Indulge me, as I talk a bit about my exciting life outside of work. On my last day off I had to be up early to go for an appointment. Once I was done, I found myself in the unusual position of being out and about early on a day off. It was also an uncharacteristically nice day, so I decided to jump onto a train for a few stops, into some of the finest countryside Cheshire has to offer for a walk and a bit of fresh air. As if to immediately disregard the whole “fresh air” thing, once I got off the train I reached into my pocket for my tobacco to have a smoke.
However, I suddenly realised: Shock horror, I’d left my nearly full pack of rolling tobacco at home as I hadn’t planned on being out for very long. Now, I really resent paying around £15 for the minimum amount of tobacco in shops, just for the sake of a few cigarettes, but once I had found the nearest newsagents, I remembered: As cigarettes and rolling tobacco prices have risen exponentially, we’re now in the strange position of some small cigars/cigarillos costing significantly less than an equivalent amount of cigarettes or rolling tobacco. Naturally, there were slim pickings at the small newsagent I found, but on investigation, we have a larger range than you might expect, so I thought this would be a good chance to take a look at them.
First up though, a couple of notes:
I’m basing this on a pack of Marlboros generally costing around £14 for 20. Most cigarillos or small cigars come in packs of 5 or 10, so I’ll be including those that are under £7 for 10 or £3.50 for 5. Yes, as I alluded to above, I have covered this before, but there have been quite a few new brands out since then, so I thought it would be a good time to revisit the subject.
One major change since the last time I covered this subject is the ban of all menthol cigarettes and rolling tobaccos. Crucially, the rule doesn’t include pipe tobacco or cigars, which has given birth to a brand new hybrid of cigarillos and menthol crush ball cigarettes. There are a few brands that have introduced these crossbreeds but they all follow the same basic concept: They are roughly cigarette sized, with a cigarette filter that contains a menthol flavoured crush ball and are wrapped in a tobacco leaf, in order to fulfil the “Cigar” criteria. It’s worth mentioning that most of them also have a thin layer of paper underneath the tobacco wrapper, so theoretically it is possible to arduously remove the wrapper
to expose the paper, if you really miss traditional menthol cigarettes. At the time of writing Sterling, JPS/Players and Signature (Formerly Café Crème) all have versions of these available, none of which cost more than £5.75 for a pack of 10.
I could have potentially lumped these in with the previous section, but I feel like they deserve highlighting. They’re the same basic concept: cigarette filter, crush ball, tobacco wrap, but have a very specific (if personal) distinction.
They represent the only time a cigar/cigarillo has made me do a doubletake after taking a puff. They’re available in two flavours: Blue is a standard menthol, but it’s the purple variant that took me by surprise. I knew that it would have to be something other than a plain menthol taste, but I wasn’t expecting this. Even the most gentle drag after cracking the crush ball flooded my palate with a cool, but juicy fruity taste, which I’d compare to a blackcurrant flavoured cough sweet/lozenge. I’ve never tasted anything like it in a cigar! The manufacturers define it as “Blueberry Menthol” but I definitely thought it was more like blackcurrant. This might not seem that exciting, if you’re not a nerd like me, but it’s worth pointing out that we didn’t see fruit flavoured crush balls in the UK, even when they were widely permitted in normal cigarettes. It took me far longer than it should to try these, especially considering that my favourite flavour is “Purple,” so I’ve been compensating by recommending them to anyone looking for something a bit different in a cigarillo.
Finally, we have Al Capones. These are another vaguely hybrid-esque option as they once again fit loosely within the cigarette style format, utilising a cigarette style filter, but choose not to incorporate a crush ball. Instead, you have the option of a Original: A straight, unflavoured cigarillo, or Flame, a directly flavoured/aromatic version, which is where it gets interesting. You may well know that I have a bit of a thing for non-specific, intangible flavours/scents (Hence my aforementioned love of “Purple” as a flavour and why I always opt for air fresheners with scents like “Starry night” or “Summer Morning”) and Al Capone Flames are a great example of this. When I first tried them, I thought they tasted like those Fireball gobstopper sweets I used to get from the newsagents, a fiery aniseed/liquorice type flavour. However, when perusing a catalogue, I noticed that the manufacturers claim they have a Cognac flavouring. Since then, I’ve made a point of discussing the flavour with customers who buy them regularly and have had it described as anything from Whisky to Cherry. So yeah: definitely worth a try, even if it’s just to see how your taste buds interpret the flavours personally!
That’s all from me for this week, from this bizarre timeline where cigars can be cheaper than cigarettes!
See you next week!
-Calum @ Turmeaus & LCDH Chester