The Top 25 Cigars Archive


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Currently viewing: 2006
Rank Cigar Country Score Price
25
Montecristo Petit Tubo
Cuba 90 £9
So what if this is the same thing as Cuba’s largest production cigar, the ubiquitous Montecristo No. 4? We have found more often than not in recent years that the breadand- butter smoke of Cuba is of very good to outstanding quality, even if it is made in dozens of factories on the island. Throw it in a tube and you are ready for a night out on the town, without having to take your cigar case. The Montecristo comes in small cardboard boxes of five. The smoke delivers mild yet flavorful tobacco character and it’s quick and easy thanks to its petit corona size, or 5 inch by 42 ring dimension. Read more

Country: Cuba

Cigar Size: Petit Corona

Issue Date:

24
Quintero Churchill
Honduras 90 $5
During the mid-1990s, Spain’s Tabacalera S.A. catapulted itself into the surging U.S. cigar market, acquiring factories for heady sums and launching several cigar brands. Among them was Quintero, a mild smoke at a bargain price. It was later removed from store shelves. A decade later, Altadis U.S.A. Inc.— the U.S. subsidiary of Altadis S.A., which was created by the merger of Tabacalera and France’s SEITA—has brought back Quintero. The bargain price was kept, but the blend was vastly improved, resulting in a hearty Central American smoke. The wrapper is a Cubanseed Honduran leaf and there is a touch of Nicaraguan in the filler blend, which keeps it from being a Honduran puro. This 7 1/4 by 54 smoke is yet another quality, inexpensive cigar coming from the Flor de Copan factory. Read more

Country: Honduras

Cigar Size: Churchill

Issue Date:

23
Diplomaticos No. 2
Cuba 90 £12
When most people think of Cuba’s great torpedo, or piramide, they think of the Montecristo No. 2. It is Cuba’s best-selling figurado, with about 2 million produced each year. Most are made in the key factories in Havana such as H. Upmann, La Corona and Partagas, and only the best cigarmakers on the island are qualified to roll these 6 1/8 inch by 52 ring torpedos. However, a small production of the same cigar with a slightly lighter blend has long been produced almost exclusively at H. Upmann under the name Diplomaticos, and this year’s release is one of the best ever. Read more

Country: Cuba

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

22
Don Tomás Clásico Presidente
Honduras 90 $4
The Don Tomás brand is more than 40 years old and has survived the ups and downs of the cigar market, a change in owners (it went from UST to General Cigar) and, now, a change in blends. General Cigar, led by president and chief operating officer Angel Daniel Núñez, reworked the Don Tomás blend for a relaunch in late 2005. Dubbing it Clásico, the company’s idea is to get back to the brand’s roots as a hearty, no-nonsense cigar for a fair price. The Don Tomás tends to be toasty, woody and slightly sweet. The Presidente is a huge cigar, 7 1/2 inches long with a full 50 ring gauge, and has a suggested retail price of only $3.95, making it one of the greatest bangs for the buck in the world of premium cigars. Read more

Country: Honduras

Cigar Size: Churchill

Issue Date:

21
Punch Super Selection No. 1
Cuba 90 £11
There were fears among Cuban cigar connoisseurs a few years back when Habanos S.A., the global distribution and marketing company for Havana cigars, decided to cut the production of various vitolas in many of the key brands, including Punch. This lonsdale, which measures a tidy 6 1/8 inches long by 42 ring gauge, didn’t appear to be essential to a popular brand like Punch, but it was kept on—so thank you, Cuba. Packed in cedar cabinet boxes of 25 or 50 smokes, the cigar delivers beautiful and refined aromas and flavors with plenty of cedar, tobacco and light coffee character. It’s a beautiful morning smoke, but we like it any time of day. It’s produced primarily in the new La Corona factory on the outskirts of Havana. Read more

Country: Cuba

Cigar Size: Lonsdale

Issue Date:

20
La Aroma de Cuba Churchill
Honduras 91 $4
Since its market debut in November 2002, La Aroma de Cuba has been a critical success. The brand was first reviewed in Cigar Insider in January 2003, when it received several 90s. The high marks have continued, as this Central American smoke has a flavor profile that lovers of complex, medium- to full-bodied cigars have embraced. Crafted in the superb Flor de Copan factory, which is owned by Altadis U.S.A. Inc., the brand is part of the Ashton Cigar umbrella. The cigars’ hallmark is their Cuban-seed wrappers, grown near the factory in Honduras. The Churchill, which measures 6 3/4 by 48, has hearty wood flavors and a touch of earth. It’s also a bargain, a big cigar that retails for less than $5. Read more

