Top Cigars of 2021

Myriad aspects define a cigar, but the quality of their combination comprises a great cigar. A certain cigar's flavor profile may transport us to an elevated state of consciousness, but if its wrapper consistently unravels and musses your suit pants with ash, then that distinguished flavor profile comes at the cost of smoking it only while wearing an apron. Another cigar's flavor and construction might be superlative, but if its box and band don't inspire selection, then such qualities may never be experienced. After all, a cigar shop's humidor is essentially the grown-up version of a toy store: If a cigar doesn't catch our eye or look enjoyable, there's little chance of selecting it for smoking. Still other cigars offer that perfect mélange of flavor, construction, and presentation, and yet the price leaves us forlorn and dejected, unable to enjoy it after the sacrifice of procurement.

And yet, among these aspects of flavor, construction, presentation, and value, there's one that remains supreme: preference. Criollo Chris might enjoy the spice and tang of Nicaraguan tobaccos, while Connecticut Shade Connie wouldn't dare be caught smoking anything that isn't smooth and creamy. Harry Habano might prefer Cuban-seed leaf and its characteristic chocolatey spice, but Maddie Maduro might not care about the wrapper's origins — Nicaragua, Mexico, Connecticut, Indonesia, it doesn't matter — so long as it's dark, rich, and complex.

Depending on how captivating the flavor profile is, we might be willing to spend a little extra or forgive less-than-perfect construction, or so long as it fits the budget, a cigar may be perfect, even if it's not our preferred flavor profile. There's no single, clear formula for a great cigar, and that's why there are so many. They're great for a combination of different reasons, especially our personal preferences.

For those of us here at Smokingpipes, those preferences span a vast range, and as we've done for the past two years, this end-of-the-year compilation overviews our personal favorite cigars throughout 2021 as aggregated by our ratings on flavor, construction, presentation, and value. Last year saw the Dapper La Madrina Corona Gorda take the number one spot, while 2019's winner was the Black Label Trading Company Deliverance Porcelain Corona Gorda.

Participants submitted their favorite cigars of the year — not necessarily those that debuted in 2021, but the cigars that we enjoyed the most throughout the year. We, then, smoked the total selection and rated each cigar based on the following qualities:

  • Construction: quality of the roll, draw, and burn consistency
  • Flavor: our personal opinion on how enjoyable the flavor profile was overall
  • Presentation: packaging, band, and overall aesthetic appeal
  • Value: the ratio of overall quality to price

In the case of ties, a cigar's flavor ranking was prioritized, and if needed, value was the tie-breaking category.

The participants included: Dana Mahaney, Customer Service Representative; Jeremy Reeves, Head Blender of Cornell & Diehl; Shane Ireland, Director of Smokingpipes; Steve Mawby, Customer Service Manager; Tim Vanderpool, at-the-time Manager of our brick-and-mortar store Low Country Pipe and Cigar (Tim has since moved on to managing his family's cigar shop in Nebraska, so if you're ever in Omaha, give Nickleby's a visit); Tyler Caldwell, Retail Sales Associate at Low Country Pipe and Cigar; and yours truly, Truett Smith. We graded each cigar out of 10 in each category, and our scores were consolidated and converted to a ten-point scale to determine the final rankings. Listed below are our Top Cigars of 2021 based on our personal preferences, tastes, and experiences with each cigar. Let us know in the comments if any of your favorites made the list and what other cigars we need to sample and consider for next year!

20. HVC: Hot Cake Corona Gorda

HVC: Hot Cake Corona Gorda

HVC's Hot Cake Corona Gorda was first released in 2020 and is named for the English translation of one of the brand's other lines, the Pan Caliente, inspired by the Spanish version of the idiom, "selling like hot cakes." The Hot Cake features a Mexican San Andrés Maduro wrapper, as well as Jalapa-grown Corojo '99 and Estelí-grown Corojo '98, with viso leaves of Corojo 2006 Maduro, in the filler blend — all from Aganorsa. It's rolled at Aganorsa's Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. factory, offering a rich flavor profile of cocoa, chocolate, earth, and spice, and at under $8.00, it's an easy go-to.

