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Commentary: Holy Grail Cigars

19 Apr 2012

Recently, Empire Cigars in Raleigh, North Carolina, held an auction for some rare, old, non-Cuban cigars. Billed as “the Holy Grail” of cigar auctions, it got me thinking about what smokes were my “Holy Grail cigars.”

Frankly, many of the cigars available in Empire’s auction were cigars that I don’t think necessarily benefit from more age. (High-end Fuente-made smokes like the Opus X, Añejo, and Ashton VSG often lose flavor after a few years, in my opinion, because the tobacco is already extensively aged.) But that doesn’t mean there aren’t old, hard-to-find cigars that I wouldn’t snap up in a second.

I’ve had the privilege of smoking hundreds (probably thousands) of different blends, from cheap bundles to pre-embargo Cubans over half a century old. Still, there are plenty of cigars I’d still like to try.

A quick list of my “Holy Grail” cigars would have to include these four cigars, two of which I’ve smoked before and two of which I haven’t ever come across (at least not at a price I could justify purchasing them at):

Cuban Davidoffs – Until they pulled out of Cuba in 1991 because of sub-standard tobacco (which Zino Davidoff symbolically burned to show that it wasn’t up to his standards), Davidoff Cubans were the perfect combination of capitalist production standards and the ideal climate of Cuban tobacco. Ironically, my father, who isn’t much of a cigar smoker, tells me he used to come across, and occasionally enjoy, a Cuban Davidoff cigar regularly in the 80s and early 90s while in Europe. I always wished he had picked up a few extra cigars for me (though I was quite a few years from cigar smoking at that point) since early and mid-80s Cuban Davidoffs were considered some of the finest cigars ever made.

Pepin-made Padilla 1932 – The current version of the Padilla 1932 is a good cigar, but the original 1932 was one that made me appreciate just how complex, balanced, and exquisite a cigar really could be. In 2008 Pepin stopped making cigars for Padilla, but for a while I could still find Pepin-made Padillas, which had a different band from the post-Pepin variety. I still regret not having scooped up more than I did.

Tatuaje Black Corona Gordo “Ceramic Jar” – Here’s another cigar I wish I had scooped up when I had the chance. Only 1,000 jars of 19 were made. From the dozen or so I have smoked, no other Tatuaje quite compares (high praise when you look at all the high ratings Tatuaje has received). I’ve smoked nearly all of the Tatuaje Blacks, including those exclusive to the Saints & Sinners package, and while all are excellent, none have the perfect balance, sweetness, and smooth flavor of the Ceramic Jar.

Pre-Sandinista Joya de Nicaragua – After the Cuban embargo, Joya de Nicaragua was widely considered to be one of the finest cigars legally available in the U.S. Then, in the late 1970s, all that was destroyed when the Sandinista regime took over. Today, Joya de Nicaragua makes some tasty cigars, but none that compare to what I’ve heard about the original Joya de Nicaraguas, which were the inspiration for Illusione.

So those are my “Holy Grail” cigars. Let us know yours in the comments.

Patrick S

photo credit: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

6 Responses to “Commentary: Holy Grail Cigars”

  1. Jason Thursday, April 19, 2012 at 5:30 am #

    Nice historic perspective! I had a current Padilla Signature 1932 last night but didn't find it fantabulous, albeit still very good. I wish I had an original to compare it with!

  2. cigarphil Thursday, April 19, 2012 at 6:26 am #

    Patrick it was dumb luck and a good deal that got me a good stash of the early 1932s. Bought the new edition just to compare. The one I smoked was very good IMHO with a beautiful wrapper. My only gripe was i think the filler is not long leaf. The ash fell often and left a little concave end. Very different from the early edition.

  3. NMM Thursday, April 19, 2012 at 7:03 am #

    I'd like to smoke the Monica Lewinski cigar. Also, old Cuban Romeo y Julietas.

  4. Gumbo Thursday, April 19, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

    All good choices. Particularly the JdNs.

  5. Jonathan Drew Monday, April 23, 2012 at 11:41 pm #


    I found a store in Seattle Washington that has original Padilla 8&11 in the Robusto and Torpedo sizes. They had about 25 boxes a few months ago. The name of the store is Li'L Brown Smoke Shop (or Shack). If you call them and mention that I had written about it, they may make more of an effort to go into the back of the warehouse and dig them out for you. If a few of the cigars in each box come in with a broken tip, I wouldnt complain, as the price was still the old price.


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    […] Commentary: Holy Grail Cigars Frankly, several of the cigars offered in Empire&#39s auction had been cigars that I don&#39t believe necessarily benefit from much more age. (High end Fuente-produced smokes like the Opus X, Anejo and Ashton VSG typically lose flavor immediately after a few years in my opinion simply because the … Read more on Stogie Guys On-line Cigar Magazine […]