Country: Honduras

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

19
Saint Luis Rey Reserva Belicoso
Honduras 90 $3
Altadis U.S.A. Inc. is a unit of the world’s largest cigar company. Being large has its advantages, particularly when it comes to economies of scale. Making cigars on such a voluminous level in all segments of the market—from inexpensive, machine-made cigars to the most pricey of handmade smokes—enables the company to produce some cigars at bargain-basement prices. It’s hard to find a better value in the world of premium cigars than the Saint Luis Rey Reserva Belicoso. It’s a hefty smoke, measuring 6 1/8 by 52 ring, yet it has a suggested retail price of just $3.45. It’s crafted in one of the true stealth factories in the business, the Flor de Copan factory in northern Honduras. The factory makes several wonderful cigars, including two others on this year’s Top 25 list. Read more

Country: Honduras

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

18
Montecristo Robusto Edición Limitada
Cuba 90 £15
This is one of three of this year's Edición Limitadas, and it’s a big hit with aficionados around the world. For the last five years, a range of “ELs” have been launched each year, and the concept is all the same: create a shape, or vitola, that is not normally found in a particular brand, use a dark brown two-year- old wrapper and make about 10,000 boxes of 25 cigars. The Montecristo Robusto was part of the first batch of Edición Limitadas, which were released in 2001. So this is a re-release to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the line, and we think that the second production is better than ever. The 4 7/8 by 50 cigar delivers much of the usually cedar, earthy and tobacco character of a Montecristo, but the darker wrapper gives the smoke a little more kick. Read more

Country: Cuba

Cigar Size: Robusto

Issue Date:

17
Puros Indios Viejo 1999 No. 4 Especial
Honduras 91 $5
Rolando Reyes Sr. is a rarity among cigar factory owners, as he was originally a cigarmaker. Credited by some with having the best hands in the business, Reyes is also an admittedly tough boss: he has flipped over the table of a wayward roller to make a point, and likes to slip clumsy workers notes with the word ojo, Spanish for “eye,” to let them know he’s watching. Reyes makes wonderful blends that tend to be medium bodied, and recently he and his family have been setting aside small amounts of cigars to age for several years as part of this special Viejo line, which they release in small batches. The No. 4 Especial measures 5 1/2 by 45, and has a woody and earthy flavor Read more

Country: Honduras

Cigar Size: Corona

Issue Date:

16
Rocky Patel Vintage 1990 Torpedo
Honduras 91 $9
Patel to build a cigar brand. The seemingly tireless Patel spends much of his time in Honduras, showing consumers and retailers the ins and outs of the cigar industry, and the rest of his time seems to be spent in cigar shops across the United States, explaining the virtues of his products to cigar smokers. His smokes have come into their own in recent years, and none is better than his vintage line, the first cigars to bear his name. Made by General Cigar in what used to be the UST factory in Danlí, Honduras, the cigars are a by-product of Patel’s inquisitive nature, which led to the discovery of older tobaccos that weren’t being used on house brands. The 6 1/4 by 52 torpedo is not too powerful, with notes of caramel and cocoa. Read more

Country: Honduras

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

15
Fuente Fuente OpusX Reserva d'Chateau
Dominican Republic 91 $13
The Fuente Fuente OpusX is a dynamo. It’s been on the market for a decade, yet the Fuente family still cannot meet the demand for the smokes, which are often sold for many times the suggested retail price. Last year, the Fuente Fuente OpusX Double Corona was our Cigar of the Year, which did little to diminish the demand. This year, we rated the slightly smaller Reserva d’Chateau, a 7 by 48 Churchill. Like all Fuente Fuente OpusX cigars, the Reserva d’Chateaus are a rare find, powered by a shade-grown, Cuban-seed wrapper from Chateau de la Fuente. The cigars are full bodied and brimming with complex, powerful flavors ideally suited for after a large meal. Like virtually everything crafted by Fuente, the construction is impeccable. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Churchill

Issue Date:

