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The best of Cuban cigars

The best of Cuban cigars

When you stand in the Havana House cigar room and look at the shelves filled with Cuban cigars, those familiar famous brands: Cohiba, Monte, Upmann, Partgas, and Friend Monterey, are packed in yellow Or in a black cigar box, or in a painted mahogany humidor, you can't help but get excited. You pick up a box of Cohiba cigars because they are the most famous brand in Cuba. You open the seal, slide the box back, put your nose towards the box, take a deep breath, and you will smell the mixed smell of aged tobacco leaves, cedar wood, earth, and spices.

Every cigar lover asks a few questions when preparing to purchase a box of Cuban cigars. Is this box of Cohiba better than that box of Monte? Will Upmann's Sir Winston be as rich as Punch's The Double Crown? Is Buddy Monterey necessarily more expensive than Diplomat?

Cigar Aficionado wants to make your choice easier. In 2019, we evaluated dozens of Cuban cigars. Based on the scores, we listed the following 10 models. These cigars all scored between 92 and 94 points. These cigars are available in almost all markets, from Havana to London and even Mexico. We’ll also feature the top ten scoring cigars of 2018, as well as several cigars from the top 25 of 2018. However, we are unable to quote as prices vary based on taxes in each region.

We would like to point out that the tobacco currently being produced is of the highest quality in the last five years. Most of the cigar tobacco leaves currently on the market are from the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 vintages. These tobacco leaves are sown from October to December every year and harvested from late January to March of the following year. They are the best quality tobacco leaves grown in Cuba since this century. The quality of tobacco leaves in the three seasons before 2015 was poor due to catastrophic rainfall and bad weather. The tobacco leaves of the cigars currently being produced are of very good quality, and this can be verified in the cigars. The quality of the tobacco leaves grown in 2018-2019, which are still in the aging stage, is also very good, which means that the quality of the cigars rolled in the next few years will be good.

Back to list. The 2019 list includes four brands sold globally: Cohiba, Friends Monterey, Upmann, and Partgas. There are also three brands with relatively low brand influence: Bolivar, Juan Lopez, and Punch.

In 2018, there were two Partgases, two Cohibas, a Friend Monterey and two Upmanns in the top ten list. In addition, Diplomat, Punch, and Vegas Robina each have one finalist. In 2018, Cuban Habanos released a new logo design for Romeo and Juliet.

Let’s start with Cohiba. Cohiba is well-known among collectors and consumers, and certain sizes are the most popular. The 2019 list includes the brand’s signature size: the Robust. 4.875 inches long, 50 ring gauge thick, with a review score of 93 points. This is a nice cigar, an old Robusto made from 1992 tobacco, and was lit almost 25 years after it was rolled.

Cohiba's BHK52 is a robusto model with a pig tail. It scored 94 points in the evaluation and is considered the pinnacle of Cohiba products. The development of this cigar was very difficult. Cohiba's Century Series No. 6 is 5.875 inches long and 52 ring gauge thick. It scored 93 points in the evaluation and is one of Cohiba's best cigars. This cigar is full of woody and light vanilla flavors. Many cigar smokers will not throw it away until the butt is about to burn their fingers.

Overall, we rate Cohiba's cigars as medium to full-bodied in most sizes, in part because the brand uses tobacco that is older than other Cuban cigar brands, resulting in a smooth and powerful flavor.

Monte follows closely behind and is the largest selling Cuban cigar brand worldwide. The Edmundo Jr. is rated 93 points, 52 ring gauge, and 4.375 inches long, perfect for a short afternoon sipping. This is a delicious and balanced cigar, full of coffee bean and dark chocolate flavors. Monte No. 2, a pyramid-shaped torpedo, often exhibits a full-bodied taste. If you're looking for a medium-strength, classic cigar, Edmondo Petit, Edmundo, and Double Edmondo are all good options.

There are two Friends Montereys on the 2019 list. Xiaoyao No. 2 is a Robust size, 5 inches long, 50 ring gauge, with a review score of 92 points. Among Friends Monterey models, apart from the Friends Double Crown, Xiaoyao 2 may be the most well-known. The Xiaoyao series is a medium-strength flavor with floral and nutty aromas, with some leather and toasted almonds in the mid-palate, along with a pleasant sweetness.

