The Top 25 Cigars Archive


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Currently viewing: 2008
Rank Cigar Country Score Price
25
Alec Bradley Tempus Centuria
Honduras 91 $8
Alan Rubin is a cigar industry survivor, having entered the business in 1997, as tough a year as any in recent memory. The former importer of nuts and bolts has long been an avid cigar smoker, and he made the move to cigars as a way to make a living from something he was passionate about, naming his cigar company Alec Bradley, after his two sons. In 2001, Rubin found a dark wrapper in Honduras, grown from Criollo 98 seed, and when he was finally able to secure enough of it, he turned to the boutique Raices Cubanas factory to develop the Tempus brand. It’s undeniably his finest creation. The Tempus Centuria is a bold, woody smoke, with substance as well as balance. Read more

Country: Honduras

Cigar Size: Churchill

Issue Date:

24
Savinelli Special Selection 2005 Torpedo
Nicaragua 91 $7
Savinelli is an Italian pipe company with a long interest in the cigar business. The company has several varieties, the oldest and most famous being the Savinelli Extremely Limited Reserve, made by Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia. The Savinelli Special Selection 2005 Torpedo, which is made for Savinelli by the Oliva Cigar Co. in Nicaragua, is superb. Oliva has incredible stocks of well-aged tobacco, and it shows in this torpedo. It’s rich in appearance, with a leathery and woody start that morphs into caramel and coffee flavors. The finish is long and spicy, with a cherry note. Read more

Country: Nicaragua

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

23
Hoyo de Tradición Toro Grande
Honduras 91 $5
Hoyo de Tradición is a new take on the popular Hoyo de Monterrey line out of Honduras. It is loaded with some of the more unusual tobaccos of the cigar world, which include filler from San Agustín, Honduras, and the volcanic Nicaraguan island of Ometepe. The binder is rarer still, a Habano seed that General Cigar Co. grows in Connecticut. (Habano was a preferred leaf in the Connecticut River Valley a century ago, but the larger leaves of broadleaf pushed out the Habano crop.) The wrapper is from the Jamastran region of Honduras. Combined, the tobaccos make for a delicious smoke, especially in the Toro Grande size, which is a fat corona gorda. The cigar is nutty and leathery, with touches of tea leaves, wood and pepper. And at only $5.20, it’s the least expensive cigar on our Top 25 list. Read more

Country: Honduras

Cigar Size: Corona Gorda

Issue Date:

22
Bolivar Belicoso Fino
Cuba 92 £14
This small torpedo was a longtime favorite of a number of our editors—especially Cubancigar specialist James Suckling—but lost some of its punch in the late 1990s with the unbridled production of Cuban cigars. Once the reins were pulled back, the quality and blend were restored to their original rich and powerful stature. Current production is overseen at the Partagas factory, and only the top rollers are allowed to make the cigars. The examples we rated were gorgeous, with a distinct core of coffee flavors that warmed to walnut and leather undertones. All the flavors culminated in a long finish with a predominance of coffee. The punch and richness are definitely back in this manly smoke. Read more

Country: Cuba

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

21
El Rey del Mundo Flor de Llaneza
Honduras 91 $8
If Frank Llaneza isn’t the godfather of cigars, he’s certainly the pioneer of crafting full-flavored smokes. As a co-owner of Villazon & Co., Llaneza made strong cigars long before they were celebrated in the pages of this magazine. “The people that smoke our cigars for the first time, sometimes can’t smoke the second one,” he once said. In 1964, he formed Honduras American Tobacco S.A., in Danlí, Honduras, becoming one of the first to produce cigars in that country. While Llaneza no longer owns Villazon (which is now part of Swedish Match AB), his name lives on thanks to Cigars by Santa Clara’s El Rey del Mundo Flor de Llaneza. This thick, pressed figurado is one of the world’s great full-bodied smokes, full of spice. Read more

Country: Honduras

Cigar Size: Figurado

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20
Mi Dominicana by José Seijas Robusto
Dominican Republic 91 $8
Altadis S.A., the world’s largest cigar company, makes tens of millions of cigars by hand each year, but only one of its brands is made entirely from Dominican tobacco: the Mi Dominicana by José Seijas. Named for the man who has run its largest factory for 23 years, the Mi Dominicana Robusto is a rich, spicy and savory smoke with a core of earthy, leathery flavors and a long finish. In 2008, the company made only 26,000 Mi Dominicana cigars—a miniscule amount for Altadis. Seijas says that the company has been experimenting with Dominican wrapper for about a decade. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Robusto

