Medium bodied cigars are arguably the most popular strength of cigar sold around the world. Mild cigars are great for those new to smoking or as a lovely cigar in the morning or after a light brunch.
Full bodied cigars are coveted by the aficionado and those with a slightly more acclimated palate, perfect for an evening with friends or paired with a snifter of brandy. However, medium bodied cigars are a perfect compromise with more complexity than their mild counterpart but with less strength than a full bodied cigar. They pair well with various spirits and cocktails, are sublime to smoke any time of day or night and are enjoyed by everyone from the novice to the enthusiast. For someone like me who prefers a strong, full bodied smoke, handing me a Helix Blue Tubular isn’t going to do much to impress me, but giving me a Davidoff Aniversario will make you my friend for life.
Now, it needs to be clarified that just because a cigar is ‘classified’ as a mild, medium or full bodied cigar, does not mean it will be liked by everyone who enjoys that strength of cigar. For a cigar to be worthy of your time and investment it needs to be well made, crafted with love from only the finest tobacco in the world. Just because it’s a medium bodied cigar, does not mean it’s a good medium bodied cigar. Also, palates and tastes vary. What one person considers a medium cigar another might call mild. I often find that cigars advertised as full-bodied are, in my opinion, a milder medium. It’s important to be very careful when describing your tastes to the tobacconist. Simply saying I like a medium bodied cigar isn’t always enough. When asking for recommendation on a full bodied cigar, my standard lines are that I’m looking for a robust, full bodied, oily cigar that’s creamy with deep notes of leather, must, cedar and espresso. I like hints of caramel, toffee, dark cocoa and black pepper. It has to be earthy and woody with a nice lingering finish and be complex enough that I notice a resounding change in flavors and aroma as I savor it.
If you have a good understanding of the types of tobacco and regions you prefer, it’s wise to also mention that, although not every tobacconist is going to know exactly what kind of tobacco was used in each cigar without looking it up. Be as precise as possible. Let them know what you like and what you dislike so that by the time you make the purchase, you’re ending up with a cigar that you’ll thoroughly enjoy.
With that said, here is a list of some of my favorite medium-bodied cigars that you won’t find overpowering, yet still complex and bold enough to notice.
Romeo y Julieta Romeo No. 1 TUBOS
The first cigar I ever tried, my parents brought me back a single from a trip to Cuba when I was probably about 18 or 19 years old. Despite a horrific experience with the first one, over time I went back and tried it again and after learning how to properly cut, light and smoke a cigar, it quickly became one of my favorite medium bodied smokes. Delightful and elegant with complex a flavor profile that isn’t overwhelming at all, it has a creaminess to it that is unparalleled. Toasty and mildly woody, it has great caramel undertones in the body and a floral elegance that’s truly captivating. As far as medium bodied cigars go, this is one you should try immediately.
Aging Room Quattro F55 Concerto
A really tough cigar to come by, it was released a few years back in a small batch of just 400,000 cigars. Most of the ones still around are in private collections or the back room of a lucky tobacconist. If you are fortunate enough to come by one or be offered one, they are nothing short of exemplary. It has bitterness from roasted espresso with a light toasted cedar and wet leather flavor that is charming and sophisticated. I had the opportunity to try one of these cigars a few years ago, and it’s one I’ve never forgotten.
H. Upmann Cameroon Certified Vintage
A beautifully sweet smoke, the honeyed sweetness is perfectly balanced with a richness that gives this cigar a bolder taste bringing it from the mild bodied range into the medium bracket. It’s creamy and elegant yet not underdeveloped in complexity. It’s a great, comfortable and relaxing smoke.
Davidoff Aniversario No. 2
In my opinion there are very few cigar makers that can compete with the quality, consistency and complexities of Davidoff. I’ve never tried a cigar or pipe tobacco by Davidoff that I couldn’t appreciate. The Aniversario No. 2 is probably my favorite, and the most iconic, medium bodied cigar by the brand. It’s exquisitely refined and delicate with rich wood and cream harmoniously paired with a light pepper and toasted nuts. It’s an incredible smoke.
