Top 25 Cigars of 2018 (1-5)

After tasting, re-tasting and tasting some more, we’re ready to share our list of the Top 25 Cigars of 2018. We went back into our ratings for the entire calendar year and isolated all the cigars that scored 91 or higher in 2018. Then our panel smoked and smoked until, finally, we arrived at this list of the best, most exciting cigars of the year.

This group represents the top of the heap, with the number one spot being occupied by a boutique cigar brand that performed undeniably in our blind tastings.

Let us know your thoughts on this ranking by writing us at feedback@cigarsnobmag.com; we might just publish your letter in an upcoming issue of the print magazine or read it on the Cigar Snob Podcast.

1. Sin Compromiso

 
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Manufacturer: Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Ecuador; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: No. 5 Parejo; Physical size: 6 x 54
MSRP: $17.45
Rating: 94

When Steve Saka launched Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust in 2015, anybody who knew him and his history understood it was only a matter of time before his boutique cigar brand forced its way into the Top 25 conversation. Even knowing how credible and capable Steve is, though, nobody could have predicted a cigar like Sin Compromiso.

We smoked and we smoked and we smoked some more. Not because we had to settle differences on this ranking, but because we aren’t used to total unanimity. Never has the consensus been so strong on a pick for Cigar Snob’s Cigar of the Year. Sin Compromiso — with its deep, dark flavors, rich aromas, impeccable construction, complexity and unwavering excellence from the first time we tried it in July until our most recent tastings this month — was the universal pick among our tasters for this No. 1 spot.

2. Oliva Serie V Melanio Maduro

 
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Manufacturer: Tabacalera Oliva (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 5 x 52
MSRP: $10.22
Rating: 93

The Melanio name — which is a tribute to Melanio Oliva, who started the Oliva family’s tobacco tradition — is a familiar one to anybody who follows our Top 25 lists. In fact, when we rated the Melanio Maduro a year ago, its natural counterpart was listed in that same January 2018 issue as the No. 6 cigar of 2017. The Mexican-wrapped Maduro has wowed us all year with its bold flavors, consistently flawless construction, and the beautiful aromas that can only come from extremely well aged tobaccos. We can’t get enough.

3. Vegas del Purial Gran Reserva

 
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Manufacturer: El Galán Cigars (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Lancero; Physical size: 7 x 38
MSRP: $9.80
Rating: 93

Last year, we put El Galán Cigars’ Doña Nieves Sentimiento Ternura (6 x 54) in the No. 19 spot on our list. This time around, Félix Mesa’s brand takes a giant leap forward to No. 3 with Vegas del Purial, an elegant cigar that brings a new level of balance and complexity to the El Galán portfolio. That leap forward is most pronounced in this Lancero format, which also highlights the craftsmanship Félix and his team are capable of delivering.

4. Padrón 50 Years Maduro

 
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Manufacturer: Tabacos Cubanica (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 5 x 54
MSRP: $25.50
Rating: 93

When you light a Padrón, you know what you’re in for. And yet, even with a reputation built on a foundation of legendary consistency, the Padrón experience never gets any less exciting. The Padrón family delivered a milestone cigar for a milestone anniversary.

5. A. Fuente Don Carlos

 
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Manufacturer: Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia (Dominican Republic)
Wrapper: Cameroon; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic
Vitola: No. 2; Physical size: 6 x 55
MSRP: $12.60
Rating: 93

It’s hard to imagine any discussion of the cigar world’s cream of the crop that doesn’t include Arturo Fuente Cigars. The celebrated Dominican cigar maker is a giant in the industry, and for good reason. While some other Fuente cigars are the objects of more hype and fanfare, the Don Carlos — named for the late Fuente patriarch Carlos Fuente, Sr. — was the one that stood out to us this year. Its full flavor and consistency keep us coming back again and again.


Check out the rest of our 2018 list

Listen to our Top 25 Podcast

Top 25 Cigars of 2018 (6-15)

After tasting, re-tasting and tasting some more, we’re ready to share our list of the Top 25 Cigars of 2018. We went back into our ratings for the entire calendar year and isolated all the cigars that scored 91 or higher in 2018. Then our panel smoked and smoked until, finally, we arrived at this list of the best, most exciting cigars of the year.

This group of 10 cigars landed spots 6-10 of our rankings. The group includes a couple of brands that are newcomers to the Top 25 list. We were also struck by how many of these cigars feature deep, dark wrappers.

More of our Top 25 list will be released January 9. In the meantime, let us know your thoughts on this group by writing us at feedback@cigarsnobmag.com; we might just publish your letter in an upcoming issue of the print magazine or read it on the Cigar Snob Podcast.

6. AJ Fernandez Bellas Artes Maduro

 
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Manufacturer: Tabacalera Fernandez (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Brazil; Binder: Mexico; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 x 54
MSRP: $10.00
Rating: 93

7. Tatuaje Black Label Private Reserve

 
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Manufacturer: My Father Cigars (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Corona Gorda; Physical size: 5 5/8 x 46
MSRP: $10.00
Rating: 93

8. The Wise Man

 
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Manufacturer: Aganorsa (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Corona Gorda; Physical size: 5 5/8 x 46
MSRP: $9.90
Rating: 93

9. La Flor de las Antillas TAA Exclusive 2018

 
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Manufacturer: My Father Cigars (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: TAA Lancero; Physical size: 7 1/2 x 38
MSRP: $9.50
Rating: 92

10. Rocky Patel Decade

 
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Manufacturer: El Paraíso (Honduras)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 1/2 x 52
MSRP: $11.70
Rating: 92

11. Davidoff Yamasa

 
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Manufacturer: Cigars Davidoff (Dominican Republic)
Wrapper: Dominican Republic; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Nicaragua, Dominican Republic
Vitola: Piramides; Physical size: 6 1/2 x 52
MSRP: $23.00
Rating: 92

12. Mombacho Liga Maestro

 
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Manufacturer: Casa Favilli (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Hermoso; Physical size: 6 x 46
MSRP: $9.96
Rating: 92

13. Liga Privada T52

 
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Manufacturer: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: USA/Connecticut; Binder: Brazil; Filler: Nicaragua, Honduras
Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 5 x 54
MSRP: $13.10
Rating: 92

14. Illusione Haut 10

 
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Manufacturer: Aganorsa (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Haut 10; Physical size: 5 1/2 x 52
MSRP: $15.95
Rating: 92

15. Balmoral Serie Signaturas Dueto

 
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Manufacturer: Tabacalera La Alianza (Dominican Republic)
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Brazil, Nicaragua
Vitola: Gran Toro; Physical size: 6 x 52
MSRP: $10.50
Rating: 92


Check out the rest of our 2018 list

Listen to our Top 25 podcast

Top 25 Cigars of 2018 (16-25)

After tasting, re-tasting and tasting some more, we’re ready to share our list of the Top 25 Cigars of 2018. We went back into our ratings for the entire calendar year and isolated all the cigars that scored 91 or higher in 2018. Then our panel smoked and smoked until, finally, we arrived at this list of the best, most exciting cigars of the year.

