Cigar Aficionado Top 25 Cigars for 2021

January 12, 2022

Cigar Aficionado Top 25 Cigars for 2021

2021 has finally come to a close. For many, this is a welcome relief as this year proved to be yet another difficult and challenging time for most.  However, here’s hoping that 2022 brings some semblance of normalcy to the world and to the cigar industry.  For the cigar business, we saw a somewhat return to normal but not quite.  The trade shows went on, albeit in a much-reduced capacity.

The art of the virtual event took off with many manufacturers choosing them over in person.  However, with all the changes, there is one point in the year that many look forward to that will always be consistent.  That is the time of the highly popular Cigar Aficionado Top 25 Cigars of the Year list.

Each year, this list provides a guide to cigar smokers on which of the cigars performed best this year.  While it has proven to be controversial, there is no doubt it is the most popular and talked about list in the industry.  So may agree and some may disagree, but the fact of the matter is that if a cigar makes this list, it has solidified itself in the annuls of the cigar industry.

As the ratings come out we will be posting them here, along with a small description of each cigar.  Without further a due, we present you the Cigar Aficionado Top 25 Cigars of 2021.

1.) Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Torpedo (Natural)

Once the #2-#10 came out, I think many of us could have guessed what #1 would be.  Padron has been rated in the Top 5 cigars of the year every year since the list was founded, except in 2015 when it was #7.  So seeing the Top 10 drop without a Padron was odd, until you remember they still have the #1 slot to fill.  Padron is amongst the highest-rated and most beloved brands in the industry.  Their dedication to consistency and perfection has not waned in decades and they remain the bar that everyone in the industry strives to reach.

This is due not only to their amazing tobacco crops but also to their aging process.  Each of their lines has tobaccos aged at different levels, from 6 months to several years.  This creates a smooth and more complex smoke as you move up the ladder from the Padron Series to the Family Reserve.  I was once told that Padrons aging facilities are so vast, they have enough tobacco aging to make full production on all of their lines for the next several years.  That is amazing.

While opinions differ on which Padron is the best, I personally enjoy the 1926, I think it is safe to say that the 1964 is the most popular and well respected.  This Nicaraguan puro first debuted in 1994 and since then, it has been rated in the Top 25 Cigars of the Year 5 times, each time debuting at the #5 spot or above.  It uses aged Nicaraguan tobacco that has been sitting for more than two years.  It is nutty, slightly zesty, and delivers notes of cocoa, leather, and raisins with a dash of spice on the retrohale.  While it might not be a brand new cigar, inf act it’s one of the oldest on this list, I don’t think anyone could argue with the Padron 1964 as the #1 Cigar of the Year.

 

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2.) Montecristo 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua No. 2

You heard it here first folks, the Montecristo 1935 is one of the best Montecristo cigars ever released.  It is so good, we named it as our No. 4 cigar of the year just three weeks ago.  It seems as though the good folks over at Cigar Aficionado share our love of this groundbreaking and complex cigar.  It smokes unlike any Montecristo before it.  That is due, I believe, to the chemistry found between Rafael Nodal and AJ Fernandez.  These two men accomplish greatness when paired together, and 1935 is a great example of that.  While Montecristo has made several cigars I would consider in my Hall of Fame, 1935 is the one that I would claim as a desert island cigar. It has all the makings of a legendary cigar, one that will be smoked and discussed for years to come.

The blend is being kept under wraps, although we know it is a Nicaraguan puro using tobacco from AJs farms in Nicaragua.  There are several aspects of the cigar that make it stand alone from other Montecristos.  First and foremost it is strong.  I would describe the first few puffs as intense.  After it settles in, it becomes the most complex cigar AUSA has ever put out.  Each puff gives you something new and enticing. Whether it be heavy coffee notes, some great sweet spice, or a dark fruit richness, this is a cigar that you just never want to put down.

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3.) San Cristobal Quintessence Churchill

I have always found the San Cristobal to be a very cool project for both Ashton and My Father.  It gives both brand and manufacturer a chance to do bring something unique and different to their portfolios, something you wouldn’t find in a standard Ashtons or My Father release.  That is exactly what you get with the San Cristobal Quintessence.  This is a cigar unlike anything else Pepin has put out in recent years and for that reason alone, I’m happy it is being recognized.  On top of that, it is simply a great, well-balanced smoke that deserves a spot on this list.

The Quintessence uses Nicaraguan tobaccos for the filler and binder, which is then cloaked in an oily Ecuadorian Havana seed wrapper.  While this may seem like a standard blend that countless brands have put out, Don Pepins blending prowess makes this a touch above the rest.  It effortlessly transitions from rich and bold in the beginning to a bit of spice and then a smooth creamy finish.  It is one of the more complex cigars to come from both brands in a few years and this Churchill size, yet again proves to be the best to enjoy it.

