Typically, your average bucket list involves traveling or accomplishing some feat of athleticism, with objectives that are challenging enough to keep you chugging along, yet not so difficult that you kill yourself in the process—that kind of defeats the purpose…
And while some may view our list as an impediment to the goal of increasing one’s life through healthy objectives (we can debate that later), we feel our list stands up to the best of them. Because, after all, there are few pleasures in life as great as smoking a truly fine cigar!
Partagás 150 Signature Series
The Partagás 150 is a legendary cigar release, one that still captures the attention of collectors and enthusiasts, 21 years after its launch. The cigars celebrate the brand’s 150th anniversary, hitting the market in the midst of the great cigar boom. The blend features similar tobacco varietals to General’s (regular production) Partagás cigar, only utilizing select, vintage primings. But the wrapper is the cigar’s tour de force, showcasing a super-premium Cameroon leaf from the 1977 vintage—an 18-year-old wrapper at the time of release (1995).
1,000,000 cigars were rolled for the original release, but that hasn’t stopped General from repackaging limited edition stock they’ve cleverly locked away in their warehouses over the years. While these repackaged editions will still fetch a hefty premium, most (collectors, at least) seek the original 150 Signature Series from 1995. Although, with 21 years of age for the cigars and a combined 39 years for the wrapper, these beauties are considered “past their prime” for most smokers at this point.
But hey, we’re not looking for “the world’s tastiest cigars” here—this is a special journey, consisting of history, flavor, the thrill of the chase, and list-checking satisfaction…
Tatuaje Mission Pipe Shop CQ1
Tatuaje is living proof that fanboy-ism exists in any form of niche market—Pete Johnson need simply utter the words “limited” and his cigars are as good as sold. On the other hand, you don’t typically find fanboys attracted to crappy products (other than those #bieberfever-crazed morons of course…), and Tatuaje is no exception.
Among the most legendary of Tatuaje’s limited offerings is the Mission Pipe Shop CQ1. Many of the brand’s exclusive blends, made for individual cigar shops, are highly sought after; but 2013’s CQ1 managed to excite more than just the hardcore fans. The blend features Nicaraguan tobaccos wrapped in an Ecuadorian Sumatra leaf and semi-box-pressed into a 5¾”×52 Belicoso. The result is one of the most balanced and flavorful cigars you’ll come across—sweet, salty, and savory/oily elements all fuse together for an experience not unlike the meat drippings from a brown sugar-coated Christmas ham…
Unfortunately, Tatuaje has recently discontinued their shop-exclusive program. And with only 5,000 CQ1 cigars in circulation, it’s becoming quite the task to track these gems down.
Partagás Serie D No. 4
It’s been said that Partagás’ legendary “alphabet series” is like a brand within a brand. This is because the cigars feature completely different bands and packaging, compared to the rest of the Partagás core portfolio. The series debuted in the 1930s with letters ranging from A to D, each showcasing 4 sizes. The cigars have since been discontinued (1960s) and reinstated intermittently throughout the years—now including only D, E, and P sizes as regular production offerings.
Partagás cigars have always featured some of the most premium leaves to come out of Cuba’s famed Vuelta Abajo region and the Serie D No. 4 seems to perfectly capture the essence of the brand’s notoriously full smoking experience. At 4⅞”×50, this petit robusto packs as full an experience as you’ll find from Cuba—offering spicy notes of cinnamon and fresh, green pepper, highlighted by a superb balance of wood, nuts, and decadent notes Nutella! There’s a reason this cigar is widely known as “the world’s best robusto”, make sure you find out before you kick the bucket…
Okay, this is our list, you have to allow us our one shameless promotion… On the other hand, there’s really nothing left to promote here, as the Dogma set some serious cigar sales records (we’re still waiting on those Guinness boys for the final verdict). The Undercrown Dogma was released in 2 phases: the first consisted of only 200 bundles, selling out in less than a day – the second consisted of 450 bundles, selling out in under 2 hours…
The project was set into motion when Cigar Dojo’s “Master Sensei” and Smoke Inn’s Abe Dababneh joined forces with Drew Estate, planning a special commemorative product for Cigar Dojo and the Dojo community. The resulting project was the Undercrown Dogma, featuring the brand’s first box-pressed cigar, as well as a more “amped up” blend. The cigars are reportedly aging fantastically, and can often be found on the black market for upwards of $500 per 10-count bundle. Something’s gotta give here, maybe one day we’ll see the return of this legendary smoke…
Padrón 50th Anniversary
Fans of Padrón know the company is fond of its anniversaries. In 1994 they released the world-famous 1964 Anniversary Series, introducing cigar connoisseurs to the power of the Padrón family’s elite blending skills—offering their first luxury cigar. Since then, Padrón has honored several anniversaries of both company patriarch José Orlando Padrón and the company itself.
