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Cigar 101

What Country Makes the Best Cigars?

J. Bennett Alexander Alexander's picture

J. Bennett Alexander

A few years ago, I asked a cigar-maker whose company manufactured in the Dominican Republic if a particular cigar contained any Nicaraguan tobacco. He evaded answering the question. I had tasted the new release from the company and was confident there was some stronger tobacco that had not been evident in other of the company’s offerings. Yes, there was some Nicaraguan tobacco present, I later confirmed. I had not asked in an effort to embarrass or challenge, but just to understand that the question, “What country makes the best cigars?” might not be one that can be reliably answered. In truth, these days, with different tobaccos from different countries being rolled into wonderful cigars in a nation that provided no leaf to the product, the real question is better stated as, “Who makes the best cigars in the world?” or “Where do the best cigars come from?”

The “Best” Cigars

The questions we’re tackling here are actually quite easy to answer. The first answer is a very subjective one. It’s your answer. What is your favorite cigar? Where is it made? That is the country that, for you, makes the “best” cigars. The second answer is a bit more objective. This takes into account construction and consistency.

Construction & Consistency

No cigar should be considered the “best” if it is not well made. The same is true if, for example, within a single box of cigars there are wrappers with different colors and cigars with different flavors. Excellent construction is a hallmark of cigar-makers like Padrón, Fuente, Ashton, Oliva, My Father, La Flor Dominicana, Davidoff and others. As well, consistency is a characteristic of these and other companies. It’s rare to find discolored wrappers or one cigar in a box stronger than the others among the products of these and other companies. It can happen, but it’s quite rare. That said, we’ve probably all experienced inconsistency and construction problems among Cuban cigars. So many problems have plagued the Cuban cigar industry since the Castro revolution that it might be difficult to justify spending so much for the cigars, especially at recently inflated prices. Still, if you find a good one, a Cuban cigar like a Montecristo No. 2, can be a special experience. At more than $40 per cigar, it should be wonderful every time. At a minimum, it should be the same from cigar to cigar. I suggest keeping a cigar dagger ready just in case you find one that’s plugged.

But Which Country Makes the Best Cigars?

Let me answer this question the only way I know how. I’m going to tell you my favorite cigars, mostly Figurados and Robustos, alphabetically by country of origin. Fabulous cigars are made in all these countries. Please understand, however, that cigars have to be well made and consistent in flavor for me to call any of them a favorite. You can engage in the same exercise to answer the question for yourself. Fortunately, for cigar lovers, with so many great cigars in the world, the “best” cigar can easily be the one you’re smoking at any given time.


This is a tough one because I’m now at a point that I find very little value in Cuban cigars. The one I have found, over more than 50 years of smoking cigars, to be most consistent and well made is the Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2. I don’t remember the last time one was plugged or off in flavor. It’s definitely in my pantheon of favorite all-time cigars. I’ve also liked the Bolivar Belicoso and, of course, the Montecristo No. 2, but I distinctly remember horrible experiences with both of those.

Dominican Republic

You might already know my overall favorite cigar is the Ashton ESG, preferably the 22-Year Salute, a Torpedo, or the 24-Year Salute, a Perfecto. They are made by the Fuente factory. Among Dominican-made cigars, the Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Robusto and the La Flor Dominicana Coronado make my favorites list.


There are several high-quality Honduran cigars, and many are available for a great value too. I really enjoy the Rocky Patel Sun Grown and the Rocky Patel Vintage 2003 Robusto. I also like the Punch Grand Cru Torpedo.


Nicaragua produces more cigars today than any other country, and the quality of Nicaraguan cigars is unquestioned with so many premium brands originating there. The Padrón 1926 Series #2, a Torpedo, in a natural wrapper ranks tops of my choices from Nicaragua. Right up there is the Oliva Serie V Melanio Torpedo. I also like, especially after a re-blend, the La Aroma de Cuba Edición Especial, made by the Garcia factory, the one that makes My Father.

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