In this first chunk of our list, you’ll find the cigars that landed spots 16-25. Among this group are four cigars manufactured in Honduras, including two products from a factory that is making its first ever appearance on our Top 25 list.

In addition, you’ll find two cigars by made by a Nicaraguan factory that has extended its run as arguably the hottest manufacturer in premium cigars.

More of our Top 25 list will be released January 8. In the meantime, let us know your thoughts on this group by writing us at feedback@cigarsnobmag.com; we might just publish your letter in an upcoming issue of the print magazine or read it on the Cigar Snob Podcast.

Scroll to the bottom of this list for links to the rest of our Top 25 rankings.

16. Camacho Ecuador

 
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Manufacturer: Diadema Cigars de Honduras (Honduras)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Brazil; Filler: Honduras, Dominican Republic
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 x 50
MSRP: $8.50
Rating: 92

17. Leaf by Oscar Sumatra

 
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Manufacturer: Oscar Valladares Tobacco & Co. (Honduras)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Honduras; Filler: Honduras
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 x 52
MSRP: $9.50
Rating: 92

18. Perdomo 20th Anniversary Maduro

 
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Manufacturer: Tabacalera Perdomo (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Epicure; Physical size: 6 x 56
MSRP: $9.00
Rating: 92

19. Caldwell The T

 
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Manufacturer: Tabacalera Fernandez (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Toro Grande; Physical size: 6 1/2 x 56
MSRP: $12.00
Rating: 92

20. Espinosa Habano

 
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Manufacturer: La Zona Cigar Factory (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: No. 5; Physical size: 6 x 52
MSRP: $7.25
Rating: 91

21. 2012 by Oscar Valladares Maduro

 
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Manufacturer: Oscar Valladares Tobacco & Co. (Honduras)
Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Honduras; Filler: Honduras, Nicaragua
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 x 52
MSRP: $8.50
Rating: 91

22. Romeo y Julieta 1875 Nicaragua

 
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Manufacturer: Plasencia (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 x 50
MSRP: $7.10
Rating: 91

23. La Galera Maduro

 
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Manufacturer: Tabacalera Palma (Dominican Republic)
Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic
Vitola: Cortador; Physical size: 6 1/4 x 52
MSRP: $6.50
Rating: 91

24. Aladino

 
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Manufacturer: Fabrica de Puros Aladino (Honduras)
Wrapper: Honduras; Binder: Honduras; Filler: Honduras
Vitola: Elegante; Physical size: 7 x 38
MSRP: $7.00
Rating: 91

25. Joya Silver

 
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Manufacturer: Joya de Nicaragua (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Mexico; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 x 52
MSRP: $7.80
Rating: 91


Check out the rest of our 2018 list

Listen to our Top 25 podcast

The Top 25 Cigars of 2017 (1-5)

It's the time again! At the start of each year, Cigar Snob puts out its ranking of the best 25 cigars we've rated over the previous year. Below, you'll find the cigars that top our list at spots 1 through 5. Leading the pack are two cigars from families that — despite their cigar making chops — are probably better known as growers of great raw material than as manufacturers of premium cigars. Each family created a cigar that not only highlights its tobacco prowess, but also serves as a reminder that you underestimate their cigar making abilities at your own peril.

So how is the list created? We reviewed all the cigars we rated 91 or higher in the 2017 calendar year, then had our panel smoke and rate them all over again. We used that feedback to create the list you see below.

Let us know your thoughts by writing us at feedback@cigarsnobmag.com; we might just publish your letter in an upcoming issue of the print magazine.

Scroll to the bottom of this list for links to the rest of our Top 25 rankings.

1. Plasencia Alma Fuerte

 
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Manufacturer: Plasencia Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Nestor IV; Physical size: 6 1/4 x 54
MSRP: $20.00
Rating: 94

The Plasencia family has had a central role in the cigar industry for a long time. As one of Central America’s preeminent tobacco growers, their stamp is on a great many of the cigars you come across in practically any American tobacconist’s humidor. The Plasencias have also been behind the manufacture of plenty of critically acclaimed cigars at their factories.

But — for whatever reason — it wasn’t until 2017 that this powerhouse family went all-in on the idea of producing elite-level cigars with their own name on the bands. And so while they’re not the new kids on the block, there is something very new about Plasencia Alma Fuerte. The Plasencias didn’t just enter the discussion of the best cigars of the year; they beat the damn door down with a perfectly executed cigar that’s everything you want out of a quintessentially Nicaraguan smoke. What’s more, they have the experience, the resources, and the stockpiled tobacco to ensure they’re not leaving this discussion a moment sooner than they want to.

2. Casa Fernandez Miami Aniversario Serie 2015

 
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Manufacturer: Casa Fernández Factory (Miami)
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Voleur; Physical size: 7 1/2 x 40
MSRP: $12.50
Rating: 94

Nobody in cigars has an ace in the hole quite like Casa Fernandez’s. The Fernandez family, another major tobacco grower, can always lean on its Aganorsa tobacco, which takes the cigars into which it’s blended to a whole other level and gives Casa Fernandez (as well as the other brands lucky enough to score the stuff for their own blends) an unmistakable signature.

That Aganorsa tobacco shines especially brightly as a wrapper on this 7 ½ x 40 Voleur format. Every smoker, but especially any smoker who loves lanceros, should seek these out ASAP.

3. Fuente Fuente OpusX Angel's Share

 
Ciar Snob Top 25 - 3 - Fuente Fuente OpusX Angels Share.jpg
 

Manufacturer: Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia (Dominican Republic)
Wrapper: Dominican Republic; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic
Vitola: Reserva D Chateau; Physical size: 7 x 48
MSRP: $26.66
Rating: 94

If you’ve been following our Top 25 rankings for a while, you might remember that the Angel’s Share (in Corona Gorda) took the top spot in our 2014 list. It’s many of the things you love about the core OpusX line, but toned down a bit on the full strength that’s an Opus hallmark. This brand continues to be a favorite of ours, and we knew as soon as we got feedback from our panel on the Reserva D Chateau that it would occupy one of the top spots on this list.

