Puff Piece

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Cigars, for most people, are not a daily habit. We can’t all be a Churchill or a Hemingway or a Hannibal Smith. But as an occasional indulgence or tangible token of celebration, they offer a rich, complex and flavorful world to explore—and Southwest Florida has some expert tour guides. Your next special occasion, even if that’s “making it to the end of another week,” might be a perfect time to fire up one of these top-tier recommendations.

“Padrón is an iconic brand,” says Freedom Fine Cigars owner Randall Denman. “They’re a Nicaraguan family that makes the world’s best cigars.” He’s not the only one who thinks so; Cigar Aficionado has been putting out a Top 25 list since 2004, and a Padrón has appeared in the top 10 each and every year, and in the No. 1 slot three times— more than any other brand. If you can get one, try the Padrón Serie 1926. He also recommended the Leaf from Honduran cigar maker Oscar Valladares—a boutique operation in service for less than a decade. “It’s still fairly small but growing fast,” says Denman. “He makes outstanding cigars.”

Freedom Fine Cigars & Lounge, 2260 Tamiami Trail E, Naples, freedomfinecigars.com


Its namesake has been a cigar maker of considerable renown for more than 25 years—so while you can purchase other brands at Marcus Daniel Tobacconist, doing so means missing out on a perfect chance to sample Daniel’s expert craft. The Marcus Daniel Sun Grown, which he calls “the cabernet of cigars,” is a puro made entirely of prime Honduran tobacco, with a flavor balanced between earth, leather, cocoa and coffeee for a pleasant, medium-bodied smoke. We the People by Marcus Daniel features Nicaraguan tobacco; try it in a dark San Andreas maduro wrapper for a more robust taste. “It’s a slam dunk,” Daniel says. “It’s one of the hottest maduros on the market today.”

Marcus Daniel Tobacconist, 609 Eighth St. S, Naples, marcusdaniel.com


If a particular brand is frequently referred to as “the Rolls-Royce of cigars,” it’s almost certainly worth checking out—and while multiple stores in Southwest Florida carry them, The Smoke Shop of Naples is a distributor for Davidoff cigars. While the price tags tend to be fairly high for this Swiss maker’s products, it’s because they’ve spent more than 50 years establishing a reputation for consistently offering exceptional quality. While you’re in The Smoke Shop, investigate the Opus X, made by Arturo Fuente from Dominican tobacco. Medium strength and with satisfyingly complex flavor, it’s a hard cigar to find and in high demand, but manager John Sideri can get you set up.

The Smoke Shop of Naples, 4625 Tamiami Trail N, Naples, naplessmokeshop.com


It might sound a little glib to assert that Vicente of London has cigars covered from A to Z … nevertheless, both Ashton (which has been making fine Dominican cigars for 35 years) and Zino Platinum (an especially luxurious Davidoff label) are among the more than 50 brands offered by owners Philip Beshara and Brian Yauger. That includes some impressive special editions and rare pleasures—think God of Fire and Aging Room, which took home the top slot in Cigar Aficionado’s 2019 rankings. Whatever your palate is in the mood for, you’re likely to find it here.

Vicente of London, 8970 Fontana Del Sol Way, Naples, vicenteoflondon.com


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