From left to right: CAO Gold Torpedo, Espinosa Crema No. 1, Camacho Connecticut Churchill, Balmoral Añejo XO Connecticut Torpedo Mk52, and VegaFina Churchill.
With summer in full swing, the grills are ready to be fired, the cocktails poured and the cigars lit up. But which smoke should you choose? As you look through your humidor, your cigars are arrayed like paint swatches, going from light to dark. While it’s tempting to choose a strong smoke, milder cigars can be just as enjoyable with your morning coffee or tropical summer drink.
Cigars that fall on the milder side don’t always get enough recognition. Like people, cigars come in all shapes, sizes and colors. A mild cigar can be seen as merely a stepping stone into the world of cigars, but they are much more than that. Mild cigars can be as complex and flavorful as a fuller-bodied smoke and here are 16 that we have rated over the past year worth trying. (For more on our tasting process, check out How Cigar Aficionado Tastes Cigars).
CAO Gold Torpedo (Nicaragua, 91 points, $7.89): Dating back to 1996, the CAO Gold line was the brand’s first Nicaraguan cigar. Now made by General Cigars, the 6 1/2 inch by 52 ring gauge torpedo still offers a quality, woody smoke full of orange peel, almond and raisins. See full tasting note.
Espinosa Crema No. 1 (Nicaragua, 91 points, $9.25): The Espinosa Crema line was created four years ago by brand owner Erik Espinosa as an introduction for consumers trying Espinosa cigars for the first time. With its Ecuador Connecticut-seed wrapper, this well-made Churchill lives up to its name with a rather creamy smoke. See full tasting note.
Camacho Connecticut Churchill (Honduras, 90 points, $9.00): The Camacho Connecticut line marked the first time the brand ever used both an Ecuador Connecticut wrapper and Dominican tobacco in its fillers. Measuring a stately 7 inches by 48 ring gauge and costs less than $10.00, this well-made cigar provides great flavor at a bargain price. See full tasting note.
Balmoral Añejo XO Connecticut Torpedo Mk52 (Dominican Republic, 89 points, $11.25): Featuring a Connecticut shade wrapper, Ecuador binder, and Dominican, Brazilian and Pennsylvania broadleaf fillers. With its excellent combustion and even draw, this blonde torpedo is mild yet sweet with notes of cedar, vanilla and cinnamon. See full tasting note.
Padrón Dámaso No. 12 (Nicaragua, 89 points, $13.50): The Padrón company dates back to 1964 and is well-known for its stronger smokes, but in 2015 the company unveiled their Dámaso line as a more mild offering to consumers who preferred a gentler smoke. Wrapped in an Ecuador Connecticut wrapper, this robusto burns perfectly. See full tasting note.
VegaFina Churchill (Dominican Republic, 89 points, $6.92): The VegaFina line was originally a European exclusive that was marketed as an economy-friendly cigar until 2007 when it was finally brought to the American market. This double corona, with a price hovering just below $7.00, is one of the best bargains on this list as you pay less than a dollar per inch. See full tasting note.
Cohiba Connecticut Gigante (Dominican Republic, 89 points, $22.99): Made at the General Cigar Dominicana factory, the Cohiba Connecticut line marks the first time that the Dominican Cohiba brand has ever been wrapped in an Ecuador Connecticut cover leaf. Measuring 6 inches by 60 ring gauge, this grande features a lush draw despite being the thickest cigar on this list. See full tasting note.
Oliva Connecticut Reserve Churchill (Nicaragua, 89 points, $9.85): Made with an Ecuador Connecticut wrapper and Nicaraguan binder and fillers, this cigar is notable for its absence of ligero, the strongest known varietal of tobacco. Measuring 7 inches by 50 ring gauge, this light Churchill offers a floral, nutty smoke with notes of citrus and a dry finish. See full tasting note.
Archetype Dreamstate Churchill (Dominican Republic, 89 points, $12.79): Dreamstate is part of a series inspired by the works of psychologist Dr. Carl Jung regarding humanity’s collective unconscious and mythographer Joseph Cambell’s “Hero’s Journey.” The light-hued Churchill is an earthy and herbal smoke with hints of tea and honey. See full tasting note.
New World Connecticut Belicoso (Nicaragua, 89 points, $7.40): A follow-up to the New World line, New World Connecticut was the second father-and-son project between cigarmaker A.J. Fernandez and his father, Ismael. The Belicoso size is well constructed with excellent combustion. See full tasting note.
Undercrown Shade Corona Doble (Nicaragua, 89 points, $10.48): The Undercrown Shade line was created by master blender Willy Herrera due to a shortage of the Connecticut broadleaf used for Drew Estate’s original Undercrown line. Despite its name, the wrapper is actually from Ecuador where tobacco is grown not under cloth like in other parts of the world, but under the natural cloud cover of the region. See full tasting note.
Highclere Castle Edwardian Petite Corona (Nicaragua, 89 points, $12.00): This diminutive smoke was blended by Nick Melillo, owner of Foundation Cigar Co., in partnership with Highclere Castle Cigar Co. as a tribute to Highclere Castle, the real-life setting of popular historical drama “Downton Abbey.” Wrapped in a U.S. Connecticut shade wrapper, this petit corona offers more body than one would think in such a small cigar. See full tasting note.
San Lotano Requiem Connecticut Churchill (Nicaragua, 89 points, $7.80): A milder follow-up to one of A.J. Fernandez’s first brands, this thick Churchill draws and burns evenly while giving off notes of mild spice and graham cracker. See full tasting note.
Montecristo White Vintage Connecticut Double Corona (Dominican Republic, 88 points, $13.75): Rolled at the Tabacalera Garcia factory, this cigar is a tweaked version of the Montecristo White line’s blend with a Connecticut shade wrapper grown in the U.S. and some added Peruvian filler. Measuring 6 1/4 inch by 50 ring gauge, this toro gives off a woody, bready smoke brightened by notes of citrus. See full tasting note.
Por Larrañaga Toro (Dominican Republic, 88 points, $7.20): The original Por Larrañaga brand dates back to 1834 in Cuba. This Dominican version of the brand was popular in the 1990s and was discontinued for some years before it was brought back to the market in 2016 by Altadis U.S.A. See full tasting note.
Rocky Patel Vintage 1999 Connecticut Toro (Honduras, 88 points, $10.35): Measuring 6 1/2 by 52, this cigar marks the first time that Rocky Patel’s Vintage lines weren’t box pressed, due to the fragility of its Connecticut shade wrapper. It starts out herbal but gains more strength and complexity as it burns. See full tasting note.