Cigar Czars


Top Rated Cigars Reviewed - Again

By Gary Manelski

I have smoked and reviewed hundreds of different cigars during the last ten years, and most of those cigars have been decent to very good - receiving ratings of 3 to 4 stars (or points) on a 5-star scale. I do not usually revisit cigars that I have previously reviewed, however, some of the best cigars that received the highest ratings of 4.5 and 5 stars might deserve some additional attention. That's why I am smoking them again, and comparing my findings to the original ratings/reviews from several years ago.

Gran Habano GAR Cigar

G.A.R. White Robusto Grande

The first superior cigar that I am revisiting is the G.A.R. by George A. Rico. Back in 2009, I gave the Robusto Grande (5½ x 52) box pressed vitola of this cigar a rating of 4½ stars on This time around, the Robusto Grande White that I sampled measures 5 x 52, and also deserves a stellar rating of 4.5 points on a 5-point scale. The cigar is not box pressed like the one reviewed back in 2009, but is a normal parejo (round) shaped cigar. I enjoyed the G.A.R. Robusto Grande White for 45 minutes down to 1½ inches remaining, without the need for any relights nor touch-ups. The cigar was well made and had an even burn and a great draw. The tastes were predominately some sweet spice and coffee with a rich toasty tobacco flavor. The body was medium-to-full. The cigar is made with Ecuadorian Corojo wrappers and a blend of Nicaraguan filler tobaccos. As with the other cigar stars that I will be revisiting, I strongly recommend giving them a try, especially at the price of only $22.95 for a pack of five cigars.

Macanudo Vintage 1997 Maduro

Macanudo 1997 Vintage Maduro Cigar

Here's a cigar that I reviewed on back in 2010, and rated with 4½ stars. This time, I sampled the same Toro size that measures six inches long with a ring gauge of 54. The Macanudo Vintage 1997 Maduro is made with vintage Connecticut Broadleaf wrappers and a blend of fillers from Nicaragua, Brazil and Dominican Republic. The cigar is medium bodied and had a naturally rich and slightly sweet earthy flavor that is typical of quality Maduro tobacco. This particular Vintage 1997 Maduro cigar had a firm draw that was not too tight. The burn was even and no relights nor touch­ups were needed during the 50 minutes that it took me to smoke the cigar down to two inches remaining. I enjoyed the cigar, but not quite as much as I did back in 2010. I'm rating it with 4.25 points this time, noting that the flavor slowly began dropping off a bit during the last 20 minutes of the smoke. Price for a single cigar is $8.99.

Visit for Macanudo video at 2010 IPCPR.

Gurkha 125th Anniversary Rothchild

Gurkha 125th Anniversary Cigar

I reviewed this cigar for the first time when it debuted in 2012, and rated it with an impressive 4½ stars on This time around, I smoked the same Toro (6 x 54) vitola, and actually enjoyed the cigar even more – so much so that I found it hard to pace myself as I continued puffing away for 75 minutes, down to less than two inches remaining. The first time, it took me 90 minutes to finish the cigar. Therefore, this time in 2014, I'm rating the Gurkha 125th Anniversary Rothchild with a stellar 4.75 on a 5-point scale. It just doesn't get much better than this.

The cigar is near the upper end of the medium range, but not quite medium-to-full, and has a rich, smooth, and sweet toasty flavor with just a hint of spice. The cigar was well made and had a great draw, held a medium-to-long ash and burned relatively evenly. I did apply one minor touch-up light after about an hour to keep the burn even.

Gurkha 125th Anniversary cigars may be somewhat difficult to find online, as they were originally released to brick and mortar cigar retailers. Expect to pay around $10 to $12 for a single stick. These cigars are made in the Dominican Republic with a blend of Dominican, Nicaraguan and Brazilian filler tobaccos, and Habano wrappers and binders. As an aside, the band on this cigar won a design award, and the XO vitola of the cigar made Cigar Aficionado's list of Best 25 Cigars for 2013, coming in at number nine.

Berger & Argenti Entubar V32

Berger Argenti Entubar V32 Cigar

Berger & Argenti was probably the most innovative boutique cigar company of its time, and the Entubar V32 that debuted in 2011 was arguably their best effort, at least in my opinion. During 2012, I rated the Killa Korona size with 4½ stars on It may still be possible to find some Berger & Argenti cigars at a few select tobacconists, so you better scarf some up soon if you ever want to try them.

