That’s right, non Cubans, the cigars that seem to be instantly penalized by many, solely on the basis that they’re from a different part of the world. Among the many lists and reviews of “the best cigars”, there doesn’t seem to be much thought as to what else the cigar world has to offer. Sure the idea of these elite cigars is enticing, the average American smoker knows that vacations to neighboring countries could be their only chance to try a Cuban. But what about the rest of the time? Are we really subjected to a subpar cigar offering? Are we missing out?

What’s so special about Cuban Cigars?

Map of the cigar holy land

The cigar holy land.

Is there really some magical combination that Cuba and her cigar rollers possess? Some people think that it’s the common consensus that Cuban cigars are “the best in the world” but cigar insiders and enthusiasts know that a quality cigar can be made elsewhere. So why are Cubans held with such high regard? Tobacco has been grown on Cuban soil for literally hundreds of years, not to mention Cuba’s virtually perfect climate for growing and fermenting tobacco leafs. But there’s more to it than that; in the early 1960’s, the USA instituted a trade embargo against Cuba as they had been overrun by Communism. Half a century with no Cuban cigars? Do they even exist?… Of course they do, problem is, the “elusive Cuban” has been so built-up in everyone’s minds that the actual product often leaves one… wanting something more. Don’t get me wrong, I believe 100% that the best cigar(s) money can buy are in fact Cuban cigars. Cohiba (Cuban cigar manufacturer) currently produces a stick called the Behike, a $40 smoke that is widely thought to be the finest cigar in the world. And hey, if you’ve got the money and the means to buy yourself a piece of history, there are Cuban cigars in the 35-50 year range that will probably change your life forever.

Now lets get back to reality, the majority of us cigar-lovin’ dudes want to keep three styles of cigars in the old humidor: the day-to-day $3 – $8 smoke, the bottom shelf “give to friends” cigars, and of course, the creme de la creme, top shelf, “special occasion” type stick. Well let me reassure you that this is possible even with the old embargo. The Cubans were no dummies, when Communist government seized their farms, they didn’t all sit back and take it. Original Cuban tobacco seeds were smuggled out of the country and into neighboring regions such as Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominican Republic, the United States, and others. Nearly every cigar rolled today comes from these Cuban-transplanted tobacco seeds, pretty impressive.

  • Brian

    Great lineup!

    My #1 is the AF Anejo, which of course is nothing more than an OpusX with a maduro wrapper. – so I feel my Anejo’s made the list~! 😉

    • Sumatra Samurai

      I agree, love those Añejos, and who couldn’t love that crazy #77 shark vitola? I’m a fan of both AF cigars, they should really be on here as a pair.

  • SnowNinja

    Great article and lovely line-up. I agree the Pardron & Liga Privada probably have the best “legal” lines of cigars for US consumers. They used be my favorite sticks. However, I have to give Cuban cigars the edge…hands down. I have been lucky enough to find a reputable online Cuban dealer w authentic products and excellent prices ($10-15/stick). For yrs I never believed all the hype of Cuban cigars but after smoking a few boxes of Bolivar, Cohiba, Montecristo, etc., I was completely blown away. Cuban cigars have an amazing formula that somehow combines rich full-on flavors w an unbelievably smooth finish. The construction of the stick is also like nothing else I have seen. It’s hard to accurately describe and for someone to filly understand until they have had the proper Cuban experience. The burn, the aromas, the complexity of flavors, the look, even the feel of the stick in ur hand are all on another level. The bottom line for me is how insanely smooth they are. I never thought it was possible for cigars to blast such rich robust glorious complex flavors w heavenly milky smooth smoke and a crisp clean finish. I smoked a Cohiba Esplindido this week and I almost thought I was dreaming. I had to pause a few times just to acknowledge the experience- “is this cigar really doing this?” Most people think they have to pay $25-50/stick for cubans and feel its too much trouble to find them (be very careful for fakes, 95% of the Cohibas around the world are fakes). But when u find a source of genuine Cubans for great prices ( there’s no going back. 1day I hope Nicauraguan blends can produce the same quality. Currently I feel Padrons r greatly overpriced ($20+) even Ligas should be $7-10. I guess in the end it’s personal preference like anything else. I will continue to keep LPs etc in my rotation and some smokers might still prefer Nics over Cubans. But if u havent had any authentic cubans yet, I strongly reccommend any cigar lover to find a good online retailer and experience the magical magnificence of Cuban cigars.

    • 2atonce

      I totally loved this article and agreed. I have been smoking ceegars since 2000. I want to get into the cigar business somehow, and want to love my job!

  • Joe Peterson

    I would put these sticks and a few others (Ashton VSG for example) up against any Cuban out there. No doubt there will be some wins on either side and perhaps a draw or to, but to say the top best Cigars are exclusively made in Cuba is no longer the case. When you place in the price difference with top nonCubans to Cubans well you get the idea….

  • Mr Carl

    I agree totally & only smoke those mentioned, except “My Father”, I luckily by chance discovered them on my own with exception of Liga which my local shop mngr introduced to me because I kept buying AF “SHARKS”. At the time it was great, cut costs in half & easier to locate……then the boom came price increased a couple bucks per stick & supply got short. But I like them more than AF’s now!
    Friends get Padron 2 & 3k’s
    Love the article!

