The Top 25 Cigars Archive


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Currently viewing: 2005
Rank Cigar Country Score Price
25
C.A.O. The Sopranos Edition Associate
Honduras 90 $10
“The Sopranos” is such a cigar-friendly TV show that it even has its own cigar. C.A.O. International Inc. signed a licensing deal with HBO to produce a cigar named for the gangster series. The cigars come in three shapes, each named after familiar elements of mob life. The Associate, which measures 5 by 52, is (fittingly) not a mild cigar, but a gutsy, flavorful smoke with coffee, dark berry and charred wood flavors. To truly show off the cigars in style, C.A.O. went all out with the box, which is modeled after a car trunk, right down to the glossy cherry red exterior. If you don’t capisce the association between car trunk and mob life, perhaps this isn’t the cigar for you. Read more

Country: Honduras

Cigar Size: Robusto

Issue Date:

24
A. Turrent Churchill
Mexico 91 $5
Mexican cigars have an image problem. The country’s largest cigar brand, Te-Amo, has an old school, rustic flavor that some people love and others don’t. Yet many of America’s largest cigar brands rely in part on Mexican tobacco, much of it grown by the makers of Te-Amo, the Turrent family. Once Mexico relaxed its trade restrictions barring the importation of tobaccos, the Turrents were able to obtain foreign tobaccos with which to improve their blends. After many years of tweaking, in 2005 the Turrents released the A. Turrent brand, which is more complex than Te-Amos. The 7 by 52 A. Turrent Churchill, the best of the five-size line, has a rich, earthy flavor and a creamy medium body. Read more

Country: Mexico

Cigar Size: Churchill

Issue Date:

23
Macanudo Café Hyde Park
Dominican Republic 90 $6
Consider the greatness of the Macanudo Hyde Park Café. Nearly a million are made every year, yet they are the very model of consistency. Always smooth, always mild, with a flavor profile smacking of vanilla, bread and sweet spice. A perfect morning smoke and a perfect starter cigar. You can find Macanudos in most smoke shops, even in many convenience stores that have expanded into cigars. The Hyde Park is among the thicker sizes in the brand, measuring 5 1/2 by 49, with a reasonable price. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Corona Gorda

Issue Date:

22
Gispert Maduro Robusto
Honduras 90 $3
If you think what this world needs is a great $3 cigar, the Gispert Maduro Robusto is for you. It’s the least-expensive cigar to make our Top 25 list, with a retail price so low it approaches that of some bargain-bin brands. Gispert, an old Cuban brand name, was a casualty of the cigar boom until Altadis U.S.A. Inc. revived it in 2003. The maduro version came out in 2005. Medium to full in body, the robusto has creamy cocoa flavors and a good touch of almonds on the finish. As an added bonus, the five-inch-long robusto is extra thick for that size, with a ring gauge of 54. It’s hard to find a better value in the premium cigar world. Read more

Country: Honduras

Cigar Size: Robusto

Issue Date:

21
Zino Platinum Scepter Series Chubby Tubos
Dominican Republic 91 $14
Davidoff reinvented the Zino brand by partnering with the Arnell Group to create Zino Platinum. The first release, the Crown Series, was of high quality, but with eye-popping prices of up to nearly $40 a cigar. The introduction of the lower-priced Scepter Series brought the prices down into the teens. The best of the line is the Chubby Tubos, a tubed perfecto measuring just under five inches with a 54 ring gauge at its fattest point. It’s a rewarding smoke, with notes of coffee, cocoa and nuts, and a pleasant chewy flavor. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

20
Joya De Nicaragua Antaño 1970 Gran Reserva Robusto Grande
Nicaragua 91 $9
The 2002 release of the Joya de Nicaragua Antaño line energized the slumbering Joya de Nicaragua brand. The success of that moderately priced cigar led its makers to set aside some of the component tobaccos for extra aging, resulting in this special release. The filler is aged for five years and the wrappers are the most select from the Nicaraguan criollo seed used to wrap the line. The 5 1/2 by 52 Robusto Grande is woody and earthy, with a long finish smacking of spice, leather and wood. Read more

Country: Nicaragua

Cigar Size: Corona Gorda

Issue Date:

19
Bolivar Petit Corona
Cuba 91 £7
It’s hard to find a short cigar that delivers plenty of richness and flavors, even in Cuba. However, the 5 by 42 Bolivar Petit Corona has nearly always delivered just that, with the exception of a bland period from about 1998 to 2002. Don’t buy the product of those years. Current production is a whole different story. We prefer the cigars in cedar cabinets of 50, but those that come in standard paper boxes of 25 are also excellent. Blast one of these babies with your morning java and you’ll understand the meaning of the phrase “size doesn’t matter,” especially with a good Habano. Read more

Country: Cuba

Cigar Size: Petit Corona

Issue Date:

18
Camacho Corojo Diadema
Honduras 90 $8
The 8 by 60 Camacho Corojo Diadema is an imposing sight. The all-Honduran cigar is the biggest cigar in our Top 25. It has a complex shape, with various curves, but its true beauty is in its flavor. There’s a lot of room in this cigar for tobacco leaves, and the Diadema has a fittingly complex flavor, with notes of sweet wood, cedar, walnuts and leather. It’s medium to full in body, one of the best cigars made by the Eiroa family. Production is limited due to the extremely large leaf needed to wrap such a monster. Read more

Country: Honduras

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

17
Montecristo D Edición Limitada 2005
Cuba 90 £13
Even while Cuba’s largest brand, Montecristo, is often criticized for having inconsistencies due to its immense production, the special Montes in the annual Edición Limitada program have received nothing but praise. Last year’s release, the slim and elegant D (6 3/4 by 43), packs a punch with its aged dark wrapper and sweet tobacco filler. It’s sort of a supercharged Especial No. 1, and is more than satisfying with its spicy, almost chocolaty character. Most of the cigars are made in the new H. Upmann factory, which opened in November 2003. It’s one of Cuba’s best factories at the moment—modern and well organized to make the best smokes. Read more

Country: Cuba

Cigar Size: Lonsdale

Issue Date:

16
Peterson Gran Reserva Churchill
Honduras 91 $7
This is not the old Peterson, which was introduced in the middle of the ’90s cigar boom with a Connecticut-shade wrapper and typically forgettable boomtime flavor. In 2004, the team at Ashton Cigars hashed out a new blend for Peterson, turning to the northern Honduras factory that produces its Aroma de Cuba line. With a slightly sweet and intriguing taste, these Cameroonwrapped cigars are medium to full in body. The 6 3/4 by 48 Churchill and Robusto have performed best in our taste tests. Read more

Country: Honduras

Cigar Size: Churchill

Issue Date:

15
Cohiba Siglo II
Cuba 90 £11
The Siglo line of Cohiba was launched in 1992, but only recently, with the introduction of the Siglo VI in 2004, did the brand really become popular. The Siglo II has always been a serious smoke, but never one that blew off the shelves. We think that the market might have it wrong. The hearty cigar, which resembles the old Davidoff Chateau Margaux, measures 5 inches by 42 ring gauge. It always delivers lots of spicy, creamy character and a bright freshness from the specially processed filler tobacco. The Cubans say that some of the tobacco in the blend goes through a third fermentation, which provides the flavor and the finesse of Cohiba. The Siglo II is a consistently outstanding cigar. Read more

Country: Cuba

Cigar Size: Corona

Issue Date:

14
H. Upmann Magnum 50 Edición Limitada 2005
Cuba 90 £14
Some say that this cigar takes its inspiration from the legendary Por Larrañaga Magnum, which was produced until the 1970s in Cuba. Among cigar collectors few greater cigars exist, and the PL Mags have a profound ability to improve with age. Some of the editors have smoked 40- and even 50-year-old examples that are still wonderful smokes. The Limitada H. Upmann Magnum has the potential to approach such greatness. It’s a powerful, almost raw smoke at the moment, but with patience and plenty of box age the 6 1/2 by 50 cigar will become great. Another limitedproduction, aged, dark-wrappered winner from the island, it was produced only for last year. We would like to see this as a regular vitola in the Cuban stable. Read more

Country: Cuba

Cigar Size: Corona Gorda

Issue Date:

13
Padilla Miami 8/11 Robusto
U.S.A. 91 $11
It’s unusual for any cigar company to have versions of a brand rolled in three countries, and even more unlikely that such a brand would be among the smaller on the U.S. market, yet that’s the case with Padilla Cigar Co. Run by 33-year-old Ernesto Padilla, who has worked in the cigar business for only five years, the brand includes one Padilla rolled in the Dominican Republic and another in Nicaragua. The best is rolled in Miami, at El Rey de los Habanos. The Padilla Miami 8&11 Robusto (named in honor of the factory address, 8th Street and 11th Avenue) is a full-bodied masterpiece. Made with Cuban-seed Nicaraguan tobaccos, the 5 by 50 smoke has caramel, chocolate and spice notes and a long finish. They aren’t cheap or easy to find. Read more

Country: U.S.A.

