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CI's Top 25 Cigars of 2016

CI's Top 25 Cigars of 2016

  • Ashton Symmetry - Churchil

    #1 - Ashton Symmetry

    Ashton and Arturo Fuente collaborated on this cigar in order to make a medium to full-bodied blend that is truly a can’t-miss smoke for any cigar lover. While it’s hard to pick a favorite, we burnt more Ashton Symmetry than any other cigar this year, and that’s saying something. With a silky smooth Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and Dominican binder and long-fillers, Ashton Symmetry coats the palate with cinnamon, caramel, slight cedar, and a hint of white pepper. It’s complex and delicious, and worthy of all the praise it gets and more. If you seek out one cigar from this list this year, make it Ashton Symmetry.

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  • CAO Consigliere - Robusto

    #2 - CAO Consigliere

    Man oh man oh man. CAO Consigliere is an absolutely fantastic cigar, and while we didn’t calculate box price into the rankings, the affordability of this one certainly doesn’t hurt! With packaging that will remind many enthusiasts of a CAO favorite from days past, Consigliere delivers an intense wave of flavors including earth, sweetness, baking spices, and a rich, nutty core. I personally devoured a ton of these when it came out, and every single cigar burnt cool and smooth down to the finger-singing nub.

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  • Cohiba Macassar - Double Corona

    #3 - Cohiba Macassar

    You can’t always judge a book by its cover, but one glance at Cohiba Macassar should tell you very quickly that this is something special. Cohiba has long been known for their Cuban origins, but recently they’ve been forging a new trail of success with the Modern Luxury line. Each high-quality box Cohiba Macassar features ten immaculately handrolled top-shelfs of the finest degree that dishes out booming notes of oak, red pepper spice, and creamy, earthy notes like nothing else on the market. Save this one for special occasions, because Macassar might just be the best damn Cohiba money can buy.

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  • Alec Bradley Post Embargo - Toro

    #4 - Alec Bradley Post Embargo

    Let me be honest with you: I’m a huge fan of Alec Bradley. Alan Rubin is one of the hardest-working, nicest guys in our industry, and I’m really happy to see Post Embargo in the top five. But don’t think we’re playing favorites! One puff of this lightly box-pressed Honduran handmade will make it instantly clear why Alec Bradley Post Embargo is our #4 Cigar of the Year. Long-fillers from Nicaragua and Honduras are perfectly blended to treat your palate to tons of cocoa, nuts, natural tobacco, and black pepper.

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  • Latitude Zero Excursion - Toro

    #5 - Latitude Zero Excursion

    Latitude Zero is absolutely the smallest brand in our top five. Hell, in our top ten even. But that didn’t stop Excursion from sweeping Camp CI like an unstoppable blitzkrieg of premium goodness. Our staff pick for best new blend, and the obvious fan-favorite at CIGARfest 2016, Latitude Zero Excursion is the maduro lovers’ dream. An oily, thick Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper delivers literal clouds of flavor with every single puff. An aroma of brownies fills the air as you’re treated to earth, leather, and loads of coffee/espresso notes. Save this one for after a big meal with a steaming mug o’ joe, and you’ll quickly be coming back for more.

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  • La Flor Dominicana Air Bender - Chisel

    #6 - La Flor Dominicana Air Bender

    It shouldn’t be shocking to see Air Bender in our top 10. It’s 94-rated, it’s full-bodied and complex, and it’s been given countless honors in the industry. What’s shocking here is how consistent this blend is. Year in and year out, Air Bender is a potent firecracker of a blend containing notes of red pepper, earth, charred wood, and a surprisingly creamy core. La Flor Dominicana makes many great cigars – and Air Bender is, in our not so humble opinion, the best one.

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  • Macanudo Gold Label - Lord Nelson

    #7 - Macanudo Gold Label

    Macanudo Gold Label is the first true Connecticut wrapped cigar to make our list, this year or last year. It seems crazy, and there are definitely other balanced, mellow blends represented, but Gold Label is the only pure Connecticut represented. That should tell you just how great this stick is. Made with tobacco leaves from the first and second primings, and Cuban-seed Dominican and Mexican fillers, Gold Label is always smooth and refreshing, with an unusual lemony sweetness that’s bizarrely unique.

