favorite cigars.

                                                                        Sangiovese Chianti & Foundation Wise Man Maduro

 You won't find an Italian restaurant that isn't stocked with Chianti. It is the most popular Italian red wine and created the mythos behind Tuscan wine. Chianti is technically a blend, but Sangiovese grapes are used in nearly every iteration. It is classified into do different varieties. A chianti is great affordable flavorful wine. A chianti Classico is slightly more refined and comes from select vineyards in Italy. Overall they are known to be fuller bodied, dry wines with notes of earth, pepper, spice and even slight notes of tobacco. We chose the new Wise Man Maduro from Nick Mellilo and his Foundation team for this pairing. This bold medium to full body has notes of sweet spice and pepper while is maduro wrapper gives it hints of rich leather, earth and cocoa. This pairing is best enjoyed after a nice Italian meal, particularly one using rich tomato sauce.

                                                                                Zinfandel & Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder

 Zinfandel is likely the most sold red wine in the US. While its fame stems from the California variety, it is said that the grape was first grown in Croatia, which shares a similar climate to Italy. A good zinfandel is powerful, spice and fruity. You'll taste heavy notes of raspberry's and dark cherry's, followed by a spicy and sweet finish. A finely aged Zinfandel can really make your night even more spectacular. We chose another new cigar for this pairing, lighting up the Jacobs Ladder from Southern Draw. This powerful heavy smoke uses a jet black wrapper and emits a bold profile and aroma. Hints of dark fruit, chocolate and a heavy spice change with every puff, keeping your palate on its toes. This is best enjoyed after a heavy meal, such as a fine steak.

                                                                                           Chardonnay & Macanudo Café

 While most cigar smokers tend to favor a fuller bodied red, a white wine could pair just as well. Chardonnay seems to be the go to for fans of crisp, clean white wine. While the grape originated in the south of France, it is now grown over all over the world, notably New Zealand and Napa Valley. It is known for its crisp, clean smooth flavor, with notes of light fruity sweetness such as green apple. Chardonnay is also the base for most of the worlds sparkling wine, including the Italian Franciacorta. For a cigar, you are going to want to go with something more mellow and smooth. A Macanudo Café is a classy smoke, with a smooth Connecticut wrapper that gives in light hints of nuts, cream and a dash of vanilla. This is a great pairing on a warm spring day and goes well after a meal of fish or a white meat such as roast chicken.

                                                                                                   Syrah & Caldwell The T

 Syrah is a unique, dark skinned grape that produces some flavorful red wines. It is primarily grown in southern France, but can also be found in Australia, Crete, South Africa and California. Although its flavor profile depends on the climate it is grown in, it is usually a medium to full body red with a higher tannin level. This creates a profile of dark fruit, earth and leather. Due to its acidity, it has great aging potential, with some aged bottles going for a very high price. Syrah is not for the everyday wine drinker, but more for the seasoned connoisseur who knows what they are looking for. For the Syrah, we chose yet another new cigar, this time going with The T, a collaboration between Robert Caldwell, Matt Booth, and AJ Fernandez. This Nicaraguan Puro uses a dark brown wrapper and offers up great notes of dark chocolate, black cherry, earth and leather. This is darker, richer pairing and may go well of a rich heavy meal.

                                                                                Chateau Haut-Brion & L'Atelier La Mission

 When it came to searching for our last pairing, we didn't need to do an incredible amount of research. We knew exactly what we were going to drink and the right cigar to pair with it. This is a wine most have probably never heard of, yet it holds a special place in the cigar community. It is grown only in Pessac, France which is located just outside of Boudreaux. It is a fuller bodied red that offers distinct aromas of dark chocolate, tobacco, cedar and red fruit. We specifically chose the Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion, and if you're a Pete Johnson you know why. Two years ago, L'Atelier Imports released its highest rated line to date, the La Mission. Pete, a well-known wine connoisseur, named this cigar specifically after this vineyard. A San Andres wrapper covers aged Nicaraguan filler giving this rich smoke a dark profile with hints of cedar, chocolate and raisins. This is quite the fancy pairing, a tad expensive but worth the money.



