In a cigar world turned upside down by a pandemic, some things remain constant. Consumers continue to buy fine cigars, and in top-tier cigar shops, Arturo Fuente and Padrón reign supreme. The two brands, each of them made by family-owned companies with a long reputation for making exceptional cigars, took the top spots once again on both our hottest brands and best-selling brands list.
The retailers were allowed to name three brands as their hottest, the cigar brands requested most often by consumers. (Hot brands aren’t always in stock, so this represents consumer demand, not necessarily sales.) Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series took the No. 1 spot, named by 29. 9 percent of retailers as one of their hottest brands.
It was launched in 1994 as a more upscale Padrón, and its box-pressed shape sparked a market trend that continues to this day. The Nicaraguan cigars are perennial high scorers in Cigar Aficionado and Cigar Insider blind taste tastings. Arturo Fuente ranked second (26. 4%), with many respondents naming the very upscale Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Eye of the Shark.
In third place was another Fuente, the Fuente Fuente OpusX, the company’s top-of-the-line cigar. This is a brand that almost single-handedly defined rarity upon its launch during the cigar boom. The cigars (made with Cuban-seed, Dominican wrappers) were all but impossible to find upon their release in the mid-1990s, limited in many shops to only two singles per customer.
Liga Privada, the bold, spicy and often allocated cigar rolled by Drew Estate in Nicaragua, ranked fourth, taking the same spot as it did in 2019. These strong smokes have a devoted following, and are made with ultra-black Connecticut broadleaf wrappers. La Flor Dominicana jumped up to No. 5, named by 13.
(Last year, it ranked No. 7). Several respondents mentioned the La Flor Dominicana Andalusian Bull, a cigar that was Cigar Aficionado’s Cigar of the Year in 2016. Rocky Patel—a brand with a vast array of sizes and styles—ranked sixth, named by 11. 5 percent of retailers. Davidoff and Oliva Serie V tied for seventh place.
In our best-selling brands list, we had a tie at the No. 1 spot between Arturo Fuente and Padrón, which were named by 44. 8 percent of retailers. Perdomo took third place, and the Nicaraguan brand showed an impressive gain from the No. 6 spot in 2019. Romeo y Julieta, the top-selling cigar brand from Tabacalera USA, ranked fourth, followed by Rocky Patel in fifth.
Davidoff ranked sixth, My Father took the No. 7 spot, and Oliva ranked 8. Macanudo, a brand from General Cigar Co. that once dominated our top brand list, returned to the rankings this year by placing ninth. Ashton moved down from third place last year to No. 10 this year.
To see the how Covid-19 has impacted America’s cigar retailers, click here. To see the Cigar Insider retailer survey on best-selling sizes, click here.
From left: Aging Room Quattro Nicaragua Maestro, Villiger La Vencedora Churchill, Hoyo de Monterrey Le Hoyo de Río Seco, E.P. Carrillo Core Plus Maduro Churchill Especial No. 7 and Cohiba Robusto. The results are in. The newest addition to our online database consists of 81 ratings from the April issue of Cigar Aficionado, and a whopping 20 smokes earned 91 points or higher.
Our April tasting comprised reviews from six size categories: Churchill, corona gorda, figurado, miscellaneous, robusto and grande. Nicaragua and Cuba continued to impress the tasting panel, as cigars from either country took the top spot in every category. When conducting a new tasting, our panel of editors taste blind, meaning each cigar is stripped of its original band and assigned a numeric code for the rating process.
To determine a score, our editors consider four different categories: Appearance and cigar construction count for a maximum of 15 points; flavor and smoking characteristics (quality of draw, texture of smoke, etc.) count for 25 points each; and the remaining 35 points are allotted to the overall impression, or level of enjoyment, of the cigar.
Fernandez in Nicaragua for Rafael Nodal, who owns the Aging Room brand. See full tasting note. (Nicaragua, 94 points) La Vencedora is a reblend of an older Villiger cigar of the same name. Whereas the original was a mild cigar, the new version is a rich, Nicaraguan puro rolled at the Joya de Nicaragua factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.
See full tasting note. (Dom. Rep., 93 points) Created by cigarmaker and Cigar Aficionado Hall of Famer Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, owner of EPC Cigar Co., this cigar is rolled with a dark Connecticut broadleaf wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. See full tasting note. (Cuba, 93 points) The Cobiba Robusto is from the core line, or Línea Clasica, and at £34.