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