4.) Partagas Serie D No.4

Whenever anyone asks me for a Cuban cigar recommendation, this is the one I tell them.  For years, I have been heaping praise upon this exact cigar and I am beyond thrilled to see it reach the #4 spot on this year’s list.  The Partagas Serie D is the Cuban cigar for the true cigar smoker.  It is, in my mind, the cigar that truly represents Cuba at its best.  It doesn’t have the super rare and limited characteristics of Cohiba or the crossover appeal of Montecristo.  It is simply put an amazing cigar that depicts the best of what Cuba has to offer.

The Partagas Serie D No.4 is a Cuban puro, using aged tobaccos from the legendary Pinar del Rio region of Cuba.  It is complex but not overly strong, at least not for me.  This is a cigar you need to pay attention to in order to enjoy the full experience.  Each puff enhances the one before it with tremendous notes of pepper, tobacco sweetness, and a rich nutty center that I only find with high-end Cubans and some Nicaraguans.  It is the true Cuban cigar for the true cigar connoisseur.

5.) Arturo Fuente Casa Cuba Doble Cuatro

While the past few years, a majority of the attention on Fuente has been on its Opus X line or its plentiful amount of regional or special releases, the last national brand they released is a terrific cigar, and one I hope gets more attention after making this list.  The Casa Cuba was the last project of Carlos Fuente before he, unfortunately, passed away in 2016.  This makes it, in my mind, the last true Fuente from that generation.  It was blended and designed as a nod to a time of simplicity and performance.

The Casa Cuba doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a Don Carlos or an Opus X.  There is no crazy story or artwork.  What you have is a simple, flavorful, and complex cigar at a great price.  This was the legacy that Carlos wanted to leave behind, and he did it beautifully.  The Casa Cuba uses aged Dominican tobaccos for the filler and binder along with a stunning Ecuadorian wrapper.  Hints of nuts, leather, and sweet spice are apparent throughout the cigar and work so well with each other with no one flavor overtaking the profile.  It is a great cigar and a great way to carry on the legacy of the legendary Don Carlos Fuente.

6.) Illusione Cruzado Robusto

I have been talking about Illusione almost non-stop for the last two years.  I might have been late to the Dion party, but I’m there now and I’m not leaving.  So I was incredibly happy to see them receive a Top 10 position in this year’s list.  At first, ill admit, I thought there were better Illusiones’ to include this year, including the brand new collaboration with actor Jeremy Piven.  However, I soon realized the significance of the Cruzado and its role in the Illusione lineup.

When the Cruzado was first released over 10 years ago, it was made in Honduras. Now, lime almost all of the Illusione lineup, it is being produced at Aganorsa.  What you get here is a beautiful depiction not just of the amazing Nicaraguan tobaccos from Aganorsa, but at Dion’s blending talents.  This cigar is incredibly flavorful, delivering notes of cocoa, cedar, and coffee.  Its signature Corojo wrapper offers a touch of tobacco sweetness with some spice as well.  It is complex, subtle, and above all consistent, which is the signature of a true Illusione cigar.

7.) Oliva Serie V Melanio Maduro Churchill

It wouldn’t be a Top 25 without an Oliva on it.  What I think may have surprised some people were which Oliva they chose for this year.  While the Oliva Serie V and Melanio are always mainstays, I have always felt the Melanio Maduro was drastically underrated.  Well, not anymore.  This year, this rich, robust and decadent smoke finally gets the recognition it deserves with a solid place in the Top 10.

While the V Melanio Maduro uses a similar binder rand filler as the regular Melanio, it is the addition of a Mexican San Andres Maduro wrapper that makes it stand out.  It has rich notes of Chocolate, cinnamon, and leather with a signature tobacco sweetness that will make your mouth water.  I also loved the size they chose for this list.  I have recently begun to expand my palate and smoke more Churchills and I have found them to be my new favorite vitola.  You truly get a sense of the entire blend with this size and it worked beautifully for the Melanio Maduro.

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8.) Cohiba Siglo IV

When it comes to Cuban cigars, no brand carries more weight than that of Cohiba.  From its humble beginnings as Fidel Castro’s private cigar to its worldwide recognition, I believe Cohiba is the most recognizable and respected Cuban cigar brand in the world.  While the brand has released several hard-to-find and very expensive limited editions of the past few years, the Siglo is a foundational cigar that has been consistent and reliable for over 20 years.  When I think of a Cohiba Cuban, I think of this cigar.

