In the winter of 1992, Cigar Aficionado ran profiles of five Cuban cigars hailed as the benchmarks of the cigar world. The cigars set the standard for quality craftsmanship, flavorful tobacco and overall performance. They were the cigars that smokers yearned to get their hands on, cigars to be savored until the smoker's fingers were near the burning point. A lot has changed in the cigar industry since then. Non-Cuban cigars have evolved into market competitors, rivaling Cuban smokes with their own style and quality. But that doesn't mean Cuban cigars have lost their identity, or that such brands as Cohiba, Montecristo and Hoyo de Monterrey are no longer held in the same regard as they once were. In 2002, these five cigars remain paradigms for aficionados, and are some of the most sought-after cigars in the world. Following are the descriptions and scores for these wonderful cigars, as they appeared in our Winter 1992/93 issue.
99 -- Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona
What more can be said about the Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona? This is one of the biggest smokes with the greatest amount of flavor and style. Measuring 7 5/8 inches long by 49 ring gauge thick, the Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona incorporates some of Cuba's finest tobacco and greatest workmanship.
98 -- Cohiba Esplendido
The Cohiba Esplendido is perfectly named. This is truly a splendid cigar to smoke. It has great richness and full tobacco flavors, yet it retains a great class and finesse on the palate. A Churchill-sized cigar, measuring 7 inches long by 47 ring gauge thick, it is called a "Julieta" in factories by the workers, and remains one of the favorite smokes of the rollers.
96 -- Cohiba Robusto
The Cohiba Robusto is one of the hottest selling Cuban cigars. No other offers such a burst of flavor in such a relatively small size. The Robusto measures 5 inches long by 50 ring gauge thick.
94 -- Punch Punch
Punch Punch is Cuba's cigar for the connoisseur. It offers plenty of captivating, creamy, coffee character yet maintains a harmony in aroma and flavor that leaves you spellbound. The Punch Punch is basically a shortened Churchill cigar measuring 5 5/8 inches long by 46 ring gauge thick. The thicker format gives the cigar richness, but the length makes it easy to enjoy in less time than a full-fledged Churchill. Called the "Corona Gorda" in Cuban cigar factories, the Punch Punch is rolled in the La Corona factory.
94 -- Montecristo No. 2
There's nothing quite like it. The Montecristo No. 2, sometimes called a torpedo or a piramide, represents the best in Cuban craftsmanship. It takes years to master producing this tapered cigar, called a piramide by the rollers themselves. Whatever you call it, it is a bombshell of a smoke, packed with spicy, rich flavors that go on and on with each puff. The Montecristo No. 2 measures 6 inches long and averages about 52 ring gauge thick.
TOP CUBAN CIGARS, 1992-2002
Of all the Cuban cigars that Cigar Aficionado has tasted blind since 1992, several have reinforced their legendary reputations with phenomenal performances. These are the top-scoring Cuban cigars in the history of the magazine. From quality construction to delicious, complex flavors, these are truly the best of the best.
99 -- Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona, Winter 1992/93
Rated 94 or higher four times, it's easy to understand why the Hoyo Double Corona is the quintessential Cuban cigar -- and why it's listed as one of the Star Cigars of Cuba. And the Hoyo de Monterrey brand is no one-hit wonder. Eight Hoyos have rated 90 points or higher over the years, including the Churchill, Epicure No. 1 and No. 2, and Le Hoyo Du Roi.
96 -- Cohiba Robusto, Autumn 1992
Another Star Cigar of Cuba, this is arguably the most recognized Cuban cigar brand worldwide. The Cohiba Robusto has been rated 90 points or higher seven times, and is joined by the Esplendido, rated 90 or higher four times, and the Siglo IV, which earned 90 points in the Autumn 1996 issue.
96 -- Flor de Cano Short Churchill, Autumn 1992
Created in Havana in 1932, La Flor de Cano is a lesser known Cuban brand, but one that holds its own in terms of flavor. In the first issue of Cigar Aficionado, the Short Churchill scored 96, and followed with a 93 in the Winter 1994/95 issue.
96 -- Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona, Spring 1995
96 -- Punch Double Corona, Spring 1995
Punch has consistently scored in the 90s during the last 10 years. Both the Double Corona and the Churchill scored in the 90s three times each, while the Punch Corona, Diademas Extra, Royal Selection No. 11 and the Punch Punch -- a Cigar Star of Cuba -- also scored 90 points or higher.
96 -- Romeo y Julieta Fabuloso, Summer 1993
Cuban Romeo y Julietas have scored 90 points or higher 22 times since 1992 -- the most of any cigar brand, Cuban or non-Cuban. Both the "A" sized Fabuloso and the Churchill scored in the Top 10 for Cubans, while the Exhibición No. 3 and No. 4 each scored 90 or higher on three occasions.
95 -- Bolivar Royal Corona, Winter 1994
After scoring a 93 in the magazine's premiere issue, the Bolivar Royal Corona followed with a stellar 95 score in Winter 1994/95 and then a 90 in December 1998. Besides the Royal Corona, Bolivar has scored in the 90s 15 other times.
95 -- Montecristo No. 2, June 2000
Second only to Hoyo de Monterrey, four Montecristo cigars rated in our Top 10. The Montecristo No. 2, perhaps Cuba's best-known cigar, scored in the 90s a remarkable seven times, most recently in June 2002 when it received a rating of 92.