This doesn’t factor into our ranking, but the  brand also has one of the most compelling backstories in cigars. It’s an allusion to a fire that destroyed two of the Fuente family’s tobacco warehouses in 2011. Carlos Fuente, Sr., the story goes, took solace in the idea that his ancestor’s (his angels) were smoking his best tobacco.

4. Tatuaje TAA 2016

 
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Manufacturer: My Father Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: USA; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 1/4 x 50
MSRP: $11.95
Rating: 93

TAA special editions are available only for limited periods and only at TAA (Tobacconists Association of America) member stores. This cigar will become increasingly hard to come by (only 80,000 of these were made), and should therefore be a high priority for anyone who collects cigars or just enjoys trying rare cigars. Pete Johnson and the Garcías created something truly special in this rich, Connecticut Broadleaf-wrapped cigar that brings the heft and strength that are Tatuaje calling cards while still achieving great balance.

5. AJ Fernandez Enclave Broadleaf

 
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Manufacturer: Tabacalera Fernandez S.A. (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: USA/Connecticut; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 5 1/4 x 54
MSRP: $7.78
Rating: 93

Anyone in the know will tell you: this is is the year of AJ Fernandez. The man is everywhere in retail humidors thanks to his own excellent portfolio and collaborations with companies large and small. This Top 25 features two cigars that bear his name. Several more were rated highly enough to be considered for inclusion here. In the end, though, the Enclave Broadleaf — a great illustration of A.J.’s earthy, peppery signature — performed exceptionally well to round out our top five.


Check out the rest of our 2016 list

Listen to the team talk 2017's Top 25 on the podcast

 
 

The Top 25 Cigars of 2017 (6-15)

It's the time again! At the start of each year, Cigar Snob puts out its ranking of the best 25 cigars we've rated over the previous year. Below, you'll find the cigars that landed spots 6-15. This chunk of the list is dominated by Nicaraguan-made products. Of the two cigars in this group that were not made in Nicaragua, one is a Nicaraguan puro and the other features tobaccos aged in Nicaraguan rum barrels. This reflects the fact that cigar makers are still responding, innovating and making great products to meet smokers' continuing fascination with Nicaragua.

So how is the list created? We reviewed all the cigars we rated 91 or higher in the 2017 calendar year, then had our panel smoke and rate them all over again. We used that feedback to create the list you see below.

Let us know your thoughts by writing us at feedback@cigarsnobmag.com; we might just publish your letter in an upcoming issue of the print magazine.

Scroll to the bottom of this list for links to the rest of our Top 25 rankings.

6. Oliva Serie V Melanio

 
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Manufacturer: Tabacalera Oliva S.A. (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Double Toro; Physical size: 6 x 60
MSRP: $15.06
Rating: 93

7. Herrera Esteli

 
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Manufacturer: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Honduras; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Lonsdale Deluxe; Physical size: 6 x 44
MSRP: $9.28
Rating: 93

8. Padrón 1926 Serie

 
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Manufacturer: Tabacos Cubanica S.A. (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: No. 47; Physical size: 5 1/2 x 50
MSRP: $18.00
Rating: 93

9. Villiger San'Doro Colorado

 
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Manufacturer: Joya de Nicaragua S.A. (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 5 x 50
MSRP: $8.00
Rating: 92

10. My Father The Judge

 
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Manufacturer: My Father Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: 560; Physical size: 5 x 60
MSRP: $12.40
Rating: 92

11. Hamlet 25th Year

 
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Manufacturer: Tabacalera Villa Cuba S.A. (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: USA; Filler: Honduras & Nicaragua
Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 5 1/2 x 50
MSRP: $8.75
Rating: 92

12. Camacho Nicaragua Barrel-Aged

 
Cigar Snob Top 25 - 12 - Camacho Nicaraguan Barel-Aged.jpg
 

Manufacturer: Diadema Cigars de Honduras S.A. (Honduras)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Mexico; Filler: Nicaragua & Dominican Republic
Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 5 x 50
MSRP: $10.00
Rating: 92

13. Monte by Montecristo AJ Fernandez

 
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Manufacturer: Tabacalera Fernandez S.A. (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua & Dominican Republic
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 x 55
MSRP: $11.00
Rating: 92

14. Sindicato Miami Edition

 
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Manufacturer: Casa Fernández Factory (Miami)
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Perfecto; Physical size: 6 7/8 x 52
MSRP: $12.95
Rating: 92

15. San Isidro by HVC

 
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Manufacturer: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Geniales; Physical size: 6 x 52
MSRP: $10.80
Rating: 92


Check out the rest of our 2016 list

Listen to the team talk 2017's Top 25 on the podcast

 
 

The Top 25 Cigars of 2017 (16-25)

It's the time again! At the start of each year, Cigar Snob puts out its ranking of the best 25 cigars we've rated over the previous year. Below, you'll find the cigars that landed spots 16-25. Nine out of the 10 products in this section are making their first ever appearances on our list.

So how is the list created? We reviewed all the cigars we rated 91 or higher in the 2017 calendar year, then had our panel smoke and rate them all over again. We used that feedback to create the list you see below.

Let us know your thoughts by writing us at feedback@cigarsnobmag.com; we might just publish your letter in an upcoming issue of the print magazine.

Scroll to the bottom of this list for links to the rest of our Top 25 rankings.

