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Coolest Cigar Bands

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

Cracking open your humidor can be like taking a trip to the art museum. Not only are the cigars themselves elegant, handmade works of art, but in most cases, the bands that adorn them are filled with rich color, texture, and detail, replete with symbolism and visual storytelling.

In an era where we’re constantly being peppered with ads, products, and services in an effort to get us to pull the trigger, the patience and thoughtfulness expressed in cigar band imagery is a welcome relief from the relentless barrage of consumable commodities marketed to the masses. Even if you’re not a cigar lover, it takes effort to be indifferent to the art on cigar boxes and bands.

Below, we’ve highlighted a handful of the coolest cigar bands available today. Many of the most impressive cigar bands are printed in a single facility in the Netherlands operated by Vrijdag [frītag], a premium packaging printer whose specialized techniques and machinery allow for sculptured embossing, precision die-cutting, and unparalleled detail. You may or may not collect cigar bands, but we’re fans of hanging onto the following trophies when you get a chance to smoke them.

1.  Fuente Fuente Opus X

Fuente Fuente Opus X debuted in 1995 to unprecedented consumer anticipation. A number of veteran cigar-makers remained skeptical that Carlito Fuente would succeed in growing quality wrapper in the Dominican Republic – a feat not previously achieved by any brand – to make his first Dominican Puro, Fuente Fuente Opus X.

More than two decades later, success is an understatement as Fuente Fuente Opus X remains one of the most coveted cigars in the world, and that’s by comparison with the finest releases from Cuba, Nicaragua, and more.

Cigar lovers can spot an Opus X band from across the room. Its deep red hue is framed by a gilded outline. Black and gold details trace every shape in a celebratory fashion. The iconic golden “O” and vivid red “X” create the centerpiece around which the band is designed, filled out in the center by an orange hue symbolizing the dusk sky over the mountains of Bonao, where the famous Chateau de la Fuente estate is located, and where the prized tobaccos for Opus X are cultivated.

In the forefront, a pair of golden “Fs” stands for “Fuente, Fuente,” a reference to both Carlos Fuente Sr. and his son, Carlito Fuente Jr., whose persistence, hard work, and passion have made Arturo Fuente one of the top-selling cigar brands in the world. A torn edge at the bottom mirrors a valentine Carlito had torn in two as a youngster, giving the first half to his sweetheart and keeping the second.

When you’re lucky enough to find a Fuente Fuente Opus X for sale, add it to your repertoire without hesitation and, of course, keep the band when you’re finished indulging.

2.  Ashton Symmetry

Ashton Symmetry hails from the Dominican Republic and embodies the finest work of its legendary blender, Carlito Fuente. Since its 2014 debut, Ashton Symmetry has made two appearances in Cigar Aficionado’s ‘Top 10 Cigars of the Year,’ in addition to nine ratings over 90 points, including a pair of 94-point scores. Impressive stats for any cigar that’s not even half-a-decade old accurately characterize Ashton Symmetry.

Its distinction lies in a complex recipe of premium aged binder and filler tobaccos from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua beneath an ultra-rare Cuban-seed wrapper leaf grown in Ecuador.

The band on Ashton Symmetry is equally befitting with Renaissance-esque color and detail you might be as likely to encounter in a historic European cathedral or palace. Marvelous bright hues of turquoise, baby blue, red, maroon, navy, and burnt orange are dispatched with meticulous arrangement. Textured, reflective golden borders encapsulate them all inside a crisp white edge. Golden lifted type heralds the brand name across the center while “SYMMETRY” bends along the bottom. Ashton’s well-known crown insignia sits atop the grand design in red and gold.

More than a decade went into blending Ashton Symmetry and its band is truly a beacon of prestige. Its baroque presentation elicits fixation the second it’s noticed. And there’s no question, the taste and aroma live up to the band’s illustrious display.

3.  La Aroma de Cuba Noblesse

The versatile, top-rated La Aroma de Cuba portfolio is handcrafted in Estelí, Nicaragua and culminates in the ultra-rare, annual limited edition La Aroma de Cuba Noblesse. Silky, mesmerizing flavors arrive in a glistening Ecuador Habano wrapper leaf over an extensively aged interior of select Nicaraguan tobaccos blended by award-winning cigar-maker Jose ‘Pepin’ Garcia.

Who is the stately, dark-haired belle on the centerpiece of this dual-banded blend? We’re not entirely certain, but her presence follows a tradition of featuring females on cigar bands that dates back to the 1800s. What’s remarkable here is the measure of opulent intricacy uniting the many elements at play.

As you turn the cigar over, an intense, textured depiction of floral imagery reveals an orange chateau basking in sunlight over a cliff on the sea, and onto a landscape of tobacco farmers with oxen and a work cart in an authentic scene that looks plucked from a black and white photograph in a history book.

A secondary band continues the warm autumnal theme with light blue, dark orange, green, gold, and lavender colors. “Noblesse” is rendered in a soft purple hue at the bottom while “La Aroma de Cuba” curves over the top of the debutante’s portrait in the same color. A muted gold border seamlessly merges everything with the cream-and-eggshell-white background.

With so much detail to take in, La Aroma de Cuba Noblesse is as much a joy to marvel at with your eyes as it is to taste.

4.  San Cristobal Ovation

Fans of rich, full-flavored cigars have readily embraced the ultra-limited-edition San Cristobal Ovation since its debut in 2015. A dark and lustrous San Andrés wrapper leaf harbors a full-bodied recipe of premium aged Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos grown on select Garcia family estates in Estelí, Nicaragua. A luscious profile of sweetened hickory, woody spices, and fresh ground coffee is blended by Jose ‘Pepin’ Garcia with tantalizing accord.

The decadent and toothy flavor of San Cristobal Ovation warrants a mutually captivating cigar band. The brand’s triumphant parrot uplifts from a tropical deep-sea setting of floral hues and vegetation that blossoms as if it were lining an untouched beach. The parrot harbors a pair of gold medallions linked with a ribbon in its beak that sparkle like a pirate’s treasure. The matching shiny golden border is ornate and traces the entire band, including the fuchsia background at the bottom where “OVATION” is fittingly spelled out. A profound blue-green color fills out a sea-colored sky with sun rays that touch the top edges of the parrot’s vivid wingspread.

Enjoy San Cristobal Ovation when a reflective mood approaches and transplanting your thoughts to an isolated beach sounds like the right plan.

5.  My Father Le Bijou 1922

My Father Le Bijou 1922 scored 97 points and Cigar’s Aficionado’s prestigious ‘#1 Cigar of the Year’ title for 2015. Jose ‘Pepin’ Garcia and his son, Jaime Garcia, blend a magnificent amalgam of vintage Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos clad in an oily Nicaraguan Oscuro wrapper leaf. The profile pulses with spicy coffee bean and leather notes throughout a complex, full-bodied finish.

Such heady, earthy flavor and aroma receives a nice contradiction in its cool, salmon-colored band. The brand’s name is in direct reference to Jose ‘Pepin’ and Jaime, the esteemed father and son cigar-making team who craft My Father, in addition to a number of other lauded brands. A capital “M” and “F” are rendered in an Old English-style font in a light gold type front and center. The gold color is reiterated in the secondary “Le Bijou 1922” band underneath. Le Bijou means “the jewel” in French and 1922 refers to the birth year of Pepin’s father, José Garcia. Red accents sit just inside a white edge throughout the band and a bright, orange ribbon adorns the foot of the cigar.

The band’s simplistic commemorative sentiment never ceases to be romantic and seems ideally placed over such a monumental bouquet of satisfaction.

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