This year was a very good one for Cuban cigars available in the market. Many of the cigars in stores around the world had one or two years of box age, which meant that they showed a more refined and mellow character when smoking compared to fresh cigars. Moreover, shortages of stock were not a problem with the exception of the ever-so-rare Cohiba Behikes.
Americans continue to be able to legally smoke Cuban cigars despite shifts in US policy with Cuba. This is positive for those of us who think Cuba makes the best cigars in the world. The limit for the personal importation of Cuban cigars to the United States remains at $100 worth of product, although this is only for those arriving directly into the United States from the island. Smoking Cuban cigars in third-party countries, no matter the United Kingdom or China, is totally legal now. So Americans, enjoy your Cuban cigars!
I must comment on two shortcomings of Cuban cigars this year, however. I am concerned with the continued increase in prices for Cuban cigars and the inconsistency in quality. How much do we have to pay for a Cuban cigar? It’s getting too expensive. And if we must pay such high prices for a great Habanos, it is essential that cigars are 100 percent quality with excellent aged tobacco character and flawless construction from beautiful wrappers to perfect draws.
Regardless, I found ten outstanding cigars for my annual list of my Top 10 Cuban Cigars in 2017. I must admit that I smoked a lot of robustos this year; hence, there are numerous cigars of that size on the list. Take, for example, my number one Habanos of the Year: H. Upmann Magnum 50. This beautiful gran robusto was my go-to cigar for most of December while in Hong Kong and Bangkok, and it’s a super cigar that delivers refined and flavorful character with every puff from beginning to end. The other nine cigars are equally compelling and I wholeheartedly recommend that you smoke them.
All the cigars in this list are real Habanos and all are rated at least 94 points, or outstanding to classic quality. The tasting note includes the name, dimension of the cigar, description and rating. The cigars came from Havana or Hong Kong La Casa del Habano stores. All were boxed in 2015.
1. Upmann Magnum 50 (50 x 6 ½ inches): The first thing you notice about this cigar is the silky wrapper. It’s beautiful and refined to look at as well as to touch. The actual smoke is rich, beefy with multiple notes of leather, tea, nutmeg and red earth. The next chorus of symphonic flavors is so good! White pepper and cinnamon come through at the end. I can’t help but notice the perfect burn. This is a cigar that is focused, deep and rich but not trying to show off like a lot of cigars do these days. This is a truly wonderful smoke! 98 points
2. Montecristo Double Edmundo (50 x 6 ¼ inches): I love the feel of this mighty smoke. It’s long and solid. It’s a dense and flavorful cigar with lots of coffee and tiramisu character. Undertones of tobacco, too. Full, flavorful and gorgeous. It turns earthy and funky at the finish with lots of character that reminds me of the wet soils of the Vuelta Abajo, the premium tobacco-growing region of Cuba. 97 points
3. Cohiba Siglo III (42 x 6 1/8 inches) This Siglo is often overlooked in the range of six sizes of Cohiba Siglo, so I was overjoyed to smoke one and find it to be of clearly outstanding quality. The cigar is perfectly balanced and focused from beginning to end. It shows an ideal balance of pepper, leather and coffee character. The burn is textbook. You can taste the aged tobacco. 96 points
4. Bolivar Royal Coronas (50 x 4 7/8 inches): I love the coffee and cream character with new leather and cardamom undertones. A wealth of tea. This delivers what you want from the start to finish. It’s a great pleasure. You don’t have to wait. 95 points
5. Vegas Robaina Unicos (52 x 6 1/8 inches): I love the hazelnut, spice and tobacco character in this torpedo or piramides cigar. There are tea undertones, too. Full and rich with so much flavor. There’s so much going on. A solid smoke. 96 points
6. Upmann Magnum 54 (54 x 4 ¾ inches): This super robusto shows the balance and flavor I look for in a fine cigar with tea and light coffee undertones. Medium body. Flavorful yet savory and vivid at the finish. 95 points
7. Vegas Robaina Famoso (48 x 5 inches): This is a lovely size and feels beautiful in your hand. It’s a decadent and rich cigar with roasted nuts and coffee bean notes complementing the tobacco and earth flavors. Full-bodied with white pepper undertones to the robust flavors. Plenty of character. 95 points.
8. Cohiba Siglo IV (46 x 5 5/8 inches): This beautiful cigar shows an intoxicating and floral bouquet from the start. It’s very focused and rich with flavors of wet hay and saddle leather. It evolves into powdery dark chocolate, and ends with a slight pepper and macadamia aftertaste. This is a deeply-pleasurable cigar for the most experienced smokers. 95 points
9. Cohiba Talismán Edición Limitada 2017 (54 x 6 inches): I am a little surprised by the rough construction of this large pigtail cigar. But limitadas can have rustic wrappers like this one due to the upper priming used. This wrapper dominated as expected lending the cigar espresso, tobacco, nut and wet earth character with every puff. Full body, layered and soft textured with a flavorful finish. Shows the Cohiba character halfway through the cigar. Fresh and savory. 94 points
10. Romeo y Julieta Short Churchill (50 x 4 7/8 inches): I always love smoking this cigar and this current release is a nice size for a quick-break cigar or for someone looking for a milder smoke. It has a great beginning that is full-flavored and creamy with hazelnut, leather and sage undertones. It has an ideal draw, too. Lots of red earth and a stream of subtle brown flavors, including wet leather, dark coffee and mild pepper. Consistent from beginning to end. Look forward to the next one! 94 points