Coffee has become more than just a part of our morning ritual. It has taken on almost a spiritual role in our lives. It is the magic juice that makes us functional and keeps us from just quitting everything. Your coffee experience can even be elevated by pairing it with a fine cigar. Cigars and coffee are a natural pair, due to most cigar tobacco emitting a slight coffee aroma and taste. Many darker wrappers, such as Connecticut Broadleaf, contain the same rich, bold taste as your favorite coffees. After hours of grueling research, Serious Cigars was able to craft a list of some of the best coffee and cigar pairings.

                                                                                Espresso & Foundation Tabernacle

 For an Italian, there is nothing more important in your day than your espresso. Well, wine and food are up there, but espresso is the fuel that keeps us going day after day. For those of you who are necessarily coffee buffs, lets explain what espresso is. Contrary to popular belief, espresso is not a type of coffee bean, rather a process. Around the world, a large variety of beans are used, while in Italy they prefer a dark roast. Espresso is made by forcing extremely hot water through finely ground coffee. The result is a powerful, rich "shot" of espresso. Its caffeine count is higher than your regular cup because of its smaller size and concentration. After using our very fancy espresso machine, we found that the Foundation Tabernacle pairs perfectly with a double shot of dark espresso. The dark wrapper and strong Nicaraguan tobaccos pair exceptionally well with the power and aroma of the espresso. This pair will surely wake you up in the morning.

                                                                                    Macchiato & Montecristo White

 With the exception of the last coffee, all of these other beverages are espresso based. That means the process of making espresso forms the base of each drink. The Macchiato, while originally hailing from Italy, has seen an increase in popularity over the past few years in the US. A macchiato is two shots of espresso in a cup followed by a drop of steamed milk and a dash of foam on top. The result is a flavorful rich coffee that comes out creamy, smooth, and sweet due to the milk. For those of you who need the pick-up of espresso but are looking for something more mellow and creamy, a macchiato is a perfect treat. When drinking the macchiato, and the words creamy and smooth bouncing around, we found that the Montecristo White was an excellent match. Its Connecticut wrapper and aged Dominican filler and binder give it a mellow body, with a smooth aroma and notes of cream, vanilla, and cedar.

                                                                        Cappuccino & The Crowned Heads Le Careme

 Cappuccino is one of the more popular after dinner coffees, especially after a fine meal. In reality, the cappuccino is essentially the same as the macchiato, however it uses a great amount of milk, foam and can be then covered with cinnamon or chocolate. This results in an exceptionally creamy smoke, with the notes of cinnamon adding a delicious sweet spice. When it comes to a cigar pairing, the only thing that made sense was the Le Careme by The Crowned Heads. It takes its name from an 18th century French chef who is said to be one of the founders of modern, high art cuisine. Its dark maduro wrapper gives it a beautiful combination of sweet, creamy and rich while its filler gives it a nice hint of nuts and cinnamon.

                                                                                    Mocha & Ashton Aged Maduro

 Mocha is not something people will generally order at their local Dunkin, however the concept of mocha has seen rise in flavorings and desserts. Mocha is a blend of a creamy cappuccino and some hot chocolate. This gives you a creamy and sweet beverage, but the chocolate combines with the espresso to keep it dark and rich. This was one of the easiest pairings we have ever had to try. The first and only choice was the Ashton Aged Maduro. It is a mellow smoke with a dark broadleaf wrapper. In typical Fuente fashion, the wrapper gives off a rich, sweetness mimicking in many aspects the flavor you get from a cup of Mocha. While this isn't suggested for an everyday, a nice mocha with a cigar every once in a while can be a very satisfying treat.

                                                                    Americana & RoMa Craft Intemperance EC XVIII

 This is the only coffee on hear that is not espresso based. Americana coffee comes in two different varieties. In the US, Americans typically use drip coffee, which is exactly as it sounds. It is still flavorful, but is made more for adding milk, cream and sugar then for drinking on its own. In Italy, asking for an American coffee will get you 2/3 of hot water in a cup followed by one shot of espresso. The typical American coffee is a medium roast, usually with cream and or sugar. This creates a balanced, slightly sweet and slightly creamy blend. For this pairing, we looked for balance and we found it in the RoMa Craft Intemperance EC XVIII. The EC stands for Ecuadorian Connecticut which is a strand of the legendary Connecticut shade. It is creamy and mellow but with a touch of body from the Nicaraguan blend. Well balanced and great in the morning, this is a great pair to get your day started.