95 -- Montecristo "A", Summer 1993
94 -- Cohiba Robusto, April 2001
94 -- Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona, October 1998
94 -- Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona, December 1999
94 -- Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2, Winter 1994
94 -- Montecristo Millennium Reserve Robusto, October 2001
94 -- Montecristo No. 2, Winter 1995/96
94 -- Partagas Serie D No. 4, June 2002
The highest cigar rated in the June 2002 issue, and the highest-rated Cuban since October 2001. A dark and oily robusto, it has scored in the 90s consistently -- six times overall -- including 92 points in the August 1997 issue.
94 -- Ramon Allones Gigantes, Spring 1995
A full-bodied double corona. Although inconsistency has sometimes plagued this rare cigar, it rated 92 in the Winter 1992/93 issue and 94 in the Spring 1995 issue, propelling it into the Top 10 for Cuban cigars.
94 -- Romeo y Julieta Churchill, Autumn 1993
TOP NON-CUBAN CIGARS, 1992-2002
The surge in quality of non-Cuban cigars over the last 10 years can't go unrecognized. The increase has been astounding, and many brands rolled in the Domincan Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua are now seen as worthy competitors to Cuban cigars. Here are the Top 10 non-Cubans rated by Cigar Aficionado since 1992.
94 -- Onyx Reserve Mini Belicoso, Dominican Republic, August 2001
Rolled in the Dominican Republic by Altadis U.S.A., this cigar made a memorable debut when it scored 94 points. Featuring a maduro wrapper and a bargain price tag, Onyx Reserve has scored in the 90s on two occasions since.
94 -- Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Corona Maduro, Nicaragua,
Simply one of the best and most consistent cigar brands around -- Cuban or non-Cuban. The Anniversary Series was released in 1994 and since then has scored 90 points or higher 20 times.
94 -- Padrón Magnum Maduro, Nicaragua, August 2001
The biggest of the regular line of Padrón cigars rolled in Nicaragua, this "A" size cigar scored well the last two times it was rated. Along with this 94 rating it also notched a score of 93 points in October 2002.
93 -- Fuente Fuente OpusX PerfecXion No. 2, Dominican Republic,
One of the most sought-after -- and difficult to find -- non-Cuban cigars on the market. Recognized as the first cigar to be sold with a Cuban-seed Dominican wrapper, it is full-bodied with an abundance of flavor. The Fuente Fuente OpusX has consistently scored in the 90s.
93 -- Fuente Fuente OpusX Double Corona, Dominican Republic,
93 -- Fuente Fuente OpusX Robusto, Dominican Republic,
93 -- Licenciados Toro, Dominican Republic, Summer 1994
The only time Licenciados has scored in the 90s. Rolled by Manuel (Manolo) Quesada in the Dominican Republic, the Licenciados is a medium-bodied smoke with a Connecticut-shade wrapper and a blend of Honduran and Dominican filler and binder.
93 -- Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Diplomatico Maduro,
Nicaragua, October 2000
93 -- Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Exclusivo Maduro, Nicaragua,
93 -- Padrón 1964 Millennium Series Maduro, Nicaragua,
A limited-edition cigar released to mark the millennium, this Nicaraguan puro is the third brand from the Padróns to earn a spot in the Top 10. It is beautifully constructed with a deep, spicy core of coffee and cocoa flavors.
93 -- Padrón Magnum Maduro, Nicaragua, October 2002
93 -- Sosa Piramide No. 2, Dominican Republic, April 1998
The Sosa brand was created in the 1970s by Juan Sosa and is now rolled in the Arturo Fuente factories. The Piramide No. 2 is one of Sosa's benchmark cigars. Featuring an Ecuadoran wrapper, it's a strong cigar with balanced flavors.
TOP-RATED CIGARS, 1992-2002
Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona Cuba WINTER 1992/93
Cohiba Robusto Cuba AUTUMN 1992
Flor de Cano Short Churchill Cuba AUTUMN 1992
Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona Cuba SPRING 1995
Punch Double Corona Cuba NOV/DEC 1999
Romeo y Julieta Fabuloso Cuba SUMMER 1993
Bolivar Royal Corona Cuba WINTER 1994
Montecristo "A" Cuba SUMMER 1993
Montecristo No. 2 Cuba MAY/JUN 2000
Cohiba Robusto Cuba MAR/APR 2001
Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona Cuba SEP/OCT 1998
Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona Cuba NOV/DEC 1999
Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2 Cuba WINTER 1994
Montecristo Millennium Reserve Robusto Cuba SEP/OCT 2001
Montecristo No. 2 Cuba WINTER 1995/96
Onyx Reserve Mini Belicoso Dom Rep JUL/AUG 2001
Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Corona Maduro Nicaragua MAY/JUN 2001
Padrón Magnum Maduro Nicaragua JUL/AUG 2001
Partagas Serie D No. 4 Cuba MAY/JUN 2002
Ramon Allones Gigantes Cuba SPRING 1995
Romeo y Julieta Churchill Cuba AUTUMN 1993
Bolivar Royal Coronas Cuba AUTUMN 1992
Flor de Cano Short Churchill Cuba WINTER 1994
Fuente Fuente OpusX PerfecXion No. 2 Dom Rep MAY/JUN 2000
Fuente Fuente OpusX Double Corona Dom Rep SPRING 1995
Fuente Fuente OpusX Robusto Dom Rep JAN/FEB 2000
Hoyo de Monterrey Churchill Cuba AUTUMN 1993
Hoyo de Monterrey Particulares Cuba MAR/APR 1997
Licenciados Toro Dom Rep SUMMER 1994