As with any Cuban cigar, the Siglo is a Cuban puro, meaning it only uses Cuban tobaccos for the filler, binder, and wrapper.   The tobacco is hand-selected from special, extra fermented leaves from the famed Pinar del Rio region of Cuba.  The profile is more mellow to medium, not as strong as your typical Cohiba, but it has tons of flavor.  Each puff delivers notes of rich coffee, leather, and dried fruit. I get a distinct raisin taste on the rare times I’ve been able to smoke one.  One of the most reliable Cuban cigars on the market, the Siglo IV is a must-have for a seasoned aficionado.

9.) Rocky Patel Grand Reserve Robusto

With a growing market in Europe and Asia, it is no wonder that large manufacturers are beginning to blend cigars outside of the US.  That is the case with the Rocky Patel Grand Reserve.  It was originally made for European distribution only.  It received such critical acclaim, that Rocky had no choice but to make it available in the US in 2020, and we are all lucky he did.  This is yet another top-tier cigar from Rocky, following up on the massive success of the A.L.R and the No. 6 which was rated in last year’s Top 25.

For this blend, Rocky actually went to the Plascencia factory in Honduras.  The Grand Reserve uses aged Nicaraguan and Honduran tobaccos for the filler and binder, along with a stunning Ecuadorian leaf for the wrapper.  The result is a bold and complex smoke with notes of nuts and leather along with a dash of candy-like sweetness.  Be prepared for a roller-coaster of flavors with each puff.

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10.) Arturo Fuente Rare Pink Vintage 1960’s Séries Happy Ending

It has been a while since Arturo Fuente came out with a new line. So when a new, vintage line was first announced, you couldn’t even imagine the excitement for Fuente fans everywhere.  Once it was released, we soon realized that the Rare Pink Vintage is one of the most unique cigars that Fuente has released in some time.  Its blend of Dominican and Nicaraguan tobaccos along with an Ecuadorian wrapper provides a solid medium-bodied smoking experience with hints of citrus, cedar, and a dash of spice.

 

It is not the typical Dominican heavy blend you expect from Fuente, but I think it is a look into the future of the brand.  It also carries a heart-felt message, as it takes its name from the pink ribbons used to symbolize the fight against breast cancer, a cause that the Fuente Family is actively involved in.  Proceeds of box sales are donated to breast cancer awareness.  It is a beautiful cigar with a beautiful story.

11.) Cloud Hopper

Another riveting blend from Kyle Gellis and the Warped team, the Cloud Hoper is a complex all Nicaraguan blend.  Coming out of the Aganorsa factory, the cigar is brimming with rich notes of chocolate, Ginger, and that signature tobacco sweetness you’ve come to expect from a Warped cigar.

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12.) Luciano the Dreamer

Tabacalera Pichardo has really made a name for themselves in the last few years.  While a majority of their notoriety has come from their work with Crowned Heads, two entries on our Top 25 I might add, Luciano has made some amazing cigars under his own brand as well.  The Dreamer had a lot of press this year, becoming a fan favorite overnight.  Its blend of Ecuadorian wrapper and Nicaraguan and Peruvian filler gives a complex yet subtle profile with notes of almonds, coffee, and spice.

13.) Tatuaje Reserva K222

Taking inspiration from Pete Johnson’s dog, Kona, the K222 was first released back in 2016.  It is a bold and complex Tatuaje, showcasing Pete’s signature blending talents.  Its Nicaraguan filler and binder offer up touches of pepper spice, while the Ecuadorian wrapper gives off hints of cream, chocolate, and leather.

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14.) Aging Room Quattro Nicaragua Concerto

Two years after earning the #1 spot, the Aging Room Quattro Nicaragua is still going strong.  This is the second Rafael Nodal/AJ Fernandez cigar to make this list and rightfully so.  Its all Nicaraguan blend creates a rich complex profile with a ton of flavor. Nutty chocolate notes combined with hints of coffee and a slight tint of spice make this a flavor bomb and one of our favorite cigars of the last few years.

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15.) Herrera Esteli Habano Robusto Grande

What started out as Willy Herrera’s first project with Drew Estate has turned into a top-notch brand all its own.  While today many flocks to the Norteno or the Miami, my first love was that original Herrera Esteli, now called the Habano.  It takes its name from its signature Ecuadorian Habano wrapper which cloaks a Honduran binder and zesty Nicaraguan filler.  The result is a zesty smoke with notes of earth, nuts, and caramel.

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16.) Joya Silver Robusto

Joya de Nicaragua has been making cigars for over half a century.  They were the first ones in Nicaragua and they will still be there when so many other brands have come and gone.  What makes Joya so special is they never sit on their laurels, they are constantly innovating and creating new and unique blends to bring to the market.

