Box Pressed Cigars: Thinking Inside the Box | Cigars Direct

If you're anything like us, you might have been under the impression that cigars are round. They're made by cigar rollers after all, right? We've smoked cigars of every shape and sizediademas nearly a foot long, Nubs that are just a few inches, 42-gauge coronas, and the 80-gauge monster that is Asylum Eighty – and all of them were round! But nowadays some of the best sticks around are nearly rectangular. We decided to get to the bottom of this mystery and fell into the wild world of box-pressed cigars. Like many innovations, box pressing came about to solve transportation issues. In the early 20th century, cigar companies struggled to fit as many cigars as possible into the holds of their ships and to prevent the cigars from rolling around as the ships pitched on the waves. So they started taking newly made cigars that were still soft from rolling and jamming them into boxes as tightly as possible. When they unloaded the cigars at their destination, they discovered that the sticks had compressed and molded into a rectangular shape to fit into the boxes. When they lit these seemingly deformed cigars they discovered that, instead of being ruined, they smoked better than ever. The draw was pure heaven, and they had virtually none of the burn issues that plagued round cigars. Tunneling, canoeing, and hot spots from inconsistent rolling were all significantly reduced. Instead, the cigars burned consistently and slowly from foot to nub. Taking things further, they tried aging cigars in these boxes to see what happened. Unsurprisingly, the compression aided the aging process and the flavors of the tobaccos melded better than ever. Today, very few people are making box-pressed cigars to make them fit in their ships. Many top-rated blenders are however box pressing their best sticks for the draw, burn, and aging advantages that this method provides. And some of the very best examples of box-pressed cigars are:

Davidoff Nicaragua Box Press

Available in toro and Robusto sizes, this cigar is simply the box-pressed version of the legendary Davidoff Nicaragua. As the name implies, this is the first Davidoff line to be made entirely from Cuban-seed Nicaraguan tobacco. Every leaf that goes into this stick is of astounding quality. The long-filler tobaccos are brought together by a Jalapa binder to add some punch, and then encased in a Nicaraguan Rosado wrapper that has been aged for ten years. The result is a smoke that is supremely complex with floral and coffee notes over a foundation of aged leather. This cigar is full-bodied and strong, but extremely smooth. The box-pressed versions slow the burn down even more and marry the flavors for a balanced and satisfying experience.

CAO Flathead

Inspired by the muscle cars of days past, this cigar defies all convention by featuring a squared-off cap in addition to its box-pressed body. The resulting cigar looks almost like a metal ingot and is just about as heavy. The Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper brings together Dominican long-fillers and a Connecticut Habano-seed binder. Every box-pressed size is worth a shot, but the star of the line is the V770 Big Block. This bad boy weighs in at a 7-inch length and 70 gauge ring size. Box pressed cigars are perfect for making huge cigars more smokable and Big Block is the perfect example. Despite the 70-gauge size, you can actually hold this thing and it smokes as evenly as its smaller siblings. Flatheads are some of CAO's best-selling cigars and for good reason. The tobaccos pressed together in these gorgeous sticks are strong and complex, offering ripe fruit, leather, and molasses notes throughout the smoke. The flavor just builds as you smoke the stick down, getting more intense in each third without ever becoming overpowering. These things have more horsepower than a GTO, but the discerning smoker won't be able to get enough of them.

Nica Libre

This simple, classic-looking stick wins full points for style, flavor, and construction. It offers a perfect medium-bodied marriage between its Habano binder and San Andres Maduro wrapper. Not too heavy or dark, the wrapper presents the prototypical Maduro experience, delivering rich and smooth flavors of coffee and earth with just a hint of dark, unsweetened chocolate. The Habano binder brings in a peppery punch that lingers in the aftertaste. The mechanics of Nica Libre are superb as well. The draw is easy and smooth, and the cigar burns evenly all the way through, allowing you to focus on the sumptuous flavors instead of being distracted by burn issues. It may not be the most complex cigar around, but Nica Libre is a great choice if you want an easy, affordable, and delicious Maduro with just enough pepper to mix things up a bit.

My Father La Opulencia Box Press

Jose “Pepin” Garcia is the final word in traditional Cuban-style cigars with the unparalleled build quality. He made his name as a master roller in Cuba before he started blending his own sticks in Miami almost two decades ago. His “My Father” line has made major waves in the cigar world in recent years, with La Opulencia being one of the latest cigars to be met with rave reviews. A hybrid between the original My Father and the even more acclaimed Le Bijou, La Opulencia was named the number 2 cigar of 2018 worldwide. It features a Mexican Rosado Oscuro wrapper that is just in between Le Bijou's dark Habano Oscuro and My Father's Habano-Rosado. As always, this beautifully oily wrapper encases pure Nicaraguan long-fillers that add strength, body, and flavor to the cigar. Expect the creamy leathery goodness of My Father and the robust chocolate notes of Le Bijou while the pepper is toned down to a smooth oakiness that compliments the chocolate. This is a full-bodied cigar but smokes almost like a medium stick thanks to its perfect balance of flavors. This box-pressed cigar takes Jose Garcia's famed construction to the next level with a razor-tight burn line and slow combustion that stays even from first light to last puff. The draw is absolute perfection and leads to billowing clouds of easily-generated smoke. If you haven’t tried a box-pressed cigar, now’s the time to expand your horizons. Grab a few and see what you’ve been missing!