Oliva

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

 
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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 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 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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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