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 [email protected]; 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
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
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
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
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
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.