14
Padilla Signature 1932 Churchill
U.S.A. 90 $14
Padilla Cigars have made quite the splash in the U.S. market since their debut in 2004. The cigars, which come in several varieties, are made in three countries: the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and the United States. The latter is the most highly regarded. The Padilla Signature 1932, like the Padilla Miami 8&11, is made in the United States by Pepin Garcia, the owner of the boutique factory Rey de los Habanos. The factory has only a dozen rollers, and it also makes Tatuajes and other brands, so production on the 1932 and the Miami 8&11 is considerably small. The 1932 is stronger than the Miami 8&11 and has heavy mineral notes and plenty of wood. The Churchill, which measures 7 inches long by 48 ring gauge, is a powerhouse smoke that’s not for the meek. Read more

Country: U.S.A.

Cigar Size: Churchill

Issue Date:

13
C.A.O. Italia Novella
Honduras 91 $4
Italy is known for many great things, but cigar tobacco isn’t one of them. So it was a bold move when the Ozgener family of C.A.O. International Inc. named a cigar brand for a land known for classic art, exquisite cuisine and stylish fashion. Other cigars have been made with Italian tobacco, but typically that use hasn’t been publicized. Give the Ozgeners credit for striking new ground. The cigar, which also has Peruvian, Nicaraguan and Honduran tobaccos, is considerably strong, heavy on the red and black peppercorns and leather. The Noella measures 4 1/2 inches by 46 ring, and is a very affordable $4.35. Read more

Country: Honduras

Cigar Size: Robusto

Issue Date:

12
Macanudo Vintage 1997 No. III
Dominican Republic 90 $11
The idea of vintage dating is standard in the wine business, but considerably rare in the cigar industry. General Cigar uses a vintage dating system for its best Connecticut-shade wrappers. As in the world of vintage Port, only years deemed special result in a vintage. Since the 1970s, General has dubbed only six wrapper harvests as vintage. This 1997 version is the best current-production Macanudo we’ve smoked. Macanudos are produced under the care of Angel Daniel Núñez, who rose from the tobacco fields of General Cigar to run the company. He still believes in getting his boots dirty, and is actively involved in the blending of cigars and maintaining the stocks of leaf used to make such smokes as the Vintage No. III, which measures 5 9/16 by 43 ring. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Corona

Issue Date:

11
Oliva Serie G Cameroon Robusto
Nicaragua 91 $3
The price of this cigar seems impossibly low. Oliva Cigar Co. has been making cigars for 11 years, and its early struggles in the postcigar- boom world forced the company to create exceptional values. This Camerooncloaked robusto is one of the company’s best. The toothy African leaf pairs well with the sublime Nicaraguan tobaccos that make up the filler blend and binder. As part of a redesign of all of the company’s brands, the cigar was originally rated as the Oliva Grand Cameroon, but is now known as the Oliva Serie G Cameroon. The price was raised a modest 15 cents but the blend remains the same, Cuban-seed Nicaraguan tobaccos mixed with Cameroon wrapper. The boxpressed robusto, which measures 4 1/2 by 50, is elegant and sweet, with nice balance. Read more

Country: Nicaragua

Cigar Size: Robusto

Issue Date:

10
Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Belicoso
Dominican Republic 90 $9
Mighty Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia. makes about 35 million premium cigars every year. A fraction are Don Carlos cigars, made to honor Fuente’s chairman, Carlos Fuente Sr. While Fuente has been identified with its powerhouse Fuente Fuente OpusX blend, the Don Carlos is entirely sublime, blended for balance by Fuente Sr., Carlos Fuente Jr. and Rick Meerapfel, the late tobacco grower who brought back the glorious Cameroon leaf used to finish most Fuente cigars. The Belicoso is a considerable smoke, with a chunky 52 ring gauge and a length of 5 3/8 inches. Fuente, which has eye-popping reserves of tobacco leaf, uses some of its oldest tobaccos for this blend. As with all great cigars, the Don Carlos commands patience: it’s a slow-starting blend that begins dry, but soon turns into a masterpiece of complex elegance, with notes of coffee, cedar and a long, rich finish. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

9
Tatuaje Cabinet Noella
U.S.A. 92 $8
The Tatuaje brand is only two years old, yet it has become one of the hottest boutique cigar brands in America. Created by cigar retailer Pete Johnson, who is known as Tattoo Pete by many in the cigar industry, the brand gets its name from the Spanish word for “tattoo” and is carefully crafted from powerful yet elegant Nicaraguan tobaccos in the tiny El Rey de los Habanos factory in Little Havana. Only about a dozen rollers work at the factory, which makes other brands as well, so there are only about 250,000 Tatuajes made per year. Johnson is now making a less expensive version in Nicaragua. The Tatuaje Cabinet Noella, a beautifully made corona, measures 5 1/8 by 42 ring. It’s among the smallest of Tatuajes, but like good, small Cuban cigars this smoke is packed with flavor. It’s rich, spicy and strong, with an underlying elegance. Read more

Country: U.S.A.