Most people would probably claim the No. 2 by Montecristo is the best, and it really is, but the White is another that many haven’t tried worthy of consideration. It’s just as complex as the No. 2 but without being as bold. It’s fragrant and herbal with a wonderfully toasted brioche elegantly touched with hints of fruit. If you like the No. 2, give this one a try. You won’t be disappointed.
CAO La Traviata
It just happens to have the name of one of my favorite operas next to Andrea Chénier and like it, it tells a captivating story with its fusion of Ecuadorian, Nicaraguan and Dominican tobaccos. It’s a truly lovely smoke that’s ripe with sweetness, earthiness and a dash of spice which is why it’s so often revered by the most discriminating smokers.
Alec Bradley Black Market
One of the most exceptional medium bodied cigars I think you’ll ever try, the Black Market cigar is undeniably a legendary smoke. It is so deeply complex and rich that one would think only a full bodied cigar could be capable of being so magnificent. It has the peat so many of us love in a Scotch with spice and creaminess that makes you sink back in your chair and sigh. It really doesn’t get much better than this.
Leather and black tea hit the senses with force as this gleaming, and oily cigar makes you take another draw. You’ll do this because you’re shocked the first one was so good. The wrapper has a sweetness to it that almost makes it seem dipped – it isn’t. It’s an earthy combination of pepper and cedar with new leather and fresh roasted coffee. It’s a truly remarkable smoke.
The second third of this cigar is where it begins to take some flight. Initially it comes across as underwhelming but once it opens up the bouquet of aromas and a woody flavor profile with perfect spice and sweetness comes barreling out of the cigar making you forget that minutes before you were dead-set on not buying one again. It has this great flavor to it that is uncommon and reminds me of the char you get from grilling over a charcoal barbecue. It’s very blue-collarish in a sense but makes you feel slightly more manly for smoking it. This isn’t the cigar I’d smoke at a formal event after dinner in the parlour room, but instead it would be a great pick for sitting by a bonfire at the beach on a warm summer night as friends play guitar, and cold beers are shared amongst friends.
Tatuaje BlackLabel Petit Lancero
This is another odd-starting cigar that develops over time. It starts out quite spicy making you think you might have selected a mild, full-bodied cigar. That’s when it evens out transitioning from a peppery bullish cigar into a savory blend of toffee, roasted nuts, cedar and caramel with a hint of fruit. By the time you’re into the second third it’s graceful. The spice lingers slightly but it changes into this remarkable beauty that isn’t just pepper. It’s worth continuing and it’s impressive.
Gurkha 125th Anniversary XO
Gurkha has almost a cult following and although there are a few cigars by them that I really enjoy; I’m not one of those fans who sees the name and automatically loves it because it’s a Gurkha. However, the 125th Anniversary XO is one cigar that is just magnificent. It’s smooth with rich thick creaminess and vanilla bean with caramel undertones. I love the vanilla in it. In fact, I wish more cigars had more vanilla than chocolate but unfortunately that’s just not the case – especially if you want something more complex. Somehow, Gurkha has managed to create a robustly vanilla cigar that is complex though and they’ve done it in a glorious way.
Medium bodied cigars are pretty difficult to categorize as most people find them closer to a full bodied or a mild cigar. There are no white and black lines when it comes to how it’s categorized so you need to use your own judgment based on the flavor profile and aromas. Unfortunately, looking at the wrapper can be misleading and just because it has a dark wrapper doesn’t mean it’s necessarily full bodied. It can be difficult to distinguish but so long as you can name one cigar you like, chances are you can find another by explaining to the tobacconist what qualities you love about it. Remember that they are there to help you and no one knows their humidor better than the tobacconist. Don’t hesitate to ask for their recommendations, but don’t expect to like them if you haven’t been clear about what you like and dislike in a cigar. What’s your favorite medium bodied cigar?