 Since the dawn of time, which in the cigar world is about 250 years, these beautiful gems of tobacco have been categorized by their strength. For those of you who are relatively new to the cigar community, we need to make a quick distinction. Cigar strength and cigar flavor are two different concepts. The flavor profile are the different tastes your tongue experiences while smoking a cigar. The strength is the amount of nicotine in the cigar and the impact it has on you. While some full flavored cigars are often called full body, it is possibly to have a mellow cigar that still has lot of flavor too it. Full bodied cigars were created for the aficionado who wanted that extra power ad head rush. While full bodied cigars have been around for a number of years, it is only in the past few that their popularity has increased substantially. The list below, like all of our top 10 lists, is subjective and based upon a variety of factors including ratings, sales, and personal preference.

                                                                                            My Father Le Bijou

 Don Pepin is well known for creating some of the strongest cigars in Nicaragua, which certainly can be seen in this literal gem. The Le Bijou was created by Pepin as in honor of his late father and uses a particularly strong yet luxurious blend of tobaccos. It creates a wonderfully complex profile with strong dark chocolate notes along with a subtle yet apparent spice. The burn remains even from start to finish and the smoke output is one of the best you'll ever find. It is considered one of the finest cigars ever rolled in Nicaragua and was named the #1 cigar of the year in 2015 where it received a 97 rating. It is unusual for a cigar this strong to be ranked that high, but one puff from the Le Bijou and it makes sense.

                                                                                        Alec Bradley Prensado

 Honduran cigars are well known for their strength and dark earthy tones. Honduran tobacco is tricky to get right in a premium blend, and in our opinion only a few companies excel at using it. Alec Bradley is one of the best among them. With a solid resume of full body cigars including the Black Market and Tempus, Alec Bradley had established a reputation for making top of the line strong Hondurans. However, it was with the Prensado that they became legends among the industry. It is a tapestry of rich flavors including earth, leather and cedar, with a smooth creamy aroma. It is to date the only Honduran cigar ever named the #1 cigar of the year, and that is quite an accomplishment.

                                                                                               Padron 1964

 There are few Top 10 lists that don't include a Padron. For this particular selection, the Serious Cigar team chose the Padron 1964. While all of the Padrons, including the original line and Family Series can be classified as full body, it is the 1964 edition that combines its luxurious, elegant qualities with almost unbridled power. It is a Nicaraguan puro using only the finest aged tobaccos. Spice and pepper combines with hints of leather and cedar for a complex and refined profile. The Padron 1964 has been rated in the 90s for each one of its reviews, going back a decade. That kind of consistency is rare in a fuller bodied cigar and truly speaks to the quality and craftsmanship of the Padron brand.

                                                                                               Ashton VSG

 While the Ashton VSG wasn't necessarily the first full bodied cigar, it was the first to establish itself among the cigar elite. The Ashton VSG was one of the first so called super premiums. It garnered a high price but even higher ratings. It is rolled at the Fuente factory using aged Dominican tobaccos and a sun grown Ecuadorian wrapper. You would be hard pressed to find a better cigar that's equal parts strong and smooth. The Ashton VSG has been name dot the Top 25 list several times and continues be among the world's highest rated cigars. They are a regular rotation for the Serious cigars team and will remain so for many years to come.

                                                                                          Liga Privada No.9

 For years, Drew Estate was seen as king of the infused cigars. Some viewed them as little more then a fad, with their punk graffiti artwork and ridiculous names. However, Jonathan Drew and his team have proven that they are a forced to be reckoned with. They not only have an almost monopoly on high end infused cigars, they are responsible for one of the best full bodied cigars ever created. With Jonathan leading the creative team, Steve Saka presiding over the business and Nick Melillo in the blend lab, they came together and created the Liga Privada No.9. This Broadleaf wrapped beauty is rich in chocolate and packed with notes of black pepper. It has appeared on several best of lists and was responsible for the resurgence in broadleaf tobacco. Liga Privada took Drew Estate from great cigar company to industry legend almost overnight.