Another size that is a close friend of the 2019 list is the Río Seco, a derivative of the new Le Hoyo series. Rio Seco is richer than the rest of Friend Monterey’s regular range, measuring 5.5 inches long and 56 ring gauge, one of the thickest sizes in the entire Cuban Habanos portfolio, and scored 94 points in testing. This cigar has flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and wood, ending with a rich caramel flavor.

The last global brand on the list is Upmann. This one on the list is the Upmann 2, which is a pyramid-shaped torpedo like the Monte 2. These two cigars are medium-strength and above, because the tapered cigar head concentrates the smoke, so the strength is higher.

If you are a fan of the Monte 2, this cigar is always a good choice. It scored 92 points in the review, with a core of sweetness and a rich aroma of almonds and leather. Definitely a real gatekeeper cigar.

The real gems in the 2019 list are those brands from the so-called second-tier lineup, which are now classified as portfolio brands by Habanos Cuba. Here are some of the best sizes in the entire Cuban cigar line. For example, Punch's Double Crown scored 94 points in the review. It is 7.625 inches long and 49 ring gauge. It has a strong taste, full of coffee, cedar and chocolate. This cigar deserves to be aged and stored for many years and has great potential. This cigar has a medium to full-bodied flavor, making it the perfect late-night companion to a brandy or aged rum.

The Mexican regional version of Duke of Punch, with a test score of 93, is also very attractive. The flavor is medium strong and well balanced. 5.5 inches long, 54 ring gauge thick. It has the aroma of flowers and nuts, with hints of leather and red dried fruits at the end.

The other two second-tier Cuban brands are very different in style, but each is worth examining. Bolivar has long been considered one of the richest cigars in Cuba. Bolivar's Coronas Junior scored 93 points, is 4.375 inches long, and has a 42 ring gauge. It is a great little eggplant. Perfect with your morning espresso, or after breakfast, when you're looking for a quick, full-bodied smoke experience. Its core flavors are leather and earth, with a rich coffee bean aroma and a hint of chocolate on the finish.

Juan Lopez's Choice No. 2 scored 94 points and is 4.875 inches long, 50 ring gauge, and Robust size. Produced in relatively small quantities, it's one of our editors' all-time favorites. It falls in the medium to strong flavor range. There are usually 25 cigars in a box, cabinet-style boxes, which is a great way to age cigars. They have a rich, spicy cedar flavor with hints of raisin and chocolate coating, with hints of leather and chestnut.

The top ten Cuban cigars of 2018 are interesting, and three of them are outstanding. One of these three is Upman's Sir Winston, which scored 94 points in the evaluation. It is a classic Churchill model, 7 inches long, and 47 ring gauge. This Upman also entered the CA magazine's annual 25th. This is the most elegant cigar in the world of Cuban cigars. The flavor is medium-bodied with lots of sweet, creamy, and coffee notes, making it one of our editors' favorites.

Another standout model is the Diplomat 2, which scored 92 points. Many cigar connoisseurs believe that this cigar is similar to the Monte No. 2, which is a pyramid-shaped torpedo with a medium to full-bodied flavor. When we go to any Havana House cigar store, we look for this cigar. It has a unique sweet and savory flavor with hints of wood and chocolate almond.

The No. 54 of the Quai D'Orsay is also worthy of your attention. It is 5.375 inches long and 54 ring gauge thick. This was once a regional brand in France. After 2017, the Cuban Habanos tobacco company turned Dolce Quay into a globally sold brand. Every encounter with D'Orsay Pier is a treat. This is another sweet and salty flavor. We think this cigar has great aging potential and, more importantly, it's affordable in Marina Dolce.

There are several other great Cuban brands on the market today, and not all of these great cigars necessarily received high marks in our tasting. But the Añejados line is absolutely wonderful and ancient cigars. This series of cigars are rolled from tobacco leaves that have been aged for many years. Anegados's first products, including Romeo and Juliet's Pyramid, which scored 92 points, and Monte's Churchill, which scored 91 points, were unfairly evaluated by connoisseurs when they were first launched. We recently opened a few samples to taste and had a great smoking experience.

Finally, if you are considering purchasing any of the cigars we mentioned today, please take them home and age them for another year or so. Although they smoke well now, if they are given more time, they will perform better.

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