  • Score: 8.14
  • Price: $7.70
  • Length: 5.63 in./143.00 mm.
  • Ring Gauge: 46
  • Country: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper Type: Maduro
  • Wrapper Country: Mexico
  • Filler Country: Nicaragua
  • Binder Country: Nicaragua

19. Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust: StillWell Star Bayou No. 32

Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust: StillWell Star Bayou No. 32

Having debuted earlier this year, StillWell Star cigars from Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust are the first luxury cigars to feature premium pipe tobacco, pairing the cigar-blending prowess of founder Steve Saka with the pipe-tobacco prowess of Cornell & Diehl. Though he's most prominently known throughout the cigar industry, Steve has smoked a pipe for years, and C&D blends comprise much of his cellar. StillWell Star combines this love for both cigars and pipe tobaccos, represented by four distinctive blends: Aromatic No. 1, English No. 27, Bayou No. 32, and Navy No. 1056. They're all regular-production, 6" x 52 Toros with Ecuadorian Habano wrappers, Mexican San Andrés binders, and fillers that include various pipe tobaccos — each hand-blended by Cornell & Diehl from recipes created by head blender Jeremy Reeves. While offering flavors and aromas that both cigar and pipe smokers will find familiar and appealing, StillWell Star cigars remain singular, something greater than the sum of their components. The Bayou No. 32 combines Bright and Red Virginia leaf with the most select St. James Parish Perique pipe tobacco added to medium-bodied Nicaraguan cigar leaf. It rewards the smoker with a classic, entrancing, and relaxing experience — the ideal everyday smoke. Though its overall score equaled that of HVC's Hot Cake Corona Gorda, the Bayou No. 32 nudged past based on flavor to fill the 19th spot on our list.

  • Score: 8.14
  • Price: $15.30
  • Length: 6.00 in./152.40 mm.
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Country: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper Type: Habano
  • Wrapper Country: Ecuador
  • Filler Country: Nicaragua, Other
  • Binder Country: Mexico

18. Dapper: La Madrina Shade Belicoso

Dapper: La Madrina Shade Belicoso

Dapper's original La Madrina Corona Gorda ranked first on our Top 20 Cigars of 2020 list, and this year the brand released an extension of the La Madrina line: the La Madrina Shade. This version features the same binder and filler blend as the original, combining leaf from Oliva's farms in Nicaragua with Habano '92 tobacco from the Dominican Republic and Pennsylvania Broadleaf from the USA — all encased in a Mexican San Andrés binder and hand-rolled at Raul Disla's NACSA factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. The La Madrina Shade, however, trades the original La Madrina's Ecuadorian Habano wrapper for one of Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade leaf, offering the same bold intensity as the original but with the addition of smooth, creamy notes.

  • Score: 8.25
  • Price: $12.39
  • Length: 6.25 in./158.75 mm.
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Country: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper Type: Connecticut Shade
  • Wrapper Country: Ecuador
  • Filler Country: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, United States
  • Binder Country: Mexico

17. Blackbird: Finch Corona

Blackbird: Finch Corona

Founded by Jonás Santana under the mantra, "Can't Clip My Wings," Blackbird focuses on the finest possible version of a cigar without distractions, offering a straightforward and streamlined portfolio of cigars all named after a type of bird and embellished with bold artwork and memorable color palettes. Blackbird limits the number of vitolas available for each blend, utilizing vitolas that best showcase the tobaccos incorporated, and the brand uses only a few specially selected varietals all sourced from Jochy Blanco, a fourth-generation tobacco grower and CEO of Tabacalera Palma. Like all of Blackbird's cigars, the Finch is hand-rolled at Santana's factory in the Dominican Republic, and it features the same Sumatran wrapper as Blackbird's Rook cigars but with a binder from Indonesia and fillers from the United States and the Dominican Republic. Blended by Santana to be the ideal first smoke of the day, the Finch is is among his personal favorites, offering an exceptionally smooth, mild-bodied flavor profile with just the right amount of peppery spice — perfect with the day's first cup of coffee. Part of another tie, the Blackbird Finch Corona matched both the overall score and the flavor ranking of Dapper's La Madrina Shade Belicoso, but at under $7.00 it edged past on value.