                                                                            RoMaCraft CroMagnon Aquitaine

 Many popular, boutique cigar companies garner dedicated fan bases. Fuente, Drew Estate, and Tatuaje have legions of followers who will buy each limited edition and travel to attend as many events as possible. These followings were built up over the course of many years, yet with RoMa Craft the following seems to have sprung up overnight. The Weasels as the call themselves are dedicated to the brand and rightfully so. Take The CroMagnon Aquitaine for example. It is a powerhouse with zesty Nicaraguan tobaccos and a luscious Ecuadorian wrapper. Join the Weasels and indulge your sense with the powerful RoMa craft CroMagnon Aquitaine.

                                                                       Davidoff Winston Churchill Late Hour

 We have always been big Davidoff fans here at Serious Cigars. Even their more mellow lines have always been full flavored and the white label Winston Churchill was as fantastic a cigar as you could ask for. It was promised that the Winston Churchill Late Hour would be the strongest Davidoff released yet, and they delivered. It was actually surprising how strong this cigar was, yet it was still able to maintain the signature luxurious smoothness that has come to define the Davidoff name. It is expertly crafted with Dominican and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos followed by a dark San Andres binder and a lush Ecuadorian wrapper. Each puff delivers intense notes of espresso, dark chocolate, leather and spice. The smoke output is intense, so make sure to smoke this in an open room.

                                                                                  Foundation Tabernacle

 Nick Melillo has established himself as one of the finest blenders to ever come out of the US. Born and raised in Connecticut, Nick grew up around Connecticut tobacco. He took that knowledge with him to Drew Estate where he developed the Liga Privada No.9 which utilizes Connecticut Broadleaf tobacco. When he ventured out on his own and created Foundation Cigars, we were waiting eagerly for his first Broadleaf release. With the Tabernacle, we got to experience Nick at his most pure. It is a solid full body cigar using only select Nicaraguan tobaccos. Its broadleaf wrapper is pristine and burns even all the way down. In terms of flavor, construction and craftsmanship, this is one of the finest full body cigars we've had the pleasure of trying.

                                                                        La Flor Dominican Double Ligero

 La Flor Dominican is the renowned king of full body Dominican cigars. Each blend delivers something different in terms of profile, but there are two qualities that never change. They are strong and they are good. That sounds like an oversimplification, but its true. A fan favorite of the Serious cigars team is the Double Ligero. Ligero, as many of you know, is the top of the cigar plant. By being exposed to the most sunlight, it gives ligero added oils and power. The Double Ligero uses this tobacco for the filler and the binder, creating a symphony of full bodied flavor. This is what we classify as a sit down cigar, so tread lightly.

                                                                                        Oliva V Melanio

 When first lighting up a Serie V Melanio, you may notice it is not as strong as the regular V. However, as you inch towards the middle of the cigar, the strength hits you out of nowhere. However, even as the strength increases, the profile doesn't become harsher or brasher in anyway. You just begin to feel the power while enjoying the pleasant notes of spice, pepper and nuts. One of the highest rated Olivas ever created and a #1 Cigar of the year, so you know it's a must have.



Time for another Top 10 list, this time we are diving into the dark world of maduro wrapped cigars. For those of you who don't know, a maduro is a cigar wrapper that been through a longer and more intense fermentation process. This causes sugars to excrete from the leaf and turn the cigar dark brown or even sometimes black. The result is a rich and hearty flavor, usually with dark chocolate and coffee notes as well as above average smoke production. While they have been around for a number of years, the last decade or so has really seen a rise in the use of maduro wrappers, particularly grown in Connecticut. This list represents a combination of high ratings, popularity, and how well they sell. As always, there is personal preference involved, so if you feel a cigar should have made this list, we would love to hear from you.

                                                                                            Arturo Fuente Anejo

 In the minds of many, Fuente reigns supreme in the use of maduro wrappers, particularly Connecticut broadleaf. Among their resume, rests the work renowned Anejo. This premium smoke uses the same filler and binder as the Opus X, but is then wrapped in aged Connecticut broadleaf wrapper. The wrapper itself has been aged in Cognac barrels, giving it an extra bit of sweetness. It is regarded as one of the best maduro cigars in the world, receiving a 93 rating from Halfwheel and a 90 from Cigar Aficionado.

