The Top 25 Cigars Archive


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Currently viewing: 2004
Rank Cigar Country Score Price
25
Tatuaje Cabinet Especiales
U.S.A. 90 $10
It’s rare to find a cigar made by hand in the United States and rarer still to find a great one. Expensive labor and a limited number of trained cigarmakers have caused most American-based cigarmakers to leave for offshore factories or to automate. That’s one of the reasons the Tatuaje brand is so interesting. It’s a very small brand, made in a small Miami factory, but the real draw here is the quality of the cigars, made from a rich blend of Nicaraguan tobaccos. These are medium- to full-bodied smokes, made for the seasoned smoker. The Especiales size—7 inches by a slim 38 ring—is modeled after Cuba’s Cohiba Lancero and Trinidad Fundadore. Good now, these gran panetelas are likely to become great with age. If only there were more. Read more

Country: U.S.A.

Cigar Size: Panetela

Issue Date:

24
H. Upmann Vintage Cameroon Belicoso
Dominican Republic 92 $6
In the grand old days of the cigar business, Dominican H. Upmanns were wrapped in toothy Cameroon leaf. A chronic shortage of Cameroon in the mid-1990s prompted its maker substitute Indonesian wrapper. The taste changed. Today, Cameroon has staged a mighty comeback, allowing Upmann brand owner Altadis to start using it again. The result is this delicious line extension to the Upmann brand, rich in flavor and medium in body. The best part? The 6 1/8 by 52 cigar retails for only $6. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

23
Padrón 6000 Maduro
Nicaragua 91 $6
It’s not easy to find some of the Padrón family’s rarest gems—such as its 40th Anniversary masterpiece that tops this list— but cigars in the core Padrón brand are made in good quantity. One of the latest additions to the Padrón line is the 6000, a shortish, fat torpedo—it measures 5 inches by 52 ring— that has an amazing amount of flavor and that rare combination of value and quality. Somewhat spicier than traditional Padróns, the 6000 Maduro has woody, nutty flavors and hints of cocoa. Good on release, it tastes as though it should age well and get even better. The cigar debuted last summer, so the production of 75,000 is for only part of the year. There will be more available in 2005. Read more

Country: Nicaragua

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

22
Rocky Patel Vintage 1990 Robusto
Honduras 90 $7
Rocky Patel has sold cigars under the Indian Tabac label since 1995, but it wasn’t until 2003 that he created a cigar using his own name. His Vintage blend is entirely new, made in a separate factory with older tobaccos and a balanced and elegant blend with good complexity. Last year was a breakout year for Patel. In October, he attained his highest rating ever: 92 points. The score was awarded to the Vintage 1990 Robusto, the best of Patel’s cigars. The 5 1/2 by 50 corona gorda is made with a little-used leaf, a broadleaf tobacco planted in Honduras, in a field in the Talanga Valley owned by U.S. Cigar Sales. The rarity of the leaf, plus short sales kept U.S. Cigar Sales from using the tobacco years ago and it took on brilliant age. The result is a toasty and balanced blend. Read more

Country: Honduras

Cigar Size: Corona Gorda

Issue Date:

21
Ashton Heritage Puro Sol Belicoso No. 2
Dominican Republic 91 $8
Cameroon wrapper had long been the golden ring just out of the reach of Ashton brand owner Robert Levin. The Fuente family made virtually all of his cigars, and the Cameroon leaf it received from legendary grower and Levin friend Rick Meerapfel was earmarked for Fuente’s Hemingway, Don Carlos and other Arturo Fuente cigars. Recently, Levin was able to get just enough of the toothy leaf to create the Ashton Heritage Puro Sol, using a blend created by Carlos Fuente Sr. The cigar was a throwback— Levin had the cigar world thinking ultra-powerful to duplicate his Ashton VSG, but the Puro Sol was all balance and elegance. The line has four sizes, the best of which is the Belicoso No. 2, a short figurado that measures 4 7/8 inches by 49 ring. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

