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Top 25 Cigars of 2020 (6-15)

We made it through the tough ride that was 2020 in great shape to proudly deliver to you our ninth annual Top 25 list. 

Every 12 months, we compile a list of all the cigars that have scored 91 or better in the calendar year’s ratings sections. Those smokes are then re-evaluated, and our panel of experts collectively decides on the best of the best.

Getting the cigars to our esteemed tasters was more difficult since our direct contact was limited. But we managed and managed well: You can have full faith in this collection.

Remember that we consider the newness of a cigar among other factors, and we also do not include limited-edition runs. You check the list, and ideally, you can get the smoke you want.

You’ll likely notice that the majority of our Top 25 comes from Nicaragua or uses Nicaraguan tobacco and for good reason: The country continues to keep its quality high.

We expect that as 2021 unfolds, some of you who smoked more frequently last year will develop into more avid fans of premium cigars. The Top 25 list is here to help. 

So 2020: Just because a 100-year virus struck the world doesn’t mean you have to stop smoking. In fact, many retailers saw record business last year, which will be documented as the Year of the ‘Rona. Locked down, some of us full of media-driven fear and rightfully cautious, we ventured to the local tobacconist for some relief. 

That thirst for lighting up during lockdowns allowed the Dominican Republic to post a 6 percent increase in tobacco exports to $1 billion. While some cigars were harder to find, other brands were able to overcome obstacles and grow. 

There were more trials in 2020, when back-to-back hurricanes in Central America hit Honduras and Nicaragua in November, the tobacco fields were largely spared and the cigar industry stepped up with relief efforts to help those affected. 

It showed a cohesiveness that the cigar industry fosters, the same kind of bonding we crave as people, to help, to talk, to engage. We’re going to start meeting more frequently again in 2021, as the virus ebbs and we get back to where we belong: together. 

Our mailbag swells after we publish the Top 25, and we’re glad of it. Let us know your thoughts by writing to us at [email protected] and let’s talk.


6. Padrón 1964 Anniversary Maduro

Top 25 Cigars

Manufacturer: Tabacos Cubanica (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Imperial; Physical size: 6 x 54
MSRP: $16.80
Rating: 93

Even for the venerated Padrón family, back-to-back top ten finishes on this list speaks to their otherworldly level of consistency. The 1964 Anniversary Series commemorates the year that the late José Orlando Padrón started Padrón Cigars in Miami, FL.

7. Casa Cuba – Divine Inspiration

Top 25 Cigars

Manufacturer: Tabacalera A. Fuente (Dominican Republic)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic
Vitola: Divine Inspiration; Physical size: 6 1/8 x 47
MSRP: $8.99
Rating: 93

The story behind the blend for the Casa Cuba Divine Inspiration is the stuff of legend but when our panel smokes for ratings and Top 25 rankings, they do so blind. There’s no story, no branding, no legend, they just smoke the cigar and this cigar delivers an Old World profile that sets it apart from everything else on this list.

8. Rocky Patel Quarter Century

Top 25 Cigars

Manufacturer: Tabacalera Villa Cuba (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Honduras; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 1/2 x 52
MSRP: $13.50
Rating: 93

Back in 1995 Rocky Patel made his first foray into cigars when he partnered with Phil Zanghi to start Indian Tabac Cigar Company. Twenty-five years later, Rocky Patel’s cigars can be found in just about every corner of the world. This cigar celebrates Rocky’s quarter century in the cigar business. Here’s to twenty-five more!

9. Liga Privada T52

Top 25 Cigars

Manufacturer: La Gran Fábrica Drew Estate (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: USA/Connecticut; Binder: Brazil; Filler: Honduras & Nicaragua
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 x 52
MSRP: $14.33
Rating: 93

The Liga Privada T52 has been a favorite at Cigar Snob HQ since its release back in 2009. It is covered with a stalk-cut Habano wrapper sun grown in Connecticut. This tobacco, while more costly because of its provenance, harvesting and curing method, unquestionably makes the T52 a unique blend worthy of this lofty ranking.

10. Warped La Colmena

Top 25 Cigars

Manufacturer: El Titan de Bronze (USA/Miami)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Ecuador; Filler: Nicaragua & Dominican Republic
Vitola: Amado No. 44; Physical size: 5 1/2 x 44
MSRP: $15.95
Rating: 93

Translates to “The Beehive.” La Colmena is manufactured at the famed El Titan de Bronze in Little Havana and is only available in this classic Cuban size. The Cuban influence doesn’t end there; the rollers at El Titan use traditional Cuban methods that make La Colmena a cigar deserving of this coveted Top 10 ranking.

11. HVC Edición Especial 2015

Top 25 Cigars

Manufacturer: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 x 52
MSRP: $8.96
Rating: 93

Established in 2011 by Reinier Lorenzo, HVC Cigars is one of the more exciting young cigar companies of the last ten years. Reinier’s unapologetically high standards when it comes to flavor, aroma, and balance in his blends has helped HVC’s cigars earn consistently high marks in our ratings.

12. AJ Fernandez Bellas Artes Maduro

Top 25 Cigars

Manufacturer: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Brazil; Binder: Mexico; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Lancero; Physical size: 7 x 38
MSRP: $8.99
Rating: 92

The original AJ Fernandez Bellas Artes, released in 2016 with a gorgeous hybrid Connecticut/Habano wrapper, impressively took the number 5 spot on our Top 25 that year. While we did not rate the original blend this past year, we have fallen hard for the Bellas Artes Maduro lancero that you see here.

13. Joya de Nicaragua Número Uno

Top 25 Cigars

Manufacturer: Joya de Nicaragua (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Le Premier; Physical size: 6 7/8 x 48
MSRP: $16.60
Rating: 92

In 1970, then-Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle visited President Nixon at the White House. After pleasantries, Nixon offered Somoza a cigar and much to Somoza’s surprise, the cigar that the White House had been sharing with global leaders after the Cuban embargo was this blend from Joya de Nicaragua.

14. Aging Room Pura Cepa

Top 25 Cigars

Manufacturer: Plasencia Cigars (Nicaragua)
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Rondo; Physical size: 5 x 50
MSRP: $12.68
Rating: 92

The Aging Room brand originally launched with the M356 line at the end of 2011. The brand was known from day one for its very Dominican-dominant blends, but today the majority of its releases come from Nicaragua, including this one. The Aging Room Pura Cepa is manufactured by Plasencia Cigars in Estelí.

15. Super Fly Maduro by Oscar Valladares

Top 25 Cigars

Manufacturer: Oscar Valladares Tobacco & Co. (Honduras)
Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Honduras; Filler: Nicaragua, Honduras & Dominican Republic
Vitola: Super Corona; Physical size: 5 1/4 x 45
MSRP: $9.00
Rating: 92

Oscar Valladares’ story of perseverance and triumph should be an inspiration to the next crop of aspiring cigar makers. But this list is not about the story behind the brand; it’s about how the cigar performs when you don’t know what you’re smoking. And it is in that arena that the Super Fly Maduro shines brightest.


Categories: Top 25

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