This is Winston’s first ever attempt at determining a Cigar of the Year. No attempt was made to be objective in any way throughout the process of deciding on a top ten. Speaking of process, let me illuminate ours. Every one of the Winston’s staff and owners nominated cigars based on what they had smoked in 2016. All of the nominees had to have been sold in the Winston’s humidor in 2016 as well.
After the nominations process we voted on all the nominees by ranking them and assigning a point value to each rank. The rubric for ranking the cigars was left up to each individual. It mostly came down to personal preference. You will see this reflected in the final list.
When it came to compiling the final top ten there was no restriction on brand representation. If every cigar on the list was a different Arturo Fuente that would have been the top ten. That didn’t happen, but it was possible. Our only real restriction on the top ten was that no two cigars (different sizes) of the same blend could both appear on the list. If that were to happen we would drop the size with the lower point total.
And now for some notes on the final list without giving too much away. You will see that the Cult of Ashton was strong this year. Some shop favorites are conspicuously absent or ranked lower than you might expect. Some of that is due to how we voted but it mostly comes down to the differing tastes of the Winston’s team. Most importantly everyone at Winston’s can fully endorse all the cigars in the top ten.
- 98pts La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Chisel Maduro: Size: 6 x 54 Strength: Full Wrapper: Ecuadorian Maduro Binder: Dominican Filler: Dominican
It has a distinctive tapered “Chisel” head and an unapologetically bold flavor profile. It’s big brash and spicy. The LFD Chisel was ranked highly by the bold cigar fans and not highly by the mild to medium fans landing it just two points away from being left off the list.
- 101pts AVO Syncro Nicaragua Fogata Robusto: Size 5 x 50 Strength: Medium to Med-full
Wrapper: San Andrés Binder: Dominican Filler: Nicaragua
The Fogata packs more flavor than expected in a medium bodied stick. Running the gamut from dried fruit to black pepper the best way to describe this cigar is balanced complexity. Good showings across the board edged the Fogata into 9th place.
- 102pts Ashton Aged Maduro #60: Size: 7 ½ x 52 Strength: Mild
Wrapper: Connecticut Broad Leaf Binder: Dominican Filler: Dominican
Sweet and creamy characterize this mild maduro from Ashton. It offers a smoking experience pleasing to a wide range of palettes. The Aged Maduro achieved its number 8 ranking on the strength of consistent showings on each ballot.
- 111pts Warped La Hacienda Gran Robusto: Size: 5 ½ x 52 Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo Binder: Nicaraguan Filler: Nicaraguan
Warped delivers a cigar that is floral and spicy and still restrained enough to not overwhelm. This is one for the cigar nerds and the casual smokers with its blend of unique flavors and approachability. La Hacienda tops out at number 7 due to lackluster showings on a couple ballots.
- 115pts Ashton Symmetry Robusto: Size: 5 x 50 Strength: Medium to Med-Full
Wrapper: Ecuador Binder: Dominican Filler: Dominican/Nicaraguan
The Symmetry became a shop favorite by being tremendously balanced. Packed with flavor and no harshness, this cigar is very impressive. The Symmetry Robusto falls just outside the top five after a dispute between the robusto and belicoso size cost it some votes.
- 130pts Arturo Fuente Casa Cuba Doble Tres: Size: 5 ½ x 54 Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Ecuador Binder: Dominican Filler: Dominican
Opening the top 5 is a cigar that took Winston’s by storm and quickly became a vital addition to many humidors. A window into the history of cigar making and one of the last blends created by Carlos Fuente Sr., the Casa Cuba is savory with mild spice. The Doble Tres received a bad ranking on only one ballot preventing a higher finish.
- 131pts La Flor Dominicana La Nox: Size: 6 ½ x 50 Strength: Full
Wrapper: Brazil Binder: San Andrés Filler: Dominican
A bold cigar packing just about every flavor you can imagine, La Nox can drown the wrong palette. It is absolutely loved by adherents for being a strong cigar that does more than just hammer away with spiciness. La Nox could have contended for cigar of the year honors had it not been shut out on a couple of ballots. Instead it slides into number 4.
- 134pts Padron 1964 Anniversary Exclusivo Maduro: Size: 5 ½ x 50 Strength: Med-Full
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Binder: Nicaraguan Filler: Nicaraguan
If you ask someone about their favorite cigar and they’ve smoked a Padron 1964 recently they will probably mention that cigar. Aged Nicaraguan tobacco is exemplified in this cigar. Spicy, earthy, and slightly sweet the 1964 is just very satisfying. Strong voting across the board put the 1964 Exclusivo into the top 3.
- 146pts Ashton ESG 24 Year Salute: Size: 6 ⅝ x 48 Strength: Medium to Med-Full
Wrapper: Dominican Binder: Dominican Filler: Dominican
One of the few Dominican Puros in production, the ESG is a true ultra-premium cigar. This is a pleasant smoke with no rough edges. The 24 Year Salute has a high price tag and it lives up to the expectation that brings. One low ranking held the ESG out of the top spot.
- 155pts Ashton VSG Robusto: Size: 5 ½ x 50 Strength: Medium Full to Full
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra Binder: Dominican Filler: Dominican
Woody, Toasty, Peppery. The Ashton VSG is Winston’s definitive pick for Cigar of the Year. It is a bold cigar that doesn’t feel bold. It would take a very long look to find any flaws in this cigar. Even smokers who mainly stick to mild smokes appreciate the quality of the VSG. No low rankings and a couple of first place votes propelled the VSG Robusto to top cigars honors.
Well there you have it. Winston’s top ten cigars of 2016. Agree with our picks? Disagree? What were your favorite cigars of 2016? Let us know your thoughts and share with your friends.