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Best Cold Weather Cigars & Tips for Smoking in the Winter

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

Brrrr. Baby, it’s cold outside! But that doesn’t mean you have to ban fine cigars for the entire winter season, just because smoking inside is off limits in your abode. Cigar lovers are marginalized enough these days. But there are plenty of ways around the rules. Enjoying a premium handmade cigar from one of your favorite brands often involves a good amount of anticipation. And what puts a damper on your excitement more than a blast of arctic air, especially when a heavy dose of snow or ice is mixed in?

If man can survive the Ice Age, we’re pretty confident we can get you through your next cigar, regardless of the conditions outside. We’ve compiled a handful of helpful tips for smoking outside comfortably, followed by our top suggestions for the best winter cigars.

Turn Up the Heat

There are plenty of ways to cope with a bit of frigid weather. Lots of fellas will set up a temporary man cave out in the garage. Pop open a few lawn chairs and fire up a portable heater. Propane, electric, and natural gas models are available from a number of manufacturers. Smaller tabletop designs or more aggressive options can accommodate your needs. Some outdoor heaters are 7 to 8 feet high, like the kind you find outside a restaurant or café. Heaters are rated by BTUs (British Thermal Units) which simply identifies a measurement for how much space you can adequately heat. A lot of tabletop models will pump out 3,000 to 10,000 BTUs, about enough heat for up to four people gathered around it. Bigger floor-standing alternatives can crank out 45,000 to 59,000 BTUs, like a Lava Heat Italia Patio Heater. That’s a considerable increase, but maybe not enough to fill up the swimming pool. An outdoor heater can be an effective and accessible solution even if you don’t have a garage.

Gimme Shelter

When you’re smoking area is officially an unsheltered backyard, think about getting a sturdy, heavy-duty canopy. They range in price from a couple hundred to several hundred dollars, depending on the size. Some are designed to withstand treacherous winds and can hold bigger groups. Your pals will be delighted to find out you took the plunge on a “popup man cave,” plus you won’t need a refrigerator to keep the beer cold. We even know a few regular customers who went out and bought a second car, exclusively to use as a wintertime smoking lounge.

Choose Warm Clothing

Your basic hooded sweatshirt isn’t going to cut it when the temps dip down into the 20s or teens, especially when you add in a crisp, icy breeze. Brands like Carhartt, Patagonia, and Duluth Trading Co. are well-known for making garments and accessories that mountain climbers rely on. Hats, gloves, coats, boots, and flannel or fleece-lined pants will keep the cold off your bones. You can practically puff away outside in the midst of a blizzard in January when you’re outfitted in a Gore-Tex ensemble. If you’re just taking out the trash or shoveling the driveway, instead of trekking through the Himalayas, you can stay warm and comfy enough to finish an entire cigar without shivering until your fillings are loose. We recommend warm but finger-fitting gloves so that you can easily maneuver your cigar without having to bare your hands or fumble around until you finally drop it in the snow.

Fire Up Without a Fuss

Invest in a reliable windproof torch lighter. Sometimes firing up indoors is enough of a challenge. When you’re confronting Ol’ Man Winter with a cigar in your mouth, you’ll definitely need some decent fire power. We recommend a number of brands, including Xikar, Blazer, Jetline, and ST Dupont. All make a nice selection of potent, jet-flame torch lighters, some of which are designed for cold weather and higher altitudes. No matter how much practice you’ve had with matches, firing up outside in windy conditions might not be feasible unless you’ve got a high-performance torch in hand.

Best Cigars to Smoke in Cold Weather

Now that you’re all suited up like a sub-zero astronaut and ready to let the door slam behind you as you brave the ice-cold abyss, we haven’t forgotten the most important detail: what to smoke? Size matters, especially when inclement weather is on the horizon.

Below, we’re focusing on ten perfect brands you can easily enjoy when it’s cold outside because each produces its best-known blends in a smaller shape without sacrificing a hint of flavor or satisfaction. That means you can fully access the nuances of taste and aroma you look forward to in a Toro or Churchill, for example, but with an abbreviated format like a Short Robusto, or a Petit Corona. You smoking time drops down considerably in a smaller cigar. Now, you’re no longer committed to smoking for an extended period if you need to get back inside to warm up. Most of our following selections last for roughly 15 to 25 minutes. In addition, cigars that are a bit shorter intensify on the palate more quickly, while cigars that are thinner deliver a higher concentration of flavor. That’s why our following suggestions are ideal when you’re confronted with a spell of Tundra-like temperatures.

