I'm the type of cigar smoker that likes variety. I have several brands that are my favorite, but like anything else, too much of a good thing can be bad for you. Not really bad, but after awhile you tend to get board with it. At any given time, I may have 5 or 10 different brands of cigars in my humidor.
Since becoming an avid cigar smoker, I have carefully logged each new cigar brand I smoke (country of origin, name, size, price, ring gauge, personal tasting notes and a 1-5 rating system). I developed an Excel spreadsheet (see link below) to keep track of the cigars. Since I used Excel, I can sort the file in any number of ways (i.e. by brand, by country of origin, by rating scale, etc.). I have rated more than 70 brands of cigars, but only the cigars I REALLY like are listed. If you'd like the Excel file rather than the PDF, send me an email and I'd be glad to send it to you....just click here to email me Jim's Email
In my rating system only about two dozen cigars have ever been rated below a 3 and only one was bad enough to be given a 1 rating. That is the Maya Corona. For my taste is was too spicy and it burned hot!
Please keep in mind that since cigar tastes are highly subjective from person to person, my favorite's may not necessarily be yours. The best way to find what you like best is keep trying different brands. At some point, you'll find a brand or two that you really like. And if your really lucky, you'll find many more than that!
As highly sought after as Cuban cigars are, remember that ALL Cuban made products (even cigars) are illegal in the United States. No matter what your personal feelings are with regard to the Cuban embargo, Cuban products can not be imported into or sold in the United States. Cuban cigars offer a unique and different smoking experience, but are not worth the trouble or the price.
Here are some links to documents that might be helpful (PDF format):
Here is a Cigar Strength Guide that will assist you in selecting the right cigar.
Here is a document called Cigars World of Flavor that will help you understand the types and flavors of tobacco used in cigar making.
Here is a document called Cigar Evaluation Roster . When I first began smoking cigars, I kept track of all the brands I smoked and ranked them using an Excel spreadsheet. I lost track of the file, but recently came across it and thought it might be helpful for the beginner.
Here are some of my favorite cigars:
The Griffin's #300 and #400 - Overall one of my all time favorite cigars. Since this cigar is blended with three differents kinds of tobacco, it provides a rather unique spicy flavor and the aroma is very pleasant. On my personal rating scale I gave both of these cigars a 5.
Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Banquet - A super medium-bodied cigar with rich creamy flavors of coffee, nutmeg and cinnamon. This cigar goes great with a cup of hazelnut coffee. The flavors really complement each other. On my personal rating scale I gave this cigar a 5.
La Gloria Cubana Wavell - A medium-bodied cigar with a bit of spice. Considered a more full bodied cigar than most cigars from the Dominican Republic. On my personal rating scale I gave this cigar a 4.
Romeo y Julieta Vintage II - A medium-bodied cigar with a solid tobacco flavor with hints of coffee and cedar. Actually, I like all of the Romeo y Julieta cigars. They are mild and burn evenly. A nice relaxing cigar. On my personal rating scale I gave this cigar a 5.
Hoyo de Monterrey Governors Maduro - A full-bodied cigar with lots of spice and a sweet finish. If you like a madruo cigar that is full bodied without being spicy, this is the one. On my personal rating scale I gave this cigar a 4.
Macanudo Hyde Park Cafe - A nice mild cigar with a hint of nuttiness and cream. Ever since its introduction several years ago, it has been a very popular cigar. So much so, it can be difficult to find. On my personal rating scale I gave this cigar a 4.
Credo Magnificat - I recently tried this cigar for the first time, and I wish I had done it sooner! What a nice cigar....smooth and flavorful. A mild cigar with a flavors that are nutty and creamy at the same time.I guess I overlooked it for so long because it tends to be high priced. On my personal rating scale I gave this cigar a 5.
Flor De Florez Corona - I tried this cigar after Flor De Florez was featured in the first issue of SMOKE. Cigars from Honduras tend to be full-bodied, but this cigar is the exception to that rule. It has a lot of flavor without being spicy or peppery. On my personal rating scale I gave this cigar a 3.
Davidoff #4000 - When in New York City, I always make the time to stop by the Davidoff Shop. I have smoked other sizes of Davidoff, but I like the #4000 best. The 4000 is sweet and creamy for an overall mild smoke. BEWARE! Don't smoke your stogie while in the NYC Subway system. It's prohibited and if caught you'll received a fine. Stay above ground and enjoy the sights! On my personal rating scale I gave this cigar a 4.
Onyx No. 642 - For those of you who like a maduro, this has to be one of the best on the market. The 642 is sweet and mild with a hint of chocolate flavor. A very enjoyable cigar! The entire Onyx line is great. It all depends on the size you like. On my personal rating scale I gave this cigar a 5.
Bauza' Jaguar - A full-bodied cigar with a rich peppery flavor. Very nice aroma and even burn. This is one of my favoriate smokes. On my personal rating scale I gave this cigar a 3.
Bering Hispanos (natural) - This Honduran cigar is very mild and flavorful smoke with some cinnamon spice flavors. This cigar comes in both natural and maduro. A very nice cigar for the price (under $2.00). On my personal rating scale I gave this cigar a 4.