20
Camacho Special Limited Reserve Rothschild Maduro
Honduras 91 $6
Camachos were rather ordinary smokes until 2000, when Tabacos Rancho Jamastran, owned by the Eiroa family, introduced a new version of the brand, made with tobacco grown on its farms in the Jamastran Valley of Honduras from old Cuban seeds, rather than new hybrids. The change reinvigorated the cigar, which brimmed with flavor. Last year, the Eiroas made another change, releasing the first-ever Camacho maduros. There were three versions: a Camacho Diploma Maduro, a Camacho Monarca Maduro and the Camacho SLR Rothschild Maduro. The third was the most flavorful, and differed from the others due to its wrapper, which was broadleaf seed grown in Connecticut rather than Honduras. The 5 by 50 cigar has a full, powerful body and a nutty character. Read more

Country: Honduras

Cigar Size: Robusto

Issue Date:

19
Sancho Panza Extra Fuerte Madrid
Honduras 91 $4
General Cigar created the Honduran version of Cuba’s Sancho Panza brand in 2001. The cigar was a mild, easy-smoking bargain. In 2004, General spiced up the line while keeping the bargain price tag, creating Sancho Panza Extra Fuerte. General swapped the Connecticut-shade wrapper for Cuban-seed leaf grown in Honduras, a reddish-brown tobacco with good flavor. The best of the four-size line is the fattest, the Madrid, which measures 6 1/4 inches by 54 ring. That’s a lot of medium-bodied cigar for only $4.25. Read more

Country: Honduras

Cigar Size: Corona Gorda

Issue Date:

18
Joya de Nicaragua Celebración Churchill
Nicaragua 90 $5
The Joya de Nicaragua brand was practically dead when brand owner Alejandro Martinez-Cuenca turned back the clock and released a cigar that tasted like the strong Joyas of the 1970s. The Joya de Nicaragua Antaño was a huge hit, but the ligero-loaded cigar was too strong for many smokers. The company turned to Manuel Quesada of the Dominican Republic to tame the blend. The result is the Celebracion line, which is robust but more balanced and elegant than the Antaño. If the Antaño is a bull, Celebracion is a stallion. The wrappers are grown from criollo seed, and the 6 7/8-inch, 48-ring gauge Churchill is a bargain, selling for only $4.50. Production of the Churchill, which debuted in mid-2004, should rise to about 50,000 cigars in 2005. Read more

Country: Nicaragua

Cigar Size: Churchill

Issue Date:

17
C.A.O. L'Anniversaire 1968-1998 Cameroon Robusto
Nicaragua 92 $7
Severely pressed, wonderfully sweet and cedary and with just enough spice, C.A.O.’s Cameroon blend has been a hit since its launch in 1999. Created by the Ozgener family, which owns C.A.O., and crafted by cigarmaker Nick Perdomo of Tabacalera Perdomo, the five 5 by 50 robusto came on the market as Cameroon wrappers were becoming more available. This is one of the first Nicaraguan cigars to be created using this toothy, earthy West African leaf. Over the years, it has become a trusted medium-bodied blend that is steeped in flavor. Read more

Country: Nicaragua

Cigar Size: Robusto

Issue Date:

16
La Aroma de Cuba Corona
Honduras 91 $4
Most Honduran cigar factories are located in Danlí, a tiny town in the southeast near the Nicaraguan border. One of the lesser-known gems of the country is Flor de Copan, a factory in western Honduras close to Guatemala. The high altitude gives the area a pleasant temperate climate, and the local Cuban-seed tobaccos make superb wrappers. One of Flor de Copan’s best brands is La Aroma de Cuba, made for Ashton brand owner Robert Levin. The cigars are strong, stronger than regular Ashtons and modestly priced. At just under $4, the 5 1/2 by 44 corona gives amazing bang for the buck. Read more

Country: Honduras

Cigar Size: Corona

Issue Date:

15
H. Upmann Magnum 46
Cuba 92 £11
The H. Upmann Magnum 46 is a sleeper size from Cuba. Not as famous as any of Cuba’s iconic Hoyo or Punch Double Coronas, the benchmark Romeo y Julieta Churchill or the better known Punch Punch corona gorda, the Upmann has come into its own over the past two years. Once scoring in the high 80s, since 2003 the cigar has been rated twice, each time scoring 92 points. Surprisingly strong and wonderfully decadent, the 5 5/8 inch by 46 ring corona gorda was, until recently, one of the Cuban cigars packed naked, without cigar bands, which only added to its low-key mystique. Intense and full-bodied in youth, the cabinet- packed cigars can take on a creamy, espresso character when aged. Another plus: they are relatively inexpensive for Havanas. Read more

Country: Cuba

Cigar Size: Corona Gorda

Issue Date:

14
Vegas de Fonseca Sobrinos
Dominican Republic 91 $4
Fonsecas have been rolled in the Dominican Republic since the early 1970s under the tutelage of Manuel Quesada. The core brand is creamy and very mild, made with Connecticut-shade wrappers. The Vegas de Fonseca brand is a new take on Fonseca,powered by a multinational blend and finished with a Cameroon wrapper, aged in the palm bark known as tercios. The cigars are medium-bodied and full of flavor, and at $4.25 for the 5 1/4 by 50 Sobrino, they are also quite the bargain. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Robusto

Issue Date:

13
Fuente Fuente OpusX PerfecXion No. 5
Dominican Republic 90 $8
The world said fine wrapper leaf couldn’t be grown in the Dominican Republic, but Carlos Fuente Jr. proved them wrong in late 1995 with the release of the cigar he dubbed his baby, the Fuente Fuente OpusX. The cigars are a classic combination of strength and beauty, with reddish-brown Cuban-seed wrappers grown under shade. The PerfecXion No. 5 is the smallest of the line, a 4 7/8 by 40 petit corona that’s one of the premier small cigars in the world. The slight ring gauge allows the wrapper taste to dominate the cigar, giving it a delicious combination of sweetness and power. The cigars are not for beginners, simply too strong for some palates. This is the 10th year the Fuente Fuente OpusX brand has been on the market, and it remains one of the hardest cigars to find. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Petit Corona

Issue Date:

12
San Cristobal de la Habana El Morro
Cuba 93 £15
San Cristobal de la Habana isn’t the type of cigar that tourists typically request on a trip to Cuba. Overshadowed by the famous Cuban brands such as Cohiba, Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta, San Cristobal is known only to more learned cigar smokers. The brand—named after Christopher Columbus—was created in 1999, and was originally intended to be a low-end brand made with tobacco from the Remedios region. The cigar was changed, and is made from Cuba’s premium leaf, which is evident in the performance of the dark and rich El Morro, the largest of the four-sized line. The 7 1/8-inch, 49-ring Churchill brims with dark, earthy flavors, and the brand is small enough to be made in only one factory, La Corona in Havana. Read more

Country: Cuba

Cigar Size: Churchill

Issue Date:

11
Litto Gomez Diez Chisel Puro
Dominican Republic 92 $11
In one decade, cigarmaker Litto Gomez has gone from newcomer to sage. Originally a maker of mild smokes, Gomez has transformed his La Flor Dominicana into a company that has cigars for every taste, from easygoing to eye-openingly strong. His Diez is the latter, a Dominican puro made entirely from tobacco he grows on a farm in La Canela. The cigars pack a full-flavored punch smacking of leather and earth. And this 5 1/2 by 54 smoke has the distinctive chisel head, a wedge-shaped creation by Gomez that’s unique to the cigar world. Sadly, Gomez’s farm is but 100 acres in size, which limits the amount of tobacco he can get for this smallproduction brand. He shipped only about 15,000 Chisel Puros in 2004, with hopes of increasing production later. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