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  • Davidoff Yamasa - Belicoso

    #8 - Davidoff Yamasa

    Davidoff cigars have always been one of the big dogs of the cigar industry. Originally known for their elegant, smooth offerings, Davidoff represents the highest-caliber of tobaccos imaginable. And while they’ve certainly made great cigars before, Yamasa shows us a whole new side of Davidoff’s talents. Made with tobacco grown in the Yamasa region of the Dominican Republic, this milk-chocolate colored wrapper explodes with layers of grassy sweetness, leather, and rich, red spices. I won’t try to hide it – Yamasa demands top-dollar. But if you need a special occasion cigar, you can’t do better.

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  • Man O' War Armada - Double Toro

    #9 - Man O’ War Armada

    By now, you’ve likely heard of AJ Fernandez. The man behind crowd-pleasing blends like Diesel and Ave Maria, just to name a few, AJ is one of the most skilled men working in tobacco today. Undeniably. Picking a favorite AJ blend is damn near impossible. Last year, Ave Maria Divinia weighed in at #2, and this year AJ cracks the Top 10 again with the nuanced and explosively rich Armada. Weighty in the hand and especially slow-burning, Armada uses the finest tobaccos known to man to deliver earth, vanilla, coffee and a crisp tobacco core. An absolutely glorious 90+ minute experience.

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  • AVO Syncro Nicaragua Fogata - Gordo

    #10 - AVO Syncro Nicaragua Fogata

    In 2015, AVO made the Top 25 with the original Syncro Nicaragua blend (at #25). Here, Avo Uvezian and Henke Kelner’s medium to full-bodied sequel jumps up the ladder, making Nicaragua Fogata our #10 Cigar of the Year. The standard floral and grassy aromas of Davidoff’s favorite Ecuadorian Habano wrapper are here, joined by wood, leather, cinnamon, and a refreshingly sweet finish. Loads of flavor, top-notch quality control, and unparalled consistency from cigar to cigar are here to remind people why AVO gets so much love in the first place. If you enjoyed the original AVO Syncro Nicaragua even a little bit, you need to get your hands on a couple Fogatas.

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  • Rocky Patel Flor de San Andres - Robusto

    #11 - Rocky Patel Flor de San Andres

    Dark, spicy, delicious, and awesomely affordable, Flor de San Andres by Rocky Patel is a medium-bodied handmade that you can enjoy every day. This is the second year in a row that Rocky Patel has made our list, last year clocking in at #9. Flor de San Andres uses a gritty, Mexican San Andres maduro wrapper in order to bring about dark chocolate, leather, nutmeg, and a stark, white ash. Each sample we went through was smooth, with an easy draw.

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  • Ramon Bueso Olancho Vintage - Torpedo

    #12 - Ramon Bueso Olancho Vintage

    There’s a story behind every cigar. But Ramon Bueso Olancho Vintage has a legacy. Perfectly aged tobaccos in extremely limited quantities are combined to make a once in a lifetime cigar. Binder leaves from 2005, long-filler leaves including 2008 Nicaraguan Esteli, 2010 Honduras La Entrada, 2008 Honduran Jamastran, and 2003 Honduras Olancho. The wrapper? A Colorado Oscuro Olancho grown exclusively for this cigar. Olancho Vintage feels different than any other cigar I tried this year, and when you mix in the complex blend of earth, spice, leather, sweet cedar, and harmonious tobacco core with the fantastic everyday price, this cigar quickly becomes a must-have.

