Daniel Bumgardner
7 Cigars For Special Occasions

With cigars, and likewise with pipes, it's easy to be accustomed to short smokes. Life is constantly in motion, and so the time and attention commitment required for a Group 6's worth of St James Flake or a full-bodied Churchill is typically in short supply. However, there are those occasions when you find yourself with a little more time on your hands, or perhaps at some sort of celebratory function for which you are expected to bring a gift.

Times like these call for something special, sure to hold your attention (which is another hot commodity these days). It should be a little more grand. Put simply, it should be something worth savoring. Fortunately, you needn't search high and low for such a luxury, as many impressive smokes are more readily available than you might think.

Ashton VSG Illusion

Ashton's VSG (Virgin Sun Grown) Illusion makes use of a special proprietary wrapper, grown on a singular estate in Ecuador, which lends it a distinctive profile of brownie-like cocoa, pepper, creamy earth, fruits, and caramel. Combined with a Dominican binder and filler, this stick is definitely on the more full-bodied end of the spectrum. And though not super premium (they can be found on the site for around $10), it's still an excellent quality cigar, and the box-pressed presentation is seriously choice.

Size: 6.5 X 44

Honorable mention: Ashton Symmetry Prism - "A Complex, full-bodied masterpiece, that does more than deliver on the promise of a bold and rich crescendo of fig and cedar. Add to it the woody notes of a super smooth and silky Ecuadorian-Habana wrapper and it makes it to legendary status without breaking a sweat." - Calvin

Tatuaje Cojonu 2006

Upping the ante a bit, Tatuaje crafts Old World Cuban Style cigars, made of first generation Cuban Seed tobacco grown in Nicaragua, with a smoke rich in creamy notes of peppery peanut butter, caramel, earth, and cinnamon. A medium to full stick, the Cojonu 2006 keeps to an understated, yet no less elegant presentation, with a Nicaraguan Corojo wrapper, rolled with a lovely Cuban Triple Cap and handsome double band.

Size: 6.5 X 52

Honorable mention: CAO Pilon Robusto - "A tasty smoke with similar components, I get this one when I don't want to invest too much time or thought (or money), but still want a nice smoke." - Calvin

Arturo Fuente Hemingway Masterpiece

For something slightly milder, but still with plenty of flavor, the Hemingway Masterpiece should at least keep you occupied for a good while. The longest cigar on this list, this 9-inch stogie contains a filler blend of Dominican tobaccos wrapped in a rare African Cameroon binder. It's not particularly complex, but the earthy, sweet, and slightly spicy smoke has amassed quite the following. As for the visual appeal, the torpedo shape and solid construction make for a good-looking presentation, too.

Size: 9 X 52

Honorable Mention: Oliva Serie G Cameroon Churchill - "I smoke both of these brands. The Oliva Serie G is similar in strength, but not quite as spicy as the Fuente." - Calvin

Drew Estate Liga Privada #9 Bellicoso

Originally developed by master blender Steve Saka as a cigar that he could smoke daily and hand out to his industry peers, the "No.9" uses a combination of base ingredients from seven different farms. With flavors of cedar, spice, earth, pepper, and red wine, the smoke is rich and complex — and strong but not overpowering. Of course, it was met with mass appeal, though the specificity of its blend components limits regular availability. Dressed in a rather dark, slightly oily Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, the presentation is classic and refined, with a torpedo-esque shape and band sporting a handwritten aesthetic.

Size: 6 X 52

Honorable Mention: Caldwell Cigar Company Long Live The King Belicoso Lock Stock - This stick with a mouthful of a name is appropriately a mouthful of a cigar, yielding a full-bodied, complex smoke with notes of dark chocolate, oak, earth, coffee, and hay, and with its attractive 2008 Dominican corojo wrapper and artful band design, it's one of this writer's personal favorites.

San Cristobal Ovation

With a blend of Nicaraguan leaf embraced by a unique, double-fermented Mexican San Andres oscuro wrapper, the medium-full bodied San Cristobal Ovation offers an earthy profile of pepper, chocolate, and coffee. And it certainly doesn't skimp on presentation, with a substantial, well-applied triple cap, bold, bright band, and vibrant, fuscia ribbon dressing the foot.

Size: 6.5 X 52

Honorable mention: My Father Le Bijou 1922 Torpedo Box Pressed - Another featuring an oscuro wrapper, this hand-rolled torpedo is also earthy and complex, with a handsome presentation as well.

La Aroma de Cuba Nobelesse

The first limited edition cigar from Ashton's La Aroma de Cuba line, the Toro sized Nobelesse features pure Nicaraguan leaf encased in an Ecuadoran Habano Rosado wrapper, making for a sweet and spicy, medium-bodied smoke with notes of dark cocoa, peanut butter, coffee, oak, and pepper. The presentation is excellent as well, with La Aroma de Cuba's lovely band and baby blue ribbon at the foot, a color not often seen on a cigar.

Size : 6.5 X 52

Honorable mention: Gurkha Heritage Toro - A medium to full-bodied stick, this one pairs an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and a Nicaraguan binder with a blend of select long-fillers, promising flavors of rich coffee and dark chocolate, offset by a balanced spice. It boasts a handsome presentation, partially encased in a sheath of cedar which can also be used to toast the foot — imparting the smoke with hints of the toasty wood and making for an even more complex experience.

Padron 45th Anniversary Maduro

This stick, unofficially nicknamed "The Hammer," is a reblended version of an apparently mythical cigar, the Padron Family Reserve, one that can only be obtained as a gift from a member of the Padron family. The 45th Anniversary was a commemoration of the company doing business in the states for 45 years, with each vitola entirely composed of 10-year aged Nicaraguan tobacco. Though classified as medium-bodied, it is a crescendo of strength with an excellent balance of spice, replete with notes of oak, dark chocolate, earth, and leather. The dark maduro wrapper is sort of a reddish brown color, and the tight box-pressed presentation exudes a sense of class, while also allowing the crimson and gold-colored band to stand out in stark juxtaposition. Not a cigar to be taken lightly, and a perfect option to give as a gift or bring to a function when you have some time to kill (and perhaps a nice whiskey).

Size: 6 X 52

Honorable mention: Serie 1926 40th Anniversary Torpedo - A favorite of Adam Davidson, this is another of Padron's commemorative smokes, rich in flavors of cocoa powder and toast. The torpedo presentation is also seriously dapper to boot.

Bonus Tip

If you're bringing along some cigars to a party or to give as a gift, don't forget to bring a cutter and flame! Accessories make great gifts too, after all.

Well that about does it for these special smokes, but if you have a favorite stogie you like to enjoy only on certain occasions, feel free to share in the comments. And make sure to give yourself a little time every now and then to indulge in something worth savoring.


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