A few weeks ago, Abe Dababneh of Smoke Inn issued a challenge to six cigar media entities to each assemble a sampler of five cigars. The samplers are each available on Smoke Inn’s online store. The challenge also includes a competition to sell the most sampler units called “Battle of the Bands.” Cigar Coop is honored to be one six media entities selected.

The competition opened on Friday, August 21, Noon Eastern Time and will run through October 5th at the stroke of midnight. Later the evening of October 5th at 8pm Eastern, a live-stream hosted by Smoke Inn will feature all of the media entities and the winner of the competition will be formally announced.

You can purchase the sampler by clicking here, or clicking on the header graphic, or clicking on the graphic on the sidebar.

Below are some details of the Battle of the Bands Cigar Coop Edition. You can also watch the video.

Background and Criteria

One thing I decided early on is that I was not going to get into a social media blast war – even if I lose the competition. As I said, I wanted to focus on what we always focus on at Cigar Coop – the product. Cigar Coop’s goal isn’t a popularity contest. I assembled the sampler the way I did because I believe this is the best five-cigar sampler I could make of available cigars. There is something special about each and every one of the cigars selected. Here is our lineup.

  1. E.P. Carrillo Elencos Don Rubino (old packaging)
  2. La Aurora Cien Años Edicíon Especial
  3. My Father El Hijo
  4. Perdomo Estate Selección Vintage Box-Pressed Maduro Regente
  5. Aladino Cameroon Robusto

The Criteria


There has to be a rhyme or reason for doing this, and Cigar Coop is always about having criteria. The following is our selection criteria that goes above and beyond what Abe gave us.

  1. Box Purchasable Cigars: There is a difference between box worthy and box purchase (we reflect that on our value ratings). The five cigars selected are not only cigars that I would reach for on a regular basis, but ones that have been purchased by the box. I believe there is something special about each of these cigars.
  2. Brands With a Factory: What is unique about our sampler is that there are no contracted brands here. In other words, each cigar is produced at a factory owned by the company.
  3. The Quarter Century Club: Each cigar blend was spearheaded by a legendary figure in the cigar business. These figures are not “Johnny Come Latelys”, but ones who have been doing what they do for over 25 years. I’ve been fortunate enough to interview all of the principals who are behind the cigars in my sampler.
  4. Size Matters, but consistency does, too: The idea was to select a common vitola. While it turned out it was difficult to the same size, the five selections are all in the Robusto/Robusto Extra range.
  5. Work Within a Value Point: The goal was to come as close to $59.99 as possible for a price point for the sampler. At $56.66, we came pretty close.
  6. Balance of Country of Origin: I wanted a balance between different countries of origin for the major non-Cuban cigar producing countries. Five cigars made that impossible. In the end, the sampler featured two Dominican, two Nicaraguan, and one Honduran. On a side note, each cigar used a different wrapper from a different country, but that was coincidental.
  7. Balance of Shape: Much like balancing out country of origin, I wanted a balance of parejo (rounded) vs. box-pressed cigars. Five cigars also made that impossible. In the end, the sampler had three parejo cigars and two box-pressed cigars.

The Cigar Lineup

E.P. Carrillo Elencos Don Rubino

Wrapper: Brazilian
Binder: Ecuadorian
Filler: Nicaraguan
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Factory: Tabacalera La Alianza
Blender: Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr.
Don Rubino: 5 1/4 x 50 (Robusto)
Flavor Notes: Mocha, Earth, Red Pepper, Dried Fruit, Cedar

The story of Elencos traces back to 2010 at the time when Ernesto Perez-Carrillo’s E.P. Carrillo brand was in its infancy. Ernesto had released the first of his Edición Limitada series known as the E.P. Carrillo Edición Limitada 2010. The 6 x 54 cigar featured a Brazilian Habano wrapper and it gave E.P. Carrillo its first placement on the prestigious Cigar Aficionado Top 25 (it finished #8). The following year, the company decided to put the blend into an ongoing limited production line of three sizes and it was rebranded the E.P. Carrillo Elencos. In addition to the 6 x 54 size, a Torpedo and Robusto size was added. Despite the high accolades, a decision was made to discontinue the Elencos line.

Fast forward to 2017, Ernesto decided the time was right to bring back the E.P. Carrillo Elencos line. Elencos returns with the same blend and same sizes, but this time with new packaging consistent with what E.P. Carrillo introduced in 2016 across its portfolio.

It’s the Don Rubino size that was selected for the sampler. This is a cigar that was awarded #19 Cigar of the Decade by Cigar Coop earlier this year.

Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr is not known for Brazilian wrapped blends, but this one is an absolute classic, and if you haven’t had it – what an opportunity to try this as a part of the sampler.

La Aurora Cien Años Edicíon Especial


Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Factory: La Aurora S.A.
Blender: Manuel Inoa
Robusto: 5 x 50
Flavor Notes: Dark Chocolate, Mocha, Leather, Cedar, Nut, Pepper

The Battle of the Bands Cigar Coop Edition was about building the best cigar sampler. If you have followed Cigar Coop, you know the track record of the La Aurora Cien Años Edicíon Especial – #1 Cigar of the Decade (2010-19), #1 Cigar of the Year (2013), and highest scoring cigar in the history of Cigar Coop (98). Nobody can touch this.