#1 - Ashton

Among the most lauded Dominican brands in the world, Ashton is blended from a recipe of only the finest aged tobaccos by legendary cigar-maker Carlito Fuente. The brand’s iconic Ashton Cabinet is handmade in a Tres Petite shape (4.375 x 42). A golden-blond Connecticut Shade wrapper leaf hugs a marvelous interior of vintage Dominican binder and filler tobaccos. Toasted notes of almonds and coffee beans exude a touch of sweetness and a touch of spice. The original Ashton Classic is also handcrafted entirely from premium long-filler tobaccos in Cordial, a 5 x 30 small format that’s just a touch larger than your typical cigarillo.

The celebrated, full-bodied Ashton VSG (Virgin Sun Grown) is handcrafted in a smaller size as well, Tres Mystique (4.375 x 44). Its silky, rich flavors of leather, cedar, raisins, and espresso beans are derived from a shimmering Ecuador Sumatra wrapper leaf over a mature recipe of select Dominican long-filler tobaccos. Ashton cigars have received numerous ratings over 90 points and several rankings in Cigar Aficionado’s coveted annual ‘Top 10 Cigars of the Year’ list.

#2 - Padron

As one of Nicaragua’s most prestigious brands, Padron is no stranger to a number of accolades and ‘#1 Cigar of the Year’ titles in Cigar Aficionado. The brand is predominantly known for delivering a consistent profile of all-Nicaraguan tobaccos. Tasting notes of nutmeg, cayenne, cinnamon, baking spices, and cedar with a signature Nicaraguan zest feature prominently.

The brand’s classic Padron 1964 Anniversary is handmade in a Principe (4.5 x 46), which delivers a savory transition of flavors inside of 25 minutes. The same is true of Padron 1926 Series in the #35, a 4 x 48 format with compact but precise nuances. The tobaccos in Padron 1964 Anniversary are aged for a minimum of 6 years while the blend in Padron 1926 Series is aged for an 8-year minimum. Both cigars are available in a Natural and a Maduro wrapper leaf.

#3 - La Aroma de Cuba

La Aroma de Cuba possesses an unrivaled provenance as a Cuban brand favored by Winston Churchill in the late 1800s. Today, the brand is blended by celebrated cigar-maker Jose ‘Pepin’ Garcia in Estelí, Nicaragua. The 93-rated original La Aroma de Cuba shows off magnificent flavors of brown sugar and black pepper in a 5 x 50 Rothschild. The blend includes a glistening Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper and a premium aged recipe of Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos.

La Aroma de Cuba Edicion Especial (EE) earned a 93-point rating as well as the ‘#4 Cigar of the Year’ ranking in its debut year. A Cuban-seed wrapper grown in Ecuador envelops a marvelous blend of medium-bodied Nicaraguan tobaccos with notes of white pepper, almonds, leather, and cedar. At 4.5 x 42, the Minuto is a perfect shorter format for braving the outdoors.

La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor received Cigar Aficionado’s ‘#2 Cigar of the Year’ ranking and a 95-point score following its release. A dark and lustrous San Andrés wrapper leaf embraces a luscious recipe of Nicaraguan long-fillers. Medium to full-bodied notes of crack black pepper, espresso beans, and almonds accompany a sweet zest. The soft box-pressed Robusto is 5 x 50, making it an ideal compromise between flavor and burn time.

#4 - My Father Le Bijou 1922

My Father Le Bijou 1922 gets right down to business in a 4.5 x 50 Petit Robusto shape. The 97-rated former ‘#1 Cigar of the Year’ titleholder is blended by famed father-and-son cigar-makers Jose ‘Pepin’ Garcia and Jaime Garcia in Estelí, Nicaragua.

An oily, jet-black Oscuro wrapper leaf is cultivated from select Nicaraguan fields and blended over a full-bodied core of aged Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. An earthy blast of black pepper, fresh ground coffee, and cayenne pepper rushes in with a soothing but spicy creaminess. My Father Le Bijou 1922 delivers an immediate pick-me-up that kicks in almost as fast an icy 10-degree gust. Despite its polarizing profile, the taste is impeccable from beginning to end.

#5 - Nub

Nub needs no introduction as a popular short-format cigar. The brand’s iconic 4 x 60 shape has proven far more than a fad since its debut over 10 years ago. Nub cigars are handcrafted in a handful of iconic wrapper varietals including Connecticut, Cameroon, Habano, and Maduro. Nub is produced at the award-winning Oliva factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

Although Nub is handmade in a short size, its thickness permits it to burn for a deceptively longer period of time than you might expect. A number of cigar lovers adore Nub cigars because they burn cool and slowly and deliver big taste right off the bat. Notes of cedar, oak, roasted coffee beans, and sweet spices represent the dominant flavors of Nub cigars.

