Top 25 of 2016

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 2016 (21-25)

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.

21. TABSA Aganorsa Leaf Connecticut

Manufacturer: TABSA (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 x 52
MSRP: $6.80
Rating: 92

22. H. Upmann The Banker Ingot

Manufacturer: Tabacalera de García, S.A.S. (Dominican Republic)
Wrapper: Undisclosed; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 x 54
MSRP: $9.25
Rating: 92

23. Heritage by Dunhill

Manufacturer: Scandinavian Tobacco Group (Honduras)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Honduras, Nicaragua
Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 5 x 50
MSRP: $10.15
Rating: 92

24. Villiger La Libertad

Manufacturer: ABAM Cigars, SRL (Dominican Republic)
Wrapper: Peru ; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua, Dominican Republic
Vitola: Torpedo; Physical size: 5 1/2 x 52
MSRP: $6.50
Rating: 92

25. Debonaire Maduro

Manufacturer: De Los Reyes Cigars, SRL (Dominican Republic)
Wrapper: USA/Connecticut ; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Nicaragua, Dominican Republic
Vitola: Belicoso; Physical size: 6 x 54
MSRP: $14.00
Rating: 92


Check out the rest of our 2016 list