The Entubar V32 is a full bodied Nicaraguan puro made for connoisseurs. Beginners beware! This cigar is named after the method in which it was rolled (entubar), where each individual filler leaf is rolled into itself. In addition, one scroll of ligero tobacco runs through the center and protrudes from the foot of the cigar. The size sampled for this 2014 review was the Rogue Rothchild, which measures 5 5/8 x 54, and has a price tag of $11.99. In my original review, I preferred the smaller Killa Korona size (4 7/8 x 50) over the Rogue Rothchild.

The Entubar V32 Rogue Rothchild began with a rich, full, sweet, toasty, spicy, earthy and cocoa flavor that deserves a 4.5 point rating, at least for the first 30 minutes. After that point, the cigar got stronger with a predominately earthy flavor, as the other flavors gradually became less noticeable. I smoked the cigar for over an hour down to two inches remaining. Near the end, the cigar was still good enough to rate 4 points, resulting in an overall rating of 4.25 on a 5-point scale. The cigar was well made, had a good draw, and close to an even burn. One relight was needed about half-way through. The V32 is a superior cigar that is very unique, but also destined to become extinct.

Visit for video of Michael Argenti (President) at 2012 IPCPR.

CAO Concert

CAO Concert Cigar

CAO Concert was introduced and reviewed in 2012, and initially received a rating of 4½ stars on After smoking a few more, I revised my review to indicate that the cigar should be rated between 4 and 4½ stars, but I did not lower my rating since there are no ¼ stars on Smoking another CAO Concert cigar in 2014 confirmed the revision, and I can now rate the cigar 4.25 on a 5-point scale.

CAO Concert is made with a blend of Nicaraguan and Honduran filler tobaccos, a Broadleaf binder, and an Ecuadorian Habano Rosado wrapper. The vitola sampled was the Roadie, which measures 5½ inches in length with a ring gauge of 54. The original price for a single stick was $6.75, and they still are about the same price in 2014. For more info about the cigar, watch this video from the 2012 IPCPR Trade Show in Orlando.

The cigar began with a pleasant sweet cedar taste that was rich and full. The body was medium-to-full, and the cigar delivered lots of flavor without being overpowering nor overwhelming. The CAO Concert had a great draw and held a long firm ash with a near razor-sharp burn. It took me about 80 minutes to smoke the cigar down to two inches remaining, with only one minor touch-up light along the way. The CAO Concert is a superior cigar that seems to have gotten lost in the plethora of new cigars that were launched during the last few years, and it definitely deserves another look.

La Gloria Retro Cigar

La Gloria Cubana Artesanos Retro Especiale Cigar

This cigar was reviewed and rated with 4½ Stars on back in 2011, by Dr. Mitch Fadem. I agree with mostly all of Mitch's reviews, and the LGC Retro in the Club size (5¾ x 47) is no exception. This cigar is made with a cross-bred Connecticut seed wrapper cultivated in Honduras, two binders (Mexican and Nicaraguan), and a blend of Nicaraguan and Dominican filler tobaccos. I really enjoyed the sweet, rich and toasty flavor at the start, which eventually became more smooth and mellow after about 10 minutes. I found the cigar to be medium bodied, not quite in the medium-to-full range. The cigar had a great draw, even burn and held a long ash. No touch-ups nor relights were needed during the hour that it took me to smoke the cigar down to two inches remaining. La Gloria Retro Club cigars are a real bargain in today's market at only $22 for a pack of five.

San Lotano Habano Cigar

San Lotano Habano Cigar

San Lotano cigars by A.J. Fernandez are definitely superior smokes. The highest rated cigar during my last two months at back in 2014 was the San Lotano Maduro, which earned a stellar rating of 4½ stars. This time, I sampled the San Lotano Habano Torpedo (6½ x 54) cigar, which is fuller than the Maduro version, but is also worthy of a stellar rating of 4.5 points on a 5-point scale. This cigar is made with a Brazilian Habano wrapper and a blend of Nicaraguan, Honduran and AJ Fernandez select filler tobaccos. The cigar has a deep rich dark chocolate flavor and is well-balanced and not overpowering. It took me 65 minutes to smoke the cigar down to two inches remaining, with only one minor touch-up light and no relights. Both the San Lotano Maduro and Habano cigars are definitely worth a try, especially with a price tag of only $35 to $37 per 5-pack, which works out to an average of just over $7 per stick.