Spring is officially here, bringing better weather, more hours of sunlight and brilliant rows of blooming tulips. It also brings us to our must-smoke list for the season. These 10 cigars rose above the rest in our November/December 2020 issue of Cigar Aficionado (and issues of Cigar Insider). From a handful of Cubans and familiar names that have made our Top 25 to milder cigars you can smoke all day long, here are 10 selections that are perfect to enjoy during the spring season as the trees go green again.
Juan Lopez Punto 55 Exclusivo Francia (94 Points, Cuba): It may only be sold in France, but this rich Cuban smoke is worth seeking out. The plump robusto is a great representation of this lesser-known Cuban, with a medium- to -full-bodied smoke that’s chocolatey, floral and spicy. Its cousin, the Juan Lopez Selección No. 2, was the No. 14 cigar of 2019 as well.
Cohiba Medio Siglo (Tubo) (93 Points, Cuba): Coffee and chocolate lead the way with nuts and spices complementing the bold flavors of this small smoke. Introduced in late 2016, the petit robusto measures only 4 inches by 52 ring gauge, making it the shortest smoke in the handmade Cuban Cohiba portfolio along with the Siglo I.
E.P. Carrillo La Historia E-III (93 Points, Dominican Republic): The multi-country blend of this Churchill is a tour of the cigar world. The wrapper is from Mexico, the binder from Ecuador and the filler from Nicaragua—and it’s made in the Dominican Republic. Created by Ernesto Perez-Carrillo who made 2020’s Cigar of the Year, the La Historia is no stranger to high scores as the E-III also landed No. 2 in 2014.
H. Upmann Magnum 50 (93 Points, Cuba): The chocolate-hued wrapper of this toro speaks to its medium body, which is typical of this storied Cuban brand. At 6 3/8 inches by 50 ring gauge, the Magnum 50 imparts flavor in rich, luxurious layers of honey and gingersnap cookie—a true delight.
Matilde Quadrata Torpedo (93 Points, Dominican Republic): Beneath the Ecuadoran wrapper of this softly pressed pirámide, is an interesting blend of Dominican and Nicaraguan tobacco. At medium- to full-strength, the malty qualities call to mind a freshly poured stout beer. An exceptional cigar from a smaller brand.
Pichardo Clasico Toro (93 Points, Nicaragua): ACE Prime’s Luciano Meirelles has been producing some excellent smokes recently. The Nicaraguan factory’s namesake brand, Pichardo, has several lines including the Clasico, which is wrapped in Ecuadoran Sumatra over Nicaraguan binder and filler from four different regions of the country—including the volcanic island of Ometepe. This delicious toro is medium-bodied.
Highclere Castle Victorian (92 Points, Nicaragua): The No. 21 cigar of 2020 might seem straight out of a British period drama, but every puff awakens the palate with a bracing burst of espresso balanced by its floral undertones and more discrete hints of caramel, black pepper and graham cracker. Made by A.J. Fernandez in Nicaragua, the medium-bodied Highclere Castle Victorian is a cigar fit for kings of spring.
Bolivar Royal Corona (92 Points, Cuba): In 2006, it was the Cigar of the Year. Years later, the widely loved Cuban robusto still delivers with its toasty, nutty smoke, floral intonation and woody, earthy finish. It may be only medium-bodied in strength, but it is certainly full of flavor.
La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor Robusto (92 Points, Nicaragua): The Mi Amor is filled with Nicaraguan tobacco like the original La Aroma de Cuba line, but it makes its own statement with a dark, Mexican wrapper. Made at the My Father Cigars factory in Estelí, the medium- to full-bodied, box-pressed robusto imparts bold, straightforward notes of black coffee and earth that intensify as it burns. Plus, it’s another budget-friendly smoke that will only cost you around $7.50.
Rocky Patel A.L.R. Second Edition Sixty (91 Points, Nicaragua): The only grande on this list is a chunky, box-pressed cigar with a dark cover leaf. Wrapped in Mexican leaf and filled with Nicaraguan tobacco, the medium-bodied smoke measures a hefty 6 inches by 60 ring gauge. If you’re a fan of these girthy gordos, the A.L.R. Second Edition Sixty delivers notes of wood, cocoa and coffee bean before a long, toasty finish.