2016 was an exhausting year for the cigar industry. In our five-plus years exploring the world of premium cigars, we’ve never seen anything quite like it! For starters, the looming proposal by the FDA to regulate premium cigars finally came to a head—spoiler alert, we lost… Although, it isn’t all doom and gloom—multiple retaliations (in the form of lawsuits and petitions) were fired back, resulting in at least one small victory (cigar packaging will be allowed alterations) in 2016. The heavy-hitting lawsuits are set to go down this coming year (mark your calendars for July 28, 2017). Then, of course, there’s the Trump-Pence victory—which, turns out, is a very delicate topic—though it’s hard to ignore the potential implications for reduced government regulations, including the cigar industry. There were also an unusual number of major anniversaries (which is saying a lot for the cigar industry)—including José Orlando Padrón’s 90th, Fidel Castro’s 90th, Fuente’s celebration of 20 years of OpusX (though it’s technically 21…), Cohiba’s 50th anniversary, and many more. There were also two notable deaths, including Fidel Castro (which elicited Cuban celebration) and Carlos Fuente Sr. (for which the cigar world wept).

Of all the changes in 2016, the FDA ruling was clearly the most impactful, and for our year-end list, this was most evident in the massive influx of cigars to hit the market (in an attempt to meet FDA deadlines before they begin the mysterious process of charging manufacturers to “test” their blends for approval). We’ve done our best to smoke our way through the chaos, offering our take on the best cigars 2016 had to offer.


As always, Cigar Dojo’s year-end list adheres to a strict and slightly unorthodox set of guidelines—making for the most authentic representation of 2016’s best cigar releases (in our opinion).

Guidelines for Cigar Dojo’s Top 10 Cigar of the Year list are as follows:

  • $12 range (cigars must be under $13.00 MSRP)
  • Regular production (no limited editions, shop exclusives, etc.)
  • Sold in the USA
  • Released in 2016

Because of these guidelines, we feel our list best represents what most cigar smokers are looking for—great cigars that can be smoked on a regular basis. Take our list into your B&M and you’ll be sure to find most, if not all of these cigars.

Note: Cigar Dojo’s year-end list has traditionally been limited to the “$10 range”, making for a list that the everyday smoker could somewhat easily obtain. Due to market changes over the past few years (2016 especially), we’ve decided to raise the limit to the “$12 range” and have consequently added an additional “Best Value Cigar” category to our Exceptional Cigars list.
  1. Quadrata Robusto

    Matilde Quadrata Robusto Number 10 Cigar of the Year 2016

    Matilde advances their careful and calculated collection of cigars in their portfolio with Quadrata — adding a medium-full-bodied experience that fits nicely within their clear-cut and color coordinated lineup. Quadrata showcases superior construction in an attractive, box-pressed presentation; offering the experienced smoker a heavy-hitting profile that centers around freshly cracked black pepper.

    • Brand: Matilde Cigars
    • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
    • Vitola: Robusto (5¼” × 50)
    • Price: $8.50
    • Full Review: Matilde Quadrata Robusto
  2. Venganza “Judge”

    Cornelius & Anthony Venganza "Judge" Number 9 Cigar of the Year 2016

    Cornelius & Anthony reimagined themselves in 2016, hitting the ground running with four new blends and teaming with two of the industry’s hottest factories for execution. Of the four, Venganza showcased the best balance of flavor and complexity. The cigar can be enjoyed by novices and seasoned smokers alike, with a surprisingly intricate balance of cedar, espresso, leather, and a long, sweet finish.

  3. Powerband Toro

    Camacho Powerband Toro Number 8 Cigar of the Year 2016

    The high-end Master Built series, introduced by Camacho in 2015, received its successor in the form of an amped up and full-throttled smoking experience, dubbed Powerband. The cigar incorporates a proprietary bunching technique to deliver maximum efficiency from start to finish. This manages to become one of Powerband’s strongest features, bringing a bold, yet surprisingly finesse profile ’til the very last puff.

    • Brand: Camacho
    • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
    • Vitola: Toro (6″ × 50)
    • Price: $12.00
    • Full Review: Camacho Powerband Robusto (different size)
  4. Particulares #1

    Sindicato Particulares Number 7 Cigar of the Year 2016

    Sindicato can no longer be ranked among newcomer brands, and they’ve opted to showcase the vintage-inspired Particulares as precedent. Teaming with Casa Fernández and their legendary AGANORSA leaf, Particulares reimagines an 1800s brand for the modern era. The 100% Nicaraguan blend does an incredible job imparting a nostalgic aura, transporting the smoker to a bygone era of Cuban smoking experiences.

