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Top 25 Cigars of 2022 (16-25)

Top 25

We’re back with the 11th annual Top 25 list, smoking, re-smoking, assessing and then writing all about the year’s best. As continues to be the case, the competition is lively and while you will see some of the big, established brands at the top, there is a healthy mix of new and perhaps lesser-known brands throughout the list.

As we smoked our way to the top, we grappled with some nuances. One time, limited-edition cigars are, as a rule, not included in the Top 25. This is a list that, we hope, allows the everyday consumer to buy something special and rewarding. Some brands wisely keep producing limited editions, just in…limited amounts. So you may see something limited in the Top 25, but we’re confident you can get it. 

This year we also noted more fluctuations in quality than usual. Cigars  that earlier in the year scored high marks in the ratings didn’t perform nearly as well during the Top 25 tastings. The opposite was also true; cigars that just barely made the cut to be eligible for the list suddenly scored high marks in the Top 25 tastings. It brought home the fact that cigars are subject to variables – these are man-made products created with raw materials that come from the soil. Achieving consistency is and always has been the most difficult part of cigar making. 

Nicaragua continues to produce a high volume of excellent cigars, hands down. This year, an overwhelming majority of the cigars on the list hail from Nicaragua, a hold that the country has kept since we started putting together this annual list. 

As usual, we leave a tear sheet of the Top 25 for readers of the print magazine to use as a cheat sheet or shopping list. It’s an invaluable help that doubles as a conversation-starter at your local lounge.

 The annual Top 25 list is also a de facto look back at the year that was, and, this year, to check out how the projections made at the start of 2022 went. We talked with several industry folks for a story, “Reading the Tobacco Leaves,” in our Jan./Feb. 2022 issue. 

From the story: “The coming year looks like this: a leveling off of demand, a tobacco farm labor shortage, some price hikes here and there, and a hold on federal regulation of premium cigars.” 

And what do you know? These came mostly, if wholly, true. Don’t ask us to pick your lottery numbers, but we sure don’t mind being able to tap some of those with a hand in the game to predict and project.

We’re thankful for that level of trust from our colleagues. 

Enjoy the Top 25, and here’s to another robust year of smoking the good ones. 

16. HVC Selección No. 1


Manufacturer: Fábrica de Tabacos HVC in Nicaragua
Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Esenciales; Physical size: 5 5/8 x 46
MSRP: $8.40
Rating: 92

The HVC brand caught our eye in 2017 when the San Isidro scored 92 points and finished the year 15th on our list. That cigar, like most HVC products, was produced at the Aganorsa factory but this year’s entrant is made at HVC’s own factory in Nicaragua. It’s a huge step for the company but its place on this list proves they’re off to a great start.

17. Florida Sun Grown 20 Acre Farm


Manufacturer: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate in Nicaragua
Wrapper: USA/Connecticut; Binder: Honduras; Filler: Nicaragua & USA
Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 5 1/4 x 54
MSRP: $12.40
Rating: 92

Cleverly unveiled during one of Drew Estate’s Freestyle Live streaming events in late 2021, the Florida Sun Grown 20 Acre Farm quickly made a lasting impression on smokers everywhere, including our panel. The cigar features tobacco grown on Jeff Borysiewicz’s farm in Clermont, Florida, the first cigar tobacco farm in the area since the 1970s.

18. Crowned Heads Court Reserve Serie E


Manufacturer: Tabacalera Pichardo in Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: 5150; Physical size: 5 1/2 x 50
MSRP: $11.50
Rating: 92

Can you imagine what it would be like to smoke one of the most exhilarating guitar solos in rock music history? That’s what the team at Crowned Heads set out to do when they enlisted Tabacalera Pichardo to blend a cigar that smoked like Eddie Van Halen’s guitar solo on “Eruption” sounded. However they arrived at this blend, it worked and we loved it.

19. Illusione cg:4 Maduro


Manufacturer: Agricola Ganadera Norteña (Aganorsa) in Nicaragua
Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Corona Gorda; Physical size: 5 5/8 x 46
MSRP: $10.00
Rating: 92

This is likely the last time you’ll see this packaging on Illusione cigars in our Top 25 as the company has recently completed a massive re-branding of many of its core lines. The good news is that the blends under the hood will stay exactly the same. So the Illusione cg:4 Maduro now becomes the Illusione Maduro in corona gorda. See? That wasn’t so hard.

20. A. Fuente Magnum R


Manufacturer: Tabacalera A. Fuente in the Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic 
Vitola: Super 60; Physical size: 6 x 60
MSRP: $14.30
Rating: 92

Tabacalera Fuente is no stranger to the Top 25; there isn’t a single year-end list that we’ve ever compiled that hasn’t included at least one Fuente. However, this is the first time that the Magnum R makes an appearance, and it is well deserved. In this Super 60 vitola the blend shines with tons of sweet cedar, cinnamon and cream over a smooth, subtle spice.

21. Cavalier Genéve White Series


Manufacturer: Fábrica Centroamericana de Tabaco in Honduras
Wrapper: Honduras; Binder: USA/Connecticut; Filler: Paraguay, Nicaragua, & Dominican Republic
Vitola: Elegantes; Physical size: 4 1/2 x 52
MSRP: $9.25
Rating: 92

The Cavalier Genève brand is one that we came across during a 2016 visit to Dallas for a travel story. The team returned to HQ with these cigars sporting a gold foil diamond and not much else, then we smoked them and fell in love. Now, years later, the White Series makes the company’s debut on our year-end best of the best list. Hate to say I told you so.

22. Fiat Lux by Luciano


Manufacturer: Tabacalera Pichardo in Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua & Dominican Republic
Vitola: Insight; Physical size: 5 5/8 x 46
MSRP: $8.75
Rating: 92

You’ve heard “fiat lux” before but unless you’re keeping up with your Latin or bible studies, you may not recall it. It is Latin for “let there be light,” as in “And said God let there be light, and there was light.” The brand is the second from Tabacalera Pichardo to make the list and it is a beautifully balanced blend with a delightfully clean finish.

23. Tatuaje Black Label


Manufacturer: My Father Cigars in Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Petite Lancero; Physical size: 6 x 38
MSRP: $8.50
Rating: 92

What started off as a limited release for special events, select retailers, or just simply a private reserve for owner Pete Johnson was converted to a regular production and our panel could not be happier. While there are some differences from those early versions, this petit lancero is an absolute gem worth seeking out at your favorite Tatuaje retailer.

24. Fratello Arlequín


Manufacturer: Joya de Nicaragua in Nicaragua
Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Ecuador; Filler: Peru & Nicaragua
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 1/4 x 54
MSRP: $11.40
Rating: 92

This marks Fratello’s first appearance in our annual ranking of the top cigars and this blend is more than deserving. This ultra-flavorful combination of pepper, roasted nuts, and cocoa is balanced perfectly by a rich, sweet creaminess in the background. These box-pressed toros are made for Fratello at the famed Joya de Nicaragua factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

25. Gurkha Nicaragua Series


Manufacturer: Agricola Ganadera Norteña (Aganorsa) in Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 5 x 52 
MSRP: $9.75
Rating: 92

This company, synonymous with opulent packaging and killer swag, returns to our annual best of the best with one of their more understated brands. The Gurkha Nicaragua has proven to be a consistently flavorful blend with a core of cedar, pepper, cocoa, and baking spice balanced by a rich, creamy sweetness throughout the smoke.

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Categories: Top 25



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