In what was truly a banner issue, the December edition of Cigar Aficionado turned up some tremendous smokes, some of which scored 95 points, giving them the lofty status of instant “Classic” on our 100-point scale. More than half the cigars in the issue scored 90 points or higher, and these 10 examples impressed our panel with profound richness and astounding complexity. Some are harder to find than others (and more expensive too), but all are more than worthy of occupying valuable real estate in your humidor.
Buenaventura Cremas C 100 (Nicaragua, 93 Points): How often does a 93-point cigar retail for only $6? Not often enough, but that’s all this creamy, nutty smoke from Curivari will set you back. This is a lighter version of the core Buenaventura line, different due to its Connecticut-seed wrapper from Ecuador. The cigar could easily cost twice as much. See full tasting note.
Cohiba Pirámides Extra (Cuba, 93 Points): It’s the first torpedo to be part of Cohiba’s permanent range and despite its size, it’s an elegant composition that’s very flavorful while maintaining beautiful balance the entire time. The “extra” in its name is due to its length, as this smoke is a little longer and a bit thicker than standard Cuban pirámides. Read more about this cigar.
Días de Gloria Short Churchill (Nicaragua, 93 Points): Cigarmaker A.J. Fernandez culled tobacco from his four oldest farms in Estelí, Nicaragua, to compose a blend that he calls an homage to the glory days of Cuba’s cigar industry before Castro. There’s no Cuban tobacco here, but the cigar is a wonderful expression of specific Nicaraguan terroir. Click for the full review.
Diplomaticos Reserva Exclusiva Exclusivo Caribe (Cuba, 93 Points): Next time you find yourself in St. Barths, Curaçao or anywhere in the Caribbean, be sure to ask about this Diplomaticos. It’s part of Cuba’s Regional Edition program and made just for Caribbean markets. While there’s only one size left in the core Diplomaticos line, the brand lives on in regional releases like this one. See full tasting note.
Espinosa Habano Lancero (Nicaragua, 92 Points): Named for its Cuban-seed, Ecuador Habano wrapper, this long, thin cigar is all about concentration, as it puts a very condensed smoke squarely onto the palate. This is due to the thin ring gauge and excellent draw. There’s an interesting tension that exists here between intensity and balance. Read more about this cigar.
Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 Gran Consul (Nicaragua, 92 Points): At 60 ring gauge, this fat belicoso looks more like a round of anti-aircraft ammunition than a cigar. Nevertheless, it’s a big, bold smoke from Nicaragua’s oldest producer of premium cigars and offers what just might be the quintessential Nicaraguan smoking experience. For the full review, click here.
Montecristo Petit No. 2 (Cuba, 92 Points): A shortened version of its taller, iconic older brother, this belicoso is a quicker alternative when you’re craving a traditional Monty 2, but simply don’t have the time. It came to market in 2013 and is a medium-bodied cigar that delivers flavor in tasty layers. See full tasting note.
Padrón Family Reserve No. 50 (Nicaragua, 95 Points): According to Padrón, the tobacco in this cigar was aged for 10 years before it was rolled. The cigar came out in 2014 to commemorate the company’s 50 years in business, and now, eight years later, it’s still an absolute blockbuster of a smoke. Read more about this cigar.
Pichardo Clasico Natural Toro (Nicaragua, 93 Points): Tabacalera Pichardo is turning out some impressive cigars, especially the Clasico Natural, a variation on the core Clasico line that switches out a Sumatra-seed wrapper for a leaf of Ecuador Habano. The result is a lovely smoke that’s nutty and precise. See the full review.
Ramon Allones Specially Selected (Cuba, 92 Points): While other higher-profile Cuban robustos take the spotlight, fans of this smaller brand are happy to reach for the Ramon Allones instead. The blend tends to skew on the fuller side and these attractive, softly-pressed samples lived up to the brand’s expectation. Read more.
As with all the cigars reviewed and rated by Cigar Aficionado, these tastings were conducted blind, with the tasters not knowing the cigar’s price, country or origin, maker or blend.