The La Aurora Cien Años Edicíon Especial is an extension of the La Aurora Cien Años cigar. The original Cien Años project was released to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the La Aurora factory. In 2012, La Aurora decided to release a Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro counterpart – known as the Edición Especial. Due to the tobaccos used, it’s a limited production cigar and it’s only available in one size. Given the limited nature of this cigar, we were happy to hear Abe and Smoke Inn could supply enough for this project.

My Father El Hijo

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano 2009
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Country: Nicaragua
Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
Blender: Jaime Garcia, Don Pepin Garcia
Robusto Extra: 5 1/2 x 52 (Box-Pressed)
Flavor Notes: Natural Tobacco, Orange (Citrus/Rind), Black Pepper, Baker’s Spice

In 2010, Smoke Inn launched a store-exclusive series known as the MicroBlend Series. At the time, Smoke Inn had planned to team up with leading manufacturers to produce an exclusive small batch run for its retail stores. There were four releases planned (Tatuaje, Padrón, My Father, and Arturo Fuente). Eventually, the series continued beyond the first four releases. One of the original four releases was the My Father El Hijo. It’s a cigar that hit the stores in 2011. Eight years later in 2019, Smoke Inn brought back the My Father El Hijo for another limited small batch run.

The My Father El Hijo became one of the most iconic releases in the MicroBlend Series – and it garnered critical acclaim. This cigar landed as the #24 Cigar of the Year on the Cigar Coop Countdown (back at a time when single store releases were eligible)

El Hijo is a unique cigar. It’s a blend that is in a box-pressed Toro format. The cigar itself features a slightly exposed footer as well.

Another unique feature of this cigar is that it is only available at Smoke Inn. It’s a great opportunity to get something in the sampler you cannot get anywhere else.

Perdomo Estate Selección Vintage Box-Pressed Maduro Regente


Wrapper: Nicaraguan Maduro
Binder: Cuban-seed Nicaraguan
Filler: Cuban-seed Nicaraguan
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Tabacalera Perdomo
Blender: Nick Perdomo
Regente: 5 x 54 (Box-Pressed)
Flavor Notes: Mocha, Maduro Sweetness, Mixed Pepper, Char, Leather, Cream

In 2019 Perdomo Cigars reintroduced its Perdomo Estate Selección Vintage (ESV). Perdomo had much success with the ESV in the past and banked on that with bringing the line back in a limited production. The twist is that the ESV returns this time as a box-pressed offering. The cigar utilizes tobacco from Finca Natalie, a farm owned by the Perdomo family and named for company President Nick Perdomo’s daughter Natalie. The tobaccos used in the ESV Box-Pressed are from the top 5% of the crop and are also from the first crop to come out of that farm. Because of the limited amount of tobaccos, the ESV is an ongoing limited production cigar.

There are three blends in the Perdomo Estate Selección Vintage, but for the sampler, the Maduro was selected. Given the limited nature of this cigar, we were once again pleasantly surprised Abe and Smoke Inn could supply enough for this project.

Great cigars have great tobacco, and the Perdomo Estate Selección Vintage Box-Pressed Maduro fits the bill. Currently, the Regente size of the Perdomo Estate Selección Vintage Box-Pressed Maduro is tied for the highest-scoring cigar of 2020 on Cigar Coop.

Aladino Cameroon Robusto


Wrapper: Honduran Grown Cameroon
Binder: Honduran
Filler: Honduran
Country of Origin: Honduras
Factory: Fabrica de Puros Aladino S.A.
Blender: Julio R. Eiroa
Robusto: 5 x 50
Flavor Notes:  Sweet Natural Tobacco, Toast, Baker’s Spice

The Aladino Cameroon comes from JRE Tobacco, the company founded by industry legend Julio R. Eiroa and his son Justo.

It’s the only one in the sampler that was not made in the Dominican Republic or Nicaragua. It’s also the newest of the five cigars and the only one of the five to use all Honduran tobacco. While it hasn’t been reviewed on Cigar Coop just yet, it’s a cigar I’m confident belongs with these other four cigars.

Each of the cigars delivered in this sampler brings something special to the table – and the Aladino Cameroon Robusto is no exception. For this cigar,  the wrapper is grown in Honduras using Cameroon seeds. This wrapper is wrapped over a blend of all Honduran tobaccos grown at the JRE Tobacco Farm.

The Competition

If the Cigar Coop Sampler does not suit you or you simply are curious, I’d encourage folks to check out the other five media sites and what each put together.

Smoke Inn Owner and Proprietor Abe Dababneh was also a guest on Prime Time Episode 152 there he discussed in more detail the Battle of the Bands.

Photo Credits: Smoke Inn Cigars
Video Credits: Cigar Coop

Note: There is no affiliate or marketing advertising involved here. Cigar Coop and the other competitors have no financial stake or financial gain in this competition other than a prize awarded to the winner. 100% of the prize award will be offered to the Cigar Coop audience, should Cigar Coop win.