One of the most frequent criticisms I hear from fellow cigar smokers in regard to Connecticut shade wrapped cigars is that they are boring. It isn’t uncommon to hear someone say that they all more or less taste the same and never pack flavors that are exciting or even interesting after a while. While I can certainly understand the complaint, I also know that perhaps this experience is due to a limited scope of blends being smoked.
There are so many great Connecticut shade cigars available right now that do not compromise on flavor while also delivering that smooth creaminess that Connecticut shade has been associated with. To keep things manageable, I have limited this list to the 5 that I have enjoyed most recently. Don’t give up on Connies without trying these first!
#1 Black Works Studio Killer Bee Connecticut
The follow up to the original Killer Bee blend by James and Angela Brown, the Killer Bee Connecticut was first released in 2018 in a very limited quantity. In 2022 a much larger re-release was produced for the market, enabling far more patrons to enjoy this excellent blend. It features Nicaraguan fillers and a Nicaraguan habano binder, with an Ecuadorian-grown Connecticut shade wrapper leaf, with Ecuadorian maduro accents on the foot and cap.
The smoke itself is north of medium bodied, with flavors of black pepper, charred hickory, waffle cone, vanilla cream, cinnamon spice, buttery pecan, cedar, mesquite, grapefruit and orange citrus zest, sometimes reminiscent of orange sherbet. The flavors are layered and dynamic making for a delightful, flavorful, and balanced experience.
#2 La Rubia by Epic Cigars (Lancero)
This is the 3rd blend created by Epic Cigars and features Nicaraguan and Dominican long filles, a Mexican San Andrés binder and an Ecuadorian Connecticut shade wrapper leaf. I single out the lancero vitola because it is particularly tasty in the La Rubia lineup. The cigar presents as a mild-medium body and delivers effusive flavor notes of honey, sugar frosted cereal, roasted almonds, cream, baking spices like nutmeg and cinnamon, roasted coffee beans and toffee.
I am not the biggest lancero lover, but I know good ones are out there, and this one is surely in that category. It comes in at 7 x 40, a bit larger than the more typical 7 x 38 lancero, and that extra 2 mm of ring gauge makes this one feel perfectly balanced and the flavors truly pop with this banger of a stick.
#3 Street Tacos Carnitas by Noel Rojas
Noel Rojas wowed me in 2021 with the flavor experience that was the Street Tacos Barbacoa. This past year of 2022 saw the introduction of another iteration of the Street Tacos, the Carnitas. This time Rojas used an Ecuadorian shade grown wrapper leaf over Nicaraguan fillers and binder for a softer yet still incredibly flavorful Street Taco cigar.
Offering a syrupy/buttery smoke texture, the Street Tacos Carnitas brings out delightful notes of pistachio, cashew, honey, cream, lime citrus, honey, coriander, sweet wood notes, white pepper, agave nectar sweetness, and butterscotch hard candies. Oh hot damn, that’s tasty! There’s a lot to unload with this smoke, getting you hooked early and making you hungry for more!
#4 Crux Epicure
Made at the Plasencia factory in Esteli, Nicaragua, the Epicure debuted in 2017 with 5 different vitolas, and a sixth vitola added in 2020, making for wide variety of sizes to suit quite a few preferences. They have also done a special edition Lonsdale vitola for the Privada Cigar Club back in late 2020.
One thing is common for all 6 of these vitolas: they all smoke smoothly, with finessed and creamy textures while also delivering big time on flavor. Expect flavor notes of roasted peanuts, fragrant cedar, leather, black pepper, vanilla custard, apple wood, cinnamon sugar cereal, and wheat toast. The blend consists of Nicaraguan fillers and binder with a beautifully uniform Ecuadorian Shade wrapper. It’s hard to find a cigar with this much flavor while still maintaining a creamy smoothness that the Epicure delivers from first light to the very nub.
#5 Sobremesa Brulee Blue by Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust
When Steve Saka was blending what would eventually become the Sobremesa Brulee Blue, he had a specific cigar experience in mind that he was trying to replicate. He spoke longingly about some vintage Cuban Davidoff’s he had enjoyed years ago and wanted to create something of his own that came as close as possible to what he smoked back then.
Oddly enough, the cigar he would come up with would be in an entirely different vitola than those vintage Cubans (which were Churchills). The Sobremesa Brule Blue is a Lonsdale vitola in the Sobremesa Brulee line, and it is quite possibly the finest Connecticut shade cigar I have ever smoked. With an uncanny sugar sweetness that can be tasted on the wrapper of the cigar itself, the Brulee Blue also delivers perfectly balanced notes of roasted nuts, vanilla cream, baked custard, fragrant cedar, cinnamon spice, burnt sugar, cocoa, espresso, earth and white pepper.
The construction is phenomenal with a near perfect draw and an impressively strong ash. Aesthetically it is gorgeous to look at, with a pristine Ecuadorian Shade wrapper complete with the pigtail cap, over a Mexican binder and Nicaraguan long fillers. Saka dug deep to create this one, and we are the true beneficiaries of his nostalgia project.
What Connies do reach for often that satisfy your flavor cravings? Tell me which ones I missed below in the comments!