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Q & A: Favorite Cigar?

Q.
What was your favorite cigar of 2015?

12/27/15 | by CZ of El Paso, TX

A.
​To start, we have our Cigar.com Awards in our next catalog so I don’t want to give away what the group thought. For me, personally, I think it’s been a really great year for cigars. There’s been a lot of new releases I’ve really enjoyed. I was really obsessed with Ave Maria Divinia for the beginning of the year. I was pretty much enjoying that exclusively until I had Alec Bradley’s Tempus Nicaragua at the IPCPR. Lately, I’ve been really into Hammer & Sickle’s Hermitage (the one without the rating) and the classic Padilla 1932 that came back on to the market recently. Of course, those are just a few of the great cigars this year. If you want to check out a certain magazine’s top 25, we’ve compiled them all here. With the unusually warm weather, you can easily make it through these outstanding new releases in no time!   

by Sean G

Review: Gurkha Yakuza

Sean G ...actually worth the price.

Gurkha’s Yakuza is stunning. Yes, even for the brand known for their extravagant packaging, they’re actually outdone themselves with an elaborate, unrivaled, hand-carved box. Even though the most hardened enthusiast’s jaw would still drop upon first sight of this beauty. But you know the old adage, “You can’t smoke the packaging…”

We’ve seen this before from Gurkha, right? Stunning design, average blend, right? Wrong. Yakuza was a surprise from the first moment I fired one up. Coming across as full-bodied, Yakuza has this subtle creaminess to the blend that keeps it from becoming to over-powering. Otherwise, your palate gets hit with notes of spice, espresso, and oak that really drive home a relaxing feeling. This paired really well with a nice bourbon and is the perfect nightcap to a long day. My only complaint? The price. These beauties will set you back a few coins but these are one of the few cigars that actually live up to the price tag.

An Interview with Hamlet Paredes of Rocky Patel

Article: An Interview with Hamlet Paredes of Rocky Patel

Alex Svenson: Hamlet, tell us how you got started in the cigar industry?

Hamlet Paredes: I was introduced to the Partagas Cigar factory by one of the great Cuban rollers Rodolfo Leyva. I started out carrying boxes until I realized being a roller is the best job in the factory.

AS: Before coming to the U.S., where did you work in Cuba?

HP: I worked at Briones Montoto, the old Romeo y Julieta factory, and most recently a cigar store called Partagas La Casa Del Habanos where I was selling cigars and meeting new clients. I eventually was sent by Habanos, SA, the government owned Cuban cigar company, to travel the world and conduct rolling demonstrations at a number of stores.

AS: How did your partnership with Rocky Patel get started?

HP: It started because of my very good friends Robert Fox and Robert Ayala. I met them in Havana, Cuba and they contacted Rocky. Once my family and I were safely in Canada, Rocky got us a place to live in Naples, FL. I went to work soon after in Rocky’s cigar bar, Burn.

AS: What has been your biggest challenge along the way?

HP: The biggest challenge was that my whole life had to restart. I am very goal-oriented and have so many I need to accomplish and now that I am here, I am free to achieve them.  

AS: What is your opinion of Cuban cigars?

HP: Cuban cigars are a big part of my life. They have crafted my life and brought me here today.

Cuban cigars are what made me who I am today. They are very important to who I am and are responsible for bringing me to this point in my life.

AS: Tell us about the blending process of your inaugural cigar?

HP: I wanted to make a cigar that I would love and smoke every day — hoping that everybody else will enjoy it as well. This was the first time I got the opportunity to work with non-Cuban tobacco and I was very excited by all the possibilities. I wanted to capture the essence of a true Cuban cigar without using the tobacco I was so familiar with.

AS: What are some of your favorite tobaccos to work with?

HP: Cuban, of course since it is what I was raised on and all I was accustomed to using. I have been falling in love with the richness and depth of Nicaraguan, Mexican, and Brazilian tobaccos since coming to the United States.  

AS: What are your aspirations in the cigar industry?

HP: I love the idea of what a cigar stands for. It is a special moment in time. Being able to work with a product that is so unique is wonderful. It brings everybody together and forges a common bond, no matter what you do. I want to produce cigars that cross boundaries, that a farmer and CEO can smoke, enjoy, and bond over.

AS: Is there anything you would like to say to our Cigar.com readers before you go?

HP: Thank you guys for taking the time to learn a little more about me and be a part of my dream.