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Top 25 Cigars of 2019 (1-5)

Top 25 Cigars of 2019 (1-5)

It’s 2020, which means we’re ready to release our last Top 25 list of the 2010s. We went back into our ratings for the entire calendar year and set aside every cigar (excluding limited-edition releases) that scored 91 or higher in Cigar Snob Magazine in 2019. Then our panel tasted those candidates all over again to whittle things down to this list of 25.

Tell us what you think of the list in the comments. You can also write 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. Padron 1964 Anniversary Maduro

Manufacturer: Padron Cigars
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Exclusivo; Physical size: 5 1/2 x 50
MSRP: $12.30
Rating: 94

That this is Padrón’s first time in the number-one spot on our Top 25 list will probably come as a surprise to many — although we know that Padrón’s club of superfans, the Bastards, are well aware; they wouldn’t let us forget that we’d never named a Padrón Cigar of the Year.

That’s just the way the cookie had always crumbled. Between the emergence of other exciting, delicious cigars and the fact that our rubick gives a little extra weight to more recent releases, the time had just never come for this company — even though some Padróns among our team’s all-time favorite cigars.

This year, though, we were so consistently impressed by the 1964 Anniversary Maduro in this Exclusivo vitola that there was no denying Padrón’s time had come to top the rankings. It’s tough to beat the Exclusivo expression of this blend, which explains why the vitola is so popular

2. Rocky Patel Aged, Limited & Rare

Manufacturer: Rocky Patel (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 x 52
MSRP: $14.00
Rating: 93

Before we had a chance to try this cigar, Rocky Patel fans were telling us it was the best thing the company had ever made. That’s high praise for a cigar made by a company with so much longevity and such an extensive portfolio.

At the very least, we thought, this cigar dressed the part. The name is a straightforward pitch for the cigar, but the band is loaded with the kind of opulence that has characterized the Rocky Patel brand identity for so long. On lighting the cigar, you’ll find that the smoking experience delivers big flavor, balance and elegance that’s only possible with excellent, aged tobaccos in expert hands. This is an excellent smoke that you’ll want to stock up on for your home humidor.

3. Las 6 Provincias MTZ

Manufacturer: AJ Fernandez (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 x 52
MSRP: $16.50
Rating: 93

This is the second installment in Espinosa’s Las 6 Provincias series. The name translates to “The 6 Provinces” and each blend is named for one of Cuba’s six provinces — that is, according to the map of the island as it existed before the Castro’s Communist takeover redrew the lines. The previous release was LHB, which was an homage to the Havana province.

While there are limited edition variants of each release, the limited component is actually the packaging. LHB came in a nifty swinging box. But the MTZ’s limited edition boxes are gorgeous, creative, one-of-a-kind works of art that draw from Cuba’s iconic architecture, with hand-painted stained glass designs sitting over window shutters that open to reveal the cigars.

With this release, the team at Espinosa are flexing all their cigar making and creative muscles. The result is the highest-ranked cigar they’ve ever had on our Top 25 list. 

4. Ramon Allones by AJ Fernandez

Manufacturer: AJ Fernandez (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Nicaragua ; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 x 52
MSRP: $13.00
Rating: 93

General Cigar still owns the Ramon Allones trademark for the U.S. market, but this brand is both manufactured and distributed by A.J. Fernandez, who has breathed new life into yet another old Cuban brand from his Estelí factory with a Nicaraguan puro. There was a time we were talking about “the year of AJ,” but here we are, years later, with AJ-made products still claiming more spots on this list than any other cigars. It’s not just us. A.J. Fernández’s maniacal attention to detail is helping him build a legend of consistency and smokers are still wild about the cigars. He’s a capable cigar maker with an obscene amount of his own tobacco and a reputation that’s leveraged by clients large and small. What’s more impressive is that the guy who’s lighting fires under some of the oldest names in cigars and packing his proverbial trophy case is barely into his 40s.

5. Oliva Serie V Maduro Especial

Top 25 Cigars of 2019 (1-5)

Manufacturer: Oliva Cigars (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Double Robusto; Physical size: 5 x 54
MSRP: $9.40
Rating: 93

This year marks the start of a brand new chapter for Oliva Cigars. Not because of a rebrand or a wave of new blends, but because of the completion of a major expansion and reimagining of the company’s manufacturing process. Under the leadership of J. Cortes’ Fred Vandermarliere and Oliva chairman José Oliva, TABOLISA (the factory that produces the bulk of Oliva’s cigars) has grown, been made more efficient, and injected with technology that is groundbreaking in the old-school world of handmade cigars and inspires a new kind of confidence in not only Oliva, but the future of cigar making.

The Serie V Maduro Especial (not to be confused with the Serie V Melanio Maduro), whose Mexican wrapper brings an added sweetness to the classic V, began as an annual limited-edition cigar. Today, it’s a regular production product that comes in four vitolas, each of which had been produced for one of the previous limited releases. Oliva is already the source of some of the world’s best cigars. With the evolution of its manufacturing processes, look for Oliva to lead the industry into new standards for consistency.


Check out the rest of our 2019 list :

Cigars 6-15

Cigars 15-25

Categories: Top 25

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