    • Brand: Sindicato Cigars
    • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
    • Vitola: Toro (6¼” × 48)
    • Price: $7.95
    • Full Review: Particulares #1
  5. AVO Syncro Nicaragua Fogata Short Torpedo

    AVO Syncro Nicaragua Fogata Number 6 Cigar of the Year 2016

    Fogata is the followup to AVO’s Syncro line, marking a successful venture into Nicaraguan tobaccos for the traditionally Dominican brand. But AVO Syncro Nicaragua Fogata takes the concept further, showcasing the more intense qualities of Nicaragua’s Estelí and Condega regions. The end result is more refined than anticipated, with a supreme balance from the whopping 7 tobaccos used, showing dry notes of spice, citrus, and coffee.

  6. The Tabernacle Corona

    Foundation The Tabernacle Corona Number 5 Cigar of the Year 2016

    In its sophomore year, Foundation Cigar Co. gave in to consumer demand, showcasing brand owner Nick Melillo’s notorious skill for blending dark and gritty, Connecticut Broadleaf-wrapped maduros. The Tabernacle draws from Biblical inspiration, showcasing specially-selected tobaccos of 4 countries; making for a punchy smoke, filled with rich notes of dark chocolate, fresh-cut wood, espresso, and maple syrup.

    • Brand: Foundation Cigar Company
    • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
    • Vitola: Corona (5¼” × 46)
    • Price: $9.00
    • Full Review: The Tabernacle Corona
  7. Bellas Artes Short Churchill

    AJ Fernandez Bellas Artes Short Churchill Number 4 Cigar of the Year 2016

    Bellas Artes is the culmination of years of strategic moves by AJF Cigar Co. to position their brand as an affordable reimagining of Old World flavors for the modern smoker. Master Blender A.J. Fernandez makes good use of his vertically integrated operation to unveil a new and proprietary “Rojita” wrapper; incorporating 3 seeds for a special, hybrid leaf. Flavors are big, bright, tangy, and unmistakably unique.

    • Brand: AJ Fernández Cigar Company
    • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
    • Vitola: Short Churchill (6″ × 48)
    • Price: $8.25
    • Full Review: Bellas Artes Robusto Extra (different size)
  8. Dos Firmas 46 x 4⅞

    Caldwell Dos Firmas 4⅞” × 46 Number 3 Cigar of the Year 2016

    Caldwell may be fairly new to the scene, but they’ve covered tremendous ground since launching in 2014. The brand became known for its use of rare and vintage tobaccos, teaming with the vast knowledge of the Ventura family to introduce unorthodox concepts. Dos Firmas showcases a 20-year-old personal blend of Master Blender William Ventura. It is classic, having refined notes that are lead by an unmistakable profile of peanut shells.

    • Brand: Caldwell Cigar Company
    • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
    • Vitola: Rothschild (4⅞” × 46)
    • Price: $9.60
    • Full Review: Dos Firmas – Caldwell Signature
  9. Yamasá Petit Churchill

    Davidoff Yamasá Petit Churchill Number 2 Cigar of the Year 2016

    Davidoff’s popular “Black Label” series turns the focus from explorations outside the brand’s base in the Dominican Republic, towards their own innovations in the Yamasá region of the DR. Over the course of 20 years, the region’s soil was transformed; allowing the once-infertile soil to showcase its unique properties through the “Yamasá” tobacco. The cigar is sophisticated, complex, musky, and shockingly Cubanesque.

    • Brand: Davidoff Cigars
    • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
    • Vitola: Petit Churchill (4″ × 48)
    • Price: $12.90
    • Full Review: Davidoff Yamasá Petit Churchill
  10. Maestro del Tiempo 5205

    Warped Maestro del Tiempo 5205 Number 1 Cigar of the Year 2016

    Maestro del Tiempo translates to “Master of Time”, highlighting Kyle Gellis’ (Warped Cigars owner) laborious task to uncover the most precious, unique tobaccos within the vast collection of AGANORSA tobaccos. Kyle has clearly succeeded, offering Warped’s greatest masterpiece to date; using a Nicaraguan puro blend to capture the refinement of a classic Habano, with the high flavor output of modern Nicaraguan leaf.

    • Brand: Warped Cigars
    • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
    • Vitola: Lonsdale (6⅜” × 42)
    • Price: $9.65
    • Full Review: Maestro Del Tiempo 5205

Order now….

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