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The 10 Best Cigar Brands to Smoke in 2022

Feeling lost in your local cigar shop? Here are the names you should know.

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Anyone who’s ever strolled into a cigar shop with the intention of buying a stogie (or a box of them) has been greeted by a dizzying array of brands, not to mention the various styles and types of cigars available. If you’re a regular smoker, then you probably have your favorite brands that you return to again and again. But if you’re a novice, then you likely find the plethora of unfamiliar names intimidating while wondering how you can tell the good from the not-so-good.

Whether you’re new to the world of cigars and are interested in trying out the habit yourself or buying some cigars as a gift, or you’re a seasoned smoker who’s just looking to discover some new brands, this guide is for you. With a focus on reputation, popularity and quality, we’ve come up with the following list of the best cigar brands you can buy today, so have a look at the ten cigar makers below and find your next favorite smoke.

Where are cigars made?

Just about everyone is familiar with the allure of a Cuban cigar, but since President Kennedy enacted an embargo on Cuban goods in 1962, it’s been illegal for cigars from the Caribbean island nation to be sold in the United States. "Cubans" have long been prized for their robust flavor and strength, but aficionados know that Cuba is not the be-all and end-all of cigar-producing regions.

Today, a trio of Latin American countries leads the way in non-Cuban cigar production: Nicaragua, Honduras, and perhaps the most notable of all, Cuba’s next-door neighbor in the Dominican Republic. Each of the brands you’ll encounter in this guide largely produces their cigars in one or more of these three nations, all of which have decades of industry and expertise to back up their production, along with the prime growing conditions for the tobacco itself — though a cigar’s tobacco isn’t necessarily grown in the same nation where it is ultimately produced. For instance, many brands use Ecuadorian-grown leaves for their wrappers, but comparatively few cigars are actually produced in the South American nation.

What makes a good cigar?

When you're dealing with cigars, the most important determining factor of whether or not the smoke will be any good lies with the tobacco used. That's the main reason why people make such a fuss about Cuban cigars: Cuba (along with a handful of other Latin American regions) just so happens to have the ideal conditions for growing the types of tobacco needed to make a good cigar. And that's just the thing. You can't just grow a nice tobacco crop and roll a cigar out of it. Every cigar contains several different types of tobacco that each serve a different purpose, and they're broken down into the following three categories.

Filler

This is the innermost portion of the cigar, and it's where the bulk of a cigar's tobacco ends up. The filler is almost always a blend of different tobaccos — sometimes including blends of different regions — and it's in fine-tuning these recipes that cigar makers can tweak the flavors of their smokes. The best cigars feature long filler, which are whole leaves that have not been chopped up, as they burn much more slowly and offer a better smoking experience.

Binder

The binder imparts the least amount of flavor into a cigar, but it's still a crucial component. Made up of the strongest leaves in a cigar, binder tobacco is used to "bind" the filler together by wrapping around it. Forming the middle layer of a cigar's construction, a binder must be chosen by a cigar maker to be compatible with a filler in both burn time and flavor.

Wrapper

Arguably the most important piece of a cigar's construction, the wrapper is where the bulk of a cigar's flavor comes from. It's a large, single leaf, wrapped around the binder to form the outermost portion of a stogie. You'll see a lot of attention paid to wrappers when it comes to buying cigars, as the country where it's grown, the conditions (shaded or sunny), the breed of tobacco and the aging process — whether it's natural (lighter, less fermented) or maduro (darker, more fermented) — all play a role in how it performs and tastes.

The 10 Best Cigar Brands of 2022

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Arturo Fuente
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Whereas the United States' embargo on Cuban goods dealt a blow to the business of Cuban-based cigar makers, it simultaneously was a boon to cigar brands based outside of the communist state. One of the biggest benefactors in that early post-embargo period was Arturo Fuente, which had skated by as a tiny cigar maker since its 1912 Florida founding and suddenly found itself poised to become one of the most notable brands in the world.

Putting down new roots in the Dominican Republic in the 1980s, Fuente established itself as one of the leading brands in this new stand-in for Cuba. Still owned by the Fuente family over a century after its conception, Arturo Fuente today is widely known and respected in the industry, especially for its flagship Fuente Fuente OpusX brand. Known for its Dominican-grown wrapper (the line was the world's first Dominican puro), it's consistently one of the most sought-after cigars in the world.

