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Cuban Cigars

Best Small Cuban Cigars

J. Bennett Alexander Alexander's picture

J. Bennett Alexander

Smoking cigars, like a lot of other pursuits in life, is a game of inches. Or millimeters. Sometimes you just don’t have the time, but you have the urge to smoke a cigar. So, you need a smaller one. And you want a Cuban one. It used to be that if you didn’t have much time and wanted to smoke a Cuban cigar, you’d have to settle for one of the few, sometimes not so tasty, relatively thin, Petit Coronas in the Habanos portfolio. That changed around 2015 when the Cubans began offering shorter, but fatter cigars. Overall, recognizing what the market wants, the small Cuban cigars have gotten a bit better.

WHAT IS “SMALL?”

Or what is a small cigar? For me, it’s one that takes less than 30 minutes to enjoy, almost regardless of the cigar’s dimensions. Realistically, that means mostly something in the way of a Petit Corona and maybe a Corona.  Petit Coronas usually have a ring gauge of no more than 42 and should be about four inches long. Because they are relatively thin, they tend to burn well, if constructed well, but that is so often not the case with smaller Cuban cigars. Coronas range from 42 to 44 in ring gauge and are generally no more than six inches long. Of course, what the manufacturer calls the cigar is often different from the general dimensions of the traditional vitola, and, I’ve noticed that in the past 10 years, the Cuban Petit Coronas have gotten a bit longer.

NEED TO KNOW

Thinner cigars have a larger wrapper-to-filler ratio than thicker cigars. That means that a greater percentage of the flavor in a thin cigar is coming from the wrapper. Also, thinner cigars tend to burn faster, though a well-made one will burn evenly and at the right pace. Let’s be clear, though. Thin does not mean small. So, thin and relatively short is what we’re looking for. I’m going with cigars no longer than five inches.

In any case, there are many more – and some fatter – options than in the recent past when it comes to smaller Cuban cigars. They’re great as an accompaniment to an aperitif if you plan on smoking more later on. They’re also generally quite pricey and, buyer beware, they can be quite badly plugged. Here are my picks for the best small Cuban cigars available right now.

LOS FLACOS (THE SKINNY ONES)

BOLIVAR CORONAS JUNIOR

This is among the better-rolled Cuban small cigars that I’ve had. The wrapper is considerably less veiny than most. It’s a full-bodied cigar, for a Cuban, and measures 4.375 x 42. In terms of price, it’s on the lower end, but not cheap at about $15 in London.

COHIBA SIGLO I

This small Cuban cigar hews to the traditional size of a Petit Corona. It’s 4 x 40 and its price, about $21, packs a wallop. The flavor from a lot of dense smoke is filled with coffee, leather, caramel, and a strong cedar finish. It’s definitely medium-full. The Cohiba Medio Siglo is a fatter version of the Siglo I, but it’s got a 52 ring gauge and goes for more than $30, so it’s not a contender in this category.

PARTAGÁS SHORT

At 4.375 x 42, this fits the trend of slightly longer Petit Coronas, but it is an interesting, relatively complex smoke. Priced a bit higher than $15, it ends up being a full-power small Cuban cigar that starts off a little easier on the palate with significant complexity. There are wood and toast notes at the beginning, and heavy notes of sweet almonds, espresso and red pepper toward the end. Be ready for the turn. Everything happens faster with small cigars.

RAMON ALLONES SMALL CLUB CORONA

This is probably the strongest cigar of the small Cuban cigars listed here. At 4.375 x 42, you’re going to get a lot of flavor, but be aware that these often draw very tightly. At about $15, it delivers the familiar earthy and leathery notes of the Ramon Allones brand, along with good spices of nutmeg and black pepper.

ROMEO Y JULIETA CEDRO DE LUXE NO. 3

This is the bargain in the bunch. At about $8.00, you get a relatively full-bodied cigar, squeaking in at 5 x 42. The cedar sleeve on the cigar makes it that much more attractive (and you can make a spill to light the cigar), but it’s really among the classic Petit Coronas in the Cuban pantheon. There’s a sweetness and cocoa at the beginning, yielding to some coffee, wood and earthy notes as you go along. Still, if you can, try one before you commit to a box. The construction and mix of filler can vary significantly from year to year.

LOS GORDITOS (THE CHUBBY ONES)

SELECCIÓN PETIT ROBUSTOS

Essentially, these cigars come in a 50-ring gauge, but only about four inches in length. They are short, or Petit Robustos first offered in 2015 as a sampler box of 10 cigars, with two each from Cohiba, Romeo y Julieta, H. Upmann, Partagás and Montecristo. These are the top five Cuban brands. You can still find this limited special release for about $130-$170 in some European shops. But are they really small Cuban cigars, or just smaller Robustos? Tell ya what, I like the girth of these shorter cigars, and their prices are comparable to small Cuban cigars like Petit Coronas, so I would recommend giving them a try if you want to increase the chances of a good draw on your cigar.

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