Cigar Size: Robusto

Issue Date:

12
Arturo Fuente Hemingway Best Seller
Dominican Republic 91 $5
The Arturo Fuente Hemingway line of perfectos has captivated American cigar smokers since its debut in 1983. Since then, several cigars with the same shape— but not the Hemingway name—have come on the market, and most have been extraordinary. Our favorite is the Best Seller, a Hemingway in spirit, if not in name. The 5 by 55 smoke has amazing curves, with a nipple bottom that flares out into a fat bulb, which then gradually narrows to the rounded head. The cigar is as hard to make as it looks. Even if it weren’t so visually stunning, the Best Seller would be one of the world’s best cigars. It is made with well-aged tobaccos that express themselves with a sweet wood flavor and a touch of honey. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

11
Bolivar Churchill
Dominican Republic 90 $6
In 2005, General Cigar finally decided to utilize its long-standing U.S. rights to the venerable Bolivar brand. It took control of the brand’s distribution and changed the flavor, relying on several leaves proprietary to the company. The binder is a forgotten Connecticut leaf called Havana, the wrapper is from San Agustín, Honduras, and one of the filler tobaccos is grown on the volcanic Nicaraguan island of Ometepe. The changes have injected life into a oncesleepy brand. The 7 by 49 Churchill is flavorful yet easygoing, stronger than most of General’s cigars yet not overpowering. It smacks of the distinctive sweet earthiness that comes from Ometepe. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Churchill

Issue Date:

10
Juan Lopez Epicure No. 1
Nicaragua 90 $6
Altadis U.S.A. Inc. makes dozens of premium cigar brands, all of which until recently were made in the Dominican Republic and Honduras. Believing that it needed a Nicaraguan cigar, the company turned to Nicaragua American Tobaccos, a busy Estelí factory best known as the source of many low-cost brands for retailer JR Cigars. This frenzied, fast-paced factory showed that it could also craft a serious premium cigar by turning out the Juan Lopez Epicure No. 1. This fairly inexpensive smoke is a powerful and very dark Nicaraguan puro. The wrapper leaf practically drips with oils, and the 6 by 54 cigar is dark enough to be called a maduro. Read more

Country: Nicaragua

Cigar Size: Corona Gorda

Issue Date:

9
Oliva "O" Classic Olé
Nicaragua 91 $5
Like many other companies, Oliva Cigar tried to break into the cigar business by crafting a blend of tobaccos from various countries that created an easygoing flavor profile. When the cigar trade grew lean, the company turned to the Nicaraguan tobacco grown by family patriarch Gilberto Oliva. It turned out to be a blessing. The Olivas are making stellar cigars, and because the family-owned company grows much of its own tobacco leaf and eschews debt, it charges reasonable prices for most of them. The robusto-sized Olé, which measures 5 by 50, retails for $4.50, making it one of the least expensive cigars on this list. It’s medium bodied and rich in flavor. Read more

Country: Nicaragua

Cigar Size: Robusto

Issue Date:

8
Ashton Heritage Puro Sol Corona Gorda
Dominican Republic 90 $8
The Ashton brand has developed a following that comprises all types of cigar smokers, for it’s a brand with a version for just about any palate. The original is the Ashton Classic, a mild smoke cloaked in a Connecticut-shade wrapper. Ashton Aged Maduros, wrapped in dark, Connecticut broadleaf, are medium bodied. For the high-octane smoker there is the Ashton Virgin Sun Grown, full of ligero and wrapped in Ecuador leaf. For the cigar lover wanting a medium-bodied smoke with an extra touch of complexity and refinement not available in a maduro, there is the newest Ashton, the Heritage Puro Sol. This balanced blend was created by Carlos Fuente Sr., patriarch of the Fuente family. With a nod to his iconic Don Carlos Robusto, he combined a Meerapfel Cameroon wrapper with an all-Dominican blend to create a rich, elegant smoke. The best of the line is the 5 3/4 by 46 Corona Gorda. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Corona Gorda

Issue Date:

7
La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Chisel
Dominican Republic 92 $7
Litto Gomez used to make only mild cigars. His Double Ligero Chisel is quite the opposite. Loaded with leathery, brawny flavor accented by black pepper notes, the cigar is powered by Gomez’s homegrown filler and binder and finished with a rich, dark leaf of Sumatra-seed wrapper grown in Ecuador by the Oliva family. It’s a cigar that can’t be ignored, from its bold flavor to its distinctive head, which resembles the mouthpiece of a woodwind instrument or the hand tool that gives this cigar its name. Ligero is the strongest type of filler tobacco, and Gomez aptly warns the smoker of the extra kick to this 6 by 54 figurado. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

6
Aurora Preferidos Connecticut No.1
Dominican Republic 92 $14
La Aurora has made cigars for more than 100 years, and today its product seems better than ever. The company’s 100 Años Belicoso was named our No. 2 cigar last year, and now its Aurora Preferidos Connecticut No. 1 has placed in this year’s top 10. The cigar is only one of two on our Top 25 list wrapped in Connecticut shade, a leaf prized for its appearance but often knocked for its excessively mild taste. This wrapper was aged for seven years, as it was bought in anticipation of higher sales and forgotten in a warehouse. The long slumber, rare for Connecticut shade, has given this tobacco a darker color and more intriguing flavor. It makes the Preferidos Connecticut a richer-than-expected smoke. The 6 by 58 cigar has the trademark Preferidos perfecto shape. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