                                                                                            My Father Le Bijou

 This is one of the few rare times that the sequel is equal to the original. After Jamie Garcia crafted the original My Father, Don Pepin decided to crafter a cigar in honor of his as well. The Le Bijou is a remarkable smoke, with a dark oscuro wrapper. It is bursting with notes of sweet coffee, espresso, dark chocolate, and rich leather. The My Father Le Bijou received a 97 rating and was named the #1 Cigar of the Year by Cigar Aficionado in 2015.

                                                                                               Partagas Black

 The name says it all… this cigar is jet black. The Partagas Black Series is as strong and bold as they come. Its unique wrapper uses a rare medio tiempo leaf, which is the top of the cigar plant. By getting the most sunlight, it creates even more flavor and spice. After the fermentation process, it creates an intense combination of flavors with notes of chocolate and black coffee combining with hints of pepper and sweet spice. This is not a morning cigar, this is a sit down and enjoy with a drink cigar.

                                                                                           Padron 1926 Maduro

 This is one of two cigars to appear on multiple of our Top 10 lists. If you've ever smoked a Padron 1926 maduro, you can see why. IT is as close to perfect as you can get. Its tobacco is aged for over 4 years and its Nicaraguan maduro wrapper is pristine both in appearance and quality. Each puff delivers clouds of rich and zesty smoke, with a nice chocolate undertone. This cigar was named twice to the Top 25 cigars of the year, including the #1 spot.

                                                                                            Liga Privada No. 9

 While Arturo Fuente has always been one of the highest rated manufacturers using Connecticut broadleaf, it was the Liga Privada No.9 that made it as popular as it is. This was the cigar that turned Drew Estate from popular to legendary. It is full body, sweet, peppery and smoky. It was the brainchild of two of the finest blenders in the world, Steve Saka and Nick Melillo. Both of these gentleman have gone on to start their own companies, both with broadleaf cigars that have received critical acclaim. This 94 rated stud is where it all started.

                                                                                        RoMa Craft CroMagnon

 Yet another cigar that has been placed on multiple Top 10 lists for Serious Cigars, the RoMa Craft CroMagnon is one of the finest maduro cigars on the market today. Its bold and flavorful and will fill the room with a thick cloud of rick smoke. Its ash is solid and white, which can be attributed to its aged tobacco and near perfect construction. The CroMagnon was given a 93 rating and named #15 cigar of the year by Cigar Aficionado.

                                                                                       Camacho Triple Maduro

 If you are a fan of maduro cigars, then the Camacho Triple maduro must be at the top of your "must smoke" list. It was the first cigar to use maduro tobacco for the filler, binder, and wrapper. The result is a strong, hearty and juicy smoke. Each puff delivers intense notes of dark chocolate, earth, leather and spice. The Camacho Triple Maduro produces more smoke than any other cigar I have ever smoked. We could not have a best maduro cigars list without it.

                                                                                        Foundation Tabernacle

 We couldn't include a list of best maduro cigars without including the great Nick Melillo. It could be said he is responsible for the resurgence of the Connecticut broadleaf wrapper. His work with Drew Estate brought us the Liga Privada line and the Unico series. When he started his own company, fans waited for the release of his first maduro, and Nick did not disappoint. The Tabernacle, which is an intriguing historical back story, uses an oily broadleaf wrapper that is visually perfect. IT has notes of black cherry, leather and an underlying sweetness that brings it all together. Everything Nick has done has been rated in the 90s, and the tabernacle is no exception.

                                                                                                Mi Querida

 Steve Saka's Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust has only be around for about 3 years and in that time has already established itself as one of the premier cigar company's in the industry. The Mi Querida was particularly special because it brought Steve back together with the tobacco is best known for, Connecticut Broadleaf. It is jet black and oily, offering up notes of espresso, caramel, cedar, and a sweet spice. I don't remember the last time I saw a cigar burn so well. Halfwheel saw fit to grant this beautiful smoke a 90 rating, so make sure to try it out.