Issue Date:

19
San Cristobal de La Habana La Fuerza
Cuba 92 £15
San Cristobal de La Habana remains an off-theradar brand that is sold mostly to devoted followers who buy their cigars in La Casa del Habano cigar stores. San Cristobal was first introduced in 1999 in hopes of attracting smokers who found mainstream Cuban smokes too strong. The cigars have always impressed us with their lovely aromatic qualities of dried flowers and delicate tobacco. The La Fuerza is essentially a slightly elongated robusto, called gordito, or fatty, in the factory. The cigar delivers plenty of rich earth and coffee flavors that evolve to leather and mahogany undertones. The cigar is certainly rightly named at the moment. “Fuerza” means strength in Spanish, and this year’s batch of San Cristobal La Fuerza seems the richest yet. Read more

Country: Cuba

Cigar Size: Corona Gorda

Issue Date:

18
Defiance by Xikar The Guardian
Honduras 92 $7
Cigar accessory maker Xikar Inc. has expanded to sell cigars along with its cutters, lighters and cases. The company’s sales team was making calls to cigar shops, and the thought was, Why not sell cigars as well? Xikar found a solid partner to make its first smoke: Jesus Fuego. The former UST cigar man was born in Cuba, and makes cigars in Nestor Plasencia’s Tabacos de Oriente factory. Fuego has a knack for crafting tasty blends, and his Defiance by Xikar The Guardian is a serious smoke, heavy on the leather, with caramel and tea to balance it. This is the first appearance on our Top 25 list for one of Fuego’s cigars. Read more

Country: Honduras

Cigar Size: Corona Gorda

Issue Date:

17
Casa Toraño Maduro Robusto
Nicaragua 91 $6
The Toraño family loves to use tobaccos from around the world in its cigars. It’s not uncommon for a Carlos Toraño cigar to contain leaves from five nations, so it’s surprising that it took until 2007 for the company to use Connecticut broadleaf as a wrapper. The result is the Casa Toraño Maduro Robusto, a dark, oily cigar with a nutty flavor and hints of sweet wood, caramel and cherries. It’s an exceptional maduro, one of only two on our Top 25 list. The Casa Toraño blend originally was something the family made for itself, then took on the road in the form of rolling shows around the United States. The blend was strongly received, so the company decided to make it commercially available. Read more

Country: Nicaragua

Cigar Size: Robusto

Issue Date:

16
Black Pearl Morado Torpedo
Nicaragua 92 $9
Black Pearl cigars are part of the La Perla Habana group of cigars. The owner, Doug Wood, entered the cigar market in 1996 and was forced to work as a chauffeur to make ends meet. La Perlas and Black Pearls are still not household names, but they do show well in our taste tests. This is the first La Perla cigar to make our Top 25 list, and it is a fine smoke. Rolled by the Toraño family in Nicaragua, the Black Pearl Morado Torpedo combines Nicaraguan filler and binder with Cameroon wrapper, a blend that gives it a pleasant sweet quality. Read more

Country: Nicaragua

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

15
Rocky Patel Decade Torpedo
Honduras 92 $11
Rocky Patel has long been considered one of the hardest-working men in the cigar business, and the Rocky Patel Decade Torpedo is his masterpiece. The pressed figurado is made of Nicaraguan tobacco wrapped in a dark leaf of Ecuador Sumatra. Made in Nestor Plasencia’s El Paraiso factory, the Decade celebrates Patel’s reaching 10 years in the cigar business. Given his Indian surname and lack of Cuban roots or family history in the cigar business, few would have bet on Patel’s long-term future when he began selling cigars in 1995. Not only has he made it past 10 years, he has become a cigar industry star, and one who has put his name on a balanced and elegant smoke, which has a creamy texture with black cherry notes and a nutty finish. Read more

Country: Honduras

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

14
Aurora Barrel Aged Belicoso
Dominican Republic 92 $9
Take hands of aged cigar tobacco, place them in old oak barrels that long ago held Dominican rum, close them up and let rest. What happens? A bit of magic. The barrels don’t impart rum flavor, but they help the tobacco ferment faster than it would if left in traditional bales. Aurora has aged filler tobacco in barrels before, but this is the first time it has aged all the tobacco for a cigar in a barrel. The Belicoso, the best of the line, has a heavy, rich, woody flavor with a touch of mocha on the palate. It’s one of the company’s top cigars since its landmark 100 Años, released in 2003. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

