With summer unofficially underway after Memorial Day weekend, it’s time to start restocking your humidors full of tasty cigars to hand out to family and friends. Being a generous host, while an admirable role, can be taxing on one’s finances, but you don’t need to spend big to get a great smoke. Here is a selection of ten cigars that have scored 91 points or higher in recent editions of Cigar Aficionado and Cigar Insider, all with suggested retail prices of less than $10.
Herrera Esteli Habano Lonsdale Deluxe (Nicaragua, 93 points, $9.28)
Rolled at the La Gran Fabrica factory in Estelí, Nicaragua, the Herrera Esteli line was blended by and named after master blender Willy Herrera. Measuring 6 inches by 44 ring gauge, this slender corona is made with an Ecuador Habano wrapper, Honduran binder and Nicaragua fillers which come together to create a medium-to full-bodied smoke full of leather, walnut, molasses cookie and cocoa. See full tasting note.
Arturo Fuente Hemingway Short Story (Dominican Republic, 92 points, $7.35)
There's a good reason this tiny perfecto has been popular for decades--it's consistently superb. This Cameroon-wrapped figuardo delivers impressions of toasted almond, wood and spices, while remaining medium in body and never overwhelming the palate. It's perfect for a quick smoke before bed or for an evening walk after dinner.
Charter Oak Habano Lonsdale (Nicaragua, 92 points, $6.00)
An offshoot of Foundation Cigar Co.’s original Charter Oak brand, the Habano line has the distinction of being the only Charter Oak sub-brand to not feature any tobaccos from brand owner Nick Melillo’s home state of Connecticut. Made by A.J. Fernandez with a round head and uncut foot, this slender toro has a full draw and even burn. See full tasting note.
Cloud Hopper No. 53 (Nicaragua, 92 points, $6.95)
At 5 1/4 inches by 42 ring gauge, this reddish-brown corona from Warped Cigars brand owner Kyle Gellis shows excellent construction with a lush draw and even burn. A Nicaraguan puro, this smoke is chock-full of sweet and nutty notes of gingerbread, fudge and baking spices that would make this a perfect substitute for a dessert course. See full tasting note.
Nat Cicco Casino Real Double Toro (Nicaragua, 92 points, $5.79)
Made with a wrapper the color of milk chocolate, this grande has the distinction of not only the biggest cigar on this list (it’s a hefty 6 inches by 60 ring gauge), but also the most affordable, with a price of less than $6. The Nat Cicco brand has had a long history dating back to the 1960s of making wallet-friendly cigars and the Casino Real line continues their time-honored tradition of giving great smokes for less. See full tasting note.
Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real Porto Real (Dominican Republic, 92 points, $8.81)
Made by Altadis U.S.A., this is both the longest and thinnest smoke on this list. Cloaked in a light Ecuador Connecticut wrapper, this elegant 7 inch by 36 ring gauge panetela delivers a medium-bodied smoke bursting with notes of honey, assorted nuts and red pepper spice. See full tasting note.
VegaFina 1998 VF 52 (Dominican Republic, 92 points, $9.30)
The milder VegaFina brand has been popular in the European markets for many years due to its competitive price point. Originally a European-exclusive, the stronger VegaFina 1998 line was made available to the U.S. market last fall. The cigars are made with an Ecuador Havana wrapper, Indonesian binder and fillers from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Colombia, which Tabacalera USA states have been aged for at least four years. See full tasting note.
Alec & Bradley Kintsugi Corona Gorda (Honduras, 91 points, $7.25)
Inspired by an ancient Japanese art form where broken pottery is repaired with gold or silver to enhance its beauty, this slender toro is a creation of Alec and Bradley Rubin, the sons of Alan Rubin, owner of Alec Bradley Cigars. The line is made with a Honduran wrapper, two binders (Honduras and Nicaragua) and fillers from Honduras and Nicaragua. See full tasting note.
Macanudo Inspirado Green Toro (Dominican Republic, 91 points, $7.49)
The Macanudo Inspirado brand has expanded into different lines and blends over the years, and in 2020 Inspirado Green marked the first time General Cigar used a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper for the brand. Full in body, this dark toro is the most powerful smoke on this list and successfully melds strength, complexity and affordability. See full tasting note.
Oliva Serie V Double Robusto (Nicaragua, 91 points, $9.10)
The original blockbuster smoke from Nicaragua’s Oliva Cigar Co. is the Serie V, a line of spicy, bold smokes that have endeared themselves to those who love a cigar with kick. The Double Robusto is Nicaraguan through and through, medium to full in body, with notes of coffee and hazelnut around a strong core of wood and minerals. See full tasting note.