There are plenty of ways to ring in the Chinese New Year, but at Cigar Aficionado, we like to celebrate it the way we celebrate almost every occasion—with cigars and spirits. According to the Chinese zodiac, 2021 is the Year of the Ox, and the cigar industry has joined the party by releasing limited-edition smokes and accessories that match the theme. In Chinese culture, eight is a lucky number and is associated with wealth and prosperity, so we selected eight items as a festive way to honor the spirit of renewal and hope that the upcoming year will be better than the last.
Plasencia Year of the Ox ($35)
This year, Plasencia Cigars steps into the Chinese zodiac arena with a smoke aptly named Year of the Ox, a dramatically tapered, 7-inch-by-58-ring-gauge Salomon that kind of looks like a horn. It’s made with only Nicaraguan tobacco grown by the Plasencia family, but they didn’t make too many, so if you happen to see one of the 2,500 bright red boxes in your travels, charge straight ahead without hesitation.
Davidoff Year of the Ox ($40)
Determined to represent every animal in the Chinese zodiac, Davidoff has been committed to this tradition since 2013’s Year of the Snake. For 2021, the Year of the Ox is a beefy 6 by 60 with a Dominican Wrapper, Ecuadoran binder and filler from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. The blend is intended to be strong as an ox, but at $40 per smoke, it’s as bullish in body as it is in price.
Hoyo de Monterrey Primaveras ($88.35)
If you’re one to travel the world chasing down special-release cigars, then head to Hong Kong and have at the Cuban Hoyo de Monterrey Primaveras, the 6 5/8 by 48 cigar made just for the Year of the Ox. These spendy smokes are certainly priced for a bull market, retailing for HK$685 each, or about $88.35. That works out to about $1,590 per box of 18. Habanos will release 8,888 boxes, so they’ll show up in other countries, but you’ll probably plow through most of your cigar budget no matter where you end up buying them.
Zippo Year of the Ox Lighter ($30.45)
Made in the U.S.A., Zippo has always taken a no-bull approach to its lighters with its famous lifetime warranty, and the Year of the Ox lighter is no exception. The bovine design is beautifully laser-etched into the classic Zippo body, and if you’re not so keen on the soft flame, you can always upgrade to a butane jet with one of their inserts specifically made to turn your docile lighter into a raging torch.
Siglo Accessory Year of the Ox Humidor ($1,000)
Siglo Accessory really took the bull by the horns with this bold humidor. The overstated ox box holds 75 cigars and the bull, which is printed in metallic red against a glossy black piano finish, seems ready to charge right off the lid. It’s a great signifier of the Year of the Ox, but also works if you’re a taurus, support a strong economy or are a fan of the Chicago Bulls. Can’t find room for the humidor? The smokin’ bull motif comes on a three-finger leather case for $186 as well.
(Photo/Great Wall Cigars)
Great Wall Year of the Ox ($23, $58)
There’s probably no cigar more authentically yoked to the Chinese New Year than these prime examples by Great Wall, China’s largest cigar manufacturer. There’s the Year of the Ox, a limited-edition robusto-sized cigar ($23), and then there’s the even more limited Gran Toro ($58). Not only are these cigars made in China but they’re blended with Chinese tobacco, which really makes them stand out from the herd.
(Photo/General Cigar Co.)
Punch Kung Pow! ($5.99)
No, it’s not a joke. It really is 20 cigars packaged like Chinese takeout. Then again, the name is a play on both the “pow” of a punch and “Pao” of Kung Pao chicken, so maybe it is a joke. In between punchlines is a tribute to the Year of the Ox, but it’s not all gags and novelty, as these toros go for only $5.99 each, so the Honduran Punch Kung Pow! is the most wallet-friendly way to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label Year of the Ox ($230)
Yeah, we know, red is supposed to be the color of good luck and prosperity when celebrating the Chinese New Year, but Diageo bucks tradition by casting the bull in blue with one of its most high-profile spirits. The illustration on this festive bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue was created by artist Shirley Gong. It’s a limited bottle so get to your liquor store before the stampede of spirits collectors beats you to it.