                                                                                            CAO Flathead V660

 Under the leadership of Ricky Rodriguez, CAO has grown exponentially in the past few years. The Amazon Basin became incredibly popular basically overnight and the CAO Consigliere is enjoying a large fan base. With the CAO Flathead series, they went retro and mechanical. The V660 is a rich and bold box press smoke that has all the power of the engine its honoring. This beauty received a 95 rating from cigar aficionado and was listed as the #3 cigar of the year.



While retail tobacconists and aficionados may commonly refer to their cigars by size, complexity, or wrapper options, there's been a major shift in recent years in regards to classifying cigars by their region of origin. While this was once a more general term for cigars among both casual and even non-smokers, even the most seasoned connoisseur has begun searching their shops or online retailers by country of origin, when looking to re-stock their personal cigar humidors. Leading the pack, are the rich, robust blends found by some of today's Nicaraguan manufacturers. Grown in the nutritious soils of this Central American nation, these bold, aromatic gems have become some of the most revered cigars available in today's current market.

The volcanic, and highly-fertile soils of Nicaragua have routinely produced some for the most esteemed crops of the past decade, attributing to some of the most popular premium cigars of today. Their high-quality Cuban-seed and Connecticut-seed tobaccos, and wrapper leaves, have left an unpresented effect on the industry, homing in on a market once dominated only by Cuban-grown cigars. With demand increasing each year, these full-bodied tobaccos have become renowned for their deep, spicy flavors, and often hearty aromas.

Nicaraguan cigars first came into the fray years ago, after the nationalization of the industry by the Cuban government. The ramifications of nationalization had severe ramifications on cigar businesses, specifically with the trade embargo set into effect by the lucrative American market. To combat this, many of the top Cuban cigar makers of the time either relocated, or began completely new operations in Nicaragua, which was an ideal location due to the country's tremendous growing regions. After planting some of their best Cuban seeds, and implementing their cigar knowledge across the land- a major cigar empire was born, with business flourishing in the 1970's.

Though the country now had the seeds, tools, and skills of the most regarded cigar products in the world, coupled with the lands near perfect growing climate, another major disruption would eventually damper the Nicaraguan cigar market for years to come. A civil war caused many tobacco plantations to be completely burned, or taken over by the country's military. But once peace was regained, with it came the rebirth of their cigar industry, with Nicaragua again becoming one of the world's top producers of premium cigars, and a modern-day staple of excellence throughout the industry.

With the country's tobaccos are regarded as some of the best in the world, there's no shortage of great Nicaraguan selections to choose from. There are currently over 50 name brands being produced throughout the country, offering an outstanding smoke for every palate, and even every budget. But not all Nicaraguan cigars are created equal- as with anything, there are some that stand proudly above the rest. So, in closing, let's take a quick glance at some the finest, and most popular Nicaraguan labels available today:


Padrón:

The crème-de-la-crème of Nicaraguan cigars. Padrón is one of the most established and successful brands of any cigar out there. Coming from the beloved family of the same name, Padrón cigars often rank as some of the best in the world. These ultra-premium varieties are handmade in Nicaragua, by some of the most skilled artisans in the land. You'll find a Padrón line-up on virtually every 'best-of' list year after year, and for good reason. There's little that compares to this full-flavored portfolio of perfection.

Perdomo:

The Perdomo brand can trace its roots back to pre-Castro Cuba; where founder, Nick Perdomo Sr., was imprisoned for years before escaping to the U.S., and launching what would become one of the greatest portfolios of cigars in the world. Currently based in Estelí, Nicaragua, Perdomo offers a wide-range of premium selections, with flavorful cigars of every complex, wrapper, size, and more. To boot, Perdomo varieties not only taste and burn great, but many lineups are some of the most reasonably priced of any out there.


Oliva:

Launched in Cuba in 1886, Oliva completely moved their operations to Nicaragua in the early 1960s. Today, Oliva is one of the most iconic names in Nicaraguan cigars, and is notably the country's second largest supplier of Cuban-seed tobaccos. These flavorful varieties are specifically revered for their ultra-premium binders, and flavorful filler blends.