  • Main country of origin: Dominican Republic
  • Representative cigar: Fuente Fuente OpusX

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Ashton
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You'll notice that Ashton lacks the Spanish name found on most other major cigar brands. Well, that's because it wasn't founded by a Cuban or Cuban expat like most other brands. Ashton got its start in 1985 and was founded by Pennsylvania native Robert Levin, whose father owned famed retailer Holt's Cigar Company. Levin teamed up with the Fuente family (of the above Arturo Fuente) to launch his brand, and he still runs the company today with his son.

Ashton cigars are hand-rolled at the Fuente factory in the Dominican Republic, using mostly Dominican-grown tobacco. Boasting a premium reputation, Ashton is known for only using fine-aged tobaccos, with a multiyear fermentation process followed by a separate aging process that can take as long as 18 years. The result is a uniquely complex smoke. For the classic experience, go for the original Ashton brand.

  • Main country of origin: Dominican Republic
  • Representative cigar: Ashton

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Cohiba
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Cohiba is arguably the most famous name in the cigar business... but that's not the Cohiba we're talking about here. The ultra-famous, international symbol of luxury known as Cohiba is a storied Cuban brand, but as you know by now, Cuban cigars can't be sold in the U.S. Instead, Americans must make do with the Dominican-produced version of Cohiba.

Made specifically for the U.S. market since the 1980s, this version of Cohiba — which is owned by Virginia-based General Cigar Company — is not associated with the Cohiba of Cuba, and the two have been entangled in legal battles over copyright for years. Regardless, the American Cohiba has garnered plenty of fans stateside, and even produces a cigar in Miami in the Serie M, which debuted in 2021. The brand is arguably most regarded for its Red Dot series, which uses a blend of Cuban seed tobaccos — that is, plants whose seeds originated in Cuba but were grown elsewhere.

  • Main country of origin: Dominican Republic
  • Representative cigar: Cohiba Red Dot

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Davidoff
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Davidoff is essentially a "luxury" tobacco brand. Its products are expensive, but if you don't mind spending the money, you'll likely find them pretty damn enjoyable to smoke. The Swiss brand was founded by the "King of Cigars," Zino Davidoff, who was a notorious jet-setting playboy who began making his own stogies in the 1940s. Two decades later, his nascent company began producing cigars in Cuba on a larger scale until the early 1990s, at which point they moved operations to the Dominican Republic, allegedly for greater quality control standards.

Today, the brand operates one of the world's most advanced cigar factories in the country. Anything from Davidoff's White Label brands is considered top-notch, with the Aniversario series being especially noteworthy. With Dominican filler and binder tobaccos, Ecuadorian-grown Connecticut wrappers and a highly-controlled and calculated production process, it's billed as the quintessential special-occasion cigar.

  • Main country of origin: Dominican Republic
  • Representative cigar: Davidoff Aniversario

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Ferio Tego
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By far the youngest brand on this list, making its debut just in 2021, Ferio Tego is easily the hottest name in the cigar industry at the moment. But the history of its blends goes back a lot further than you might think. The brand was founded by Michael Herklots and Brendon Scott, both of whom were employees of the now-defunct Nat Sherman tobacco company.

The cult-favorite brand, which operated a flagship "townhouse" in midtown Manhattan for 70 years until shutting its doors in 2020, lives on in spirit through Fiero Tego, as Herklots and Scott were able to purchase the recipes to Nat Sherman's luxurious cigars, while also producing their own lauded original creations. It's those flagship original cigars — the Dominican-made Elegancia and Nicaraguan-produced Generoso — that are perhaps most exciting to seasoned smokers.

  • Main country of origin: Dominican Republic and Nicaragua
  • Representative cigar: Ferio Tego Elegancia and Generoso

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Montecristo
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Like Cohiba, Montecristo is one of the best-known cigar makers in the world. And, like Cohiba, the brand that’s known the world over hails from Cuba. Finally, like Cohiba, there is a Dominican-produced version of Montecristo that is produced for the American market. But here’s where Montecristo's DR edition differs from Cohiba’s: It actually falls under the same corporate umbrella as its Cuban counterpart, rather than competing against it.

