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Top 25 Cigars of 2022 (6-15)

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. 

6. Oliva Serie V 135th Anniversary Edicíon Limitada


Manufacturer: Oliva Cigars in Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 5 1/2 x 54
MSRP: $12.50
Rating: 93

This uniquely shaped perfecto, released in late 2021, commemorates the Oliva Cigar Family’s entrance into the tobacco growing business. Melanio Oliva, whose name you recognize from the highly acclaimed Oliva Serie V Melanio, began growing tobacco in Pinar Del Rio, Cuba in 1886, pausing only to fight in Cuba’s War of Independence.

7. Oscar Valladares 10th Anniversary


Manufacturer: Oscar Valladares Tobacco & Co. in Honduras
Wrapper: Mexico & Honduras; Binder: Honduras; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 x 52
MSRP: $18.00
Rating: 93

The company that brought you game-changing brands such as the Leaf by Oscar and SuperFly actually debuted in 2012 with a cigar commemorating the “end of days” in the Mayan calendar. Thankfully the world didn’t end and the company has grown steadily thanks to superb cigar making and a singular style in branding and packaging that sets them apart.

8. Muestra De Saka Unstolen Valor


Manufacturer: Nicaraguan American Cigars in Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua & USA
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 x 52
MSRP: $19.75
Rating: 93

The Muestra de Saka series by Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust is a series of releases blended mostly by Steve Saka himself. The blends are released in one size and are meant to resemble a Saka test blend or sample. The Unstolen Valor is slightly different in that the blend was the work of Raul Disla, the master blender at Nicaraguan American Cigars S.A. (NACSA).

9. Espinosa Knuckle Sandwich Habano


Manufacturer: AJ Fernandez San Lotano Factory in Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Robusto – J; Physical size: 5 x 52
MSRP: $12.50
Rating: 92

Few cigars generated more excitement in 2022 than this collaboration between Espinosa Cigars and Guy Fieri. Unlike many celebrity brand owners who just seem to slap their name on a product and expect it to sell itself, Fieri is passionate and involved in the project. The Knuckle Sandwich is available in Habano and Maduro. Both are excellent.

10. Aganorsa Leaf Aniversario Corojo


Manufacturer: Agricola Ganadera Norteña (Aganorsa) in Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 5 x 52
MSRP: $12.99
Rating: 92

This is the second time that the Aganorsa Leaf Aniversario Corojo blend makes an appearance on our annual list but thanks to a recent rebranding, you may have missed it. In our Top 25 of 2017 list, the Casa Fernandez Aniversario reached #2 in the lancero format. This time it was the robusto that clawed its way into the Top 10.

11. Davidoff Nicaragua Box-Pressed


Manufacturer: Cigars Davidoff in the Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua 
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 5 1/2 x 54
MSRP: $20.30
Rating: 92

One of only a couple of brands that have made the list three times, the 2013 Cigar of the Year returns in a beautifully box-pressed format. While the blend is the same as the robusto format, which took the top spot, this box-pressed toro feels like a deliciously amped up version of its round brother.

12. Rocky Patel A.L.R Second Edition


Manufacturer: Tabacalera Villa Cuba (TAVICUSA) in Nicaragua
Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 5 1/2 x 50
MSRP: $13.00
Rating: 92

The original Aged, Limited, and Rare, which hit the market mid-2018, was the result of a limited edition blending and aging experiment by Rocky Patel’s TAVICUSA factory. A year later in 2019, the ALR 2nd Edition was released and scored extremely well with our panel, taking the #2 spot for Cigar of the Year. Three years later it’s still impressing.

13. Aladino Classic


Manufacturer: Fábrica de Puros Aladino in Honduras
Wrapper: Honduras; Binder: Honduras; Filler: Honduras
Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 5 x 50
MSRP: $8.60
Rating: 92

The Aladino Classic, produced by the father and son team of Julio and Justo Eiroa from their vertically integrated operation in Honduras, shows that they can grow more than just excellent corojo. This blend features a beautiful habano wrapper over corojo and habano fillers for a beautifully balanced and nuanced smoking experience.

14. La Aroma De Cuba Mi Amor


Manufacturer: My Father Cigars in Nicaragua
Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Magnifico; Physical size: 6 x 52
MSRP: $9.00
Rating: 92

There aren’t many brands that can claim the level of continued excellence that this Nicaraguan-made gem has achieved. Since its launch in 2010, these box-pressed maduros have been manufactured under the watchful eye of Don Pepín García at My Father Cigars in Estelí and recently underwent a rebrand featuring an eye-catching sky blue background.

15. Plasencia Alma del Fuego


Manufacturer: Plasencia Cigars in Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Candente; Physical size: 5 x 50
MSRP: $15.00
Rating: 92

The Plasencia family, Central America’s largest tobacco growers, shook the cigar world in 2017 with Alma Fuerte, which won Cigar of the Year. In 2019 they unveiled Alma del Fuego, which pays homage to Nicaragua’s Ometepe Island, the volcanic island where they grow tobacco that makes up a majority of the filler in this spicy and sweet blend.

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Categories: Top 25



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