What Cigars Embody The Christmas Spirit?
Assembling a selection of fitting cigars for the festive season was nothing short of challenging. When writing this guide, we noted a variety of factors that would help in deciding the best cigars for Christmas.
Firstly, we considered the setting in terms of both climate and environment to take into account the effects it would have on people’s tastes. With Christmas taking place at the height of winter for most cultures, we imagined frosty mornings and dark evenings.
Consequently, we turned towards the traditional Danish Hygge custom and how this could be interpreted for selecting and enjoying cigars. An untranslatable word, Hygge is the practice of seeking cosiness and well-being during the harsh winter.
Translating Hygge To Cigars
This often revolves around comfort, which includes food and drink as well as friends and family. Imagine being wrapped in a wool blanket in front of the glowing flames of an open fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate between your hands. This is a quintessential Hygge situation.
Such comfort and cosiness can translate well to cigars. Although it might be challenging in most homes that tend to be “smoke-free”, there may be many opportunities to cosy up with a fine cigar and a beverage of choice.
Alternatively, you may be looking for cigars to celebrate the festivities. Even in these circumstances, we would still consider something that offers the same comforting aromas and smoking experience than the previous example.
Otherwise, you might be looking to buy some cigars are a Christmas gift. If the cigars are to be smoked when given, you might want to opt for something that embodies the season’s spirit.
Whatever the circumstances, the cigars would likely be for a special occasion so we sought to take that into account with some premium options.
Consider Caramelised & Spicy Notes
When you think about the smells and tastes of Christmas, there may be a plethora of things that come to mind. At some point, you will likely imagine spices, candied fruit, pine, smoke, and different types of rich food roasting in the oven.
When seeking out a festive cigar, we would look for options with a similar appeal. Olfactive memory, the way we remember smells, is extraordinarily powerful. Even the faintest smell can quickly whisk us away to our earliest childhood.
We studied a wide variety of cigars that we have tried and tested to find those that feature notes that may create or enforce that association. You’ll note that many of the above options have spicy notes. However, they are rarely peppery and tend to lean towards things like nutmeg, chocolate, cinnamon, bay leaf, and citrus.
Furthermore, we found that medium to full-bodied blends were the most successful at create that ambience. These are also the most versatile that could be enjoyed during a Christmas afternoon or much later in the evening.
That said, there are a few full-bodied options that would be perfect for a late-night cigar.
Nicaraguan Tobacco Varieties
Despite a few Cubans, most of the cigars featured Nicaraguan tobacco, which hosts varieties that are often prized for their spicy character. Varieties such as Ometepe, Condega, and Jalapa are well known for producing such flavours.
Another excellent variety that we find offers a more caramelised yet bold experience is Ecuadorian Sumatra, which was a wrapper on two of the cigars listed above.
However, there were also some Honduran and Dominican varieties that have their own benefits. Honduran Criollo, for example, is bold and leathery. Meanwhile, the Dominican Piloto is known for its rich and spicy flavour.
Of course, a cigar blender will use a combination of varieties in order to create his or her intended flavours. Similarly, a blender will often use varieties that have been aged for different lengths of time as well as different primings.
Ageing tobacco doesn’t necessarily make it stronger. In fact, it tends to instead mellow our the flavour and render it more complex. There is a common misconception that a maduro cigar is always stronger. However, this is mostly the case now because brands do it to cater to our expectations.
Finally, tobacco leaves are harvested in primings. The first such as the Volado, are large leaves that are aromatic and burn well. Yet, they’re not overly strong. Meanwhile, later primings like the Ligero are found at the top of the plant and are harvested later.
Ligero is indeed strong in nicotine but it doesn’t necessarily feature an abundance of flavour. Therefore, a combination of different primings from a selection of varieties of different ages will produce a truly harmonious blend.
Christmas Cigar Pairings
Throughout this guide, we actually touched on a few specific suggestions for each cigar. Nevertheless, we’ll briefly take a look at the options from a higher level.
Indeed, one of the highlights of the Christmas season is the rich variety of food and drink. Sometimes it’s difficult to include it all, which can lead to regret if you tried too hard to do so!
When it comes to beverages, sherry and port are by far the most celebrated. However, whisky, cognac, brandy, and a variety of liqueurs also have their place. There are also traditional cocktails such as Irish cream, eggnog, and mulled wine.
Interestingly, all of the above options can likely be paired with some sort of cigar if you’re feeling creative. While most of them are relatively easy, eggnog, Irish cream, and some liqueurs can be more challenging.
During all of this, there will probably be an abundance of wine and Champagne too. If you’re happy continuing with these after a meal, you can still enjoy a cigar. Some cigars are wonderful with red wine or Champagne and it’s well worth exploring.
Finally, don’t forget that there may be plenty to nibble as well! From gingerbread to chocolate, these are wonderful treats to have with a cigar.
If you’re struggling to decide on a pairing due to an abundance of options, we suggest basing it around what is the most limited. For example, if you have a few cigars but lots to drink, choose the cigar first then work it around that.
You can do this by smelling the cigar’s foot (or even starting it), then imagining how it will pair when you proceed to nose the bottles in front of you. A successful pairing doesn’t always just consist of complementary flavours. Indeed, sometimes they can contrast in harmony too!
How Did We Rank These Cigars?
As we briefly mentioned above, we have tried and tested every cigar that is featured in this guide. In fact, we based the rankings on only cigars that we have either reviewed or tested using the Bespoke Unit Cigar Formula.
The Bespoke Unit Cigar Formula was pushed lived with our review of the Avo Nicaragua in August 2019. However, we had been developing it since 2017. Disappointed by the seemingly arbitrary scores awarded to cigars by some publications, we wanted to create an accurate and fair system.
The Bespoke Unit Cigar Formula is essentially a review matrix that uses quantifiable data in order to produce a final score. We also made sure that we based it on a true 100-point scale rather than just scoring cigars between 85 and 95 as can be seen in some cases.
After consulting with industry professionals, the system went live but we also went back and scored all of our previously reviewed cigars. While this isn’t published on the site, we use it regularly for creating guides like this one. As a result, we can create rankings with conviction and not by random.
Firstly, did we miss anything out? Feel free to let us know in the comments below! Otherwise, now that you’ve seen the best cigars for the morning, why don’t you also check out our related guides below?