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Cigar 101

What is a Puro Cigar?

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

A Puro is a cigar rolled from tobaccos grown in a single country. The wrapper, binder, and filler tobaccos in a Puro can be grown in different regions within a single country, but they must come from one country. All Cuban cigars are Puros because no Cuban cigars are crafted with tobaccos from other nations. In Cuba, tobacco for premium cigars is cultivated in four primary growing regions: Partido, Semi-Vuelta, Remedios, and Vuelta Abajo.

The best non-Cuban Puros are produced by prominent cigar-makers in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. Successfully blending a Puro outside of Cuba is a challenge many cigar-makers undertake, but few accomplish. Puros are prized for their refined and uniform taste. Today’s highest-rated Puros make routine appearances in Cigar Aficionado’s annual rankings for Top 10 Cigars of the Year. Here are a few fine Puros to put on your wish list.

Fuente Fuente Opus X (Dominican Republic)

No cigar better illustrates the challenge of blending an authentic non-Cuban Puro than Fuente Fuente Opus X. Carlito Fuente invested millions of dollars and many years developing a Dominican Puro, despite the barrage of naysayers who tried and failed before him and professed it could not be done. Quality wrapper could not be cultivated in the Dominican Republic according to them. Fuente, of course, after much trial and error and risk, proved them all wrong. The Oliva family, who’ve grown wrapper for the Fuentes for decades, lent their assistance, selling select plots of land in the DR to Fuente who believed it had the potential to grow wrapper. What began as a small 50-acre experiment has blossomed into today’s sprawling Chateau de la Fuente estates, where the finest Fuente tobacco is cultivated.

Fuente Fuente Opus X debuted in 1995 and is arguably the most sought-after Puro in the world today, even when compared against the rarest Cubans. Cigar lovers will stop at nothing to procure boxes of their favorite shapes, many of which are sold exclusively at Fuente family events in select retailers. In 2005, Opus X was ranked as Cigar Aficionado’s ‘#1 Cigar of the Year,’ and in 2020, the blend was rated 97 points and ranked as the ‘#2 Cigar of the Year.’ A shimmering Sun Grown Dominican wrapper conceals a proprietary blend of rare binder and filler tobaccos. Its powerful, polished profile of baking spices, caramel, cedar, figs, and fresh coffee continues to dazzle connoisseurs lucky enough to savor it.

Ashton ESG (Dominican Republic)

Legendary cigar-maker Carlito Fuente has been blending the Ashton portfolio for more than 35 years. To commemorate the brand’s 20th anniversary, Ashton ESG (Estate Sun Grown) debuted in 2005. Like Opus X, Ashton ESG is drawn from exclusive reserves of the Fuente family’s oldest tobaccos, but its taste is entirely unique. Aficionados adore ESG for its refined profile of cedar, graham cracker, cocoa, and black pepper. Signature Fuente spices sweep in and out in five traditional shapes. Its velvety texture reveals creamy nuances from beginning to end. A glistening Sun Grown Dominican wrapper embraces a vintage interior of premium long-fillers aged to perfection. Find this 94-rated masterpiece, ranked in Cigar Aficionado’s ‘Top 10,’ in select Ashton retailers around the world.   

Flor de las Antillas (Nicaragua)

In 2012, celebrated cigar-maker Jose ‘Pepin’ Garcia, scored his first ‘#1 Cigar of the Year’ title for the 96-rated Flor de las Antillas. Garcia was well known for blending dozens of top-rated cigars in his My Father portfolio, but Flor de las Antillas was the first Puro to catapult his brand into the ranks of today’s most prominent makers. An oily, reddish-brown Sun Grown wrapper harbors a premium interior of well-aged Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos cultivated on Garcia family estates in three of Nicaragua’s prized tobacco-growing regions: Esteli, Jalapa, and Namanji. Its chewy, medium to full-bodied profile of nutmeg, cayenne, and cedar layers the palate with approachable spices in a series of cool-burning shapes.

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