People who really know cigars may disagree about which ones are the best based on their own personal preferences. One thing we can all agree about is which cigar brands are the most famous.
Cuban cigars take the cake for renown. The “Cuban” designation is a special mark in itself, but superior quality and flavor require more than a point of origin. We’ve rounded up a list of the five most iconic cigar brands, as well as the characteristics that have contributed to their fame.
Cohiba is Fidel Castro’s favorite cigar. Originally made in small batches from the finest tobacco leaves by artisan cigar maker Eduardo Ribera, Cohibas were put into large-scale production in Cuba after Castro swooned over his first drag from one.
The Cohibas we have been smoking in the US are actually made in the Dominican Republic by General Cigar Company, which owns the rights to the name “Cohiba” on American soil. Cohiba cigars are medium-bodied, but big on flavor. In general, they are slightly spicy with notes of honey and cocoa.
2. Romeo y Julieta
Romeo y Julieta was the cigar of choice for Winston Churchill–and there is a Romeo y Julieta named for him today.
Originally made famous as the rich man’s cigar, Romeo y Julietas have been produced in Cuba for almost 140 years. Similar to Cohibas, the production of Romeo y Julietas for the American market takes place in the Dominican Republic. The ones we smoke in the US are exported by Altadis, a French-Spanish company that bought half of Habanos, the Cuban national tobacco company, in order to be able to use the name Romeo y Julieta.
Smooth and mellow Romeo y Julietas are full-bodied with medium strength and flavor. They offer notes of leather, hay, cocoa, and cedar.
Montecristo is the brand of cigar you’re most likely to find in Jack Nicholson’s hand. It is also the world’s favorite, owning 25 percent of the global sales of Cuban cigars. In fact, the Montecristo No. 4 is the best-selling cigar in the world.
Just like Cohibas and Romeo y Julietas, Montecristos are produced in Cuba and in the Dominican Republic, and they are also distributed to the US by Altadis.
Medium-bodied and creamy and bold in flavor, Montecristos offer nutty, salty, earthy, and chocolatey notes.
4. H. Upmann
JFK loved a good H. Upmann, and he reportedly bought as many of them as he could get. One of the oldest cigar brands still in production, H. Upmann cigars were founded in 1844. The company is named for founder Herman Upmann. Today they are made in Cuba and in the Dominican Republic, and are distributed to the US by Altadis.
H. Upmann cigars are medium-bodied and have a flavor profile that is medium to full-bodied, carrying notes of white pepper, chocolate, earth, and natural tobacco.
Ashton is the cigar of Wayne Gretzky’s choice. The only non-Cuban cigar to make this list, Ashton is produced in the Dominican Republic by American cigar producer Arturo Fuente. Arturo Fuente, which produces under the mark A. Fuente, is famous in its own right for making a cigar that can compete with all of the Cubans. Ashtons are medium-bodied and known for their soft, creamy, nutty, and herbaceous flavor.
Certainly there are other brands that did not make this list, such as CAO, Don Candido, El Rey del Mundo, Sancho Panza, and Rafael Gonzáles, to name a few.
Now that your interest is piqued, why not come down to Noble Hops to try one of the Ashton 898s, Cohiba Blacks, Toros and Dominican Toros, H. Upmann Reserves, Montecristo Maestros, and Romeo y Julieta Churchills we stock in our humidor.