But in 2014, they outdid themselves—introducing fans to their most deluxe offering to date—Padrón 50th Anniversary. The cigars are often referred to as “The Hammer” (the hammer imagery is seen throughout Padrón’s releases, a symbol of José’s hard work to create the brand), as the Padrón hammer imagery is used heavily on this release. A very limited number of 1,000 specially-designed humidors were created for this release, each loaded with 50 sequentially-numbered cigars. The humidors themselves are numbered 1 – 1,000, featuring all the belles and whistles you’d expect from its $5,300 price tag ($106/cigar). And while a product of this magnitude may have been anticipated, the release strategy certainly wasn’t. Each humidor is intended to be registered through Padrón, which will then allow for a minimum of 5 humidor refills throughout the coming years.
The cigars themselves are billed as “full-bodied, complex, and balanced”, using 10-year-aged tobaccos and featuring a Nicaraguan puro blend—capped in Padrón’s signature Sun-Grown Natural or Maduro wrappers.
Liga Privada No. 9 Flying Pig
The Flying Pig is an especially eye-catching vitola from Drew Estate. First released in 2009, the cigars were a special, limited offering of the brand’s legendary Liga Privada No. 9 blend; showcased in a short and stalky 4⅛”×60 perfecto shape and topped with an oversized pigtail cap.
Drew Estate is not typically one to release limited editions, but the Flying Pig (both No. 9 and T52 blends) is one of the most rare and sought-after cigars in the craft market. The unique size does seem to amp up the flavors into a short, yet full-throttled “flavor bomb” experience—although, the extended age has significantly softened the experience into a more balanced maduro.
Montecristo No. 2
If Montecristo is the world’s most popular cigar brand, and the “No. 2” is the most popular size in the lineup, does that make this the world’s most popular cigar? In a sense—yes. Of course, its unavailability in the US market hampers its overall notoriety, but as we’ve seen, this only increases the cigar’s allure (the forbidden fruit effect).
The brand launched in 1935, drawing inspiration from Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. At the time, a person called a “lector” would read to torcedores on the factory floor as they worked, and the book became a favorite among cigar rollers. When launched, the cigars included 5 sizes, each designated by a given number. And while all are considered superb, with some of the heaviest profiles among Cuban cigars, the No. 2 continues to captivate smokers—featuring a stalky, 52 ring gauge and intricate Pirámides shape. This elongated head not only makes for the most attractive shape in the lineup, but helps to concentrate the smoke onto the palate, providing the most rich and satisfying experience in the series.
La Palina Goldie Laguito No. 2
La Palina Cigars is known as a leader in the arena of luxury, sophistication, and overall class among today’s craft cigar brands. They’ve done a fine job assembling a solid base of well-received releases over the years, but it’d be misleading to attribute the dawn of this status to anything other than the now-legendary Goldie Laguito No. 2 release.
Like many La Palina releases, the cigars honored the history of the Paley family and their involvement in the industry, dating back more than a century. Goldie Drell Paley (seen on La Palina’s bands and inspiration for the Goldie cigar) was the wife of Sam Paley—original brand owner and grandfather of Bill Paley, the current proprietor. But it’s the means by which these cigars are crafted that sets them apart… The entire catalogue of 10,000 cigars (1,000 boxes of 10) were rolled by one woman—Maria Sierra. Working out of the tiny El Titan de Bronze factory in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, Maria showcases her skill as one of the finest cigar rollers in the world—rolling nothing but Goldie cigars throughout each year. Indeed, Maria is classified as a category 9 roller—being trained as a young girl to roll cigars for Castro—rolling at the legendary El Laguito factory in Havana, Cuba. This, along with an ultra-premium blend, including the rare medio tiempo tobacco leaves, contributes to one of the finest smoking experiences available (well, you may need to hunt them down) today.
Since the initial launch in 2012, La Palina has made the cigar an annual release—showcasing a new vitola each year. Due to popularity, Goldie releases now typically consist of a larger 2,500 boxes—with Maria rolling Goldie cigars exclusively. The series as a whole is among the most sought-after by enthusiasts each year, with the original No. 2 panatela size (6×38) still known as the best in the collection.