Cigar Size: Petit Corona

Issue Date:

8
Ashton Estate Sun Grown 20-Year-Salute
Dominican Republic 90 $18
When Ashton brand owner Robert Levin spoke about his newest cigar at the CIGAR AFICIONADO Las Vegas Big Smoke in November, you could hear the weariness in his voice. All Ashtons are made by Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia., and getting new Ashtons is no easy task. The Ashton Estate Sun Grown 20-Year-Salute is a 6 3/4 by 49 cigar made to celebrate Ashton’s 20-year anniversary, which was in 2005. The cigar came out a year late, due to the rarity of its wrapper: it’s a sungrown, Cuban-seed leaf from Chateau de la Fuente, which has never been used on a commercially available cigar. (The farm’s shade-grown wrapper is used on the Fuente Fuente OpusX.) The ESG is dark and alluring, and has a mellow start that can fool a smoker into thinking it’s not that strong, which could be a mistake. Levin says it’s been dubbed the Velvet Hammer due to its sneaky strength, as the cigar packs a stealthy punch at about the one-third mark. It’s a strong, Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Churchill

Issue Date:

7
Aurora Preferido Emerald
Dominican Republic 91 $17
The Preferido shape, a bomb-shaped perfecto, was the first cigar made by La Aurora S.A. when it began making cigars more than 100 years ago. That cigar put the company on the map, and its re-release in April 1999 has brought Aurora back to prominence. Each new version features a different wrapper leaf. Originally done in Cameroon, the Preferido now has versions made with Connecticut broadleaf, Connecticut shade, Dominican Corojo and now Ecuadoran Sumatra. Most come in colorful tubes, such as the green-hued one that holds the Emerald. The somewhat unusual filler blend of Nicaraguan, Brazilian and Dominican tobaccos combined with the Emerald’s Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper results in hearty notes of hickory wood and a masculine character. The impeccable construction of the perfectos (they measure a tidy 5 inches long with a 54 ring gauge around their bulbous bellies) is done by a select group of rollers who sit in a showcase section of the factory frequented by tourists. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

6
José Seijas Signature Series 2000
Dominican Republic 91 $15
Jose Seijas, vice president of the Tabacalera de Garcia Ltd. factory in La Romana, Dominican Republic, supervises the production of tens of millions of handmade cigars every year. Most are huge brands, such as the Dominican versions of Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta and H. Upmann. Perhaps the rarest of these brands is the only one that bears Seijas’s name, the Jose Seijas Signature Series. The 2000 is an earthy, leathery smoke that measures 6 1/8 by 52. It’s stronger than most of the cigars Seijas makes, and is blended for hearty smokers, powered by Nicaraguan tobacco as well as some Peruvian leaf. Seijas is one of the largest users of Peruvian tobacco in the premium cigar world. The Signature Series 2000 may be the best cigar he makes. It’s a rare smoke, currently sold to 23 shops across the United States, but Altadis is expanding production and distribution and hopes to have it in nearly 150 cigar shops by May 1. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Corona Gorda

Issue Date:

5
Carlos Toraño Exodus 1959 Torpedo
Honduras 91 $5
In 1959, the Toraño family owned 17 tobacco farms in Cuba, but they lost them to nationalization under Castro. Like some latter-day Johnny Appleseed, Carlos Toraño brought Cuban-seed tobacco to the Dominican Republic, and soon Toraños were growing in several countries, hoping to find a new source of leaf in the wake of America’s embargo on Cuban goods. Today, Carlos’s ancestors Carlos and Charlie Toraño have carried on his name by creating a cigar brand named for him, which fittingly uses intriguing blends made from a host of countries, including many that aren’t known for their cigar tobaccos. The Exodus line—which is made with tobacco from five countries — gets its name from the diaspora of Cuban cigarmakers and tobacco growers such as Toraño who were evicted from their former home, and this rich, medium-bodied torpedo has wood and vanilla notes and a sublime, easygoing style. It’s also a stunning bargain—the 6 1/4 by 54 smoke retails for only $5.45. Read more