  • Score: 8.25
  • Price: $6.98
  • Length: 6.00 in./152.40 mm.
  • Ring Gauge: 44
  • Country: Dominican Republic
  • Wrapper Type: Sumatra
  • Wrapper Country: Indonesian
  • Filler Country: Dominican Republic, United States
  • Binder Country: Indonesia

16. Stolen Throne: Call to Arms Corona

Stolen Throne: Call to Arms Corona

A relatively new brand, Stolen Throne was founded by JR Cannon and Lee Marsh in 2019, and we welcomed their cigars to Smokingpipes earlier this year. The Call to Arms is Stolen Throne's second cigar, following the debut release of the Crook of the Crown, and it comprises a Sumatran wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and fillers — all marked by notes of chocolate, pepper, cream, leather, and nuts.

  • Score: 8.29
  • Price: $9.50
  • Length: 6.00 in./152.40 mm.
  • Ring Gauge: 46
  • Country: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper Type: Sumatra
  • Wrapper Country: Indonesia
  • Filler Country: Nicaragua
  • Binder Country: Nicaragua

15. Warped: El Oso Blanco

Warped: El Oso Blanco

Meaning "The Bear" in Spanish, Warped's El Oso is a medium-bodied cigar rolled in the traditional Cuban style by the hands of Level 9 torcedores at the El Titan de Bronze factory in Miami, Florida. El Oso debuted in 2008, only to return in 2014 before its third release in 2021, and it remains a highly limited-production cigar. The standard El Oso features an Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder, and fillers from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, but this year, Warped founder and blender Kyle Gellis also released an even more exclusive version: El Oso Blanco. It combines the filler and binder of the original El Oso with the Connecticut-seed Ecuadorian Connecticut Desflorada wrapper of Warped's flagship La Colmena cigar. Merging two of Warped's most sought-after cigars, El Oso Blanco offers an intriguing flavor profile of complex nuance, and it's offered in a singular size — Papa — a 6" x 48 Toro. Though one of the more expensive cigars on this list, it ranked second in construction and third in flavor to place just ahead of Stolen Throne's Call to Arms Corona. It's not a cigar to be smoked while mowing the lawn or shooting a round of 18; El Oso Blanco is best saved for life's milestones, a memorable cigar perfect for commemorating a memorable occasion.

  • Score: 8.29
  • Price: $18.00
  • Length: 6.00 in./152.40 mm.
  • Ring Gauge: 48
  • Country: United States
  • Wrapper Type: Connecticut
  • Wrapper Country: Ecuador
  • Filler Country: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua
  • Binder Country: Nicaragua

14. Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust: Muestra de Saka Exclusivo

Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust: Muestra de Saka Exclusivo

Another top-tier cigar meant to be savored and contemplated, Dunbarton's Exclusivo cigar is one of several in the Muestra de Saka line. In Spanish, muestra means "sample," but in a cigar factory devoted to handmade cigars, the word has a deeper connotation: It refers to the realized vision of the blender — the cigar that finally encompasses the desired profile, after hours and hours of tweaking and refining. In the Muestra de Saka line, Dunbarton's founder and head blender Steve Saka presents a series of distinctive blends in definitive vitolas made in extremely limited quantities. The Exclusivo honors Nicaragua and the country's rich tobacco culture and historical contributions to the cigar industry. Though the wrapper is Ecuadorian Habana, the Exclusivo highlights its binder and fillers, which comprise tobaccos from Nicaragua's four main growing regions: Estelí, Ometepe, Condega, and Jalapa.

  • Score: 8.32
  • Price: $19.50
  • Length: 6.00 in./152.40 mm.
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Country: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper Type: Habano
  • Wrapper Country: Ecuador
  • Filler Country: Nicaragua
  • Binder Country: Nicaragua

13. Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust: StillWell Star English No. 27

Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust: StillWell Star English No. 27

The second StillWell Star cigar to make our list, the English No. 27 is named for its inclusion of English pipe tobacco — not tobacco from England but, rather, the family of blends that most notably contain Latakia. For the StillWell Star English No. 27, a quintessential mix of Burley and Turkish tobaccos with a generous portion of Cypriot Latakia is pressed into a cake before being rubbed out and integrated into a filler blend of Nicaragua tobaccos. Latakia is the result of a process that involves smoking Oriental tobacco leaves over smoldering fires of fragrant wood and herbs, giving Latakia tobacco its characteristic, smoky aroma. The StillWell Star English No. 27 tastefully incorporates this distinctive pipe tobacco flavor profile among traditional cigar notes for an altogether unique and singular smoking experience.