Fuente Fuente OpusX BBMF
The Fuente family has become known for producing among the world’s finest (and rarest) cigars. One could spend hours flipping through a catalogue of their limited, event-exclusive, family-exclusive, charity blends, etc. In many of these extremely limited offshoots, you’ll find that Fuente likes to have a little fun—both in rolling technique and cigar naming…
One such example is the OpusX BBMF (Big Bad Mother (I think you see where this is going)). The cigars feature a skilled perfecto shape and are finished with a dramatic “Cuban Tickler” cap—having the look of a paintbrush extending out of the cigar’s head! The cigars not only feature a bold look, but are said to be among the strongest blend produced by the Fuentes. While the pricing may be a bit out of line, with the cigars ranging from $45 – $150, they are surprisingly attainable—at least if you’re able to make your way to Casa Fuente, located at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
There are potentially 2 phases to this challenge: Cohiba Behike BHK and Cohiba Behike (original release). The original Behike cigars were introduced in 2006 to commemorate the brand’s 40th anniversary. Only 4,000 cigars were offered, all being rolled by a single roller—Norma Fernández, at the famed El Laguito factory. With an MSRP of $440 (per cigar), the cigars are no doubt among the most expensive in the world, as they easily push $3,500+ in the aftermarket.
This is why we’ve included your alternate route, the Behike BHK. Released in 2010 for Cohiba’s 45th anniversary (so, math is a little weird…), BHK is thought to be the go-to cigar for celebratory occasions, etc. Sure, they’re still expensive, in the $30 – $40 range, but BHK offers the more feasible designation of being regular production. The cigars are also made at the El Laguito factory, produced in small batches and offered in some of Habanos’ finest packaging (or the world’s finest, for that matter).
Note: Habanos S.A. has recently unveiled their latest achievement, Cohiba 50 Aniversario. The cigars were shown off at Cuba’s Habanos Festival in March, with a singular humidor of 50 cigars being auctioned off for $350,000 ($7,000 a pop). We haven’t come across any reviews on the cigars, but I think it’s safe to say, this one is probably too depressing to add to your bucket list.
Arturo Fuente Añejo No. 77 “Shark”
This is a legendary fan-favorite that’s perhaps more well-known for its shape than its performance. Don’t get us wrong, the cigars smoke fantastic, but there’s a lot more ingredients that go into a bucket list cigar than simply flavor. For starters, the name—the cigars are technically titled Añejo No. 77, but unlike the other sizes in the line, this one doesn’t get its number from the ring gauge. This size is named after the shape of two pectoral fins of… a shark, which happen to resemble two “7’s”. This was the result of Carlito Fuente taking his children on a trip to Sea World while coming up with the unique size.
The cigars themselves are typically released only once per year, during the Christmas season—where their humble MSRP of $10.25 often finds its way up into the $40’s on retail shelves. Basically an OpusX cigar hidden under the dark cloak of a special, cognac-barrel-aged Connecticut Broadleaf maduro wrapper, the “Shark” is then semi-box-pressed, 3/4 the length of its 5⅝″ x 54 Piramide shape. Its limited nature, interesting story, unique look, and top-notch blend all amount to one fantastic experience that every serious smoker should become acquainted with from time to time.
Hoyo de Monterrey Épicure de Luxe
If craft beer and whiskey have taught us anything, it’s this: small. batch. tastes. better! This is clearly the case with Hoyo de Monterrey’s Épicure de Luxe, among the more recent releases from this age-old Cuban brand. Épicure de Luxe utilizes a beefy, petit robusto vitola (aka Mágicos) and falls under HDM’s legendary Épicure portfolio—among the most popular from the brand, showcasing refined profiles and encompassing the robusto range of vitolas.
This particular smoke is limited in nature. It was introduced in October, 2012 as an exclusive for La Casa del Habano retailers, in limited quantities of 10-ct slide lid boxes. The cigars showcase a delicate smoking experience that falls into the mild end of the flavor spectrum. For this reason, it may take a more experienced palate to dial in on the refined complexities offered—featuring sweet coffee, citrus, cedar, salted butter, toffee, and just the right amount of crushed black pepper spice to keep things lively. Because of its small batch attention to detail, the cigars showcase superior construction; making for a surprisingly long smoking experience (considering the size). It’s also an ideal candidate for aging—we’ll guess 7 – 10 years will do wonders to this already-magnificent smoke.