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  • Drew Estate Herrera Esteli Norteno - Double Corona

    #13 - Drew Estate Herrera Esteli Norteno

    How do you go about choosing the best cigar among a portfolio including Liga Privada, Undercrown, and the ever-popular ACID lines? Drew Estate is, arguably, the biggest name in the game. Look in any humidor across the country, there’s probably at least one Drew Estate cigar somewhere in there. I’d love to tell you there was some sort of scientific trick to deciding Norteno was the best DE product this year, but sometimes you gotta go with intuition. Norteno is the cigar from Drew that we burnt the most this year, and it never disappointed. Toasty and warm, Norteno delivers milk chocolate, cocoa bean, and nougat.

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  • Padron 1926 Natural - Robusto

    #14 - Padron 1926 Natural

    I don’t know if you can make a Top 25 Cigars of the Year list and not include Padron. Put this cigar up against any other brand, and it holds its own. Even considering the higher price point. Padron 1926 has been rated a staggering 97, making it in an uber-elite class. Though the maduro wrappers tend to be slightly more popular, we’re giving the nod to the natural 1926 here. Chocolate, coffee and nuts mingle together with a dark and sweet black cherry note and a gloriously long finish that makes Padron perfect for pairing with your favorite scotch or rye.

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  • Ave Maria Argentum - Morning Star

    #15 - Ave Maria Argentum

    Packaged in a glossy, high-quality black box in a 5” x 58 perfecto, you’ll know from first glance that Argentum is different. Most Ave Maria offerings are medium-bodied, balanced, and subtle. Argentum turns the dial up, though just slightly. Medium to full-bodied with a bit more kick, this Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapped gem is a luscious and flavorful feast. Dark chocolate, leather, and light spice hang out in the background behind a hearty, natural tobacco core. Argentum isn’t what you might expect from an Ave Maria blend, but it’s still a delicious offering from this boutique best-seller.

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  • Nimmy D by Nimish - Toro

    #16 - NIMMY-D

    The Patels make the list twice this year, but this time we’re looking at a blend made by the cousin of Rocky Patel — Nimish Desai. Or, more formally, Nimmy-D. Nimish set out to create a cigar that was as bold and flavorful as possible, and he’s succeeded. I’ve heard many members of CI Nation proclaim that this is their favorite cigar, ever. Black pepper, cedar, licorice, and dark earth swarm the palate in droves from this satisfying and lingering handmade. Rocky may be the most famous name, but NIMMY-D is a cigar that absolutely deserves your attention.

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  • Diesel Rage - Torpedo

    #17 - Diesel Rage

    Speaking of people popping up more than once on this Top 25 cigars list, Diesel Rage is yet another AJ Fernandez handmade to earn top honors. Medium to full-bodied, Diesel Rage is an ultra-dark Ecuadorian Habano Sun Grown Oscuro wrapper overtop an absolutely audacious amount of Cuban-seed Nicaraguan long-fillers. A chewy, rich profile emerges with blasts of earth, vanilla, dark coffee, and cedar while offering just enough strength to keep you interested without putting you down for a nap. Diesel Rage is an absolute stroke of genius made by a complete wizard of tobacco, and from first puff I guarantee you’ll be entranced.

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  • New World by AJ Fernandez - Box-Pressed Robusto

    #18 - New World by AJ Fernandez

    And with New World, AJ Fernandez becomes the only cigar maker to hit the list three times in the same year. Are we fanboy-ing? Maybe. But I dare you to try any of these cigars and tell me they’re not some of the greatest full-bodied blends you’ve ever had. New World is a collaboration between AJ and Ismael Fernandez, AJ’s father. This Nicaraguan puro is an absolutely gorgeous cigar, with each draw giving way to dense clouds of espresso, and a dizzying array of sweet and spicy flavors. Bold and loud while somehow remaining smooth throughout, this is a truly special cigar that pairs beautifully with any beverage.

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  • Oliva G Cameroon - Special G

    #19 - Oliva Serie G Cameroon

    When you hear talk of Oliva nowadays, it’s all V, Melanio, and NUB. But don’t forget to take Serie G into consideration. Oliva’s been making this Cameroon wrapped, medium-bodied stick for quite some time, and it’s been delectable for as long as I can remember. Medium-bodied with an oily sheen, Oliva Serie G is rolled with Nicaraguan long-fillers with hints of sweet coffee, nuts, and oaky flavors on the finish. New cigars are exciting, but sometimes it’s the classics that really deliver.

