When I first got into cigars, I was a sucker for the big ring gauge sticks. Not necessarily because they offered a better experience, but because I thought they made me look more badass. (Douche Baggery was an unfortunate part of my personality in my mid-twenties!) As I eventually matured, I started to care less and less about impressing any onlookers and simply sought out cigars with more nuance, flavor balance, and overall enjoyability. Let’s be honest, the bigger ring gauges can often leave us with a somewhat muted and muddled flavor. I do, however, still get surprised every so often by a well-crafted and tantalizing flavor experience courtesy of a fatter stogie. These five fatties have flavors fit for a connoisseur and remind me to give some bigger ring gauges a closer look.
#1 INCH Nicaragua by E.P. Carrillo
Ernesto Perez-Carillo has always been a blender who reliably delivers on flavor with his blends. Knowing full well that the American consumer has a special desire for bigger ring gauges, He would endeavor to develop a line of smokes to satisfy this demand while also keeping his blending integrity intact. Enter The Inch line.
Their sizes range from 5 7/8” x 60 to a whopping 7” x 70. Originally consisting of two blend variations, the maduro and the natural, EPC has more recently added a third iteration on the Inch with The Inch Nicaragua. This Nicaraguan puro features tobaccos from Jalapa, Condega, and Esteli and is deceptively delicious. Out of all these options my go to from this line up is the Inch Maduro No. 60, which is a 5 7/8” x 60.
The draw is very generous with a medium + body, packing flavors of leather, earthy coffee, cocoa, savory nuts and a nice balance of black pepper spice. I have enjoyed this one in the evening after a full meal with bourbon, but also immediately after breakfast with coffee. Both experiences were satisfying making this a very versatile cigar.
#2 Plasencia Alma Fuerte Sixto II
For the full body, full flavor and full spice lovers, there are few better choices than this intriguing cigar. At 6” x 60, the Sixto II is quite hefty – but it’s the hexagon box press feature that truly sets this one apart. I’m not certain if there are any others like that anywhere. With a robust and earthy profile with intense red pepper spice and dark bittersweet chocolate core flavor notes, this smoke is an ideal candidate for late evening with a fine single malt Islay Scotch or a barrel proof bourbon.
Look for additional charred oak, cinnamon and molasses nuances in this stout Nicaraguan puro. The price point does break the $20 mark, but when boldness and balance are the order of the day the Alma Fuerte Sixto II is worth every penny!
#3 Stallone Clydesdale
Tony Barrios has an affinity for equine themes for his cigar brand, and The Clydesdale may very well be the most appropriately named cigar in his portfolio. As a breed Clydesdales are large, very tall, very strong horses bred for extreme power and are easily recognized by the feathering hair around their hooves. The Clydesdale cigar is a 6.5”x60 super gordo made with tobaccos that are aged 5 years before rolling. The wrapper is Connecticut Broadleaf-seed Nicaraguan leaf, with a profile that is full of power and even has a shaggy foot to mimic the actual horse breed’s feet. Expect flavors of red pepper spice, cocoa, black coffee, charred marshmallow, and rich tobacco sweetness. This one is best after a full meal, and probably not for those sensitive to the nicotine!
#4 All Saints Cigars Solamente
When Micky Pegg started All Saints Cigars, he began with a limited release, single vitola cigar dubbed Solamente – a moderately priced 5” x 58 parejo featuring Nicaraguan fillers and binder with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. Translated from Latin, Solamente means “only”, fittingly titled as Pegg’s premier cigar and as it is featured in just one size. While this is certainly not as fat as others on this list, it still belongs in the big ring gauge category and truly offers depth in terms of its flavor profile.
The experience of the Solamente is one of real dynamic range with a medium bodied texture and flavors that vary widely from floral sweetness, coffee bean, hazelnut, and maple sugar, to dark chocolate, espresso, licorice, juniper berries and even a touch of oregano. Flavors of this type always catch me by surprise and definitely make this original blend by All Saints stand out in a market full of great smokes.
#5 Foundation Cigars Tabernacle Goliath
The Tabernacle line by Foundation has been a favorite among boutique cigar smokers ever since Nick Melillo debuted the blend in July of 2016. Fast forward several years later and Melillo wanted to develop a perfecto expression of this fan favorite. Thus it was that we cigar lovers were treated to not one, but two perfecto cigars: the David and the Goliath.
Referencing the biblical characters of the same names, the David was a 5” x 54 perfecto while the Goliath comes in a bit bulkier at 5” x 58. Both sizes are fine additions to an already impressive lineup, but the Goliath is my personal favorite between the two and probably my preferred vitola of the entire Tabernacle line.
A full-bodied smoke featuring Honduran and Nicaraguan fillers, a Mexican San Andrés binder, and the characteristic Connecticut Broadleaf Wrapper, the Tabernacle Goliath gives a dense smoke texture with notes of naturally sweet earth, dark fudge, a plethora of savory black pepper spice, with further notes of molasses, dark buttered toast, espresso and black cherry. Like many, I have a great appreciation for Connecticut Broadleaf, and Foundation continues to find ways to deliver new expressions of this coveted varietal.
Do you ever enjoy a big ring gauge smoke? Let me know which ones you reach for the most in the comments below!