16. CAO Amazon Anaconda

 
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Manufacturer: STG Estelí (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Brazil; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Brazil, Colombia & Dominican Republic
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 x 52
MSRP: $10.49
Rating: 92

17. Murcielago

 
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Manufacturer: La Zona Cigar Factory (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Noir; Physical size: 5 x 52
MSRP: $8.50
Rating: 92

18. La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero

 
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Manufacturer: Tabacalera La Flor S.A. (Dominican Republic)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic
Vitola: DL-600; Physical size: 5 1/4 x 52
MSRP: $8.10
Rating: 92

19. Doña Nieves Sentimiento

 
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Manufacturer: El Galan Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Ternura; Physical size: 6 x 54
MSRP: $7.00
Rating: 92

20. Winston Churchill The Late Hour

 
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Manufacturer: Davidoff Cigars (Dominican Republic)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Mexico; Filler: Nicaragua & Dominican Republic
Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 5 x 52
MSRP: $17.50
Rating: 92

21. Sobremesa

 
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Manufacturer: Joya de Nicaragua S.A. (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Mexico; Filler: USA & Nicaragua
Vitola: Cervantes Fino; Physical size: 6 1/4 x 46
MSRP: $11.25
Rating: 92

22. Undercrown Sun Grown

 
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Manufacturer: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Gran Toro; Physical size: 6 x 52
MSRP: $9.02
Rating: 92

23. La Galera 1936 Box-Pressed

 
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Manufacturer: Tabacalera Palma (Dominican Republic)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic
Vitola: Chaveta; Physical size: 5 x 50
MSRP: $5.48
Rating: 92

24. La Aurora Preferidos Broadleaf

 
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Manufacturer: La Aurora Cigar Factory (Dominican Republic)
Wrapper: USA; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Brazil, Cameroon & Dominican Republic
Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 5 x 50
MSRP: $9.00
Rating: 92

25. Cornelius & Anthony - Cornelius

 
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Manufacturer: El Titan de Bronze (Miami)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Ecuador; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Corona Gorda; Physical size: 5 1/2 x 46
MSRP: $12.00
Rating: 92


Check out the rest of our 2016 list

Listen to the team talk 2017's Top 25 on the podcast

 
 

The Top 25 Cigars of 2016 (1-5)

Every January, Cigar Snob releases its rankings of the previous year's 25 best smokes. This year's list comes on the heels of a rollercoaster year for the cigar industry, as the consequences of looming FDA regulation converged with the uncertainty of a tight presidential election to make waves through all 12 months of 2016. There were acquisitions, product releases and all sorts of shakeups at cigar brands big and small.

So how do we put this list together? It starts with a review of all the cigar ratings we released during 2016. Any cigar that scored 91 or higher was smoked one more time by our tasting panel. We used this feedback to create the list you see below.

Let us know your thoughts by writing us at feedback@cigarsnobmag.com; we might just publish your letter in an upcoming issue of the print magazine.

Scroll to the bottom of this list for links to the rest of our Top 25 rankings.

1. La Mission L'Atelier

Manufacturer: My Father Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: 1959; Physical size: 4 3/4 x 52
MSRP: $8.00
Rating: 95

Cigar Snob readers know we’re big fans of wine around here. So when La Mission L’atelier was announced, it piqued our interest. When we got around to tasting it, we knew we had a winner on our hands. Pete Johnson’s love of wine is no secret, so it makes perfect sense that this cigar — inspired by Bordeaux wines — would come from his team.

It’s a cigar that’s huge on flavor, starting out with intense pepper before transitioning to a more leather- and chocolate-forward smoke. It’s also got an undeniable My Father influence, which is owed in part to some of the García family’s Nicaraguan Sancti Spíritus tobacco in the filler. Don't let the 4 3/4-inch length fool you: this cigar is built flawlessly and burns nice and slow; this vitola will last you an hour or more. It’s a different take on the San Andrés-wrapped cigar that appeals to a broad swath of smokers while retaining a distinct identity you'll go back to again and again.

2. A. Fuente Don Carlos Personal Reserve

Manufacturer: Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia. (Dominican Republic)
Wrapper: Cameroon; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic
Vitola: Personal Reserve; Physical size: 5 x 50
MSRP: $13.00
Rating: 94

No matter how much change other cigar companies felt in 2016, none took a hit quite like Fuente did when family and company patriarch Carlos Fuente, Sr. died. He was a giant whose shoes can’t be filled, whose absence marks the end of one era and the start of another.

Among the many ways in which his legacy endures: the cigars that bear his name. The Don Carlos Personal Reserve — characterized by sweet cedar, nuts and caramel with balancing elements of pepper and savory spice — gives you the opportunity to smoke the same blend that Don Carlos himself did. You’ll never get a stronger endorsement than that.

3. AVO Syncro Nicaragua Fogata

Manufacturer: O.K. Cigars (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Mexico; Filler: Nicaragua, Dominican Republic
Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 5 x 50
MSRP: $9.40
Rating: 93

Released just a year after the Avo Syncro Nicaragua, the Fogata expanded on an AVO brand that had recently gotten a visual makeover. Featuring an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and a  Mexican San Andrés binder, this cigar brings a quality smoking experience to match its good looks.

Fogata is the Spanish word for campfire. It’s a name that’s inspired by Avo Uvezian’s preferred smoking setting. Wherever you light yours, the Fogata promises loads of flavor and great balance with a sweet finish.

4. Padrón 1926 Serie Natural

Manufacturer:  Tabacos Cubanica S.A. (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: No. 1; Physical size: 6 3/4 x 54
MSRP: $21.70
Rating: 93

Perhaps no cigar company has staked a more solid claim to a reputation for consistency than Padrón. In 2015, the big news from Padrón was the introduction of a Connecticut wrapper. In 2016, people went nuts when news broke that one of the company’s products would be round … and in tubes! TUBES!

Padrón doesn’t have to be exciting. They don’t have to be edgy. They thrive on their perfection and the rich flavor that keeps loyalists (Padrón’s are some of the most unshakable fans around) coming back for more. The 1926 Serie Natural brings that irresistible Padrón signature of pepper, coffee, and chocolate, while balancing it with creamy undertones.

5. AJ Fernandez Bellas Artes

Manufacturer:  Tabacalera Fernandez S.A. (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Brazil, Honduras, Nicaragua
Vitola: Robusto Extra; Physical size: 5 1/2 x 52
MSRP: $8.75
Rating: 93

Over the last few years, AJ Fernandez has been consistently releasing excellent new brands at accessible price points. Bellas Artes  — with its flawless construction and picture-perfect wrapper — is just the latest in the company’s string of top-notch Nicaraguan cigars.

2016 was a big year for AJ Fernandez. The company started the year with a brand new distribution facility in Miami and, to meet increased demand, ended the year by adding a new Nicaraguan factory to its arsenal (this in addition to the already massive and relatively new factory from which AJ has been working). Bellas Artes is further proof that the future is bright for AJ Fernandez.


Check out the rest of our 2016 list

The Top 25 Cigars of 2016 (6-10)

Every January, Cigar Snob releases its rankings of the previous year's 25 best smokes. This year's list comes on the heels of a rollercoaster year for the cigar industry, as the consequences of looming FDA regulation converged with the uncertainty of a tight presidential election to make waves through all 12 months of 2016. There were acquisitions, product releases and all sorts of shakeups at cigar brands big and small.