  • Score: 8.36
  • Price: $15.30
  • Length: 6.00 in./152.40 mm.
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Country: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper Type: Habano
  • Wrapper Country: Ecuador
  • Filler Country: Nicaragua, Other
  • Binder Country: Mexico

12. Black Label Trading Company: BLK WKS Studio Killer Bee Green Hornet Robusto

Black Label Trading Company: BLK WKS Studio Killer Bee Green Hornet Robusto

The title might be a mouthful, but the Killer Bee Green Hornet Robusto from Black Work Trading Company's BLK WKS Studio is a killer cigar ... pun intended. Black Label Trading Company was founded by James Brown, and the brand's BLK WKS Studio selection is a special off-shoot designed to express the more artistic side of Brown's cigar blending. Compared to Black Label's regular lineup (of which the Deliverance Porcelain Corona Gorda earned the number one spot for our Top Cigars of 2019 list), BLK WKS cigars focus on complex blends and rarer components, embellished by modernist, avant-garde artwork — all designed by Brown. It's no surprise, then, that the Killer Bee Green Hornet Robusto placed first in presentation, as well as twelfth overall. Handmade at Black Label's Oveja Negra factory in Estelí, Nicaragua, the Green Hornet is an extension of the Killer Bee line named after the Wu-Tang Killa Beez. This small-batch cigar incorporates candela leaf at the foot and cap into the Ecuadorian Maduro wrapper which envelops Nicaraguan binder and fillers, making for a stronger blend than the original Killer Bee and a flavor profile that's rich in boldness and spice.

  • Score: 8.39
  • Price: $10.00
  • Length: 5.00 in./127.00 mm.
  • Ring Gauge: 48
  • Country: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper Type: Candela, Maduro
  • Wrapper Country: Ecuador
  • Filler Country: Nicaragua
  • Binder Country: Nicaragua

11. Warped: Chinchalle Robusto

Warped: Chinchalle Robusto

The Chinchalle joins the El Oso Blanco as another of Kyle Gellis' 2021 releases, and it's the first Warped cigar to be made in the Dominican Republic, Kyle having partnered with Hostos Fernández Quesada's Tabacalera La Isla factory. The name honors this collaboration, chinchalle being a Cuban slang term for a small cigar factory and perfectly describing Quesada's boutique setup in Santiago. He boasts over 20 years in the cigar industry, having worked for his uncle Manuel "Manolo" Quesada at Quesada Cigars, and last year he established his own small factory. Hostos and his La Isla chinchalle prioritize quality and handmade production, befitting Kyle Gellis and Warped's rigorous standards and making La Isla the perfect place to produce Warped's first Dominican-made cigar. The Chinchalle celebrates its origins with Dominican long-fillers and a binder of Dominican Havana Vuelta Abajo tobacco — a varietal named for the region in Cuban where its seeds originated. Wrapped in an Ecuadorian Habano 2000 Rosado leaf, the Chinchalle is a medium- to full-bodied smoke, ranking eleventh in our 2021 lineup.

  • Score: 8.54
  • Price: $12.50
  • Length: 5.00 in./127.00 mm.
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Country: Dominican Republic
  • Wrapper Type: Habano Rosado
  • Wrapper Country: Ecuador
  • Filler Country: Dominican Republic
  • Binder Country: Dominican Republic

10. Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust: Mi Querida Gordita

Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust: Mi Querida Gordita

Dunbarton's Mi Querida — literally "My Dearest" and colloquially "My Mistress" in Spanish — fulfills Steve Saka's personal preferences for a Maduro cigar, offering bold flavors of earth, chocolate, coffee, and subtle pepper. Hand-rolled at Raul Disla's NACSA factory in Nicaragua, the Mi Querida Gordita comprises Nicaraguan binder and fillers encased in a 100% naturally fermented Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, making for a small cigar that delivers a bold, full-bodied smoking experience. Both the Warped Chichalle Robusto and Dunbarton Mi Querida Gordita scored the same overall; however, the Mi Querida won out just slightly based on its flavor rating.