The Joya Silver is unlike any of their previous releases. While it still uses Nicaraguan filler, the addition of a rich Mexican binder and an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper gives this cigar an entirely new profile.  Hints of cocoa and dark fruit combine with touches of candy sweetness and a dash of spice.

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17.) My Father The Judge Grand Robusto

Here we have Pepin Garcia’s strongest cigar yet.  While I would be hard-pressed to call any of the My Father cigars mellow, the Judge is the strongest, most full-flavored cigar the company has put out under the My Father brand.  The Judge is rolled with aged Nicaraguan filler and binder tobaccos for a bold and zesty center.

The Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper is rich and dark offering up heavy notes of coffee, leather, and earth.

18.) Ramon Allones Gigantes

This might be one of two Ramon Allones on this list, but this is the only Cuban version to appear.  The original Cuban Ramon Allones is not as popular as Cohiba or even Partagas but is well-liked and respected among true Cuban Connoisseurs.

While in the U.S. the Gigante size is known for its thick ring gauge, in Cuba it’s known for its length, coming in at over 7 inches.  This is a medium-boded cigar for the sophisticated cigar smoker.  It offers notes of nuts, caramel, leather, and some spices on the back end.  It is truly an underrated Cuban

19.) Saint Luis Rey Carenas Toro

AUSA has done an amazing job at taking their lesser-known brands and breathing new life into this.  Some great examples would be the new versions of the Trinidad and the Henry Clay, both of which have scored in the 90s.  This year, they brought a new version of their Saint Luis Rey brand to market, this time being made in Honduras at their Flor de Copan facility.

This nutty and flavorful smoke uses Honduran filler and binder tobaccos along with a complex Nicaraguan wrapper, creating an all-around solid cigar.

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20.) La Flor Dominicana Air Bender Chisel

It is a well-known fact that Litto Gomez creates some of the most full-bodied and full-flavored cigars on the market.  Oddly enough, the Air Bender isn’t even close to being his strongest blend but is still considerably stronger than most other cigars it competes with.  Rolled into his signature Chisel shape, a personal favorite, The Air Bender uses aged Dominican tobaccos for its filler and binder and then an oily Ecuadorian wrapper on the outside.  The cigar offers strong notes of leather, spice, raisins, and a nutty core.

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21.) Padilla 88 Aniversario Robusto

This cigar has an interesting story along with a terrific blend.  It was made to honor the famous Herberto Padilla, father of brand founder Ernesto.  A legendary poet who was punished by the Cuban government, Herberto is well-known for his role in what is known as the Padilla affair… feel free to google.  This honorary cigar was blended at AJ Fernandez factory using Nicaraguan filler and binder tobacco along with a beautiful Ecuadorian wrapper leaf.  It is a solid medium-bodied complex smoke with some definite Cubanesq qualities to it.

22.) Ramon Allones by AJ Fernandez

Here we have the second Ramon Allones to make the list, although it is quite different from the other.  This is the Nicaraguan version blended by AJ Fernandez.  I have long said I think this is among the five best cigars AJ has ever made and when you look at his vast portfolio, that’s saying something.  This bold Nicaraguan puro uses the rare Medio Tiempo leaf as a wrapper giving it an intense rich flavor.  It was also ranked at #20 on our Top 25 list.

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23.) Ashton Heritage Puro Sol Churchill

Ashton always finds its way to the Top 25 and rightfully so.  With such influential brands as the VSG and Symmetry, Ashton is still at the top of the premium cigar industry.  The Puro Sol may not be their most popular line, but it is an outstanding and flavorful cigar nonetheless.

Handrolled at the famed Fuente Facility, it uses Dominican filler and binder tobaccos along with an oily and flawless Ecuadorian Habano seed wrapper.  It has spice, it has sweetness, it has just about everything you want in a top-shelf, the well-rounded cigar.

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24.) E.P. Carrillo La Historia E-III

It seems after so many years that Ernesto Perez Carrillo is finely getting his due.  His cigars have been named as the #1 cigar of the year two out of the last three years.  Even with such an influx of business and new fans, he has not let his quality drop even the tiniest amount.  The La Historia is as solid today as when it was first released.  Its Mexican San Andres wrapper is what gives it its signature flavors of rich leather, heavy coffee, and the slightest hint of sweet spice.

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25.) Alec & Bradley Kintsugi Corona Gorda

I am not going to say much here… as I feel this cigar placed far too low.  I am happy it was recognized in the first place but if you want the full details and the respect this cigar deserves, id recommend checking out our Top 25 blog.  This cigar is simply too brilliant for a few sentences here.

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