So how do we put this list together? It starts with a review of all the cigar ratings we released during 2016. Any cigar that scored 91 or higher was smoked one more time by our tasting panel. We used this feedback to create the list you see below.

Let us know your thoughts by writing us at feedback@cigarsnobmag.com; we might just publish your letter in an upcoming issue of the print magazine.

Scroll to the bottom of this list for links to the rest of our Top 25 rankings.

6. Oliva Serie V

Manufacturer:  Tabacalera Oliva S.A. (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Torpedo; Physical size: 6 x 56
MSRP: $9.56
Rating: 93

Oliva was bought by a Belgian cigarmaker called J. Cortes in 2016. That said, there’s little reason to think that the transition will result in very much change to the quality and consistency of Oliva’s premium products; J. Cortes is better known as a producer of machine-made cigars and José Oliva remains at the helm of the Oliva brand.

The Serie V Torpedo has been earning high praise for years, and the cigar still wows us every time we taste it. It’s strong, flavorful, balanced, and flawlessly constructed. 

7. Camacho Powerband

Manufacturer: Occidental Cigars Corporate, Inc. (Dominican Republic)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Mexico; Filler: Nicaragua, Honduras
Vitola: Gordo; Physical size: 6 x 60
MSRP: $13.00
Rating: 93

This cigar launched as so many other Camacho products do — with a blowout cross-country promotional tour — and it’s been holding steady in popularity since. The second product in the brand’s Master-Built Series, Powerband’s name comes from the motorcycle world. It refers to the range of speeds at which a bike’s engine operates at top efficiency. The cigar itself is built a little differently — the bunching method combines the traditional Cuban entubado method with the more typically Dominican accordion style.

Whether that makes the cigar any more “efficient” is anyone’s guess, but we do know this cigar smokes like a dream.

8. Herrera Estelí

Manufacturer: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Honduras; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Piramide Fino; Physical size: 6 x 52
MSRP: $10.56
Rating: 93

Willy Herrera has been a hitmaker since he joined Drew Estate and — not long after — became the company’s master blender. This was the first Drew Estate brand to bear his name and it’s a reflection of his classic Cuban cigar sensibilities and remains a favorite of our tasting panel every time we put it to the test.

Drew Estate’s acquisition by Swisher seems not to have impacted the brand’s commitment to innovating in the premium space. Here’s hoping that FDA regulation doesn’t suppress Willy’s ability to showcase his creativity for too long. As accomplished as he is, his work at Drew Estate has still shown tons of promise and gives us lots of cause for excitement.

9. Rocky Patel Special Edition

Manufacturer: TAVICUSA (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Undisclosed; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 5 1/2 x 50
MSRP: $9.95
Rating: 93

If you follow cigar product releases at all, you know that Rocky Patel is known for being among the most prolific product-releasers in the game. He is to cigar making what a foodie chef is to cooking — always creating, always on the hunt for whatever will excite him and, ideally, his smokers next.

So when Rocky goes out of his way to call something “special,” you should be paying attention. The cigar is a brick-and-mortar exclusive, so you can’t find it online. It’s got coffee, caramel and chocolate notes that are big on flavor while steering clear of high-intensity smoke. You’ll feel this one, but you’ll want to light another. 

10. Sindicato Particulares

Manufacturer: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Delicioso; Physical size: 6 x 54
MSRP: $8.50
Rating: 93

Sindicato made big waves in the cigar industry when it burst onto the scene. The company is unique in that it’s the brainchild of a number of tobacconists, and the ownership group includes even more cigar store owners who were looking for a way to create a brick-and-mortar-only brand for themselves.

It didn’t take Sindicato very long to prove that its products deserve to be taken seriously, and Particulares — which, unlike many of their other products, sports classically Cuban-style packaging — represents the culmination of those tobacconists’ hard work. With this collaboration with Casa Fernandez, Sindicato has added a brand to its portfolio that not only brought the company into the Cigar Snob Top 25 for the first time, but broke the top 10.


Check out the rest of our 2016 list

The Top 25 Cigars of 2016 (11-15)

Every January, Cigar Snob releases its rankings of the previous year's 25 best smokes. This year's list comes on the heels of a rollercoaster year for the cigar industry, as the consequences of looming FDA regulation converged with the uncertainty of a tight presidential election to make waves through all 12 months of 2016. There were acquisitions, product releases and all sorts of shakeups at cigar brands big and small.

So how do we put this list together? It starts with a review of all the cigar ratings we released during 2016. Any cigar that scored 91 or higher was smoked one more time by our tasting panel. We used this feedback to create the list you see below.

Let us know your thoughts by writing us at feedback@cigarsnobmag.com; we might just publish your letter in an upcoming issue of the print magazine.

Scroll to the bottom of this list for links to the rest of our Top 25 rankings.

11. Don Pepín Cuban Classic

Manufacturer: My Father Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: 1979; Physical size: 5 x 50
MSRP: $7.30
Rating: 93

12. Joya Black

Manufacturer: Joya de Nicaragua S.A. (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler:Nicaragua
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 x 52
MSRP: $7.96
Rating: 93

13. 601 Red

Manufacturer: La Zona Cigar Factory (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Torpedo; Physical size: 6 1/8 x 52
MSRP: $7.95
Rating: 92

14. La Flor Dominicana 48th TAA

Manufacturer: Tabacalera La Flor S.A. (Dominican Republic)
Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Cameroon; Filler: Dominican Republic
Vitola: Toro Gordo; Physical size: 6 x 54
MSRP: $9.40
Rating: 92

15. EP Carrillo Short Run 2016

Manufacturer: Tabacalera La Alianza (Dominican Republic)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 x 52
MSRP: $12.00
Rating: 92


Check out the rest of our 2016 list

The Top 25 Cigars of 2016 (16-20)

Every January, Cigar Snob releases its rankings of the previous year's 25 best smokes. This year's list comes on the heels of a rollercoaster year for the cigar industry, as the consequences of looming FDA regulation converged with the uncertainty of a tight presidential election to make waves through all 12 months of 2016. There were acquisitions, product releases and all sorts of shakeups at cigar brands big and small.

So how do we put this list together? It starts with a review of all the cigar ratings we released during 2016. Any cigar that scored 91 or higher was smoked one more time by our tasting panel. We used this feedback to create the list you see below.

