As 2023 draws to a close, the need to assess the cigars we have smoked, reviewed, and enjoyed immensely becomes all the more apparent.
But instead of boring you to tears with yet another "Top 25" list of some sort or another, we have decided to focus on the five best Connecticut Shade-Grown cigars we smoked in 2023.
While maduro, corojo, habano, and a multitude of other cigar wrapper styles were combusted and rated over the course of the past twelve months, we felt that our portfolio's Connecticut Shade-wrapped cigars deserve some love too.
As with all of our reviews, the 5-star rating system we use does not just focus on flavor, aromatics, construction, burn, and balance. We value branding, banding, packaging, presentation, and unlit vitola appeal as well. For enjoying a premium long-filler cigar to its maximum potential has just as much to do with how it suits you, as it does with the smoke that emanates from that cut or punched cap.
So without further ado, here are the most tantalizing, highest-rated Connecticut Shade cigars we reviewed here at Klaro in 2023.
Overall Score: 4.4/5
La Madrina Shade is a powerful premium cigar that shares the same binder and filler as its sun-grown sibling, the La Madrina, but with an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper cloaking its exterior instead.
I have to give a massive amount of praise to Dapper Cigar Co. for pulling off this blend. It's strong, but not too potent. Doughy and tart where it needs to be, buttery at times, and almost completely caramelized at others. Rolling in complexity one minute, while keeping things straightforward and familiarly Connecticut Shade the next.
This is yet another outstanding premium cigar blend from Dapper that does not disappoint, and it demands to be on every Connecticut Shade fan's must-smoke list. Just be sure that you are down with a bit of potency to go with that silky Connecticut Shade Ecuadorian wrapper before you begin.
Overall Score: 4.4/5
I will happily say "Hell yeah!" to anyone offering me one of these blends, for The Oscar Connecticut is ideal for full-flavored cigar smokers and medium-strength fans alike. Complex and bold, while still being true enough to style to be considered a shady Connecticut, this blend rocks on almost every level.
The all-new blend uses fillers from Honduras and Nicaragua on top of a Honduran Connecticut wrapper and a Honduran binder. A candela leaf covers the lower two-thirds of the cigar instead of cellophane, fully characterizing that signature Oscar Valladares look. With notes of cedar and almonds, along with traces of exotic tea spice, vanilla, and honey on the end, this blend is brilliantly executed, and a bona fide Top 5 winner.
Overall Score: 4.5/5
While it may not be winning any awards for packaging design or originality, the Dulcinea by Sancho Panza has withstood the test of time. A product that has gone virtually unchanged for as long as many of us can remember, and for good reason.
If it were a menu item, it would be the club sandwich of cigars. Loaded with made-in-America ingredients for additional flavor, and toting a familiar list of toppings to keep the purists appeased.
This OG smoke provides flavors of earth, tobacco, sweet cedar, and leather, and appeals to fledgling cigar enthusiasts and veteran stogie snobs alike. Personally, this is the sort of stick I find myself reaching for more often than not when a milder smoke is in order.
Overall Score: 4.6/5
It didn't take very long for me to realize that the level of depth and flavor within this premium cigar blend is on a whole other level. Surpassing nearly every other Connecticut shade-grown cigar I've had in recent memory, the Cortado from Partagas is truly a cut above in every regard.
Straying from the norm of dark, oily, and bold, Partagas has created a lighter smoke that is absolutely flavor-packed, but quite light as well.
The Cortado was so good that it nearly took the top spot as the best Connecticut shade-grown cigar of 2023, and likely would have been ranked #1 if I had reviewed it in a larger vitola.
Overall Score: 4.7/5
The best shade-grown Connecticut cigar of 2023 came to me from La Palina. Manufactured with Dominican Piloto Cubano and Mexican San Andrés tobaccos for the filler, and a Connecticut seed wrapper grown in Honduras, this White Label cigar was easily one of the most mouthwatering Connecticut Shade cigars I have ever smoked.
I literally found myself reaching for my handkerchief because I was salivating that much while smoking this blend, especially during that juicy, honey-filled center section. Its filler and binder blend are deep and complex, without being too stout, and the aromatics are of their own divinity.
If you want a mild-medium Connecticut Shade-wrapped cigar with exceptional taste and can stomach a splash of nicotine toward the tail end, I cannot suggest giving the La Palina "White Label" a puff enough. This is a cigar that is brilliantly done on every level.