Arturo Fuente

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; 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


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


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


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


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


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

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; 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

Cigar Snob Top 25 - 1 - Plasencia Alma Fuerte.jpg

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

Cigar Snob Top 25 - 2 - Casa Fernandez Miami aniversario Serie 2015.jpg

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

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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

Top 25 Cigars - 5 - AJ Fernandez Enclave Broadleaf.jpg

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