Whether it’s fishing, sports, autos, or video gaming, a shared hobby/activity with your pops is a special bond like none other. For many, myself included, this is the shared passion for premium cigars.
Many sons and daughters take a liking to the leaf simply from watching the old man, gazing inquisitively from the sidelines, studying each ritualistic step leading to that nostalgic aroma of flame and tobacco. It’s a sensation that, even years later, can bring you back to that very moment in time, as if it were yesterday.
My experience was much different. With any form of smoking (or the very notion of tobacco) being profusely taboo throughout the family, my teenage friends and I worked our way through flavored machine-mades up through genuine (read: fake) Cubans under the cover of darkness into our early 20s. On an impromptu guy’s trip to Vegas, my brother and I were stunned when our dad proposed we pop into the Casa Fuente lounge within The Forum Shops at Caesars. The initial thought was that somehow he knew our dark secret and offered up the idea simply to see the phony look of disgust on our faces as we perused the humidor. But then he set his eyes on a target (i.e. the only sub-10-dollar smoke in the humidor) and, just like that, we shared our “first” cigar with a man clearly hitting some sort of mid-life crisis.
The supposed “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” code was thrown out within a week, with another smoking session—somehow more surprising than the first—making it clear that Pandora’s box had indeed been opened. Five-count samplers, desktop humidors, and paraphernalia followed closely behind. Then there were full-on cigar parties, a just-for-fun cigar blog, a robust wait-this-seems-serious cigar website, and an oh-this-is-our-lives-now cigar app. There have been more meaningful shared experiences with my dad than I can count in the following time-flying years until now, with the inexplicably powerful bond of premium cigars being largely to thank.
Whether you enjoy a premium smoke with your dad (or children) from time to time, or perhaps you go full bore and commit the majority of your time to the leaf… we’ve compiled a few of our top picks to enjoy together. Aside from offering memorable smoking experiences, these cigars all show the tremendous importance family plays within the cigar industry, with each cigar being made in honor of (or even in collaboration with) fathers, sons, and daughters.
Don Carlos Eye of the Shark
Celebrating Carlos Fuente Sr.’s 80th birthday in 2015, the father-son team released the acclaimed Don Carlos Eye of the Shark cigar as the year came to a close. The cigar, released alongside the Don Carlos Personal Reserve (Carlos Fuente Sr.’s personal blend), would later prove more poignant than anticipated, as Carlos Fuente Sr. passed away only a few short months later. Don Carlos Eye of the Shark went on to be awarded Cigar Aficionado’s No. 1 Cigar of the Year for 2017. Besides its striking appearance, the shark offers up a smooth smoking texture, delivering complex, syrupy flavors of maple, semi-sweet chocolate, stone fruit, campfire smokiness, and classic leather.
Full Review: Don Carlos Eye of the Shark
Días de Gloria
While A.J. Fernández has been “the hottest name in premium cigars” for some time now, it wasn’t until his father, Ismael, joined him at his factory in Nicaragua that his tobacco empire truly hit its stride. The first cigar they created was New World, a smash hit that was soon followed by the Enclave, a host of New World sister blends, and the most recent release, Días de Gloria. This cigar perhaps best exemplifies Fernández’s respect for his father, being made in homage of the “glory days” of Cuban tobacco (i.e. pre-Castro-era Cuban tobacco), the tobacco that both his father and grandfather worked with in the family’s former home of San Luis, Cuba. Días de Gloria is rolled entirely from tobaccos grown on A.J.’s four oldest farms in Nicaragua, each being located in Estelí. With portions of the blend being aged up to seven years, the cigar is one of the most balanced, traditional smoking experiences in the AJF portfolio, hitting highlight characteristics of pepper, cedar, ginger, caramel, and salted butter.
Full Review: Días de Gloria Short Churchill
Las 6 Provincias LHB
They don’t call Erik Espinosa, owner of Espinosa Premium Cigars, the “Alpha Dawg” for nothing. As one of the hardest-working men in the world of premium cigars, Erik favors being in the driver’s seat. When debuting his own company in 2012, after working for years as a brand rep for many of the largest names in premium cigars, Erik took the extra step of simultaneously launching his own cigar factory in Nicaragua to handle production. So when the “Alpha Dawg” handed over the reins to his son, Erik Jr., with the release of the Las 6 Provincias series in 2018, smokers took notice. Junior spearheaded the project, custom-designing dress boxes for the cigars that flipped traditional cigar packaging on its head—somewhat literally, in fact. Las 6 Provincias not only symbolizes the passing of the torch from father to son, but the Espinosas’ Cuban heritage as a whole, with Las 6 Provincias LHB representing one of the six original provinces of Cuba. The cigar is perhaps the most premium blend from Espinosa to date, going on to be awarded Cigar Dojo’s No. 3 Cigar of the Year for 2018. The LHB is is deep and hearty, providing medium-full-bodied flavors of mineral, punchy horseradish spice, prune juice, brown sugar, and atypical, clove-like spices.
Full Review: Las 6 Provincias LHB
Fans of Warped Cigars know that company owner, Kyle Gellis, has a tremendous level of respect and admiration for his father. Unlike many cigars and cigar families on this list, Kyle’s father wasn’t involved in the tobacco industry. He is, however, an ardent admirer of the leaf, passing down his knowledge and appreciation to Kyle. In his honor, Kyle introduced the Don Reynaldo cigar in 2014. It was originally a limited edition, being rolled in an elegant 5½” x 42 corona vitola at the boutique-minded El Titan de Bronze factory in Miami. The cigars, medium in intensity and bursting with complexity, were such a hit that Kyle brought them back (though in a different 5″ × 46 size) for good, noting that his father encouraged him to do so. In the regular-production format, Don Reynaldo became the first cigar to receive a 96 rating on Cigar Dojo; today, it is in a three-way tie for the highest rating.