  • Score: 8.54
  • Price: $8.95
  • Length: 4.00 in./101.60 mm.
  • Ring Gauge: 48
  • Country: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper Type: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Wrapper Country: United States
  • Filler Country: Nicaragua
  • Binder Country: Nicaragua

9. La Aroma de Cuba: Pasión Marveloso

La Aroma de Cuba: Pasión Marveloso

The Pasión is La Aroma de Cuba's newest cigar, having debuted earlier this year. Like many Ashton offerings, the Pasión is crafted under the watchful eye of the García family, owners of My Father Cigars, at their factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. It focuses on a Shade-Grown, Cuban-Seed wrapper sourced from the Garcías' 300-acre farm in Namanji, Nicaragua. Medium to full in body, it adds aged Nicaraguan fillers and offers notes of leather, nuts, cedar, and spice — accompanied by La Aroma de Cuba's iconic, vintage-style artwork.

  • Score: 8.57
  • Price: $10.75
  • Length: 6.00 in./152.40 mm.
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Country: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper Type: Shade-Grown
  • Wrapper Country: Nicragua
  • Filler Country: Nicaragua
  • Binder Country: Nicaragua

8. Blackbird: Cuco Corona

Blackbird: Cuco Corona

Named after the Spanish word for the cuckoo, the Cuco cigar fits in well to Blackbird's avian-themed portfolio, distinguished by black-and-grey artwork. It's a tribute to traditional Dominican cigars, showcasing four distinctive Dominican tobaccos in the filler blend and enhanced by an Indonesian binder and a unique Brazilian Criollo wrapper. Medium- to full-bodied, the Cuco Corona burns slowly and offers notes of cocoa, spice, and a touch of black pepper on the retrohale. Though ranking the same overall as the La Aroma de Cuba Pasión Marveloso, Blackbird's Cuco Corona scored a higher flavor rating — not to mention its eye-catching price — placing it eighth on our list.

  • Score: 8.57
  • Price: $6.98
  • Length: 6.00 in./152.40 mm.
  • Ring Gauge: 44
  • Country: Dominican Republic
  • Wrapper Type: Criollo
  • Wrapper Country: Brazil
  • Filler Country: Dominican Republic
  • Binder Country: Indonesia

7. Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust: StillWell Star Aromatic No. 1

Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust: StillWell Star Aromatic No. 1

Distinguishing the Aromatic No. 1 from Dunbarton's other four StillWell Star blends is a distinct blend of aromatic Black Cavendish, Golden Virginia, and Burley pipe tobaccos incorporated into the cigar's Nicaraguan fillers. When we first released the StillWell Star lineup, the Aromatic No. 1 was the first to sell out, and it provides a delightfully smooth smoking experience and pleasant room note, commended further by a sweetened cap to complement the flavor profile and perfectly balance the pipe tobacco's sweetness against the rest of the cigar's natural tobacco flavor. Part of a three-way tie in overall score with La Aroma de Cuba's Pasión Marveloso and Blackbird's Cuco Corona, the StillWell Star Aromatic No. 1 placed seventh thanks to its one-of-a-kind flavor.

  • Score: 8.57
  • Price: $15.30
  • Length: 6.00 in./152.40 mm.
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Country: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper Type: Habano
  • Wrapper Country: Ecuador
  • Filler Country: Nicaragua, Other
  • Binder Country: Mexico

6. Crowned Heads CHC Serie E Hermoso No. 2

Crowned Heads CHC Serie E Hermoso No. 2

Had our scoring categories concerned the cigars' narrative, Crowned Heads' CHC Serie E would've ranked number one. Like many cigars in Crowned Heads' portfolio, it draws influence from the music industry, specifically Eddie Van Halen and the instrumental "Eruption." For Crowned Heads co-founder Jon Huber, smoking the Serie E parallels the sonic outline of the Van Halen song: The short intro of bass guitar and drums mirrors the cutting and lighting process, while the intricate finger-tapping, classical triads, and arpeggios of Eddie's guitar solo are metaphorically captured in the cigar's complex flavor profile, the finish lingering on the palate like the song's climactic dive bomb. As a cigar, the CHC Serie E Hermoso No. 2 is hand-rolled at the Tabacalera Pichardo in Estelí, Nicaragua, and it showcases an Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro wrapper over a Nicaraguan binder, with fillers from the Nicaraguan growing regions of Jalapa, Ometepe, and Pueblo Nuevo. Packed full of flavor with strong notes of spice, the CHC Serie E was released earlier this year — a fitting homage to Eddie who passed away in 2020 — and it's a bold sequel, of sorts, to Crowned Heads' 2020 release of Mil Días, with Huber describing the CHC Serie E as the knock-out punch to the left jab that is the Mil Días, the thunder to the Mil Días' lightning.

