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The God of Small Things

Over the past few weeks I have been smoking quite a few of the smaller vitolas within the Habanos range. These cigars have provided me with a huge amount of enjoyment and, despite a few disparaging comments, I am clearly not the only one to hold this opinion. Last year in the UK domestic market the top five selling cigars were:

1. Montecristo – No4
2. H. Upmann – Corona Junior (tubos)
3. Montecristo – Petit Tubos
4. Montecristo No5
5. Romeo y Julieta No2 (tubed)

This list may not come as a huge surprise to many of you, but it does say something about the way cigars are currently being enjoyed in this country. People are, for a number of reasons, enjoying relatively small cigars on a regular basis. Before jumping to too many conclusions it is worth pointing out that the next five places contained three Robustos (Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No2, Partagas D4 and Cohiba Robusto), and a Piramides (Montecristo No2), so small cigars do not have it all their own way.

There are many reasons people offer for ‘having’ to smoke smaller cigars like time constraints, the weather, convenience or expense. While all of these are perfectly valid they fail to acknowledge the joy one can experience smoking one of these cigars in their own right. To brand the smaller cigar as a ‘make-do’ option or just a ‘quick fix’ is to do them a immense injustice and is somewhat missing the point. These cigars can provide an oasis of calm and stillness during a busy day, they can supply a genuine taste of Habanos without demanding too much of your time and they can become an ideal companion during short breaks or journeys. There is nothing worse than feeling rushed while smoking a cigar, far better to select the correct format for the occasion.

So, with this seemingly the season for lists I have compiled one of my own. It is unapologetically subjective and comes with a caveat that I may change my mind at any point from day to day. But, for now, here is my top five small cigars.

Partagas – Shorts
This superb cigar holds all of the flavour and intensity of the Partagas brand. This is one of the very first cigars I smoked and I have been a convert ever since. Ideally from a cabinet of 50 the Shorts is a grand cigar on a small scale. Flawless.

Montecristo – Petit Edmundo
This is the largest cigar on the list but I felt I had to include it. I remember being fairly sceptical when this cigar was launched but was left astounded by the way they smoked. A great size, loads of spice and pepper and typical earthy Montecristo tones. A luxurious small cigar.

Trinidad – Reyes
Complex, smooth, distinct, full flavoured yet lacking in any harshness whatsoever. A master class in style, sophistication, flavour and elegance. I can smoke these at any time of the day or evening and will always enjoy it.

Cuaba – Divinos
A real powerhouse of a cigar. So much flavour packed into this Petit Bouquet vitola. Although not classically defined as such, I would label this the strongest cigar on the list. The ideal digestif after a satisfying evening meal and, with their distinctive shape, they look as good as they smoke.

San Cristobal de la Habano – El Principe
Launched as recently as 1999 this brand proved to be a very welcome addition to the Habanos portfolio. Light to medium in strength, rich, smooth and extremely well balanced for such a young cigar the El Principe rounds off my list. This become a firm favourite amoung the staff of the cigar shop I used to manage – and for good reason.

So, there it is – my top five small cigars. These are all little masterpieces in their own right and should be cherished as such, not viewed as a quick alternative to a ‘proper’ cigar. I know there is nothing like taking time out to enjoy a large format cigar, but I just felt someone needed to stand up for the little guy…

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