5
Partagas Serie D No. 4 Reserva
Cuba 92 £51
This special-edition robusto made its debut last March during Havana’s annual cigar festival. The standard Partagas Serie D No. 4 is one of the most popular smokes to come out of the island, and this release uses even older tobacco. The 4 7/8 by 50 robusto contains tobacco with a minimum of three years of age and the wrappers are also carefully selected. The cigars, with their special second band of black and silver, come in numbered black lacquered boxes of 20 smokes. Most of them were sold in the Far East, United Kingdom and Switzerland. The cigar reminded many of the editors of Serie Ds from the late 1980s and early 1990s—a golden age for Cuban cigar production. The new robustos are rich and powerful cigars with a decadent, earthy edge that is the hallmark of a good Partagas. These are beautiful smokes now, but will be even better with time in your humidor. Read more

Country: Cuba

Cigar Size: Robusto

Issue Date:

4
Tatuaje Cabinet Tainos
U.S.A. 93 $12
El Rey de los Habanos is easy to miss. The narrow cigar factory is located on Miami’s historic Calle Ocho, or 8th Street, and it has only about a dozen rolling tables, about 10 of which are occupied by Spanish-speaking Cuban rollers who carefully craft dark cigars with impeccable precision. This is the home of the Tatuaje brand. The factory doesn’t make many Tatuajes—the facility is small to begin with, and Tatuaje isn’t the only brand made here—but those that are created are intensely flavorful, made with three-seam caps in the style of Cuban cigars and packed with hearty, leathery Nicaraguan leaf that gives them a most Cubanesque flavor. The Taino, a 7 5/8 by 49 cigar, is particularly exceptional, with earthy, spicy flavors and a full body. Read more

Country: U.S.A.

Cigar Size: Double Corona

Issue Date:

3
Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Exclusivo
Nicaragua 93 $9
It’s hard to find a bad thing to say about the Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Exclusivo cigar. It teems with flavor from the first puff, and the carefully cured tobaccos remain tasty and elegant until the very last. Often that final draw must be taken with care so as not to burn the fingers and lips of the smoker, who by then holds just a nub. The cigars are made in Nicaragua and Honduras in very small quantities under the supervision of the Padrón family, makers of last year’s No. 1 cigar. The Exclusivo, at 5 1/2 inches by 50 ring gauge, is always balanced, elegant and decadently rich. When the brand was created in 1994, the box-pressed shape—unusual at that time—stood out from others on the market, but what kept cigar smokers coming back was their remarkable taste. Read more

Country: Nicaragua

Cigar Size: Corona Gorda

Issue Date:

2
Montecristo Edmundo
Cuba 93 £13
This fat and sassy cigar was introduced in the spring of 2004, but it has only recently begun to come into its own. The cigar measures 5 3/8 inches long by 52 ring gauge and is produced primarily in the H. Upmann factory, which is in the neighborhood of Nuevo Vedado in Havana. Originally, the cigar was rather mild, with a subtle cedary, tobacco character. Some even called it bland. But recent-production Edmundos have shown much more spice and coffee character. It’s as if the Cubans increased the strong tobacco (ligero) in the blend. A discussion with the factory heads at H. Upmann last fall didn’t reveal any changes, although they admitted to keeping an even more watchful eye on production and quality control. Whatever the reason, the cigar is now one of the most exciting coming out of Cuba. Read more

Country: Cuba

Cigar Size: Robusto

Issue Date:

1
Fuente Fuente OpusX Double Corona
Dominican Republic 95 $15
No cigar has had quite the impact on the premium cigar industry as the Fuente Fuente OpusX. Since its debut in 1995, the cigar has had a cult following that makes it a rare find in many smoke shops. Some retailers limit purchases, others charge far more than the suggested retail price. (In Las Vegas, it’s quite common for these cigars to retail for $60, $75 or even $100.) The brand has been the subject of more than one lawsuit and the target of counterfeiters. It also spawned great controversy as the first cigar sold with a Cuban-seed wrapper grown under shade in the Dominican Republic—a feat that many said simply couldn’t be done. Perhaps overlooked in all the hype is the undeniable fact that the OpusX is a great cigar. And current releases of the brand suggest that its quality is at a level not seen since its debut. The double corona size is a masterpiece, a classic on our 100-point scale. Like all OpusX cigars, the 7 5/8 inch by 49 ring gauge cigar is impeccably crafted by a small roomful of workers who make only about 75 cigars a day. The cigar is the pinnacle of full flavor, with complex tastes ranging from leather to creamy coffee and earth. If you have the patience to age these, they should prove even better in a few years. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Double Corona

Issue Date:

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