  • Score: 8.64
  • Price: $10.25
  • Length: 6.13 in./155.70 mm.
  • Ring Gauge: 48
  • Country: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper Type: Habano Oscuro
  • Wrapper Country: Ecuador
  • Filler Country: Nicaragua
  • Binder Country: Nicaragua

5. Rojas: Bluebonnets Mareva

Rojas: Bluebonnets Mareva

And then there were five... Rojas cigars is another brand welcomed to Smokingpipes earlier this year and the solo venture of iconic blender Noel Rojas, whose experience and talent has been appreciated by aficionados for years. Brands like Stolen Throne and Ezra Zion have all benefited from collaborating with Rojas' artistry and handiwork, though Rojas Cigars bears his name front and center. Known as "The King of Small Gauge Cigars," Rojas is known for his thinner cigars, prioritizing component rations that best showcase a cigar's wrapper, and he specifically blends cigars for these smaller vitolas. The Mareva size is among the smallest, and the Bluebonnets Mareva was released in 2019, comprising an all-Corojo blend of Ecuadorian wrapper and Nicaraguan binder and fillers. Hand-rolled at the Tabacalera Flor de San Luis S.A. in Estelí, Nicaragua, it boasts a medium-bodied smoking experience with notes of cream, nuts, dried berries, and subtle spice.

  • Score: 8.68
  • Price: $6.98
  • Length: 5.13 in./130.30 mm.
  • Ring Gauge: 42
  • Country: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper Type: Corojo
  • Wrapper Country: Ecuador
  • Filler Country: Nicaragua
  • Binder Country: Nicaragua

4. Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust: StillWell Star Navy No. 1056

Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust: StillWell Star Navy No. 1056

Ranking fourth in our overall list and highest out of all four StillWell Star blends, Dunbarton's Navy No. 1056 features navy-style pipe tobacco within its Nicaraguan filler blend. A navy pipe tobacco mixture is a type of English blend that incorporates rum — an allusion to the daily rum ration that sailors were allotted. In the early days of pipe tobacco, these rations were often used to moisten tobacco as it was transported across the Atlantic, ensuring its preservation and smokability. It's since become a classic pipe tobacco style often incorporating Latakia and Virginias, as is the case for the Navy No. 1056. As a cigar, it offers a unique flavor profile that merges the pipe tobacco with the cigar leaf, ranking the highest in flavor for our Best Cigars of 2021 project.

  • Score: 8.71
  • Price: $15.30
  • Length: 6.00 in./152.40 mm.
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Country: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper Type: Habano
  • Wrapper Country: Ecuador
  • Filler Country: Nicaragua, Other
  • Binder Country: Mexico

3. Rojas: Street Tacos Barbacoa Toro

Rojas: Street Tacos Barbacoa Toro

Another Rojas cigar in our top five, the Street Tacos Barbacoa Toro debuted earlier this year with an unignorable, lime-green box, orange band, and sombrero-wearing-skeleton logo. As the name suggests, it's inspired by traditional Hispanic street food, redefining Taco Tuesday with an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper around fillers and binder from Nicaragua's Somoto region. The Street Tacos Barbacoa is hand-rolled at the Tabacalera Flor de San Luis S.A. in Estelí, Nicaragua — like many of Rojas' blends — and it delivers a full-bodied flavor profile with notes of pepper, earth, and salty sweetness.