Don "Pepín" García:

This legendary lineup also produces their popular smokes in Miami, but their factory in Estelí, Nicaragua is equally as great, and perhaps even more celebrated. Each top-notch Pepín García lineup exclusively uses choice Nicaraguan tobaccos, hand-selected and rolled by some of the best cigar makers in the world, delivering some of the most luxurious cigars out there today.


CAO:

The CAO brand began its days as a pipe-producer back in 1968. Fast-forward to the 1990's, and CAO has become one of the industry's most popular manufacturer of flavored cigars, using their proprietary blends of both Nicaraguan, and complementary tobaccos from the Dominican Republic.


Rocky Patel:

Talk about a passion project. Famed attorney Rakesh Patel launched this ultra-premium banner in the mid-1990s, developing a longstanding identity that exudes elegance. Thanks to their luxurious blends of vintage, private, and contemporary blends, each comprised of top-quality Nicaraguan tobaccos; Rocky Patel has become not only a mainstay in any modern smoking environment- but a celebrated icon as well.


AJ Fernandez:

While not a brand per-se, in terms of the others listed above, AJ Fernandez has become one of today's most influential and in-demand cigar masters; and his roots, and everything since, can all be traced back to Nicaragua. Fernandez' now-iconic factory, Tabacalera Fernandez, was formed in a rundown section of Estelí, Nicaragua, with only six rollers and minimal capital. But with passion and diligent effort, his company has since grown into one of the largest in the nation, producing millions of cigars annually, for some of the biggest, and most prolific names in the industry.


So, while region has become one of the most frequently used classifications in any cigar circle, perhaps only second to Cuba, Nicaragua remains among the most cited, and desired. There's no disputing the superiority of the country's crops, and the amazing talent that operates throughout the land. And the great options don't stop at the asterisk above. This was just a top-line overview of the history of these great cigars, and a quick look at some of the best. There are plenty of other Nicaraguan cigars out there worth a smoke or two. Other great choices available are the Nicaraguan selections from popular brands like Romeo y Julieta, H. Upmann, Joya de Nicaragua, La Gloria Cubana, Tatuajé, and Drew Estate.




Black & Mild Cigars have been a staple within smoking circles for a generation. The popular, plastic tipped cigars come machine-made, using flavorful and aromatic pipe tobaccos, which has made them a mainstay in retailers since their introduction.

Black & Mild Cigars are produced by John Middleton Co., a prominent tobacco company from Limerick, Pennsylvania. Middleton's tobacco roots go back to the small shop he first opened in Philadelphia, all the way back in 1856. The busy retailer was a frequent stop for local pipe and cigar smokers, showing a consistent demand for both varieties of tobacco. Being a master blender, John created a quality filler mix of rich, flavorful pipe tobaccos that would one day be reimagined, as the main component of a cigar that would stand the test of time.

It was a rather genius move, really, one that was truly ahead of its time. Middleton's shop saw a steady flow of both pipe and cigar smokers, and he knew both means delivered something great, which the other did not. Pipe tobacco offered flavor and aromas which could invigorate the senses, and even those around them; while cigar smoking presented much more ease, requiring less tools, and was even portable. So, from this clever little blend, came what we all would come to know as Black & Mild Cigars.

Of course, John Middleton's blend wouldn't be packaged as a modern Black & Mild cigar until the 1960's, when the Middleton company took the blend one step further, and actually introduced these convenient little smokes. This new variation sported a now trademark plastic tip, with a homogenized wrapper and binder, and was of course filled with Middleton's lush pipe tobacco medley. Fragrant Black Cavendish, Kentucky Burley, and ripe Golden Virginia tobaccos seamless come together to deliver rich flavor smokers just can't seem to get enough of.

Today, Black & Mild Cigars boats an expansive portfolio of varieties, courtesy of the parent company of Philip Morris Tobacco, Altria, who purchased John Middleton, Inc. in 2007. These contemporary iterations come available in a bevy of flavors, and are sold with a plastic tip, wood tip, or untipped. There are size variations too, including shorter versions of the blends called 'Shorts', which are about half of the size of regular Black & Mild cigars. There are even smaller, filtered versions offered as well.

Today, Black & Mild Cigars operates out of two-tobacco production facilities in Limerick, Pennsylvania and King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, not far from their original Philadelphia home. The brand's slogan, "Tastes great! Smells great!" has proven to be a hit with smokers of all palates and budgets, becoming one of the most popular and recognizable machine-made cigars in the world today.