Let us know your thoughts by writing us at feedback@cigarsnobmag.com; we might just publish your letter in an upcoming issue of the print magazine.

Scroll to the bottom of this list for links to the rest of our Top 25 rankings.

16. Quesada Oktoberfest 2016

Manufacturer: MATASA (Dominican Republic)
Wrapper: Dominican Republic; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic
Vitola: Das Boot; Physical size: 6 x 52
MSRP: $8.75
Rating: 92

17. Mombacho 10th Anniversary

Manufacturer: Mombacho Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 1/4 x 52
MSRP: $19.95
Rating: 92

18.Aging Room M19

Manufacturer: Tabacalera Palma (Dominican Republic)
Wrapper: Dominican Republic; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic
Vitola: Fortissimo; Physical size: 5 3/4 x 47
MSRP: $13.90
Rating: 92

19. Leaf by Oscar Maduro

Manufacturer: Oscar Valladares Tobacco & Co. (Honduras)
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Honduras; Filler: Honduras
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 x 52
MSRP: $9.00
Rating: 92

20. Crowned Heads Le Careme

Manufacturer: Tabacalera La Alianza (Dominican Republic)
Wrapper: USA/Connecticut; Binder: Ecuador; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Hermoso No. 1; Physical size: 6 1/2 x 48
MSRP: $8.75
Rating: 92


Check out the rest of our 2016 list

The Top 25 Cigars of 2015 (1-5)

It's that time of year again! Every January, Cigar Snob releases its rankings of the previous year's 25 best smokes. This year's list includes a variety of products on every front: format, profile, country of origin, and price to name a few.

How do we arrive at this list? It starts with a review of all the cigar ratings we released during 2015. Any cigar that scored 91 or higher was smoked one more time by our tasting panel. We used this fresh feedback on the crème de la crème to produce the list you see below.

Scroll to the bottom of this list for links to the rest of our Top 25 rankings.

5. Oliva Serie V Melanio Maduro

Oliva-Serie-V-Melanio-Maduro-Robusto.jpg

Manufacture: Nicaragua (Tabacalera Oliva S.A.)
Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 5 x 52
MSRP: $9.75
Rating: 93

Complex, balanced and built flawlessly, the Oliva Serie V Melanio Maduro continues to be one of our favorite cigars—though we’d never actually rated the Robusto until this year. It's packaged and constructed so beautifully, we might have had a hard time putting a flame to it if we didn't know how much we'd enjoy smoking it. Unlike the original Serie V Melanio (which has an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper), the Serie V Melanio Maduro is wrapped in an impeccable and flavorful San Andrés wrapper, lending it the sweetness and strength that is that Mexican valley's signature. 

4. AJ Fernandez Enclave

AJ-Fernandez-Enclave-Robusto.jpg

Manufacture: Nicaragua (Tabacalera Fernandez S.A.)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Cameroon; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 5 x 52
MSRP: $6.44
Rating: 93

No other cigar manufacturer has generated as much organic buzz in 2015 as A.J. Fernandez. After successfully launching the flavorful and peppery New World in 2014, A.J. Fernandez showed us he’s just as skilled at blending for a smooth and creamy profile with the release of the A.J. Fernandez Enclave in 2015. Talk to A.J. about this cigar and he beams with pride—not only because he's managed to create something so special, but also because it's the second cigar he's created with his father Israel. The three-country blend makes for a delicious and complex smoke that takes you on a ride from the first puff.

3. Arturo Fuente Añejo

Arturo-Fuente-Añejo-No-50.jpg

Manufacture: Dominican Republic (Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia.)
Wrapper: Connecticut; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic
Vitola: No. 50; Physical size: 5 1/4 x 50
MSRP: $15.95
Rating: 94

There are some brands you know you can always count on to deliver, and Fuente Añejo is one of them. No matter how many times our we fire this one up, we fall in love all over again. The cigar was conceived when, in 1998, Hurricane Georges tore through the farm where OpusX wrapper was grown. Rather than halt production, the Fuentes took a Connecticut wrapper and retooled the OpusX blend. The result was Añejo. This Connecticut-wrapped smoke is as deep in flavor as it is in wrapper color; that's thanks in part to the fact that that Connecticut wrapper is aged in cognac barrels, which produces an incredible aroma that perfectly complements the strength and flavor of the filler.

2. Herrera Estelí

Herrera-Esteli-Lonsdale.jpg

Manufacture: Nicaragua (La Gran Fábrica Drew Estate)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Honduras; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Lonsdale; Physical size: 6 x 44
MSRP: $9.12
Rating: 94

When Willy Herrera took his position at Drew Estate, this cigar followed soon after. It was the first cigar to bear Willy’s name after he made his transition. Its "Cuban-esque" profile is a reflection of the guy behind the blend. “I was trying to do something completely new to Drew Estate, something unlike any of the other cigars that we make,” said Willy during a recent interview. “I tried to make something that I could really enjoy smoking all the time.” It’s big on flavors that feel refreshingly nostalgic, and this Lonsdale format is the best way to enjoy a cigar that takes you back in time. We never pass these on store shelves without scooping a few of them up.

1. My Father El Centurion H-2K-CT

My-Father-El-Centurion-H-2K-CT-Toro.jpg

Manufacture: Nicaragua (My Father Cigars S.A.)
Wrapper: Connecticut; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 x 52
MSRP: $8.10
Rating: 95

The hits just keep on coming from the father-and-son blending duo of Pepín and Jaime García. My Father has built a fiercely loyal following thanks to its consistently high quality and calling-card smooth strength. With this cigar, they bring something new not only to their repertoire but also to the cigar world in general: a Habano 2000 wrapper grown in Connecticut. It took some experimentation, but all that work the Garcías did paid off; it’s a novel idea that results in exciting flavors, wonderful balance and a profile that’s unlike anything we’ve smoked from My Father. That said, the patently Nicaraguan binder and filler blend are there to remind you where the cigar came from. It’s a package that earned a rating of 95 from our panel—only the second 95 rating we’ve ever given—making it our 2015 Cigar of the Year.

Watch our interview with Jaime García about the El Centurion H-2K-CT.


Check out the rest of our 2015 list

    The Top 25 Cigars of 2015 (6-10)

    It's that time of year again! Every January, Cigar Snob releases its rankings of the previous year's 25 best smokes. This year's list includes a variety of products on every front: format, profile, country of origin, and price to name a few.

