Smoke ‘Em if You Got ‘Em: 9 Excellent Cigars Under $15
The third Saturday of October is almost here, which means it's almost time for one of the greatest traditions in college football: the smoking of cigars by the victors of the Alabama vs.Tennessee game.
The tradition dates back to 1961 when an Alabama assistant athletic trainer by the name of Jim Goostree - a UTK grad - distributed cigars to the players after the team's first win over the Volunteers since 1954. For the last fifteen years, Tuscaloosa has enjoyed cigars in uninterrupted annual succession.
However, this year's matchup has Crimson Tide fans feeling less assured of a victory than ever in the Nick Saban era. The high-flying Vols offense comes in leading the nation in offensive production, earring their team ranking just three places below Alabama in the AP poll at six.
Nonetheless, you can't smoke 'em if you don't got 'em after the victory, so here are nine excellent cigars one can purchase without breaking the bank. Cigar prices can vary widely from shop to shop, so an approximate range of what one can expect to pay will be listed here.
1. C. L. E. Connecticut 11/18 - $8-$10
This cigar is superb for beginners or any smoker with a lighter pallet. Featuring Honduran tobacco wrapped in Ecuadorian grown Connecticut Shade, this six-inch smoke starts out light and creamy with some fruity notes before getting buttery smooth as the gauge widens from 48 to 54 a third of the way through. As the smoke tapers back down to 48 again, things turn creamy once more with a hint of spice.
These go very well with sweeter, lighter bodied drinks as well as a coffee with cream.
2. Rocky Patel Vintage 2003 Cameroon - $8-$10
This Nicaraguan and Dominican tobacco blend wrapped in a Cameroon wrapper provides a medium bodied, fruity, and sweet smoking experience that is smooth all the way through. On the nose, it almost smells of cognac, so the old trick of dipping the end cap in some Remy Martin (or whatever your cognac of choice is) works well with it. The Cameroon wrapper provides a blissful melody of fruity aromas and notes throughout the cigar along with some vanilla and cinnamon.
Pair this guy with whatever you want. The sweetness goes well with a Cuba Libre, and the body can stand up to most mild to medium strength bourbons. An all around great smoke.
3. Rocky Patel Edge Series Sumatra - $6-$8
The Edge Sumatra is a very, very good cigar for its price point. Probably one of the better deals across the entire industry. The quality of construction is more consistent than the majority of Rocky Patel's offerings and it has a wonderful flavor to it. It was even named Honduran Cigar of the Year in 2020 at the Tobacco Plus Expo.
The cigar is extremely earthy in flavor. Notes of wood, pepper, and coffee with a touch of caramel. This cigar pairs well with bourbons, high peat Scotch, coffee, and anything else with an earthy body quite well.
4. Oliva V Melanio Natural Robusto - $11-$14
Much like the Edge Sumatra, the Melanio is also wrapped in Sumatra tobacco. The Nicaraguan tobacco in the middle brings black pepper on the front of the cigar and leathery notes beyond that. A strong coffee note comes out about halfway through as the smoke stays smooth throughout and finishes strong with some spice.
This stick with a Clyde Mays smoked old fashioned from R&R Cigars in downtown Tuscaloosa is a killer pairing.
5. Perdomo Reserve 10th Anniversary Maduro - $9-$11
While they've gotten more common in recent years, there was a time when it was almost hard to find a maduro smoke that wasn't trying to punch its beholder in the face with pepper and spice. This couldn't be further from what the Perdomo Reserve 10th Anniversary Maduro is. A true full-bodied maduro smoke with smoothness and full-flavor throughout, this cigar deserves every bit of its Cigar of the Year recognition it received in 2020 from the industry acclaimed podcast The Cigar Authority.
From being aged in bourbon barrels, there's a subtle sweetness to the cigar. The wrapper, binder, and filler are all Nicaraguan grown Cuban seed tobacco that has been aged six years. It starts off with strong notes of oak before fading to a mixture of honey sweetness and dark chocolate.
While this smoke goes well with many bourbons, wine drinkers will also enjoy it with a strong red.
6. Roma Craft Intemperance Ecuadorian - $8-$10
This mild to medium bodied smoke is suitable for almost any palette. While there's a touch of spice on the from of the smoke, it fades quickly to a mild bodied earthiness with notes of nut and cedar with hints of sweetness.
Smoke this guy with a coffee or a single malt Scotch.
7. Padron Damaso - $13-$15
While it reaches the very top of the price range set for this list (and exceeds it in some vitals), this is an incredible cigar that bodes well for any first-time or inexperienced smoker. It is a very mild cigar made from Nicaraguan filler wrapped in Connecticut Shade. Throughout the stick, expect strong notes of cedar and buttery richness and quality control that only Padron can pull off. While it's an excellent smoke for almost anyone, it might be especially good for someone who is unsure whether they like cigars due to the forgiving nature of its flavor profile.
Pair this cigar with lighter bodied drinks so as to now drown out the flavor of one of the better cigars you can buy.
8. Arturo Fuente Short Story - $6-$8.50
This is a great cigar for someone wanting a shorter smoke. The Dominican filler is clad in a magnificent Cameroon wrapper that brings sweetness along with a rich earthiness. There is a touch of spice throughout, as well. It has a unique shape, referred to as a "perfecto" that makes for an easy light and an even burn. It tapers out quickly from a point and tapers back down slowly for the rest of the cigar.
Pair this cigar with a sweeter wine or cocktail to go with the notes that come from the Cameroon wrapper.
9. Kristoff Vengeance - $9-$11
The Connecticut broadleaf wrapper and Indonesian binder of the Vengeance go a long way helping it deliver a dark, full-bodied flavor while maintaining its smoothness and keeping almost all forms of spice out of the cigar (besides the first bit after lighting). Strong notes of leather and coffee can be found throughout in addition to the maduro sweetness, and it provides a satisfyingly thick smoke.
This is a great cigar to smoke with a stronger bourbon, perhaps a barrel proof variety.