In 2012, luxury/lifestyle brand Room101 had began to earn a name for themselves, producing edgy, alternative-designed cigars out of Camacho’s factory in Honduras. Their introduction to the cigar scene came in 2009, with brand-runner Matt Booth applying his knack for cutting-edge design towards an industry that tended to be… a little “long in the tooth”.
But in 2012, a collaboration of design, concept, and blending came to be that now goes down in most enthusiast’s books as “legendary”. The cigars are known as OSOK or “One Shot One Kill”, taking on the moniker of a Mr. Edgar Hoill; a photographer known for his quick eye, only needing “one shot” to get it just right. The cigars were rolled in three sizes, each offering a technical Salomon/Figurado shape. But more impressively, all 30,000 cigars (10,000 of each size) were constructed by a single roller—producing 100 per day throughout the course of a year. This insured consistency throughout the entire line (of which, the small Filero is still our favorite), producing a smoke that burned as good as it looked. A fun concept, slick presenation, and unique profile of savory meats, mouth-coating oils, campfire smokiness, and Graham-cracker-s’mores sweetness all combined for a rare and unforgettable experience.
Note: Shortly after this release, former Camacho owner Christian Eiroa sold the brand to Davidoff and started his own CLE Cigar Co. Edgar Hoill soon joined Eiroa, creating his own brand—Edgar Hoill Cigars. Under this brand, Hoill has re-released the OSOK cigar as a regular production product (using tweaked packaging, etc.), using a different blend that is widely regarded as inferior by cigar enthusiasts.
Prior to 2014’s Padrón 50th Anniversary cigars, the most limited/meticulous offering in Padrón’s lineup was the Millennium. The cigars share a similar release style, featuring 1,000 custom-built humidors of 100 cigars—serial numbered, etc. The cigars were released only a few years after Padrón first introduced the now-legendary 1964 Anniversary Series, and decided to showcase a higher grade version of the blend to ring in the millennium.
Rolled in both natural and maduro and box-pressed (in typical Padrón fashion), the Millennium incorporated tobaccos that had been aged 5 years prior to rolling, as well as a profile geared for a fuller experience. With 16 years age (21 combined years), the “fullness” of the blend has been rounded out to one of the smoothest experiences you’ll find in a Padrón—possibly even too smooth, though you’ll have to be the judge of that!
Padrón has been known to occasionally ship original Millennium humidors over the years, with prices ranging around $100 per smoke (original MSRP was $25). And, it has recently been announced that Padrón is set to release 1,000 boxes of 4 cigars from the original Millennium offering, which they had set aside for a special occasion. Get those wallets ready, you’ve been warned…
Ask near any hardcore cigar enthusiast/collector what their highest ambition is, the ultimate cigar to crown the top shelf of their humidor, and you’ll no doubt hear tales of the elusive Cuban Davidoff. No, this is not a singular cigar, but a brand as a whole. You see, Davidoff, world-renowned for their ultra-premium collection of cigars, hailing from the Dominican Republic, was once regarded as the upper echelon of Cuban craftsmanship. In 1991, after years of a weakening relationship between Davidoff and Cubatabaco (Cuba’s cigar distribution agency at the time), cigar production ceased.
Some of the highest rated Cuban Davidoffs (at the time, rated by Cigar Aficionado) include the Château Latour (94 points), Dom Perignon (96 points), Davidoff 4000 (97 points), and Aniversario 80 (99 points). These cigars are most likely impossible to obtain—well, any Cuban Davidoff should be near-impossible—that’s why we’ll accept any cigar from the era. Keep in mind, at 25+ years age, these cigars will seriously be pushing the limits of the flavor gamut (refined beyond refinement—i.e. they’ll probably taste like paper). Typically, ideal cigar aging maxes out at around 10 – 15 years, but legend has it, every so often, an exceptional blend may reach as much as 30 years. Whether or not these are that exception is something you’ll have to judge for yourself (and do us a favor and fill us in—cigars are best enjoyed with good company, after all).
Members of Davidoff have been quoted saying they’d return to Cuba when conditions improve, though 25 years may be a bit long to repair this “ugly breakup”. On the other hand, with Cuban relations rapidly changing in the US, who knows what’s to come—this may soon be an easier cigar to check off your list.
Credits:Sumatra Samurai, source