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By: Lindsay Heller
As we approach the close of 2020, the song "Auld Lang Syne" popped into my head. The lyrics made me think about how in the cigar industry, we still honor the "days gone by," and the New Year's ballad immediately became more heartwarming. No one can say that today's premiums lack the character of yesteryear because cigar-makers still adhere to traditions that have been intact for centuries. Aside from expanded operations to meet modern global demand, the art of the cigar dates back to processes inherited from the Taínos in 15th-centry Hispaniola.
At CIGAR.com, we're fortunate enough to have the entirely unique Luxury Collection. An ever-evolving assortment of premiums and hard goods, we're the only online retailer to have this special feature for our customers. All historic cigars are inspected by in-house experts before integration into a reserved section of our humidified warehouse. In addition, all items from the Luxury Collection come with a Certificate of Authenticity, as we do realize these premiums are not an everyday purchase. There is something to be said for treating yourself, so let's shine the spotlight on three cigars that would make for a fantastic gift.
CAMACHO PRE-EMBARGO TORO
If you're not an authority on the US Embargo, you may not know it's 100% legal to sell, purchase, and possess cigars that contain Cuban tobacco cultivated prior to February 1962. Seeing as that was nearly 60 years ago, you might be hard-pressed to think that bales still exist which befit that description, but there are, and they're in Honduras at the Camacho compound.
Rolled in a single Toro vitola (6.0"x48), this medium-bodied handmade is draped in a Vintage 1999 Jamastran wrapper, and underneath the long-filler blend has pre-Embargo tobacco from one of the four remaining bales in the world. Its overlapped foot and pigtail cap are a nod to classic Cuban construction; a buttery feel on the palate, notes of wood, spice, leather, nuts, and a hint of raisin make for a distinctive experience. Despite a desire to pair a cigar of this caliber with an adult beverage, I highly suggest drinking mineral water to truly savor every little nuance if you're only going to smoke just one.
ROMEO Y JULITEA C.1950s CORONA
Arguably one of the most famous brands in the industry, the original Romeo y Julieta began its life in 1875. Often utilizing premium tobacco from Cuba's coveted Vuelta Abajo region, over time Romeo won numerous tasting exhibitions, was Sir Winston Churchill's cigar of choice, and had a penchant for catering to the demands of the rich and famous worldwide. Despite Americans having access to numerous non-Cuban versions made by Altadis USA, have you ever smoked a Romeo y Julieta that pre-dated Castro's Havana?
These Coronas from the 1950s have been exceptionally preserved and stored, and we are lucky to have acquired them for those interested in a piece of history from Cuba's cigar heyday. Now you'll have to keep in mind that pre-Embargo premiums while laden with flavor, didn't contain tobacco cured to have the strength many enthusiasts are accustomed to today; instead, they were mostly in the mellow to medium-bodied spectrum like this specific blend. With over six decades of age, they'll be extremely smooth, and the classic Corona (5.5"x42) size will add to the authentic experience.
ROBERT BURNS PANATELA DE LUXE
Named after the 18th Century Scottish poet—the same man who penned "Auld Lang Syne"—this cigar is what's known as a "Clear Havana," meaning it was rolled in the US but made with Cuban tobacco. The reason why this style of smoke earned the name Clear Havana was due to the Customs officials sitting in the factories, clearing the tobacco to be used as bales were brought up from the warehouse basement.
Produced by General Cigar, Robert Burns was a wildly popular brand from the 1930s to early '60s. Made in large quantities in New York, Florida, and Pennsylvania, at the height of Clear Havana popularity, this was only one of roughly 10,000 brands on the market. With 100% Havana filler, the binder tobacco usually came from Connecticut, and the wrapper leaf would either be Cuban or Sumatran. The vintage Panatelas (5.2"x38) we have dated from 1958, and they still burn slowly and evenly. Given the spice and woody nature that still permeates the palate, my guess is these were Sumatra-wrapped, but it's still an honor to be able to enjoy one now and again.
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