Whether I’m in the shop or just woefully neglecting my @magiccityburn Twitter feed, people are constantly asking me: What’s your favorite cigar? What do you smoke? Can you recommend a good cigar at $6? $10? $20? What might I like in the way of a mild/medium/full smoke?
So I want to do a series of cigar reviews where I try and answer those questions. Think of it as a look into what sticks I have in heavy rotation. These will line up closely with the recommendations I give as folks ask for them and start to talk about their preferences. Keep in mind, this list is going to be fluid and I’ll add and drop cigars from this list as new cigars are released and replace them. It’s never going to be an exhaustive list of what I’m smoking at any given time, but, it’s a quick and dirty way to find some quality smokes, and maybe revisit some old friends who, maybe, you haven’t smoked recently.
Today, I’m going to start with a mild bodied cigar. That probably makes sense as it’s where most cigar smokers are going to start picking up recommendations. It’s for sure where I’m going to start my day smoking. This is the kind of smoke that I pair with a cup of coffee either first thing in the morning or, perhaps, when opening the shop on Sunday. If someone has never smoked a cigar before, is making the move from infused cigars to more traditional sticks or is looking for a mild stick to add to the lineup, this is one of a handful of smokes I’ll have in my figurative back pocket to suggest.
The Oliva Connecticut Reserve Toro
The Oliva Connecticut Reserve is made of Nicaraguan filler and binder with an Ecuadorian shade grown Connecticut wrapper. It is, by far, the mildest cigar that Oliva produces. Depending on which vitola suits you, these cigars run anywhere from $6-10, which may vary some depending on your state and local taxes. I tend to gravitate back and forth between the Robusto and the Toro, because the 50 ring gauge space works well for me. If I want a smoke to run for an hour or so, I’ll go with the Robusto. If I want a little while longer with it, I’ll lean the direction of the Toro. For cigar geeks, Oliva produces a 6 and a half by 44 lonsdale. And for the large ring gauge fans, a 6 by 60 Double Toro. Oliva’s Toro in this blend is a 6 by 50 and it’s one of my favorite mild sticks, both to smoke and to introduce other smokers to. I found this one for $8.19
The Oliva Connecticut Reserve is anything but threatening. The way Oliva packages it, it’s almost inviting you to try it. It looks the part of your typical mild cigar. A smooth, near perfect Connecticut wrapper, white and gold Oliva branding on the band. These are hallmarks that the cigar you’re about to light is going to be light, smooth and palatable.
The construction on this Nicaraguan Toro lives somewhere between good and great. But it’s consistently firm and tightly wrapped. The shade grown Connecticut wrapper is light, leaving visible seams down the body of the cigar, but it’s neither toothy nor veiny. A straight cut with my double guillotine cutter gives plenty of air flow. The burn rarely requires retouches or relights and leaves a pleasant, gray ash column behind.
So why, with all of the choices available in the traditional, mild cigar palate space, do I pick a Nicaraguan over a Dominican blend? If you spend any time smoking in the this mild cigar space, you’re invariably going to hear someone refer to a cigar as being creamy. I don’t want to make this sound like a myth, but, in general, in these milder smokes, the primary flavors you’re going to find are going to sound a lot like hay and natural tobacco. I can put four mild cigars in a new smoker’s hand on any given day and, until his or her palate develops, that’s likely all they’ll ever taste. The Connecticut Reserve is different. There’s a completely perceptible presence of cream on this stick. There are also secondary notes of coffee, cedar and sweet spices. Oliva manages to put out an approachable, entry level option, with notes that will appeal to the average, Nicaraguan leaning, American cigar smoker. So whether it’s a new smoker trying to figure out what he or she likes or an experienced smoker looking for a morning smoke or change of pace, this smoke makes for a reliable recommendation.
I’ve probably smoked 100 of these over the years. And I’ll probably keep smoking them until someone comes along and puts out a better creamy, mild, morning smoke for less than $8. If you’re new to smoking and don’t know what to try, I’m confident enough making the recommendation believing that you’d come back for a second cigar. If you’re an experienced smoker who missed this in favor of the more medium bodied Oliva O and V series (I’m a huge fan of the Melanio V), this one is worth having in a lineup on a day where you may smoke two or three cigars.