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ModernHomeTheater.com – Lifestyle and Design
Premium Cigars
Dr. Ken Taraszka

Cigars are a part of the American luxury lifestyle and have grown in popularity in recent years, especially among the well-heeled. The increase in worldwide Scotch consumption may have only aided this trend, as cigars and Scotch go together as well as chocolate and peanut butter. Cigars in the United States are unfortunately divided into two categories: legal cigars and illegal Cubans. Without question, Cuban cigars are great and often – when they are real – they can be the best in the world. I say “real,” as it is estimated that in the United States that up to 90 percent of Cuban cigars are fakes. Doubt me? Go to Harrods in London and buy some Cohibas, bring them back and compare them to the ones your friends have been paying $50 a pop for and you’ll quickly see what I am talking about. Don’t fret, though, good cigars that are legal in this country (as well as illegal ones) are available. Here are some of the top cigars, both legal and illegal, to try with your next single malt.

Acid Kuba Kuba ($6.85)
Up until now, only the Australian Aborigines were known for smoking acid. Now you can too – and legally! Handmade in Nicaragua by Drew Estates, using all natural materials, each Acid cigar has its own special flavor and all are intensely aromatic, thanks to infusions with herbs, botanicals and essential oils. Hand-rolled, beautifully labeled and packaged, these cigars might not please the serious aficionado, but this might be right up the alley of the casual smoker looking for something softer.

Punch Grand Cru Robusto Maduro ($7.50)
At five-and-a-quarter inches long and a 50 ring size circumference, this is a classic Honduran robusto cigar, smooth with a hint of spice. The Havana seed-grown maduro wrapper adds punch without getting bitter. A powerful cigar for when you have only so long to smoke, but still want the best you can get.

Arturo Fuente Hemingway Signature Cigar ($12)
A perfect-sized cigar at six inches in length and a 47 ring size around, this cigar was originally made by Arto Fuente for company use. In 1983, they introduced it to the world to rave reviews. This is one of the best legal cigars in America, smooth and slightly sweet without a bite at the end, one of the world’s top cigars at any price.

H. Upmann Corona ($14)
The Upmann Corona is a medium-sized cigar with a 42 ring size and a 142-millimeter length, but they offer a solid value in the high-end world. Smoother than they should be for the price, and with an excellent burn and ash, these cigars are popular in cigar bars across the country, and for good reason. They burn well, taste good and don’t get edgy at the end.

Partagas 898 Barnizar (illegal in the US)
This sought-after cigar is a meaty, spicy, almost chocolaty Cuban cigar that is strong in character but smooth in taste, exceptionally rolled with a medium dark wrapper that enhances the flavor of the cigar. It is mid-priced in the Cuban market and well worth the cost. This has the slightest bite towards the end and are is of the best buys in Cuban cigars available. This is a good midsized cigar, with a length of 170mm and a 43 ring size, making it a cigar you could smoke without too long a time commitment.

Cohiba Robusto (illegal in the US)
When and if you can get them, these are some of the finest Cubans made. A tolerable 124mm length and 50 ring size, along with a medium wrapper and of the finest Cuban tobacco, make for one of the best cigars on the planet. The rolling of these is so perfect I’ve seen four inch ashes on them. The nicotine content is high and can make even a seasoned smoker high halfway into the cigar. The flavor of a Cohiba Robusto is to die for and, for those who have had a true Cuban, legendary. This is the cigar by which all others should be judged.

Trinidad Double Robusto (illegal in the US)
Originally manufactured for Fidel Castro himself, the Trinidad cigar company reestablished quality control in the Cuban cigar industry. A huge cigar with a 50 ring size and 192mm length, this is one to spend some time with and enjoy. These are super-hard to come by and very expensive when they are found. The taste is smooth and sweet, with subtle vanilla undertones. You’ll know why Castro had them made for him once you spend some time with one of these cigars, as this is the rarest of treats.

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