#6 - Old Henry

Old Henry is small-batch gem blended by esteemed cigar-maker Pepin Garcia in Estelí, Nicaragua. A peppery Corojo-seed wrapper is harvested on Garcia family estates in Nicaragua and blended over a full-bodied combination of Nicaraguan long-fillers.

A diminutive but delicious 4.5 x 42 Runt shape deals up big league flavors in a smaller format. Take advantage of Pepin’s legendary Nicaraguan spice in a meaty and woody profile that also happens to represent a terrific value. Runts go for just $4.25 apiece.

#7 - La Flor Dominicana

Litto Gomez is an award-winning blender of small-batch boutique smokes handmade in the Dominican Republic. While his factory pumps out a number of unusual, pioneering shapes like the 96-rated Andalusian Bull and his ever-popular Chisel, Gomez has always been attentive to smaller formats for their precise, concentrated flavor. He personally smokes his lauded smaller shapes on a regular basis.

La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Chiselito delivers a pint-size take on the flattened Torpedo shape, called Chisel, he invented years ago. While a Chisel – in and of itself – delivers an amplified intensity, the Chiselito does so to an even greater degree due to its narrower ring size. The 5 x 44 format is handmade in Litto’s original Double Ligero recipe of full-bodied Dominican tobaccos, as well as a Maduro version with its spicy, but sweeter, wrapper leaf. Pepper, leather, hickory, and wood converge in these potent Dominican gems.

Additionally, La Flor Dominicana La Nox is handmade in a Petite 5 x 40 format. A chewy Brazilian wrapper leaf hugs a hearty blend of tobaccos from the Dominican Republic and San Andrés. Notes of earth, leather, raisins, and spicy cocoa deliver a full-bodied finish.

#8 - Liga Privada

Liga Privada is a small-batch boutique line blended in Estelí, Nicaragua by the fellas at Drew Estate. The full-bodied Liga Privada #9 is handmade with an oily Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper and complex interior of multinational long-fillers. Toasted notes of nuts and dark chocolate draw towards a spicy conclusion. Liga Privada T52 is a touch more refined with its medium to full-bodied leathery spices and a glistening Sun Grown wrapper leaf.

Both blends are available in a 4 x 32 Coronets shape, a 4.5 x 40 Petit Corona, and a 4.25 x 46 Short Panatela. Fans of short-run boutique smokes can enjoy a handful of smaller options from Liga Privada.

#9 - Bella Cuba

There’s no question, yard ‘gars have a place in a winter wonderland. Winter is simply a time when we trade in the rake for the shovel or a snow blower. That’s why it’s a great idea to keep a bundle or two of cheaper cigars in the coolerdor. As one of the bestselling bundles of all time, Bella Cuba offers up a tasteful, medium-bodied profile of nuts, coffee beans, and peppers, handcrafted from a blend of premium Dominican sandwich tobaccos beneath a Connecticut Shade or a Sumatra wrapper leaf.

Both options are available in a 4.5 x 42 Angeles format. It’s a size that’s perfectly manageable in the mouth when you’re slinging the slushy wet stuff around. And starting at just 99-cents apiece, it’s no big deal if you lose one in a snow drift.

#10 - Small Cigars

Countless premium cigar brands produce a variety of Cigarillos and traditional small-format cigars. Many are packaged in tins or boxes of 10 cigars. Some even come in a box of 50 for maximum value like the bestselling Argyle Bowtie, Holt’s Shorties, and Rocky Patel Mulligans Juniors blends. Approachable premium flavor is available with a shorter burn time in Ashton Esquire, Ashton Small Cigars, Ashton Small Cigars Connecticut, and Arturo Fuente Exquisitos and Cubanitos. Small cigar alternatives like Macanudo Ascots are widely distributed in a number of locations.

Small cigars in tins and cigarillos will cut back the amount of time you’re outside by the biggest margin. Keep in mind, though, there is a difference between some of the short-filler machine made cigars and their premium handcrafted counterparts. A premium handmade cigar is made from a specific recipe of well-aged tobaccos carefully assembled by an experienced cigar roller. Machine made cigars won’t offer the same kind of experience, but they can certainly be handy when the temps dip too low to keep a handmade cigar lit.

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