13
Cabaiguan Guapo
Nicaragua 92 $11
Pete Johnson’s Cabaiguan line was first rated in 2006. It did well, but not great, scoring in the upper 80s. The cigars were quite different from Johnson’s acclaimed Tatuaje line, using light-hued Connecticut- seed wrappers instead of the dark Nicaraguan wrappers of the Tatuajes. Then he added a fat cigar called the Guapo, made with a darker wrapper and blended somewhat stronger, and the scores rose. The Guapo is an intriguing smoke from its appearance alone—the ultra fat smoke has a pigtail tip, something typically reserved for slim cigars. Made by Pepin Garcia (originally in Miami, now in Nicaragua), the cigars have meaty, leathery flavors complemented by coffee and chocolate notes. Read more

Country: Nicaragua

Cigar Size: Corona Gorda

Issue Date:

12
Oliva Serie V Liga Especial Double Robusto
Nicaragua 92 $6
The Oliva Cigar Co. has a huge hit on its hands with the Serie V. The company’s premier cigar line burst onto the scene last year when the Serie V Torpedo scored 93 points and took the No. 4 spot on our Top 25 list. The Double Robusto is also an exceptional smoke: a Nicaraguan puro with lots of earth and coffee bean flavors, and a long, long finish. The Olivas are adept at delivering great flavor along with great balance in their smokes, and this oily cigar is no exception. This is the fourth year in a row the Olivas have placed on our Top 25 list, which is no small feat. Read more

Country: Nicaragua

Cigar Size: Robusto

Issue Date:

11
Juan Lopez Selección No. 2
Cuba 92 £11
Lovers of the renowned Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2 are typically also enamored with this robusto because it delivers many of the same aromatic qualities, but with a little more richness. Originally only available in Switzerland, this tough-to-find cigar is made mostly at the Partagas factory. It is this vitola and the Selección No. 1 that are produced in the greatest number. We love the oily and dark brown wrappers. The cigars draw and burn beautifully with a medium to full body, reminiscent of a Bordeaux wine with savory leather and tea notes. Selección No. 2 comes packaged in cedar cabinets of 25 sticks. From our experience, this cigar always improves with box age. This is a smoke for true connoisseurs who prefer subtlety and finesse over strength and flamboyance. Read more

Country: Cuba

Cigar Size: Robusto

Issue Date:

10
Ashton Heritage Puro Sol Robusto
Dominican Republic 92 $9
Ashton is one of the classic brands of the cigar industry. Created in the early 1980s by Robert Levin, the Dominican cigars now come in every conceivable variety, with a flavor profile built for every palate. They range from the mild and easygoing Ashton Classic to the peppery and bold Ashton VSG, with all types of flavors and strength profiles in between. Perhaps the sleeper of the storied brand is the Ashton Heritage Puro Sol. As with all cigars bearing the Ashton name, the Puro Sols are produced by the Fuente family in Santiago, Dominican Republic. They are made with toothy, thin Cameroon wrappers grown by the Meerapfel family in the jungles of western Africa. The blend is best experienced in the robusto size, a beautifully made cigar with a rich chocolate flavor, along with notes of black cherry and spice before a toasty finish. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Corona Gorda

Issue Date:

9
La Gloria Cubana Artesanos de Miami Elegante
U.S.A. 92 $11
If you smoked cigars in the early 1990s, buying a La Gloria Cubana was a challenge. The brand was the original hard-to-find smoke in the early days of the cigar boom. When La Gloria production was greatly expanded with the opening of cigar factories in the Dominican Republic, supply caught up with demand. La Glorias were born on Calle Ocho, in Miami’s Little Havana, and cigarmaker Ernesto Perez-Carrillo has maintained that small cigar factory even while the vast majority of La Glorias are now rolled in the D.R. He recently created a new cigar in Miami to be rolled only in that factory, the La Gloria Cubana Artesanos de Miami. It’s the best La Gloria in years. Perez- Carrillo changed wrappers, moving from Ecuador Sumatra leaf to spicy Nicaraguan wrapper, and tipped the balance of filler, boosting the Nicaraguan quotient while dimming that of the Dominican tobacco inside. The result is a bolder, richer smoke. The best cigar in the five-size line is the Elegante. The Churchill-sized smoke is finished with a triple-seam cap, and brims with flavors of rich coffee and a nutty sweetness. Read more

Country: U.S.A.

