Cigar Aficionado employs a meticulous blind taste-test mechanism. The tasting coordinator de-identifies the cigars and replaces their bands with white, numbered labels. Consequently, the tasting panel remains unbiased, judging the cigars solely on their merit, regardless of price, origin, or brand.
- Arturo Fuente Hemingway Work of Art (95 points, $10.60): A familiar name on our elite list, the Hemingway line showcases perfectly crafted shapes constructed with a fine Cameroon wrapper over Dominican leaves. Its unique shape offers a flawless burn and draw, revealing flavors of chocolate, almond, and vanilla.
- Blackened Cigars “M81” by Drew Estate Corona (95 points, $9.15): A triumphant collaboration between Metallica’s James Hetfield, distiller Rob Dietrich, and Nicaraguan producer Drew Estate. This compact cigar packs a punch with tastes of saffron, baking spices, and a semi-sweet chocolate finish.
- Ashton Virgin Sun Grown Illusion (94 points, $14.15): Debuting in 1999, the VSG line was a robust entrant. Today, this Lonsdale still stands tall, offering a palate of rich earthiness combined with savory roasted peanut notes.
- E.P. Carrillo Pledge Sojourn (93 points, $13.25): An evolution of the 2020 Cigar of the Year, it boasts a Connecticut Habano cover leaf, an Ecuadoran binder, and Nicaraguan filler. Its robust flavors of earth and pepper harmoniously blend with nuances of leather and coffee, a testament to Ernesto Perez-Carrillo’s expertise.
- Padrón Family Reserve No. 44 Maduro (93 points, $34.85): Initially an exclusive, the Family Reserve line has expanded. Comprising of tobaccos aged for a decade, the No. 44 presents luxurious tastes of chocolate and espresso complemented by hints of oak and cedar.
- Tatuaje Miami Havana Cazadores (93 points, $12): Cigars produced in the U.S. are rare, but Pete Johnson of Tatuaje aims to preserve this tradition. Crafted in Miami’s El Rey de Los Habanos factory, it offers a stimulating blend of earth, black pepper, and coffee with undertones of chocolate and nutmeg.
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