Cigar Czars

Review of Cheap Cigars

By Gary Manelski

There are good cigars to be found at every price point. However, the lower the price range, the lower the concentration of good cigars. All this means is that you have to look a little harder to find good cigars priced less than $5 per stick. This is not a daunting task, but more of an adventure. Although finding a cheap cigar that you really like will be your reward, your quest does not have to end if you want the adventure to continue. Variety is the spice of life, so have some fun and save money, too!

I like to sample and review cigars in every price range, and smoking a few “el cheapos” once in a while always takes me back to the days when I graduated from machine-made stogies to premium handmade cigars. I will never go back to mass produced cigars again, but a cheap hand rolled cigar is still a premium cigar as far as I'm concerned, even if the price is only $3 (or less).

Here are a few quick reviews of some cheap cigars. More reviews will be added as time goes by, whether I enjoy the cigars or not.

Torano Brigade Cigar

Review of Torano Brigade Torpedo Cigar

Torano Brigade is one of the best cheap cigars that I have ever smoked. A bundle of 16 Torpedos will set you back about $38, which works out to less than $2.50 per stick. Torano brand cigars are now owned by General Cigar, and are now available online (originally sold in brick and mortar stores, only). The cigars are made with Nicaraguan filler tobaccos and the wrapper is from Ecuador. Brigade is a mild-to-medium bodied smoke that starts off with a mild spicy taste that eventually transforms into a rich, smooth and enjoyable tobacco flavor. The flavor is never bland and there are never any sour notes, like some other (more expensive) milder cigars. The Brigade has a great draw and burns relatively fast, but the burn is mostly even. No relights nor touch-ups were needed. The cigar holds a medium-length ash, and will not win any long ash contests. I smoked several of these cigars and enjoyed them all, except for the first one which I smoked on the same day it was received in the mail. Make sure to let these cigars sit in your humidor for at least a week before lighting up. It took me 50 to 55 minutes to smoke each of the Torpedo-size (6.25 x 52) cigars, which again, is somewhat fast for a cigar that large. I rate all of the Brigade Torpedos that I smoked (except the first one) with impressive scores of 3.5 to 4 points on a 5-point scale, averaging out to a very good rating of 3.75 points. In my opinion, Brigade is simply one of the best value-priced everyday cigars that you can buy, period.

Royal Comodore Jamaica Cigar

Review of Royal Comodore Jamaica Churchill Cigar

Royal Comodore Jamaica cigars are made in Jamaica with Connecticut seed tobaccos grown in Jamaica, and are sold by Mike's Cigars. I reviewed the Toro size for during 2014, and rated it with 3.5 stars. For this short review, I gave the Churchill size (7 x 48) a try, but I did not enjoy it as much as the Toro. The Churchill was mild-to-medium bodied, and began with an enjoyable sweet and toasty flavor. However, the flavor began fading after about 10 minutes, and by 30 minutes into the smoke, the cigar had become bland. What began as a 3.5-point taste dropped to 2.5 points on a 5-point scale, so I put the cigar down after 50 minutes with four inches remaining. The cigar had a decent draw, even burn, and held a medium ash. No relights nor touch-ups were needed. Although I cannot recommend the Churchill size, the Toro is a very good buy at less than $3 per stick when purchased in a 5-pack.

Review of Gran Habano Azteca Fuerte Robusto Cigar

Gran Habano Azteca Fuerte Cigar

Gran Habano Azteca Fuerte cigars are made in Honduras with San Andres Maduro wrappers and binders, and a blend of filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and Panama. The Robusto size that I sampled measures 5 x 50. The cigar began with an enjoyable sweet earthy flavor, but after a few puffs, a hint of bitterness entered the mix. However, after 5-10 minutes, the bitter-sweet flavor became sweet again, and a sweet earthy flavor with a touch of leather lasted for the duration of the smoke. This cigar is not a powerhouse, as the name fuerte might suggest, but falls withing the medium-to-full range. The cigar burned evenly, had a good draw, and held a long ash. No relights nor touch-ups were needed during the 45 minutes that it took me to smoke the cigar down to two inches remaining.

And now for the best part, Gran Habano Azteca Fuerte Robusto cigars are value-priced at only $40 for a bundle of 20, which works out to an average of just $2 per stick. This was not the best cigar that I ever smoked, but I enjoyed it more than some other cigars priced 3 to 4 times higher. You don't have to pay a “premium” price for a premium cigar, and you certainly do not have to pay more than $10 per cigar as the FDA might want you to believe. I rate the Azteca Fuerte with a respectable 3.25 points on a 5-point scale.

Review of Flor de Gonzalez Super Cazador Cigar

Flor de Gonzalez Cigar

Flor de Gonzalez Super Casador is a mixed filler cigar measuring 7˝ x 52 that is priced at only $40 per upright bundle of 25 cigars. That's an average price of only $1.60 per stogie. These cigars are made with wrappers and binders from Indonesia and a blend of fillers from Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. The sample cigar was medium bodied and began with a pleasant and slightly sweet toasty flavor that continued to fade throughout the first 10 minutes of the smoke. After 15 minutes into the cigar, the flavor had become somewhat bland. Except for a few slight sour notes that came and went, the remainder of this cigar was, for lack of a better term, boring. The cigar had a good draw, even burn, and held a medium ash. No relights nor touch-ups were needed during the 65 minutes that it took me to smoke the cigar down to 3˝ inches remaining, when the cigar went out by itself. At that point, I had enough and did not relight. I usually smoke most cigars down to around two inches remaining. Even considering the somewhat enjoyable taste at the start, the flavor did not last for long, so I'm rating this cigar with an unimpressive 2.5 points on a 5-point scale. Not a great cigar by any means, but a good value if you want something just to puff on for more than an hour.

Review of Puros of St. James Lonsdale Cigar

Puros of St James Cigar

Puros of St. James cigars are made in the Dominican Republic with Sumatran Indonesian wrappers, Connecticut binders, and Dominican filler tobaccos. They are available in several sizes, including a Lonsdale that measures 6˝ x 44, and priced at $50 for a box of 25 cigars. This is a medium bodied cigar that has a rustic looking wrapper. The wrapper on my sample had a couple of minor cracks, which fortunately did not affect the cigar's smoking performance. The cigar began with a sweet and toasty flavor, but similar to the Flor de Gonzalez, the pleasant flavor faded away after 15-20 minutes. After that, the cigar did not become bland, but had a more citrus-like taste with a few sour notes included the mix. The cigar had a good draw, even burn, and held a medium ash. No relights nor touch-ups were necessary. The Lonsdale was a manageable size for this el cheapo cigar, taking me 50 minutes to smoke down to two inches remaining (which is long enough for a mediocre cigar). I rate it 2.5 points on a 5-point scale. Available online at Mike's Cigars.

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