Full Review: Don Reynaldo Regalos
Quesada Reserva Privada
Quesada Reserva Privada is, in our opinion, one of the finest Connecticut-wrapped cigars we’ve ever smoked. Rolled at the Quesada Cigars factory in the Dominican Republic, Manuel Quesada (president and master blender at Quesada Cigars) noted upon the cigar’s release that it was “the best blend of my life.” The Reserva Privada’s origin dates back to 1997, where the Quesada family produced an exceptional crop of San Vicente tobacco. Rather than push the leaves through the various steps of processing, Manuel baled the tobacco and tucked the leaves away for a project more suitable of their unusually high grade. Such a project arrived at the behest of Manuel’s daughters, Patricia and Raquel, insisting that the leaves could make for something special when combined with contrasting ingredients of Pennsylvania ligero (used in the filler) and Connecticut Shade (the cigar’s wrapper). The cigars were rolled and left to age an additional year, allowing the disparate leaves plenty of time to properly meld. Quesada Reserva Privada is refined and delicate, yet surprisingly tenacious in flavor output, offering distinct flavors of black tea, bread dough, nutmeg, cinnamon, and a sweet and creamy finish of vanilla and amaretto.
Full Review: Quesada Reserva Privada Robusto
After bringing the Carrillo family name to prominence during the great cigar boom of the ’90s, selling the company to cigar giant Swedish Match, and subsequently running the La Gloria Cubana operations in the Dominican Republic for the next decade, Ernesto Perez-Carrillo thought he had done it all… But Carrillo was then approached by his daughter, Lissette Perez-Carrillo, and son, Ernesto Perez-Carrillo III, proposing he return to the family’s origins and craft boutique-minded cigars once more. The result was a factory (Tabacalera La Alianza S.A.) and company (E.P. Carrillo Cigar Company), consistently offering many of the industry’s most acclaimed cigars in the years to follow. The cigar to embody the familial business best is La Historia, which was made to honor the Carrillo heritage, placing added emphasis on the strong women of the family. La Historia uses a San Andrés maduro wrapper over an Ecuador Sumatra binder and all-Nicaraguan fillers. The smoke is nearly full in body, bringing robust flavors of savory meat, zesty spice, smoked hardwoods, and dark stone fruit sweetness.
Full Review: La Historia E-III
Aladino is the headlining act from JRE Tobacco Co., a family-owned and operated business that includes three generations of the Eiroa family. The Eiroas are best known for bringing the Camacho brand to prominence throughout the late ’90s / early 2000s, as well as their Eiroa Tobacco Farm, which specializes in original Cuban-seed Corojo tobacco. In 2015, family patriarch, Julio Eiroa, partnered with his eldest son, Justo, to introduce a range of cigars under the JRE Tobacco name. The father and son team have focused their attention on the nostalgic palate, showcasing cigars that look and smoke uncannily similar to Cubans of the ’40s and ’50s, often described as the country’s heyday of cigar craftsmanship. Whether or not you’ve experienced such vintage blends, the Aladino registers a strong connection with seasoned palates, lighting up with classic, dependable complexities of medium-roast coffee, aromatic cabinet spices, cedar, pretzel dough, and a smooth and buttery finish.
Full Review: Aladino Robusto
This is obviously a no-brainer—it has the concept we’re looking for right in the name! But the fact is, it’s not just the concept that this cigar gets right, but the performance as well. The cigar launched in 2008, made by Jaime García in secret for his father, the legendary Don José “Pepín” García. As the story goes, Don Pepín learned of the project and asked Jaime for three of the cigars. The demanding palate of the Don was so pleased that the cigars, appropriately dubbed My Father, would go on to become the family’s premiere brand. Not only this, but the family’s company and Nicaraguan factory took the My Father name as well! While there are now more My Father spinoff blends than you can count on one hand, it is the original that we gravitate to most often. Using an Ecuadorian Habano rosado wrapper over the Garcías’ own Nicaraguan binder/fillers, My Father is medium-plus in body and full in flavors, livening up the palate with a host of cabinet spices, most notably being reminiscent of Christmas-season aromas (think ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, star anise, and sage), being backed by a solid core of coffee beans and leather.
Full Review: My Father No. 1
Padrón 1926 Serie No. 90
The original Padrón 1926 Serie was named in honor of Padrón family patriarch and founder, José Orlando Padrón, and his birth year of 1926. Like most famed tobacco families, the Padróns are not one to let a family or company milestone go unnoticed. The final such commemorative cigar for José was the Padrón 1926 Serie No. 90, being released in 2016 in celebration of his 90th birthday. The great José O. Padrón died at 91 in late 2017, though his legacy lives on through one of the most successful premium cigar companies in history. Padrón 1926 Serie No. 90 offers the original 1926 blend in a previously unseen format: 5½” × 52 Robusto Extra. Unusual in the Padrón portfolio, the cigars are not box-pressed. They are, however, rolled in both Natural and Maduro varieties, a signature of the Padróns. Padrón 1926 Serie No. 90 lights up with a concentrated smoke, delivering a medium body and full flavor output, hitting highlight flavors of white pepper, mocha, leather, aged tobacco, and brown sugar sweetness.
Full Review: Padrón 1926 Serie No. 90 Natural