The Dominican Montecristo is wholly owned by Spanish tobacco company Altadis (which is itself a subsidiary of the UK’s Imperial Brands), while the Cuban version is evenly split between Altadis and the Cuban government. The Dominican iteration is of course most interesting to this guide, and it traces its roots to its exiled founder Alonso Menéndez, who fled Cuba with his business partners during the revolution to reestablish elsewhere. The brand is best known for its Original series, especially the Torpedo-shaped “No. 2,” which is an all-Dominican cigar wrapped in yellow-tinged Connecticut Shade leaf.

  • Main country of origin: Dominican Republic
  • Representative cigar: Montecristo No. 2

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Oliva
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Melanio Oliva first began rolling cigars in Cuba way back in 1886, a tradition that was carried on by his son. Post-communist revolution, Melanio's grandson, Gilberto Oliva, fled the country and sought a new life for himself elsewhere. After a few decades, he longed to get back into the cigar-making business, and looking for a location to replicate Cuba's ideal tobacco growing conditions, he settled on Nicaragua.

Today Gilberto's company remains one of the most significant forces in Nicaraguan cigar manufacturing, with a massive crop of Nicaraguan-grown tobacco that has put Oliva at the forefront of the Nicaraguan cigar boom of the past two decades. The brand's flagship is its Oliva Serie V brand, which is one of the world's most consistently highly-rated cigars and is known for its high concentration of strong Ligero leaf tobacco.

  • Main country of origin: Nicaragua
  • Representative cigar: Oliva Serie V

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Padrón
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The reigning champ of Cigar Aficionado's annual top 25 cigars list, its fourth victory after appearing on every single iteration of the list since the first in 2004, Padrón is a serious cigar brand for serious cigar smokers. Founded by Cuban refugee Jose Orlando Padrón in 1964 after resettling in Miami, the Padrón of today remains a family-owned business with offices in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood.

The brand's process is entirely vertically integrated, from the planting to the Nicaraguan production to the distribution, giving Padrón complete control over all aspects of their cigars. Crucial to the brand is their 1964 Anniversary Series. First debuting in 1994 — and winning this year's aforementioned Cigar of the Year honor — the cigars utilize the old-school Cuban method of box-pressing, resulting in their distinct sharp-cornered shape.

  • Main country of origin: Nicaragua
  • Representative cigar: Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series

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Rocky Patel
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One of the most "in-your-face" brands in the industry, Florida-based Rocky Patel Premium Cigars got its start in the mid-1990s when Hollywood lawyer Rakesh "Rocky" Patel decided to try his hand at cigar-making. Spoiler: he ended up being pretty good at it. Starting out by manufacturing cigars in the largely-untapped-by-the-industry Central American nation of Honduras, Rocky Patel has since become synonymous with the country, which is now considered part of the holy trinity of non-Cuban cigar-producing countries alongside the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.

While Rocky Patel has since opened a second base of operations in Nicaragua, most of its brands remain Honduran-produced, including its highly-acclaimed (rated 95 by Cigar Aficionado) Decade brand. First launched in 2007 to commemorate 10 years in business, the Decade is a full-bodied, box-pressed, Sumatra-wrapped stogie with a top-secret filler.

  • Main country of origin: Honduras
  • Representative cigar: Rocky Patel Decade

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Romeo y Julieta
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The third Cuban-not-Cuban company to make this list, Romeo y Julieta was actually the first of the trio to begin making cigars, having been founded in 1875 — some nine decades prior to Cohiba’s post-revolution birth. These days, the brand operates nearly identically to Montecristo, as both exist as separate Cuban and non-Cuban entities that are owned by Altadis.

Romeo y Julieta’s main base of operations is in the Dominican Republic, but it also operates factories in Nicaragua and Honduras as well, making for one of the most robust portfolios in the industry. The brand’s long history naturally has some highlights, with perhaps the most notable being that it was the preferred brand of perhaps the most famous cigar smoker ever, Winston Churchill. Because of this, the brand is arguably best known for its Churchill size rather than any specific brand (though they’re hardly the only company making Churchills).

  • Main country of origin: Dominican Republic
  • Representative cigar: Romeo y Julieta Churchill, any brand

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