    How do we arrive at this list? It starts with a review of all the cigar ratings we released during 2015. Any cigar that scored 91 or higher was smoked one more time by our tasting panel. We used this fresh feedback on the crème de la crème to produce the list you see below.

    Scroll to the bottom of this list for links to the rest of our Top 25 rankings.

    10. Camacho American Barrel-Aged

    Camacho-American-Barrel-Aged-Gordo.jpg

    Manufacture: Dominican Republic (O.K. Cigars)
    Wrapper: Connecticut; Binder: Connecticut; Filler: Connecticut
    Vitola: Gordo; Physical size: 6 x 60
    MSRP: $12.00
    Rating: 92

    9. La Boheme Encantador

    La-Boheme-Encantador-Fenice.jpg

    Manufacture: Dominican Republic (Tabacalera Palma)
    Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic
    Vitola: Fenice; Physical size: 6 x 52
    MSRP: $11.80
    Rating: 93

    8. Rocky Patel Sun Grown Maduro

    Rocky-Patel-Sun-Grown-Maduro-Toro.jpg

    Manufacture: Nicaragua (TAVICUSA)
    Wrapper: Connecticut; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
    Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 1/2 x 52
    MSRP: $8.80
    Rating: 93

    7. Warped Flor del Valle

    Warped-Flor-del-Valle-Cristales.jpg

    Manufacture: Nicaragua (TABSA)
    Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
    Vitola: Cristales; Physical size: 6 x 42
    MSRP: $8.95
    Rating: 93

    6. Davidoff Colorado Claro

    Davidoff-Colorado-Claro-Aniversario-No-3.jpg

    Manufacture: Dominican Republic (Tabadom Holding, Inc.)
    Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic
    Vitola: Aniversario No. 3; Physical size: 6 x 50
    MSRP: $20.70
    Rating: 93


    Check out the rest of our 2015 list

      The Top 25 Cigars of 2015 (21-25)

      It's that time of year again! Every January, Cigar Snob releases its rankings of the previous year's 25 best smokes. This year's list includes a variety of products on every front: format, profile, country of origin, and price to name a few.

      How do we arrive at this list? It starts with a review of all the cigar ratings we released during 2015. Any cigar that scored 91 or higher was smoked one more time by our tasting panel. We used this fresh feedback on the crème de la crème to produce the list you see below.

      Scroll to the bottom of this list for links to the rest of our Top 25 rankings.

      25. La Aurora 100 Años

      25a.jpg

      Manufacture: Dominican Republic (La Aurora Cigar Factory)
      Wrapper: Dominican Republic; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic
      Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 5 x 50
      MSRP: $12.00
      Rating: 92

      24. Padilla La Pilar

      Padilla-La-Pilar-Toro.jpg

      Manufacturer: Honduras (Tabacalera Aguilar S. de R.L.)
      Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua
      Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 x 52
      MSRP: $6.00
      Rating: 92

      23. J Grotto Silk

      J-Grotto-Silk-Lancero.jpg

      Manufacture: Honduras (Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L.)
      Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Indonesia; Filler: Nicaragua, Honduras
      Vitola: Lancero; Physical size: 7 1/2 x 40
      MSRP: $7.99
      Rating: 92

      22. Intemperance BA XXI

      Intemperance-BA-XXI-The-Breach-of-the-Peace.jpg

      Manufacture: Nicaragua (Nica Sueño S.A.)
      Wrapper: Brazil; Binder: Indonesia; Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua
      Vitola: The Breach of the Peace; Physical size: 5 x 56
      MSRP: $7.50
      Rating: 92

      21. Espinosa Laranja Reserva

      Espinosa-Laranja-Reserva-Corona-Gorda

      Manufacture: Nicaragua (La Zona Cigar Factory)
      Wrapper: Brazil; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
      Vitola: Corona Gorda; Physical size: 5 5/8 x 46
      MSRP: $9.90
      Rating: 92


      Check out the rest of our 2015 list

      The Top 25 Cigars of 2014

       

      Though Cigar Snob has been around for close to a decade, this is only our third annual list. After releasing each of the last two, we were inundated with feedback—most positive, some negative, some validating, some challenging. The common thread running through just about all the reactions we got was an appreciation for our objectivity. We know how seriously you take these rankings, and—with this new list—we remain committed to offering our honest assessments.

      How did we arrive at this list? First, we took all the cigars we’d rated over the course of the last year and set aside only those which received ratings of 92 or higher. There were 78 in all. That’s the easy part. We then had our panelists re-taste those candidates. While that’s far and away their favorite tasting assignment of the year, whittling the list down to a ranked 25 is harder than it sounds.

      25. 1502 Black Gold

      Country of manufacture: Nicaragua
      Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
      Vitola: Lancero; Physical size: 7 X 38
      MSRP: $7.90
      Rating: 92

      24. Flor de Gonzalez Spectral

      Country of manufacture: Nicaragua
      Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua & Peru
      Vitola: Atom; Physical size: 6 ½ x 44
      MSRP: $8.50
      Rating: 92

      23. Tattoo

      Country of manufacture: Nicaragua
      Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
      Vitola: Bonito; Physical size: 6 1/8 X 52
      MSRP: $6.00
      Rating: 92

      22. Padilla Vintage Reserve

      Country of manufacture: Nicaragua
      Wrapper: USA/Pennsylvania; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
      Vitola: Torpedo; Physical size: 6 1/2 X 52
      MSRP: $12.00
      Rating: 92

      21. Brick House

      Country of manufacture: Nicaragua
      Wrapper:  Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
      Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 5 x 54
      MSRP: $4.95
      Rating: 92

      20. La Aurora Preferidos Diamond

      Country of manufacture: Dominican Republic
      Wrapper:  USA/Connecticut; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic
      Vitola: Double Perfecto; Physical size: 5 x 54
      MSRP: $20.00
      Rating: 92

      19. La Flor Dominicana Colorado Oscuro

      Country of manufacture: Dominican Republic
      Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
      Vitola: No. 5; Physical size: 5 3/4 X 60
      MSRP: $8.20
      Rating: 92

      18. Avo Heritage

      Country of manufacture: Dominican Republic
      Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic
      Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 x 50
      MSRP: $8.50
      Rating: 92

      17. Room 101 Master Collection One

      Country of manufacture: Honduras
      Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Honduras; Filler: Honduras, Nicaragua & Mexico
      Vitola: Mutante; Physical size: 7 X 38
      MSRP: $10.80
      Rating: 92

