Cigar Aficionado’s Best Cigars of 2021 – Part 2

by Juan Panesso
A silhouette of a man in a chair holding a cigar and facing a city skyline.


In a previous post, we learned about Cigar Aficionado’s Top Ten Cigars of 2021. In this post, we’ll keep rolling down the list and see what made it into the best 20 cigars of 2021! 

#11 Cloud Hopper No. 53 

Our first cigar of the day is too cool to have a brand name.

The Cloud Hopper is a blend from Kyle Gellis, the young founder of Warped. His company is already on the map thanks to the popularity of the Gran Reserva 1988 and the Guardian of the Farm cigar. Now, with this petit corona, he’s back in a little big way. Expect the flavors of gingerbread, chocolate, and sweet spices, with a nutty finish.

It’s not a huge cigar, but the flavors are totally on point in this 93-point Nicaraguan puro.

The dude has a nose for leaf; what can we say?

#12 Luciano The Dreamer 

Ace Prime is a newer brand, but an appearance on Cigar Aficionado’s Top 25 Cigars of 2021 list almost ensures that the company will be sticking around for years to come.

Named after founder Luciano Meirelles, this Dreamer blend is inspired and inspiring. Perhaps it’s the surprise Peruvian tobacco that makes it so intriguing? Aside from that, the blend is built around Nicaraguan filler and an Ecuador Habano. CA says it tastes like “chocolate-covered almonds, café au lait and just a bit of spice.” With notes like that, who needs to dream? We’ll stay awake and enjoy every puff of this one.

#13 Tatuaje Reserva K222

Pete Johnson and Tatuaje (“tattoo,” of which Pete has many) are no strangers to the best cigars list. Previous iterations have launched not only his career but helped bring his early blending partner, Don Pepin Garcia, to greater fame and recognition as well.

This time around, it’s a beautifully made Nicaraguan cigar with a handsome chestnut brown Ecuador wrapper. This K222 size is a tribute to his dog Kona. Dogs are perhaps the best smoking partner known to man and deserve their place in cigar history. This stogie offers “medium-to-full body, and rich, hearty notes of molasses, coffee bean, and red pepper, with a cappuccino finish.”

We’ll Reserva a place in our humidor for this one, no doubt. 

#14 Aging Room Quattro Nicaragua Concerto

The world hasn’t forgotten about this former Cigar of the Year winner, has it? Well, it doesn’t matter because, in a blind tasting, this one still swirls and twirls its way to the top. The 93 rating says the Quattro is in an elite grouping of Nicaraguan puros blended to perfection. Whether you can read the name or not, this smoke delivers.

What did CA have to say about the experience? “An orchestral suite of flavors that range from espresso and chocolate to pecan and caramel. A note of star anise resonates on the finish for a lasting encore.” They can’t help but indulge in a little bit of poetic language, but you would too if you spent the whole day drawing on the world’s very best cigars.

What a job.

#15 Herrera Esteli Habano Robusto Grande

The somewhat more traditional child from the Drew Estate family has done well for himself, notching yet another appearance on this esteemed list of luxury cigars. Blender Willy Herrera had a hand in making many fine Drew Estate blends, but the one that seems to sit the best with the CA crowd is his named brand: Herrera Esteli.

Nicaraguan filler, Honduran binder, Ecuadorian Habano wrapper – it’s a winning combo.

This blend makes us think of what a great no-frills cigar should be. It’s flavorful yet balanced, with spice, nuts, and sweetness that offers everything you want in a “normal” cigar. Very reliable in its quality and always enjoyable to light up. There’s no gimmicks here because none are needed. It’s just Willy Herrera finding that perfect blend of tobaccos and saying, “This is it. This is the one.”

A detailed drawing of a cigar.

#16 Joya Silver Robusto 

Back at it again! The #21 Cigar of 2019 is still too darn good to pass up – and it ain’t that snazzy silver band because these Top 20 cigars contenders are smoked blind.