Cigar Size: Churchill

Issue Date:

8
Don Pepin Garcia Lancero
U.S.A. 93 $9
Lanceros, long revered by smokers of Cuban cigars, have lately become a hot size in the United States. Cigarmakers have responded with amazing thin smokes, none finer than the Don Pepin Garcia Lancero, made by Jose “Pepin” Garcia at his tiny El Rey de los Habanos factory in Miami. The fabrica is one of the world’s smallest, with all of a dozen rollers. Garcia makes many brands for other companies; Don Pepin is one of his own, and his oldest—he began making it in 2003. The lancero is a new size for the line, introduced in May. The cigar is exquisitely crafted from a core of Nicaraguan tobacco and finished with a leaf from Ecuador. The cigar is ultra sweet from the first puff, tremendously rich and flavorful. Although his favorite size to smoke is a robusto, Garcia excels at the lancero format. Read more

Country: U.S.A.

Cigar Size: Panetela

Issue Date:

8
Don Pepin Garcia Toro Grande
U.S.A. 90 $10
Chunky and box-pressed with neatly tapered shoulders. It burns unevenly but is bold, meaty and peppery with woody, toasty undertones and a touch of ginger snap. Read more

Country: U.S.A.

Cigar Size: Grande

Issue Date: 2013-10-01

7
H. Upmann Sir Winston
Cuba 93 £21
Large cigars have gone almost completely out of fashion. It’s not that their quality has diminished: they still deliver loads of flavor with a cool, refined character. The problem is that few people have the time to smoke such a large cigar as the Sir Winston—let alone such longer ones as double coronas. But aficionados who do opt for a large cigar usually puff on a Romeo y Julieta Churchill or a Cohiba Esplendido. Perhaps that’s why Cuba makes so few Sir Winstons, most of which are rolled in the new H. Upmann factory on the outskirts of Havana. Until the mid-1990s, the cigar came in a smart green lacquered box, but today it comes in a varnished cedar one with a clasp. The band, once the standard brown and white H. Upmann, is now gold, white and red. Find some time if you are going to smoke this. It’s worth relaxing and contemplating what the Sir Winston has to offer. It’s so good to look at that you may not want to see it go up in smoke. The ones we smoked had beautiful silky, oily wrappers and excellent caps. The first puffs were immediately rich with leather and spice, then developed into woody, meaty undertones. This cigar has the richness and structure to age well. We think that Winston Churchill would have loved this cigar. Read more

Country: Cuba

Cigar Size: Churchill

Issue Date:

6
Romeo y Julieta Short Churchill
Cuba 94 £12
This is the second time that Romeo y Julieta's robusto has shown up in our Top 25, following its debut in Cuba's annual cigar festival in March 2006. We said then that the Short Churchill was "destined to be another classic," and we were right. It's one of those "go to" Cuban cigars that never disappoint, and it's incredibly popular in the global market at the moment. It's proving more popular than the RyJ Churchill, which had been an icon cigar for decades from Cuba. Production at the H. Upmann factory- the newest export factory on the island-is finally up to capacity, and the cigar seems to be getting better and better, even richer to our taste than on release. It also comes in tubes, which makes it convenient to throw in your pocket if you are going out for the night. The cigar traditionally comes with an almost claro, or light-brown, wrapper, and its red, white and gold livery. The cigar delivers full-bodied flavor yet remains balanced and refined. Leather, cocoa bean and wood abound, and are punctuated with an almost citrus element. Read more

Country: Cuba

Cigar Size: Robusto

Issue Date: 2008-01-01

5
Don Carlos Edición de Aniversario Double Robusto
Dominican Republic 94 $32
The Fuente family has been making Arturo Fuente Don Carlos cigars since 1976, longer (by four years) than they have been making cigars in the Dominican Republic. The blend is the creation of Carlos Fuente Sr., patriarch of the family. In 2006, his son, Carlos Fuente Jr., made the Don Carlos Edición de Aniversario to celebrate the 30 years of Don Carlos cigars. He swapped out the Cameroon wrapper for the Dominican shade-grown leaf he uses on Fuente Fuente OpusX. He also boosted the cigar’s power considerably. The result is a tremendously intense and complex blend, especially in the Double Robusto size. The cigars are wonderful, but especially hard to find due to their extremely limited production—only 9,000 cigars were released in 2008. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Corona Gorda

Issue Date:

4
La Aroma de Cuba Edición Especial No. 5
Nicaragua 93 $8
La Aroma de Cuba is an old Cuban brand name, believed to have been a favorite of Sir Winston Churchill. Ashton Distributors created a Honduran version of the brand in 2003, made by La Flor de Copan, and last summer it added the Edición Especial variation, which it contracted out to the hottest name in the cigar business, Jose “Pepin” Garcia. Pepin’s La Aroma de Cuba is the best yet, made with his trademark Nicaraguan filler and binder tobaccos, and covered in something relatively new for him, Ecuadoran leaf. The belicoso-shaped No. 5 is a wonderful smoke, brimming with spice, coffee and cocoa notes. Ashton is becoming a major client for Garcia. This is the second major cigar brand he has made for the Philadelphia-based company, a follow-up to his San Cristobal—one size of which took the No. 12 slot in our 2007 ranking. Read more

Country: Nicaragua

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

3
Litto Gomez Diez 2008 Chisel Puro
Dominican Republic 93 $11
Litto Gomez has, arguably, the most innovative mind in the cigar business. The proof is evident in his Chisel-shaped cigar, which first appeared in his La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero line. With its wedge-like head, the Chisel is Gomez’s unique spin on a figurado: he was inspired to create the size after chewing on a torpedo. The Diez line was Gomez’s coming-out party for his wrapper tobacco, which he grows on a farm in La Canela, Dominican Republic. Gomez, known for his distinctive Montecristi Panama hat, launched the Diez line in 2004 to commemorate his 10th year in the cigar business. He made a change to the cigar last year, adding a vintage date to showcase the year of release—2008 is the first. While he also says he tempered the blend a bit, the Chisel remains a favorite of seasoned smokers, full of prominent leather and black pepper notes, and just enough balancing sweetness. The cigar is a work of art, and the flavor unmistakable. Read more

Country: Dominican Republic

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

2
Padrón Serie 1926 80 Years Maduro
Nicaragua 96 $30
Eighty-three years ago this coming June, José Orlando Padrón was born in Pinar del Río, Cuba. He emigrated to the United States, and in 1964 he founded Padrón Cigars Inc. in an attempt to re-create the beloved Cuban cigars of his youth. The first Padróns were humble, 30 cent fumas sold exclusively in Miami. The cigars were later taken nationwide, largely due to Padrón’s son Jorge, now president of the company. Numbers are important to the Padróns: the 1964 Anniversary Series marks the year the company was founded, and the Serie 1926 line commemorates the birth year of the company patriarch. This year’s No. 2 cigar celebrates his 80th birthday. It is undeniably an amazing cigar, teeming with complexity and depth that can only be achieved through inventories of well-aged tobacco. The cigar has the signature Padrón flavor: cocoa, coffee, nuts and toast; it also has orange peel, leather and some spice on the finish. It is made with some of the company’s oldest leaves by only one buncher and one roller, who create but 300 cigars per day. It’s a rare find. The Padróns, two-time winners of our Cigar of the Year contest, have never finished lower than third in this ranking. Their long-standing philosophy is that they make cigars to suit their own taste, and sell what they don’t smoke. Read more

Country: Nicaragua

Cigar Size: Figurado

Issue Date:

1
Casa Magna Colorado Robusto
Nicaragua 93 $5
Manuel Quesada has been making cigars since 1974. His original cigars were mild bodied, most of them a blend of Dominican filler and binder tobaccos cloaked with light Connecticut-seed wrappers. His latest endeavors are bolder, more vibrant smokes. The Casa Magna is his greatest innovation. He joined forces with Nicaragua’s largest grower of cigar tobacco, Nestor Plasencia, and created this blend in Plasencia’s Segovia Cigar factory. The line of five cigars saw first light in the summer at an industry trade show and the entire brand was initially reviewed in the August 26 Cigar Insider. Standing above the other sizes was the robusto, a stubby cigar with a bold heart of Cuban-seed tobacco, all of it grown in two very different regions of Nicaragua: tobacco from Estelí (the area where most Nicaraguan cigars are produced) tends to be strong, while that grown in Jalapa, to the north, is typically more balanced and elegant. Together they combine to create a full-flavored cigar, full of rich coffee notes and balanced by a cedary sweetness with a hint of raisins. Best of all is the price: at only $5.25, this superb smoke is less expensive than all but one cigar on this list (No. 23, which is a nickel cheaper.) The word “Colorado” in the brand name refers to the dark, slightly reddish hue of the wrapper, and is a hint that Quesada will expand this line to more styles. It will be hard to improve upon this. Read more

Country: Nicaragua

Cigar Size: Corona Gorda

Issue Date:

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