Country: Honduras

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

4
Romeo y Julieta Short Churchill
Cuba 92 £12
Cuba's newest robusto debuted during the island's annual cigar festival in March 2006 and the delicious cigar became one of the most sought-after in 2006. But production at the H. Upmann factory in Havana was always sporadic, so many markets did not receive the cigars, which were sold in both tubes and boxes. For example, at one time the Cubans had the cigars but they didn't have the tubes to ship them. Then they had the tubes and not the cigars. Despite the glitches in establishing the Short Churchill in the market, the robusto, which measures 4 7/8 inches long by 50 ring, is a smooth and rich cigar worth seeking out. It's medium to full bodied and packed with leather and coffee notes and a touch of sweet wood. Considering the popularity of its 7 inch by 47 ring gauge big brother, the Romeo y Julieta Churchill, the brand's new robusto is destined to be another classic that any Cuban cigar lover will enjoy smoking. Read more

Country: Cuba

Cigar Size: Robusto

Issue Date: 2006-01-01

3
Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Imperial
Nicaragua 92 $13
The Padrón family has earned a reputation for producing some of the finest cigars in the world. Their cigars have always been well represented in our Top 25, having won the title the first year and placing third for the second year running. The Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Imperial is the thickest cigar in that popular line, measuring 6 inches long with a hefty 54 ring gauge. The Aniversary blend was created by the Padróns in 1994 to commemorate the company’s 30th anniversary of making cigars. The elegant, balanced flavor of the cigars comes from judicious amounts of well-aged Nicaraguan tobaccos. Most of the cigars are made in Nicaragua, but some are made in the company’s smaller factory in Honduras. They are trunk pressed to give them their classic bricklike shape, and have that trademark Padrón flavor of cocoa and light chocolate and a long, rich finish. Read more

Country: Nicaragua

Cigar Size: Corona Gorda

Issue Date:

2
Coronado by La Flor Double Corona
Dominican Republic 93 $8
Over the past 12 years Litto Gomez has distinguished himself as arguably the most innovative mind in the cigar business. He has created such unique sizes as the El Jocko Perfecto and The Chisel, and as his palate has changed, so have his cigars. Today, the lion’s share of his cigars are full flavored and complex. Fitting that bill, Gomez launched Coronado by La Flor last summer, a brand made with a blend he had never tried before. It combines Sumatra-seed Dominican filler, a Corojo-seed Dominican binder and a gorgeous, sun-grown wrapper from the Jalapa valley of Nicaragua grown by Nestor Plasencia. The 7 by 50 smoke is rich, complex and decadent, a full-bodied cigar that reminds some of a great Cuban Partagas Lusitania with ample notes of caramel and leather on the palate. Gomez has slowly increased his production: this year he will make more than 3 million total cigars, and by November he hopes to be making about 4 million cigars per year—which, he says, is as big as he wants his company to get. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Churchill

Issue Date:

1
Bolivar Royal Corona
Cuba 94 £10
Bolivar has always been a name close to the hearts of Cuban cigar lovers. Regardless of size, the brand offers rich, powerful cigars that often need a few years of aging to come into their best. At the moment, Bolivar Belicoso Finos from 1993 are smoking fabulously. They have loads of character still, but the almost heady nature of youth has evolved into something extremely complex and satisfying. That sort of special quality is why we chose the Bolivar Royal Corona as Cigar of the Year. The robusto, which measures 4 7/8 inches long by 50 ring gauge, delivers a sophisticated flavor bomb of a smoke with an array of rich character, including touches of chocolate, coffee and leather. The finish is long and it should only get better with age. This year’s production illustrates the better quality of the new generation of Habanos. Greater care in production, particularly in some of the new factories in Havana, is bringing the world better Habanos all the time. Current Bolivar RCs seem to take their inspiration from what we consider one of the golden ages for Cuban smokes, the late 1980s and early 1990s. That was when Cuban cigarmakers created and made some of their best cigars. The Bolivar band is not a big one in Read more

Country: Cuba

Cigar Size: Robusto

Issue Date:

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