This is a 93-point smoke with Nicaraguan filler (from Nicaragua’s longest-running cigar maker), a spicy Mexican binder, and a perfectly cured Ecuador Habano wrapper. Nica leaf is more popular than ever, and who better than Joya de Nicaragua, the “Jewel of Nicaragua,” to blend up stogies that put it to good use?

CA observed that “earth and cocoa burst with roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and dark fruits.” They found strength but also balance, saying that “The smoke is intense, though finely trimmed with an elegant crème brûlée sweetness.” This blend brings a lot to the table. It’s not just a straightforward blend from a big brand – it’s got flavor for days, and that’s what’s giving it the staying power to make Cigar Aficionado’s Top 25 Cigars of the Year list once more.

Don’t sleep on this one! The price makes it a pretty strong value for a cigar this good. 

#17 My Father The Judge 

You didn’t think one Garcia blend would be enough for this year, did you? These, My Fathers, are so darn satisfying; you really just can’t deny that they deserve a place on this best cigars of 2021 list. Heck, they could take more, but that would just be excessive.

This is the fuller-bodied side of Don Pepin’s blending efforts, resting on a foundation of outstanding Nicaraguan tobacco with a sultry Ecuador Sumatra wrapper to cap things off.

You’ve probably smoked this one before. It’s been recommended for years, and has an appearance that just makes you want to grab one when you browse for stogies. As Cigar Aficionado said, it has “the look and taste of a chocolate bar, with sweet hints of peanuts, caramel and just a touch of red pepper spice.”

If you think spice doesn’t belong in your candy bar, just remember that it’s not like pepper flake on a Snickers, more like the burn that comes along with a smooth whiskey. It’s a dimension that just has to be in the mix to make the whole experience one that really grabs you. Rather than throwing things off, it heightens the flavor of the smoke.

All in all, it’s another year and another occasion to doff our hats to one of the best blenders in the business.

Gracias, Don Pepin. 

#18 Ramon Allones Gigantes (Cuba) 

It’s seven and a half inches long, costs 33 pounds sterling, and isn’t coming to a humidor near you. But if it were, it would be one of the best all-day cigars around.

Pity about that ban on sales in the land of the free. 

#19 Saint Luis Rey Carenas Toro 

The Carenas blend from Saint Luis Rey is a classic smoke from a classic brand. There’s no earth-shattering gimmicks or marketing swag. It’s just a blend of rich Honduran tobacco with a Nica cover. This cigar delivers spice, leather, and wood in delicious layers, making for a surprisingly great experience.

Everything about it is pretty old world. The name is actually taken from what the Port of Havana was once called: Puerto de Carenas. Google translate says that the world means “fairings,” like the process of streamlining a boat or other vehicle.

This one is smoothly gliding right into our humidors. You might not have been following this brand and you certainly don’t have to start. That just leaves more for the rest of us for this no-longer-under-the-radar cigar company that we’re all surprised to find nestled at #19 this year. 

#20 La Flor Dominicana Air Bender Chisel 

These chisels look great and beg to be smoked, but it’s the flavor that will keep you coming back. La Flor Dominicana has won Cigar of the Year before (for the Andalusian Bull), so they’re no strangers to the Top 25 Cigars of the Year list. This time, it’s the bold Dominican Air Bender that’s getting the spotlight.

LFD has absolute powerhouse smokes. The Double Ligero will knock you on your keister if you don’t pay attention when smoking it. The Air Bender is not as strong, but still offers outstanding spice, leather, and cocoa notes.

The unusual shape is described as an accidental innovation. Company owner Litto Gomez was chomping away on a cigar during his commute to the factory. By the time he got there, the head had taken on something of a chisel shape. Gomez handed it to a roller, and being the artisan that they were, they turned it into a sensational figurado.

92 points of beautiful Dominican puff – enjoy!

We’re not done yet, so keep an eye out for Part 3!

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