Classic Cigar Reviews

As we discussed in our Oldies but Goodies article, we spent some time sampling some of the older brands that our readers may or may not be familiar with. Here we provide some short cigar reviews of the following classic cigars:

  • Don Tomas Clasico
  • Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur
  • Saint Luis Rey
  • Arturo Fuente – Curly Head
  • Arturo Fuente 858

Don Tomas Clasico Tube 5.5×50

The Don Tomas Clasico is return back to those days of the 1990’s cigar boom. The Clasico comes in a bright yellow aluminum tube and is wrapped in cedar. Removing the Clasico from the tube and it’s cedar sheath, reveals a rather handsome looking cigar. Gently rugged, with a few noticeable veins, this light brown Connecticut wrapped cigar is itching to be burned.

The Clasico is pretty much all Honduran tobacco expect for the filer which is a blend of Honduran and Nicaraguan leaf.

When fired up, the Clasico offered a peppery front end  with a pleasurable aroma and full volumes of smoke. The construction was solid with a decent burn and medium grey ash. Besides the early pepper you should expect to savor some sweetness, cedar, and a touch of dried cocoa.

Overall the Don Tomas Clasico is a medium  body cigar that is sure to please many palates.

Hoyo de Monterrey  Excalibur No. I EMS 7.4 x 58

Before the rush to Nicaragua the rage was Honduras and one of the best was the Hoya de Monterrey Exalibur. They came in 2 different wrappers a Maduro and English Market Selection (EMS) and offered some of the biggest ring gauges for the time. I always went for the No. I the largest of the line.  The Exalibur was big, bold, and a step ahead of the more mild Dominicans of the time. The Hoyo de Monterrey was arguably the first authentic Habana-style cigar made outside of Cuba. The plants that yielded the leaf comes from tobacco seeds smuggled out of Cuba in a diplomatic pouch. It has been said that it is so good, that the Robb Report and Cigar Aficionado, were all but federally required to praise it in terms usually reserved for works of art. Cigar Cyclopedia also gave the collection an “A” rating. No wonder I loved it so much back in the day. It was my go-to cigar.

In addition to the selection of wrapper (Maduro or EMS) the Excalibur has Honduran, Nicaraguan, Dominican filler and Connecticut Shade and Broadleaf binder.

Expect oodles of smoke from this baby as it burns down leaving a bright white ash in its remains. The flavors you can expect are going to be heavy on cedar as it is cedar aged, but be ready for the initial hit of red pepper that awakens your palate when you light it up. Other notes that filter through are coffee, cocoa, wood and leather. You will also notice some bitterness at times coming from the Connecticut shade used in this cigar. Overall this is a big smoke that does last well beyond an hour and should provide a fairly consistent smoking experience.

Saint Luis Rey 4.25x 54 Short Robusto

There is a lot of mystery behind the name of this brand. According to the Saint Louis Rey web site:

One theory is that a Thornton Wilder play, “The Bridge of Saint Luis Rey,” was the inspiration behind this smoke’s moniker. Another is that it was named after the town of San Luis in the Vuelta Abajo tobacco region in Cuba, where these cigars were originally rolled.

Regardless of the mystery, you can rest assured these are decent cigars and can be had for a modest price. While they are made in Honduras, the cigar itself is more Nicaraguan leaf than anything else. The wrapper and binder is Nicaraguan and the filler is Nicaraguan and Peruvian.

This is a delightful short robusto that has a definite quality construction staring with the brownish wrapper that has a slight reddish hue to it. It is well capped and includes a band that is classic Cuban style.

The draw was sweet to the tongue and palate. Once fired up, the Saint Louis Rey provided notes of chocolate and raisin to start that evolved nicely into a slight dose of pepper and included a woody undertone. The ash was solid and salt and pepper in color. It finished with a touch of cedar and coffee flavor.

Overall this was a pleasant cigar and it was what I recalled back in the day as I hung out at one of the now defunct cigar lounges in town – due to a hurricane wiping out the shopping center on the beach.

Arturo Fuente – Curly Head 6.3×42

For all you bargain hunters out there, the Arturo Fuente – Curly Head is still one of the best smokes for the price. The Curly Head is a rugged looking cigar with a loose leaf on the foot and a tucked in pigtail on the cap. There are quite a few veins in the cigar but then again it is a Curly Head. The cigar comes in a cellophane wrapper simply printed with the words A. Fuente in gold.

Arturo Fuente – Curly Head

It has wonderful sweet tobacco scent prior to lighting it up, although there is not much on the dry draw. Surprisingly, the Curly Head had a perfect draw and a full body of smoke with a very decent burn line and a solid whitish grey ash. The ash actually held on longer than I recalled when I used to pick these up for a lunch time smoke at the local shop in the Melbourne shopping mall. Sadly that shop is also no longer around.

The Curly Head is not full of flavor but not bitter either. It is kind of earthy. We never really described sticks this way years ago but then again my palate has matured a lot. At least that is what one of my local tobacconists told me when I came home from a 6 month trip to Germany after smoking nothing but Cuban cigars. I recalled the Fuente Double Chateau to be a wonderful cigar at the time and when I smoked one I said – what did they do to this cigar? My friend explained that the cigar is the same but my palate is not. Any how, I guess he was right.

Overall the burn was dead nuts on and there was a touch of tangy fruit in the profile also. This is still a great mid-day smoke and you can’t beat the price. I was once told that the curly head is made from the left over Hemingway cigar leaf, but I never verified that.

Arturo Fuente – 858 6×47

The Arturo Fuente 858 is still a classic cigar at a reasonable price. The name “858” is a tribute to Arturo himself. Arturo passed away at the age of 85 and in honor of him the family decided to take Arturo’s personal blend to market and named it the “858” which is a palindrome to his age when he died and a forever remembrance to the family’s patriarch.

The Arturo Fuente 858 is part of the Gran Reserva line of cigars. It has a dark maduro Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper that is a tad blotchy in spots but that has no impact on the flavor or burn of the cigar. The filler and binder are both Dominican.

There is a sweet hay scent on the foot and an aroma of sweet tobacco along the barrel. It has a simple cap, that when clipped off, provides an easy draw that has a cedar flavor to it. As I fire it up I recall the days of taking short road trips down to West Palm beach on Thursdays with my good friend and cigar cohort Mike. The “858” fills your palate with smoke on every puff and there is a small nasal burn, in the beginning on the retrohale.

As I smoke the “858” I queued up some Talking Heads on the turntable  and just sat back recalling the old days. It is a wonderful moment of solitude in the Stogie Press  lounge. Sweet notes are filling my palate as much as the sound of the Talking Heads.

The ash does not hold on long, about an inch and half. It is good thing that recalled that, as I had the ash tray right in front of me. It is quite amazing that this cigar has been around so long and is still consistent in burn and flavor.

As the “858” burns there is a floral earthy aroma and nothing complex in flavor just a sweet cedar taste throughout a perfect burn and smooth delightful smoke.

No matter what you smoke and enjoy today, the “858” is always one you should have in your humidor. They are a perfect mild to medium stogie that can be enjoyed anytime of the day and can please any level of cigar smoker.

Well we hope you enjoyed taking a small trip down memory lane and reading these short cigar reviews of some of the classic cigars; and if you get a chance pick up one of these cigars and enjoy a taste of consistency.

1 thought on “Classic Cigar Reviews

  • I have both the 858 and Curly Head in my humidor right now (both aging to see what happens), but I wish I could get my hands on an aged Excalibur…that stick looks very, very tasty. Loved the article Jimmie.

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