Legal Smoke: 10 Best Non-Cuban Cigars

Despite our differences in political beliefs, one thing’s for certain, it’s frustrating to watch a fruitful product get penalized simply because of its country of origin. Such is the case for Cuban cigars, whose associations with the Castro government – among practically every other Cuban-made good – made them an illegal commodity to possess in the United States. And while the cold embargo on Cuban goods has thawed some since the heyday of the Cold War, importing, transporting, and possessing them is legally murky at best. Fortunately, when Cuba’s communist government started to seize the farmlands of their own people, farmers were smart and fortuitous enough to find ways to smuggle their prized tobacco seeds out of Cuba and into neighboring countries in the Caribbean.

Now, many will claim that it’s not just the seeds that produce that classic Cuban smooth and silky smoke profile but instead Cuba’s ideal climate and, in particular, its soil. And while there is some truth to this notion, that certainly doesn’t mean tobacco grown and rolled into stogies in places like Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic aren’t worth writing home about. So without further ado, and because playing it safe (legally speaking of course) is sometimes the best course of action here, we present you with a handful of authentic non-Cuban cigars that stand up mighty fine on their own accord.

Ashton Symmetry Belicoso

Ashton Symmetry Belicoso

Wrapped in an enjoyable Ecuadorian wrapper, this is one of newest additions to the Ashton family – which is saying a lot since the brand reputation has a formidable one to say the least. It’s a medium to full body Belicoso that’s crafted by the Fuente family with both Dominican and Nicaraguan tobacco that imparts a smooth and thick peppery smoke that enjoyable from that first light all the way through the back end of the stick.

Purchase: $11

Joya De Nicaragua Cuatro Cinco Reserva Especial

Joya De Nicaragua Cuatro Cinco Reserva Especial

As a slightly pressed torpedo with a ring gauge of 52, this tasty Nicaraguan cigar certainly won’t disappoint either the novice smoker or the seasoned collector. It boasts a medium to full body, predominantly Nicaraguan tobacco (though some Dominican is present), and a Nicaraguan wrapper. Tasting notes include wood and cedar, though some ancillary notes of orange and spice are present as well here. It’s also one of the sweeter tasting options out there making it a great after dinner treat.

Purchase: $13

Padron 926 Series

Padron 926 Series

Handcrafted to honor the 75th birthday of cigar maestro Jose Padron, the 926 Series No. 1 Maduro is a celebratory stick at its finest. It’s a bold offering no doubt, that’s complex and rich in flavors thanks to the peppery and spicy nature of the tobacco mixed with its sweet Maduro wrapper. Here, it’s Nicaraguan through and through, boasts a ring gauge of 54 and a length of 6.75 inches. Nothing like closing out a celebration with one of these beauties.

Purchase: $22

Punch Signature Gigante

Punch Signature Gigante

There’s certainly something to be said about a cigar profile when it bears the word “punch” in its name. Here, we have a full body masterpiece complete with a Cuban style recipe for success. It boasts an oily Ecuadorian Corojo wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, and long filler Dominican tobacco. Combine that with a plump 60-ring gauge, and notes of leather, earth, and spice and you have on meaty Gigante that’s sure to please any Maduro enthusiast.

Purchase: $5

Rockey Patel Sun Grown Maduro

Rockey Patel Sun Grown Maduro

As a relatively young line in the Rocky Patel brand, their Sun Grown cigars quickly took off among enthusiasts since their initial introduction back in 2006. Now, a little over a year ago, they introduced a Maduro iteration to that line. Needless to say, this Nicaraguan-made version is the darker, more complex member of that family that’s a short and sweet Robusto thanks to a ring gauge of 50 and a short length of 5-inches.

Purchase: $9

Montecristo White Churchill

Montecristo White Churchill

In case you were unaware, Churchill cigars got their name from, you guessed it, Winston Churchill himself who was a big fan of this type of roll. In this case, we have a sizable stick clocking in a 7 inches in length and a ring gauge of 54, complete with an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper and Nicaraguan tobacco that works to create a multitude of rich and creamy flavors that are well rounded and enjoyable for the entire duration of the smoke.

Purchase: $12

La Flor Dominicana

La Flor Dominicana

Ranked as the top cigar of 2016 by Cigar Aficionado, this is surprisingly a new offering from Litto Gomez, who entered the cigar industry in 1994 without any family history or experience the tobacco industry – a very rare occurrence. However, naysayers have no grounds to complain here seeing how this unusual blend and roll has gotten the attention of movers and shaker in the cigar world. It’s a Dominican roll, with Dominican binder and filler, complete with an Ecuadorian wrapper, a 64 ring gauge, and a length of 6.5 inches.

Purchase: $15

Ligo Pravada No. 9

Ligo Pravada No. 9

As a premium handmade Belicoso cigar from the Drew Estate, the strong and robust flavor imparted by this enjoyable stick is complemented by an enjoyable sweet aroma that surrounds you with every drag. It’s a full bodied treat that’s both nutty and earthy and should be enjoyed as an after dinner smoke with a handful of close friends. It features a Maduro wrapper, Brazilian binder, and tobacco from both Nicaragua and Honduras.

Purchase: $14

My Father No. 1 Robusto

My Father No. 1 Robusto

Initially dreamt up by Jaime Garcia in honor of his father Pepin, the No. 1 Robusto is a short but sweet tribute from the My Father brand. It’s constructed using traditional Cuban methods of specifically grown Nicaraguan blends, a lush Ecuadorian grown wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, and medium to full body for superior enjoyment without the risk.

Purchase: $9

Oliva Serie V Melanio Robusto

Oliva Serie V Melanio Robusto

With a full body of flavor thanks to premium Nicaraguan tobacco in conjunction with an Ecuadorian wrapper, this slow and steady burning Robusto imparts enjoyable notes of coffee and sweet caramel for the discerning palate. It also boasts a medium to full body and strength and we’ve been told it pairs well with just about any fine whiskey out there.
Purchase: $9

Time To Light Up

Now that you have the stick of your choice, it’s time to enjoy. However, if you’re a bit rusty or new to the cigar world, why not refresh your memory a bit with this handy guide to smoking a cigar?

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