By Ryan Phillips
Ever tried a Candela? I hadn’t tried a single one in over six years of cigar smoking. It wasn’t until one December morning I arrived for work at the Mason Cigar Manor in Mason, Ohio, when the candela curiosity took hold of me, and I had to smoke one.
My friend, colleague, and CST (certified salesforce tobacconist), Mark Hall, recommended I start with a Rocky Patel Edge candela, which I’m smoking as I write this.
Candela leaf results from heat curing as opposed to the traditional air curing undergone by most cigars. During the process of heat curing, chlorophyll locks into the leaf, retaining its distinctive green shade.
Just one short week after smoking my first candela at the Mason Cigar Manor, I had the privilege of traveling to Ybor with friends. Just outside of Tampa, aka “Cigar City USA,” the district of Ybor distinguishes itself by its many boutique lounges. At nearly every boutique store I visited, I tried a candela. My favorite smoke of my newly-found passion was a Maceda candela at Tabanero.
Candelas are generally characterized as mild cigars but can come in all strengths. The Rocky Patel candela is a medium-full blend. Mild or not, in my opinion, candelas are best enjoyed as the first smoke of the day. The flavor a candela delivers is very different from most cigars. I prefer it to be the first smoke of the day before my pallet has adjusted to more traditional flavors. As a preferred “breakfast cigar,” I like to pair it with coffee — especially a Cuban espresso!
The flavors I’m referring to are that of grass, subtle sweetness, and spice, depending on the blend. If I have one criticism of candelas, though, it is that the wrappers can be very thin and may crack towards the end of the cigar, although I tend to smoke down to my fingers. My theory behind my love of candelas stems from the fact that I’m primarily a pipe smoker and the heat curing process closely relates to pipe tobacco curing.
Candelas, I believe, are the most underrated in the industry. If I have convinced you to try a candela, join me at The Mason Cigar Manor, where you will most likely have a choice between La Palina Fuego Verde, the Rocky Patel Edge, or the Arturo Fuente candela. If you happen to visit Ybor, I recommend Tabaneros cigars, La Faraona and Nicahabana for their candelas — and for their lounges.
Ryan Phillips is a pipe and cigar enthusiast and employee of the Mason Cigar Manor in Mason, Ohio