10
Trinidad Robusto
Dominican Republic 91 $9
Cigarmaker José Seijas has done wonders with Peruvian tobacco, using it to add power and flavor to cigar brands once known as mild. He has also used it to create new brands, and one of his best is Trinidad. Named after the famed Cuban brand that was once used for gifts by the Castro government, the Dominican Trinidad is distinctive in its own right, made with lovely Sumatra-seed wrappers grown in Ecuador. The Peruvian, Dominican and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos combine for a spicy, flavorful and gutsy smoke, especially in this 5-inch, 50-ring robusto size. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Robusto

Issue Date:

9
Davidoff Millennium Blend Series Robusto
Dominican Republic 91 $14
Many cigar companies created cigars for the Millennium, virtually all of them limited-production runs that are long gone. Davidoff’s is an exception. To follow up its one-shot series of Millennium perfectos, Davidoff created the Millennium Blend Series, four cigars powered by hybrid wrappers grown exclusively for Davidoff in the foothills of the South American Andes. Blend master Hendrik Kelner tinkered with the 5 by 50 robusto, giving it a blend unique to the line, and it is the best of the brand. The cigars are rich, strong and wonderfully complex. Like all Davidoffs they are expensive, but they are arguably the best non-Cuban Davidoffs ever made. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Robusto

Issue Date:

8
Montecristo No. 2
Cuba 92 £15
The Montecristo No. 2 is the gold standard in shaped Cuban cigars, and is often great. It’s a considerable cigar, 6 1/8 inches long with a hefty 52 ring gauge, and an unmistakable pointed head that channels the smoke onto the palate. There are more Monte 2s made per year than any other cigar on this list, and they are rolled in several Cuban cigar factories, so there’s the occasional problem with quality and consistency, but at their best Monte 2s are masterpieces of fullbodied flavor, loaded with leather, earth and coffee notes. This is one of the reasons that the Monte 2 is one of the few smokes to ever rate 95 points in CIGAR AFICIONADO, classic on our 100-point scale. When aged, they’re even better. Read more

Country: Cuba

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

7
Ashton Virgin Sun Grown Spellbound
Dominican Republic 93 $13
The Ashton Virgin Sun Grown, or VSG, sparked a trend among American consumers for power cigars when they came to market in 1999. There were strong cigars on the market prior to the Fuentemade VSG—namely the Fuente Fuente OpusX—but the success of VSG sent cigarmakers to their tobacco suppliers, hoping to duplicate the strength. Featuring streaky, dark and oily wrappers from Ecuador (which are more cloudgrown than sun-grown) and a powerful blend that doesn’t taste very Dominican, the box-pressed VSGs were superb at their debut and remain so now, consistently scoring well in blind tastings. The Spellbound is literally a mouthful, 7 1/2 inches long and 54 ring, and loads the palate with leathery, cedary smoke. Despite Ashton’s best efforts to increase production, the VSG line remains in short supply. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Double Corona

Issue Date:

6
La Gloria Cubana Reserva Figurado Selectos de Lujos
Dominican Republic 93 $8
Ernesto Perez-Carrillo has been making La Gloria Cubana cigars since the 1970s, but he never made one like this before. The Reserva Figurados line is a trio of shaped cigars that Carrillo rolls and sets aside for three months to give them extra age. The time works wonders on these smokes, especially the Selectos de Lujos, a 7 1/4-inch-long, 54-ring perfecto with a rich, dark Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper. The cigar is made with four-year-old tobacco that’s rigorously selected for smoothness rather than strength. Only two rollers make the line, so there aren’t that many of them. El Credito released 90,000 in late 2004, 30,000 of each size. The company will ship another batch in the spring or fall. Finding them won’t be easy, but they are worth the search. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

5
Montecristo Platinum Series Mini Belicoso Tube
Dominican Republic 92 $9
The Montecristo Platinum blend is among the most intriguing of those made at the immense Tabacalera de Garcia factory in La Romana, Dominican Republic. The wrapper is an oddity, a Habana2000 seed grown in the San Andres Valley of Mexico. The Nicaraguan binder is wrapped around a filler blend of Dominican, Peruvian and Nicaraguan leaves. The end result is delicious, a smooth, earthy, 5-by-52 smoke that comes wrapped in a sleeve of cedar and packed in a tube emblazoned with the artwork of Michel Delacroix. A superbly crafted cigar. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

