Cigar Aficionado's 133rd blind tasting, which appeared in our August 2016 issue, is now live on our website. Of the 82 cigars rated by our panel of editors, 11 non-Cuban cigars scored 91 points or higher. These cigars are considered outstanding on our 100-point scale.
This tasting, like all Cigar Aficionado tastings, considers four different categories when determining a cigar's rating. Appearance and structure counts for a maximum of 15 points; flavor and smoking characteristics (quality of draw, texture of smoke, etc.) count for 25 points each; and the remaining 35 points are allotted to the overall impression, or level of enjoyment, of the cigar.
So if you're heading to your local brick-and-mortar, here are a few cigars that are sure to please right now.
Oliva Serie V Melanio Robusto (94 points, Nicaragua) Oliva Cigars created the Serie V Melanio brand in 2013 as a tribute to Melanio Oliva, a 19th-century Cuban farmer who is believed to be the first in the Oliva family to grow tobacco. The figurado vitola was awarded Cigar Aficionado's Cigar of the Year in 2014. See full tasting note.
Padrón 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Natural (94 points, Nicaragua) The Padrón 50th Anniversary cigar ships in ornate, white humidors of 50 cigars. It is a separate brand from the Padrón Family Reserve 50 Years. The cigar comes in two different wrapper varieties: Natural and Maduro. See full tasting note.
E.P. Carrillo Selección Oscuro Piramides Royal (93 points, Dominican Republic) Brand owner Ernesto Perez-Carrillo positions his Selección Oscuro as a medium- to full-bodied cigar. The brand debuted in 2015 and four of the six cigars scored 90 points or higher in a Cigar Insider vertical tasting shortly thereafter. See full tasting note.
CAO Colombia Bogota (92 points, Nicaragua) Named for the Colombian tobacco that is used in the filler, this cigar is only $7.75, quite the bargain for a 92-point smoke. See full tasting note.
Alec Bradley Post Embargo Robusto (91 points, Honduras) Alec Bradley Post Embargo is a cigar that celebrates the United States' improved diplomacy with Cuba. Brand owner Alan Rubin says he welcomes the dissolution of the Cuban trade embargo so the smoker can make his cigar choice without being influenced by the mystique of the unattainable. See full tasting note.
Davidoff Nicaragua Diadema (91 points, Dominican Republic) Launched in 2013 as the first Nicaraguan puro from one of the Dominican Republic's most well-known brands, Davidoff Nicaragua quickly earned critical acclaim, as the toro size was deemed Cigar Aficionado's No. 3 cigar of that year. The Diadema size, a traditional Cuban vitola with a closed and tapered head, was added in July of 2014. See full tasting note.
La Flor Dominicana Air Bender Maduro Valiente (91 points, Dominican Republic) Air Bender Maduro launched in 2015 as a regular-production brand, but had been offered twice-before as a limited edition. While the previous versions used Brazilian tobacco for the wrapper, the mainstay cigar wears an Ecuadoran wrapper. See full tasting note.
La Libertad Churchill (91 points, Dominican Republic) The European version of La Libertad had existed for at least seven years before the brand was released to the U.S. in 2010. However, the blend created for the States was initially perceived to be heavier than the European one, drawing its power from ligero tobacco. See full tasting note.
Punch Gran Puro Santa Rita (91 points, Honduras) The Punch Gran Puro line came onto the scene 13 years ago as General Cigar's only Honduran puro. The Santa Rita size was recognized among Cigar Aficionado's Top 25 Cigars of 2012. With a suggested retail price of only $5.29, it's one of the best bang-for-your-buck cigars you'll find. See full tasting note.
Room101 Johnny Tobacconaut Chingonova (91 points, Honduras) Room101 brand owner Matt Booth is known for his creative cigar concepts. His Johnny Tobacconaut line is no exception, with a cosmic theme that translates into three imaginatively-named figurados. See full tasting note.
Saint Luis Rey Belicoso (91 points, Honduras) Last year, this heritage-brand belicoso, which costs less than $6, received a score exceeding 88 points, deeming it one of Cigar Aficionado's Best Buys of 2015. The Saint Luis Rey seems to be smoking even better this year, earning a score of 91 points (and the price has remained less than $6). See full tasting note.
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