Are you dreaming of having your own personal cigar sanctuary to retreat to after a long day? There's no better satisfaction than having a getaway in the privacy of your own home to enjoy a cocktail, check the score of the game, and of course, light-up a premium, handmade stogie. Despite the effort and expense that goes into these basements, dens, and garages, 'man-caves' are becoming more common in the American household. So, if you're looking to turn your unused space into a cigar room of your own, proper ventilation is an absolute must, and imperative to any quality smoking experience.

Sure, your private cigar utopia needs a premium cigar selection, dependable accessories and devices, and some lavish décor to reflect its chief resident. So not everyone puts ventilation systems at the top of their priority list when planning their renovations. Proper ventilation will not only increase the enjoyability of your smoking session, but it's good for your health, and courteous in keeping the smell of stale, lingering cigar smoke away from your fellow members of the house lingering around the house.

The key is to circulate airflow. Use windows and exhausts effectively, to draw out smoke while circulating in new, clean air. It's integral to invest in a system for help, to ensure fresh air is being brought into the room, instead of simply pumping back in the smoky air. But worry not- ventilating your cigar paradise doesn't mean you need to allot a second HVAC system into your budget. There are plenty of ways to keep your den's air clean without breaking the bank; just take a glance at some of these handy devices you might consider installing:


Air Purifiers:

Most cigar lounges have pricy air purification systems installed that prevent smoke smells from lingering. You can do the same thing on a smaller scale by buying an air purifier. These purifiers use activated carbon to remove smoke and other smells from the air and are available at a variety of price points, depending on your needs and budget. Lounges utilize large purifiers due to the amount of space they need to compensate for, but a small purifier will ventilate your one-room lair just fine. You can find quality purifiers from notable brands like Whirlpool for anywhere from about $250 to $500. As with anything, heavy-duty, top-of-the-line devices will get the job done seamlessly, but could cost upwards of $1,200. If you're room is especially small, or you're on a stricter budget, try looking to a tabletop air purifier, would should only run you about $50.

Exhaust Fans:

You need to install some sort of exhaust system that can move the smoke from the inside to the outside. If you're on a budget, a box-fan in a window is better than nothing, but one great place to start is an attic fan, for any above-ground room. These are easy to find and not terribly complicated to install. But most cigar rooms are regulated to dens, basements or garages, which means you'll most likely need to install another means of exhaust. The power and flow of exhaust fans are measure by CFM, or the cubic feet circulated per minute. This means the exhaust fan you'll be installing will be measured by the size of the room, and the general number of smokers. Both these factors can greatly alter the class of exhaust, so it's important not to undercut or undermeasure. Once your new fan is installed, you can use simple fiberglass insulation throughout the cut to help redirect the flow of smoke out of the room.

Air Handling Systems:

If you're going all-out, then an air handling system is the option for you. I won't say it's necessarily the best choice, but it's a damn effective one. These systems work separately from your home's HVAC system, and often include an electronic air purifier, and energy recovery ventilators. These specialized devices systematically circulate the air in the room, while simultaneously cleaning out smoke. For the most part, these systems cost upwards of $5,000, and will most likely stray from the #DIY attitude, requiring professional installation.


Surprisingly, other factors, like your room's décor could very well influence your smoking room's air quality. Hard surfaces, such as hardwood flooring and tabletops, are much easier to clean, and thus, absorb less smoke that's prone to building up over time. Akin to this theory of implicating porous surfaces into your cigar den, leather sofas and chairs not only add ambiance, they'll absorb far less smoke and orders than fabric upholsteries. With that in mind: opt for tile flooring, or linoleum tiling if you're budgeting, to help decrease the retention of smoke and odors in the room.

Creating your own smoking den does require a bit of time and expense, but the juice will be worth the squeeze, as regulations on smoking in public become increasingly restrictive. It's the dream of every cigar aficionado to have a place to smoke at home, the perfect cigar den where one can truly relax, and enjoy a cigar whenever you feel like it. So, we hope these tips will help you on your way, to creating a private cigar sanctuary of your own!



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