Smoking is not for everybody. But, for cigar aficionados, the choice of brand, flavor, and smoking performance makes all the difference in the world. Knowledge of the proper cutting and smoking techniques can enhance the experience and provide the ultimate sense of tranquility after a long day of work. For true believers, this article offers a curated collection of prized cigars and brands that have withstood the test of time.
Gurkha Royal Courtesan
Our first cigar on the list is the Royal Courtesan by Gurkha Cigars, a seasoned veteran in the ultra-premium cigar industry. The company was founded over a century ago, but the brand was given a rework in 1989 to appeal to the modern luxury consumer, and it currently offers a wide range of products that appeal to all tastes and price points. Gurkha’s Royal Courtesan is the ultimate luxury cigar. Wrapped in gold leaf and finished with a diamond-studded band worth five carats, this cigar is produced in the Dominican Republic and Honduras and is hand-rolled and filled with a rare Himalayan tobacco that is watered exclusively with Fiji water. The finished product is infused with Remy Martin’s Black Pearl Louis XIII and delegated to a specific team of rollers before going on sale for a hefty price tag of $1.36 million per stick.
Our advice? Read through the company’s rich history to see why Gurkha is one of the best.
The ancient Mayan tribes were one of the first civilizations to harvest tobacco, and they treated the plant as a spiritual force that could emit protective auras and have healing properties for its users. Tobacco was regularly offered as a gift to the gods, both as incense burned at an altar and as smoke blown by worshippers. Dated to around 600 years ago, a cache of 800 Mayan cigars was discovered by a team of archaeologists in Guatemala in 2012. These cigars were buried and preserved in clay urns under the ground, so the condition is far from pristine, but they were found to be in fine condition and still smokeable. In fact, the batch was sold for over $500,000 at auction to cigar aficionado Gary Liotta, president of the Santiago Cigar Factory in Rochester, New York.
Be warned: The tobacco from the past is assumed to have been much more potent than that of today, so we wouldn’t be surprised if these Mayan Sicars invoke some powerful visions for anyone daring enough to light them up!
Double Corona Regius Cigars
Nicaragua-based Regius Cigars is one of the most elite and renowned cigar brands on this list, and their purchasing experience for the Double Corona is an apt indication of their prestige. Presented as more than just a cigar, potential buyers are personally flown out to the factory for a guided tour and are educated in the production process from start to finish. This luxury and visibility of craftsmanship certainly add value to the product, but it also verifies the legitimacy of the brand and epitomizes the notion of a complete artisanal cigar. If the £40,000 price tag is a bit above your range, Regius offers a wide selection of quality cigars at more affordable prices.
Also, included in the Double Corona experience? 1,000 smokes custom-rolled to your taste, complete with boxes and naming rights. If they are good enough for Regius, they may even add them to their catalog!
Arturo Fuente Opus X Limited Edition
A family tradition since 1912, Arturo Fuente cigars are highly reputable in the industry, and the Dominican company maintains a cult-like following among aficionados across the globe. The brand retains its stronghold on the Dominican tobacco sector and to this day continues to release top-notch blends that are pure handmade excellence. Arturo Fuente’s OpusX line has defined the phrase “puro Dominicano” and is crafted with a core of aged Dominican long filler and binder tobaccos and finished with your choice of the wrapper. Options include Candela, Connecticut Shade, Cameroon, or Connecticut Broadleaf, giving the smoker a variety of options to pinpoint the exact blend, viola, and quantity needed. For the OpusX Limited line, exclusive products such as hand-crafted humidors and crystal scotch glasses are presented alongside the cigars to maximize the smoking experience.
No love lost: The brand currently produces around 25 million cigars annually, but the family’s century-long passion and experience can be tasted with every puff.
Our final choice on this list comes from the well-known cigar producer, Cohiba. For Cohiba’s Behike cigar line, exclusivity is the name of the game. The original Behike was released in 2006 and was limited to around 4,000 cigars at a price of $400 or more per stick. This launch subsequently inspired the hype behind Cigar Aficionado’s 2010 Cigar of the Year, the BHK 52. During the XII Habanos Festival in Cuba in 2010, Cohiba introduced their most exclusive (and most successful) line of cigars, which included a trio of innovative yet classical infusions. Although it had a much larger production size, the unveiling of the Cohiba BHK 52, BHK 54, and BHK 56 was an instant hit with aficionados due to the first-time incorporation of “medio tiempo,” a type of sun-grown tobacco leaf that grows at the top of some – but not all – tobacco plants. The company has also incorporated measures such as distinct details on the packaging and two security holograms to verify the authenticity of the cigars.
Searching for a box? The BHK line is rarely found outside of licensed Habano dealers and is packaged exclusively in boxes of 10 – which means if you are being offered anything other than this, it’s not likely to be genuine.
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