  • Score: 8.75
  • Price: $8.00
  • Length: 6.00 in./152.40 mm.
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Country: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper Type: Sumatra
  • Wrapper Country: Ecuador
  • Filler Country: Nicaragua
  • Binder Country: Nicaragua

2. Dapper: Desvalido Lonsdale

Dapper: Desvalido Lonsdale

Ian Reith, founder of Dapper Cigars, describes the Desvalido as the cigar he'd always dreamed of making but had yet to find the right tobacco or form the connections necessary to make this dream cigar a reality. The name of the line hints at this waiting process, literally meaning "defenseless" or "helpless" in Spanish, with a colloquial meaning in Cuba that refers to someone with little hope of "making it" — an underdog, if you will. It's a very personally referential and symbolic cigar for Reith: The rooster logo represents pride and bravery in Spanish culture, as well as Ian's Zodiac birth year, with the deep purple hue and accenting gold connoting royalty juxtaposed against the cigar's underdog name. As a cigar, the Desvalido Lonsdale features an Ecuadorian Habano Rosado wrapper sourced from the Oliva Tobacco Co. The filler blend consists also of Oliva tobaccos from Jalapa and Estelí in Nicaragua, as well as Connecticut Broadleaf from the Lancaster Leaf Tobacco Co, but the third filler component remains undisclosed, as does the U.S.-grown binder. It's a delightfully full-bodied cigar in both flavor and strength, marked by notes of honey, cream, hazelnut, coffee, and floral hints. Dapper once again proves the quality of its cigars, having ranked number one in last year's list and placing second this year.

  • Score: 8.79
  • Price: $11.99
  • Length: 6.50 in./165.10 mm.
  • Ring Gauge: 46
  • Country: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper Type: Habano Rosado
  • Wrapper Country: Ecuador
  • Filler Country: Nicaragua, United States, Undisclosed
  • Binder Country: United States

1. Luciano: Fiat Lux Insight

Luciano: Fiat Lux Insight

Upon smoking the Fiat Lux Insight for the first time, I immediately knew it was a contender for our top cigar of the year, top five at least. I just didn't know if anyone else would agree. It seems I wasn't alone in my assessment though: The Fiat Lux Insight earned an overall score above nine and also ranked number one in construction and value. From the elegant branding and gold-ribboned foot, to the effortless draw and consistent burn, to the enticing flavor profile and under-$9.00 price, Luciano's Fiat Lux Insight excels in every aspect that makes a great cigar.

Merging the blending acumen of Luciano Meirelles with the quality production standards of Eradio Pichardo's factory in Nicaragua, the Fiat Lux is a 2021 release that benefits from Mierelles and Pichardo's long-standing partnership. The Fiat Lux is named for the Latin phrase, "Let there be light," alluding to the book of Genesis in the Old Testament, and according to Luciano, it represents The Enlightenment movement's quest for truth and knowledge, as indicated by the line's vitola names. The Insight is a 5 5/8" x 46 size, and it features a high-priming Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper with Nicaraguan binder and fillers, offering a medium-bodied smoke that's rich in complexity, dominated by smoothness, and encapsulated by notes of cream, graham crackers, and subtle pepper and cinnamon.

  • Score: 9.04
  • Price: $8.76
  • Length: 5.63 in./143.00 mm.
  • Ring Gauge: 46
  • Country: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper Type: Sumatra
  • Wrapper Country: Ecuador
  • Filler Country: Nicaragua
  • Binder Country: Nicaragua

With thousands of cigars available — not to mention myriad personal preferences — assembling a top-20 list may seem a fool's errand, and yet, that's what makes the cigar world so delightfully intriguing: There's always something new to smoke, and our tastes are consistently evolving and expanding. This list represents our personal favorites from this year, and ranking them proved ridiculously difficult (if the decimal point differences between the cigars wasn't already an indication). Hopefully our compilation encourages you toward some cigars you have yet to try, and if some of your favorites of this year weren't represented, be sure to share them with us in the comments below!

Disclaimer: Depending on availability, some of the cigars in our top-20 list may not be in stock. At the time this article was published, three StillWell Star blends were unavailable; however, we expect a shipment from Dunbarton in the coming months. Be sure to sign-up for in-stock notifications, and we'll let you know as soon as they're back.

Honorable Mentions:

These cigars either weren't released in time for our review or didn't quite make the top 20, but we feel they deserve attention and smoking:

Comments

    • Joseph Kirkland on January 2, 2022
    • Kudos! Truett. I’m a pipe smoker and those pipe tobacco cigars sound really good. Thank you.

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