    • Sumatra Samurai

      Thanks for checking out the article Mr Carl! I must say, that #77 shark came awfully close, and at certain times, may put it right up at the top of my list.

  • Texas T

    Very nice top five. I’ve enjoyed all of them except the opusX but I’ve heard great things about it. I also would in my top 5 have the LFD DL600. (a mighty fine cigar by Lito Gomez) Smoke and enjoy.

  • Cigar_G

    Great list. I love all 5 cigars you’ve listed.

  • Those are 5 great cigars though I would probably trade one of the Padrones and put in the Ashton ESG 21 anniversary just to shake it up a little and lets go to 6 so I can throw in an LFD LG small batch#3

    I am becoming a big fan of Dominican cigars, and don’t get me wrong I don’t care where they came from if they are good, but the Dominican cigars just seem to have more complexity to them.

  • Christian sapp

    I love this list have yet to try the opus in that size but the liga is right now my favorite stick the feral flying
    Pig out of the line is my favorite. I don’t know how much shit I will get but the Cuban cigars I have tired have been nothing special. My favorite country of origin is Nicaragua.

    • Thanks for the nice comments Christian.

    • Sumatra Samurai

      I have to agree with you, some of the best stuff seems to come out of Nicaragua. I haven’t tried the Feral Pig yet but I have one waiting in my humi!

  • CigarL

    Sensei, spend a couple hours with a Litto Gomez Small Batch # 3 or 4 and see what ya think. Also get hold of a Curivari Reserva Limitada 1000 in the 2000 size.

  • CigarL

    i can agree on your 5 Best. i’ve enjoyed all 5 at one point in the last few months & this list contains my current favs. there are some up & coming sticks knocking at that # 4 and 5 position but i could die a happy old coot if these were the only NC’s available to me.

    • Thanks for the nice comments. What are some other sticks you would consider to be in this list? I love getting fresh suggestions.

      • paul kaplan

        Flor de las Antillas toro….wonderful

  • Mr Bill

    My first thought was the AF Anejo #77 Shark… I love the cigar the cognac flavor throughout. But I think most of the pleasure I have with this smoke is I only smoke them with my best friend that lives in Phx. The memories and the camaraderie make it that much more of a treasure for me.

    • Great point Mr. Bill, there are those certain cigars that you always treasure based on a memory. I have some of those I treasure as well such as the Ashton VSG I had when camping with my sons, at the time it seemed like the best cigar I had ever smoked. Delicious.

    • Sumatra Samurai

      That is a great smoke! And I have one waiting for me in the humi right now… it is “shark week” after all…

  • billy

    a great meaty is also La Amora de Cuba, Mi Amor, Valentino, as well as the T-52, the T-9, and of course the rare Feral Flying Pig.. i was about to get a couple of boxes of those rare gems

  • Eduardo

    I agree somewhat. You should remember that the opus and both padrons are 25.00+. I also would rate the 45 slightly higher than the 26. Just my personal preference…

    • Sumatra Samurai

      That depends where you’re buying, I can pick up the opus for about $14 at the local shop, the padrons are around $18. If you’re shopping in Vegas, you might be looking at that higher price tag. The 45 is dang tasty but then you are looking at that super high price range… Tough call

  • Matt Williams

    I am also a fan of the CAO Carillo pato
    and the Cohiba Red dot Rubusto.

    • I haven’t tried that CAO yet. I will have to pick one up based on your recommendation.

  • Matt Williams

    For me it is the JDN Antano 1970, Liga 9, and then the ACID Kuba Deluxe when I want to really switch it up. I have yet to smoke the Padron’s or the My father so will have to keep an eye out for those.

  • Chris Preetorius

    Great line-up of sticks. Best top 5 (next to mine) that I’ve seen.

    • Is your list online? I’d love to read it!

      • Chris Preetorius

        No, it’s Not. But It’s biased. #1 Liga Privada T52 Robusto, #2 Liga Dirty Rat, #3 Opus X Don Carlos,
        #4 Los Blancos 9 Robusto, #5 (just tried my first 2 of these and they were amazing) Asylum 13. The Asylum 13 is a new stick at the IPCPR. It is definately one worth watching.

        • I have some Liga T52s that are almost “up to bat”. Can’t wait to try them.

          • Chris Preetorius

            If you’ve aged them, they should blow your mind. Similiar to the Liga #9, but more complex and more spice. I have a bunch that I bought a couple years ago and everytime I smoke one i am completely grounded by how amazing the age has made them. Also try the L40, also similar taste but more creamy zest. The T52 is a complex meaty zest. Cheers to good ash and great sticks BOTL.

  • Gordo

    I have to say that the first cigar that came to my mind when I read the title of this blog was the Liga no.9. I must say that I was also pleased to see that My Father was there too, as these are two of my top five. I fully support your top five. Well done.

    • Sumatra Samurai

      It’s crazy, I had never even tried the Liga until about a month ago, boy was I missing out!

  • Hef

    Nice job – Your pick of cigars is right on the money my friend!

    • Sumatra Samurai

      Thanks Hef, great to hear! I think any day is made better with one of these babies!

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