Tresado No. 300 - CA was real hard on this cigar. It only scored a 78. I like them very much. They smoke cool and are flavorful. For a cigar under $2.00 it's not bad. On my personal rating scale I gave this cigar a 4.
Thomas Hinds Robusto - This Honduran cigar is a medium-bodied cigar with an earthy flavor. A very smooth cigar with a nice aroma. On my personal rating scale I gave this cigar a 5.
Cohiba Esplendidos (Cuban) - I think that CA was too generous with a 90 rating. Don't get me wrong, it was a nice smoke, but not with the $16.00 it cost. It's flavor was a balance of ceder and nuts. Very smooth in construction. On my personal rating scale I gave this cigar a 3.
Partagas Corona (Cuban) - Now this is what I expected in a Cuban cigar. A very flavorful smoke with loads of coffee and chocolate flavors. Wonderful aroma! On my personal rating scale I gave this cigar a 4.
Ashton No. 40 Maduro - This a rich cigar with a chocolate and nutty flavor. It tends to draw a bit tight, but still a nice smoke. On my personal rating scale I gave this cigar a 4.
Arturo Fuente Hemingway Signature - This a rich, full-bodied cigar with a peppery flavor (hints of coffee and spice). Very well made! On my personal rating scale I gave this cigar a 5.
Las Vegas Cigar Company Montefino - This is a medium to full-bodied but slightly sweet cigar. Offers an excellant draw that provides a mouthful of flavorful smoke. Very well made! This ciagr has become one of my all-time favorites. On my personal rating scale I gave this cigar a 5.
SIGLO 21 No. 2 - This is a nice medium-bodied cigar. They hit the market in 1996, saluting the 21st century. These cigars offer an excellant draw and a marvelous aroma. Very well made! On my personal rating scale I gave this cigar a 5.
Match Play Cypress - This is a great medium-bodied cigar. The brand was introduced in 1995. The Cypress is nice Robusto cigar that offers an excellant draw, marvelous aroma and great flavor. The blend from four distinctly different tobaccos, wrapped by a Connecticut seed leaf. On my personal rating scale I gave this cigar a 5.
Fonseca 8-9-8 and 10-10 - These are great medium-bodied cigar. Blended from the choicest tobaccos grown in the Cibao Valley of DM. On my personal rating scale I gave this cigar a 5.
Fighting Cock Texes Red (Philippines) - One of the more uniquely named smokes, this is a great medium-bodied cigar. Excellent draw, aroma and flavor. The brand was introduced in 1995. On my personal rating scale I gave this cigar a 5.
Nativo Robusto (Puerto Rico) - Here is a cigar made from tobacco grown in Puerto Rico. It's a very well made cigar with excellent flavor and aroma. The filler and binder are grown in Puerto Rico and the wrapper is Sumatra. This brand was introduced to the cigar market in 1997. If you can't find them at your local tobacco shop, contact the U.S. distributor, Don Norberto's Classic Cigars at (215)675-2866. They are worth the long distance call! On my personal rating scale I gave this cigar a 5.
La Hananera - This Dominican cigar has a Connecticut leaf wrapper with a Olor binder and Cuban Piloto filler. A rather mild cigar with a creamy character. On my personal rating scale I gave this cigar a 4.
Predator - This cigar is made in Nicaragua and has a Summatra wrapper. The binder and filler are grown in Nicaragua. This is a medium to full bodied cigar. On my personal rating scale I gave this cigar a 4.
Quirantes - This cigar is made with a Connecticut Shade wapper, Dominican binder and filler. Very high quality construction. On my personal rating scale I gave this cigar a 4.
Tabacalera Corona Sumatra - These cigars are hand-made in the Philippines. The binder and filler used is tobacco grown in the Philippines and the wrapper from Java. This brand dates back to 1881. Very high quality construction with a nice medium-bodied flavor. If you happen to find these southeast asian ciagrs in your local tobacco shop, make sure you give them a try!! On my personal rating scale I gave this cigar a 5.
Casillas Torpedo & Double Corona - Here are two cigars made in the USA, from tobacco imported from Ecuador, Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua as well as Connecticut Shade from the US. Nicely made cigars with quality construction. Tendency to be a bit on the "earthy" side, but overall a nice smoke. On my personal rating scale I gave these cigars a 31/2 to 4.
Check out "Cigar Sites on the World Wide Web",by cigar guru Bob Curtis. Bob has compiled a very extensive list of cigar web sites. Worth the visit!
Here is a nice Cigar Ring Gauge and Shape Chart, check it out!
As you can see, my taste in cigars run from the mild to full bodied. It all depends on my mood. Sometimes I want to just sit and relax with a nice mild cigar. That's when I select a Macanudo or a Romeo y Julieta. At other times, I want a richer cigar with lots of flavor, such as a La Gloria Cubana or a Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur.
These cigars cost between $2.65 and $6.95. I have not worked it out, but I suspect that the average cost of the cigars I smoke is around $5.00 each. You can purchase cheaper cigars, but I find that you get what you pay for. However, the higher priced cigars tend to be made better and have more complex flavors.