      16. Nestor Miranda Collection Habano

      Country of manufacture: Nicaragua
      Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Brazil, Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
      Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 4 1/2 X 50
      MSRP: $7.25
      Rating: 92

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      15. Casa Cuba

      Country of manufacture: Dominican Republic
      Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic
      Vitola: Doble Tres; Physical size: 5 1/2 X 44
      MSRP: $9.84
      Rating: 92

      14. Joya de Nicaragua Cuatro Cinco

      Country of manufacture: Nicaragua
      Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
      Vitola: Cuatro Cinco; Physical size: 6 X 54
      MSRP: $13.00
      Rating: 92

      13. Aging Room Bin No. 1

      Country of manufacture: Dominican Republic
      Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic
      Vitola: B Minor; Physical size: 6 1/8 X 52
      MSRP: $12.60
      Rating: 92

      12. Oliva Serie V

      Country of manufacture: Nicaragua
      Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
      Vitola: No. 4; Physical size: 5 X 43
      MSRP: $5.96
      Rating: 92

      11. Camacho Ecuador

      Country of manufacture: Honduras
      Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Brazil; Filler: Honduras & Dominican Republic
      Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 5 X 50
      MSRP: $6.80
      Rating: 92

      10. Rocky Patel Super Ligero

      Country of manufacture: Honduras
      Wrapper: Honduras; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Costa Rica & Nicaragua
      Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 1/2 x 52
      MSRP: $7.50
      Rating92

      9. Montecristo Espada

      Country of manufacture: Nicaragua
      Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
      Vitola: Guard; Physical size: 6 x 50
      MSRP: $11.75
      Rating: 92

      8. San Lotano The Bull

      Country of manufacture: Nicaragua
      Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
      Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 5 x 54
      MSRP: $9.00
      Rating: 92

      7. EPC La Historia

      Country of manufacture: Dominican Republic
      Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Ecuador; Filler: Nicaragua & Dominican Republic
      Vitola: Doña Elena; Physical size: 6 1/8 x 50
      MSRP: $8.00
      Rating: 93

      6. La Antiguedad

      Country of manufacture: Nicaragua
      Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
      Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 1/2 x 52
      MSRP: $7.50
      Rating: 93

      5. Herrera Estelí Norteño

      Country of manufacture: Nicaragua
      Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Honduras; Filler: Nicaragua
      Vitola: Robusto Grande; Physical size: 5 1/2 x 54
      MSRP: $12.00
      Rating: 93

      After the IPCPR trade show in Las Vegas last summer, we named this the “Best Follow-up Cigar” released at the show. Truth be told, that distinction was cool, but didn’t quite give this cigar all the props it deserved. Willy Herrera made a name for himself with his classic, Cuban-style blending. So when he joined Drew Estate and created Norteño, we were thrown for a loop. Despite being patently Central American—a departure from its creator’s “Cubanesque” wheelhouse—Norteño lives up to the quality standard that Willy set with Herrera Estelí. We can’t wait to see what he’s got in store for 2015.

      4. Las Calaveras

      Country of manufacture: Nicaragua
      Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
      Vitola: LC550; Physical size: 5 x 50
      MSRP: $8.95
      Rating: 94

      This was a departure for Jon Huber and Mike Conder of Crowned Heads, who are known for more medium-bodied offerings like Headley Grange and Four Kicks. For our No. 4 cigar, they teamed up with My Father to create this knock-you-on-your-ass masterpiece. It’s got about as much punch as anything we’ve smoked this year, but it’s so balanced and beautifully constructed, you just can’t put the thing down.

      Aside from being a great smoke, Las Calaveras is also a tribute cigar. The coins on the band commemorate friends and colleagues of the Crowned Heads team who’ve passed away over the last few years. “Not in a macabre or morbid way,” said Jon, “but as a celebration. That’s what Las Calaveras is about.”

      Check out this video interview with Jon Huber to learn more about Las Calaveras.

      3. Casa Fernandez Aniversario Serie 2014

      Country of manufacture: USA/Miami
      Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
      Vitola: Ares; Physical Size: 6 1/4 x 52
      MSRP: $12.50
      Rating: 94

      This impeccably made, slightly pressed cigar got our attention when it was released and we’ve been hoarding them ever since. This cigar is made in Casa Fernandez’s Miami factory where only Cuban tabaqueros who have achieved at least level 9 are employed. The combination of these highly skilled rollers and Aganorsa’s choice raw material resulted in this balanced, complex, and flavorful cigar, which is most deserving of this high ranking.

      2. Nat Sherman Epoca

      Country of manufacture: Dominican Republic
      Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
      Vitola: Prince; Physical size: 6 x 50
      MSRP: $11.35
      Rating: 94

      This is yet another cigar we fell in love with at the IPCPR trade show, after which we named Epoca the Best Brand Resurrection of the event. Epoca became Nat Sherman’s first cigar brand after the company acquired Schwab Bros. and Baer back in 1929. At the time, Epoca was a “Clear Havana” cigar—a blend of Cuban tobaccos manufactured in the States. Last summer, Nat Sherman brought back the long-absent brand, even preserving the original box art.

      Epoca is made at the Quesada family’s MATASA factory in the Dominican Republic. Whatever they’re doing down there is working, because this is, without question, our favorite Nat Sherman yet.

      1. Fuente Fuente OpusX Angel’s Share

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      Country of manufacture: Dominican Republic
      Wrapper: Dominican Republic; Binder:Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic
      Vitola: Corona Gorda; Physical size: 5 5/8 x 46
      MSRP: $14.79
      Rating: 94

      Some of the best things in life are born out of unfortunate circumstances. In 2011, a fire ravaged two of the Fuente family’s tobacco warehouses setting ablaze an untold amount of aging Fuente tobacco. As Carlos Fuente Jr. watched his prized tobacco go up in smoke, he took solace in the idea that his ancestor’s (his angel’s) were smoking his best tobacco. And the idea for the Fuente Fuente Opus X Angel’s Share was born.

      As for the cigar itself, imagine an Opus X with a little less power. It’s addition by subtraction as the decrease in strength allows subtle flavors and aromas that struggle to shine in a standard Opus X to take a larger role in this elegantly balanced blend. We fell in love with this cigar from the moment we first tasted it and gave it a 94 rating in our July/August 2014 issue. It’s not surprising that as time goes by, it keeps getting better and better.