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  • Diamond Crown Maximus - Toro

    #20 - Diamond Crown Maximus

    If you’re a fan of the regular Diamond Crown, then Maximus is sure to be quite the treat. Maximus takes Diamond Crown to a whole new level of flavor, delivering a Sumatra wrapped full-bodied treat that’s luxuriously smooth from start to finish. Rolled with a thick and bold Ecuadorian-grown leaf from the Oliva family’s farm, this cigar is a good looking as it is tasty. Chock full of robust notes of sweet tobacco and bitter espresso, Maximus is balanced, reliable, and mouth-wateringly good.

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  • Graycliff Profesionale Series - Churchill

    #21 - Graycliff Profesionale Series

    Some of you may remember the previous version of Graycliff Profesionale. Originally made in the Bahamas, and receiving a 92-rating, this luxurious medium-bodied offering is back on the block and better than ever. An Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper lays atop a four-country blend of Brazilian, Dominican, Honduran, and Nicaraguan long-fillers that give you wave after wave of deliciousness down to the nub. Bready, earthy tobaccos coat the palate, keeping you interested and pairing perfectly with a cup of coffee.

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  • HC Series Gran Limitado - Gran Toro

    #22 - HC Series Gran Limitado

    The HC Series has received a ton of high-ratings. Like, double digits of 90 or higher ratings. The highlight of the group? Gran Limitado. This perfectly rolled medium to full-bodied cigar has a sleek, Nicaraguan wrapper with an ultra-refined, 5-year-aged ligeros along with barrel-aged Nicaraguan long-fillers. Refined and decadent, Gran Limitada boasts a warm mixture of coffee, nuts, and lingering spice that will work perfectly for those who love a well-balanced and complex cigar. Gran Limitado is the flagship of the HC Series line, and with good reason.

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  • La Tradicion Perdomo Reserve Cameroon - Toro

    #23 - La Tradicion Perdomo Reserve Cameroon

    La Tradicion Perdomo Reserve Cameroon – a mouthful of a name, but a fantastic, limited-edition offering from Perdomo nonetheless. Much like Graycliff Profesionale, these cigars were offered before, but now they’re back, slightly tweaked for the modern age, and ready to go. Maybe you’re not used to seeing a Cameroon wrapped offering from Perdomo, but he does it better than most. Medium to full-bodied, the Reserve Cameroon has all the natural sweetness of the wrapper, backed up by hearty and loud spice. Add a glass of cold rum, and this one easily makes the Top 25.

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  • Nat Sherman Metropolitan Habano - Robusto

    #24 - Nat Sherman Metropolitan Habano

    If you’re a fan of Nat Sherman, you’re in good company. One of the oldest cigar companies, this NY-based brand has been slinging handmades for nearly 100 years. And at this point, it’s a pretty safe bet to say Nat Sherman knows what they’re doing. Their newest line, the Metropolitan, is offered in three distinct varieties. You know, like the ice cream. Here, we are honoring the Habano, a medium-bodied blend with wood, earth, and a slight creaminess that disappeared in our office quicker than a six-pack on a Friday night. Making #24 Cigar of the Year, Metropolitan Habano is set up to deliver another century of greatness from Nat Sherman.

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  • Caldwell Collection The King is Dead - Churchill

    #25 - Caldwell Collection The King is Dead

    Rounding out the list, we’ve got this delicious cigar from Robert Caldwell. The Caldwell Collection is one of the highest-rated boutique brands to enter the market, and The King is Dead is the personal favorite of the lot. Medium-bodied and highly complex, The King is Dead has so much going on that a flavor description here barely tells half the story. All the cigar highlights are in this one – oak, cool earth, dark chocolate, light spice, dark coffee, and a nutty, creamy sweetness. Complex and interesting, able to change from one puff to the next, The King is Dead is an awesome finish to this highly-rated list.

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