4
Arturo Fuente Don Carlos No. 2
Dominican Republic 92 $11
The Arturo Fuente Don Carlos No. 2 came on the market in 1997 and quickly gained a reputation as one of the finest cigars made in the Dominican Republic. It was also one of the best examples of a non-Cuban cigar crafted in the classic Montecristo No. 2 shape. The 6-by-55, Cameroon-wrapped cigar is a notorious slow starter: the first half inch or so is typically uninspiring and hardly indicative of the complex, delicious flavor that’s to follow. Fuente has impressive inventories of aged tobaccos, and it reserves its oldest leaves for use in the Don Carlos line, which is named after family patriarch Carlos Fuente Sr., who created the blend with his son Carlos Jr. and tobacco grower Rick Meerapfel. The cigars were impossible to find during the boom years of the 1990s, and while still not a common sight in cigar shop humidors, they are much easier to find than in years past. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

3
Cohiba Siglo VI
Cuba 93 £22
Until the summer of 2003, it seemed as if Cuba was going to completely ignore the fat cigar trend. Then Habanos S.A. introduced the Cohiba Siglo VI in the United Kingdom. Dubbed the cañonazo, or “cannon shot,” in Cuban cigar factories, the cigar was a new size for Cuba, just under 6 inches long and an impressive 50 ring gauge. The cigar (which also comes in an extraordinary colorful aluminum tube, for an even higher price) brims with strong and intense flavors, loaded with notes of leather and coffee. It’s a full-bodied smoke not meant for an inexperienced palate. Cuba tried to replicate its success the following year when it introduced the Montecristo Edmundo, a bit shorter and slightly fatter than the Siglo VI, but it failed to live up to the high standards set by the Cohiba. The Siglo is the best of modern-day Cuban cigars. Read more

Country: Cuba

Cigar Size: Corona Gorda

Issue Date:

2
Aurora 100 Años Belicoso
Dominican Republic 93 $16
The oldest cigarmaker in the Dominican Republic has released its best cigar in years. The Aurora 100 (or Cien) Años is a flavorful masterpiece made entirely from Dominican tobaccos to celebrate 2003, Aurora’s 100th year in the business. The cigars have elaborate packaging, individually numbered bands and a resplendent cigar box sealed with wax. Production delays from working the aged Dominican wrapper kept the cigar off the market until 2004. Total production on the 100 Años line will be 400,000 cigars, 125,000 of them belicosos, which measure 6 inches by 52 ring gauge. The company released only 27,000 belicosos in 2004, and will distribute the remainder in 2005 and 2006. The shaped cigar is the best of the 100 Años quartet, with full, rich flavor and a leathery finish. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

1
Padrón Serie 1926 40th Anniversary
Nicaragua 93 $25
The Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series is a tough act to follow—the brand repeatedly leads the tastings in CIGAR AFICIONADO magazine. So when the Padrón family set out to celebrate its 40th anniversary, we were skeptical about the prospects for improving on a winning formula. Our doubts were unfounded. The Padrón Serie 1926 40th Anniversary cigar in natural wrapper is the best cigar of the year, and may be the best cigar the Padróns have ever made. Each leaf in the cigar is a minimum of five years old. The wrapper feels like fine 1 silk. The box-pressed torpedo is superbly crafted with an intensely complex flavor. Slightly stronger than a Padrón Anniversary, it has heavy chocolate notes framed by earthy spices, with a luxuriant, long finish. The initial release of the cigars comes beautifully presented, in 400 handpainted, hand-carved boxes of 40. About half those boxes (or 8,000 cigars) were shipped in 2004, split evenly between natural and maduro wrappers, and the rest will ship this year. When those boxes are sold, the 40th Anniversary cigars will be available in different packaging as a regular—albeit rare—part of the Serie 1926 line. We have no idea how the Padróns will celebrate year No. 50—but we can’t wait. Read more

Country: Nicaragua

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

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