5 Sticks – Cigars for $20 or More

Last week I took a short look at 5 Sticks that I thought were great bargain cigars. Today I thought I’d move in the other direction…5 “High End” Cigars…but what does that even mean? For me, it means anything that breeches the $20 mark. That price is going to vary from place to place, I guess, but generally all these cigars will cost you more than a Jackson…and they are worth it.

Or at least they are worth it to me. One of my biggest judges of “value” is from asking this simple question: “Would I spend my own money on it?” That applies to something no matter how low or high priced it is. I generally wouldn’t bother spending my money on bundle-level sticks because I just don’t like the flavors they bring…but I think a Davidoff Special R is totally worth the $20 or so that I would have to put out on it. Yes, I do work in a cigar shop and, yes, that means I get a healthy discount on most cigars…but I’m saying that I would pay full price for these sticks if I had to.

Trying to challenge myself, I’m limiting myself to one stick per company…otherwise I’d have nothing but a list of Padrons and Davidoffs.

DPG_10th5. Don Pepin Garcia 10th Anniversary

This pick is a little out of left field. It came from needing to choose something that wasn’t a Davidoff or Padron or Opus…and I had a lot of trouble thinking of something else currently on the shelves that was both over $20 a stick and worth every penny of it. Then I remembered that this special edition from the My Father factory was pretty spectacular…and I didn’t start this off by saying everything would be easy to find for sale.

In short, this 2013 release commemorated the initial release of the DPG Blue “Original” and the start of a new age in cigars…one in which Don Pepin Garcia was a familiar name to pretty much all cigar smokers. I’ve had My Father Limited Editions before and after this one…and I think this is probably the best of the lot. You won’t find these just anywhere…but if you do see them, don’t hesitate to buy them.

DonArturo_angle4. Fuente Don Arturo

The Opus X line famously debuted over 20 years ago, basically as a challenge. Carlito Fuente was tired of hearing that you couldn’t grow world-class wrapper leaf in the Dominican Republic, so he set to coming up with a tobacco plantation that would prove the naysayers wrong. Since those first Opus came around, we have seen seemingly countless variations on the theme…Añejo, Angel’s Share, 20 Years Celebration, Rosado Oscuro Oro, Lost City…but my favorite is the Don Arturo.

This cigar uses a Dominican Habano leaf over undisclosed binder and fillers. It’s been speculated (okay…by me) that the core is the same as the regular Opus X…or at least similar. The regular Opus X has seemed to become more mellow and refined over the years, but this cigar reminds me of the powerhouse that Opus was back when I first started smoking cigars. And the Don Arturo is every bit as hard to find now as the Opus was back then.

Chefs_band3. Davidoff Chefs Edition

With all of the cigars Davidoff has produced in the past few years…and considering all the new regular lines and all the limited editions, there have been A LOT!…it still came down to one very special cigar when I had to choose a single one: The Chefs Edition. This project was a collaboration of the master blends at Davidoff with several world-renowned culinary artists to create a cigar that was basically analogous to a gastronomic journey. Pretentious and audacious sounding though it may be…they succeeded.

It is rich, complex and purely Davidoff…well, except for the missing “Davidoff funk” in the flavor profile. Honestly, though, it is the best Limited Edition I can remember ever having from Davidoff and I really wish they would produce another round of them. While there are a couple “regular releases” from the company I’ve rated higher, the limited nature of these makes them more desirable.

Goldie_Dalia_angle2. La Palina Goldie

Speaking of “limited,” there are these cigars that come out of Miami’s Titan de Bronze factory once a year, all rolled by one Cuban lady who was trained many years ago by Castro’s personal rollers. Maria Serra is one of the best rollers…in the world…end of sentence. Actually, last year this stick wouldn’t have qualified for this list, but in today’s FDA Regulated cigar marketplace, La Palina bumped the price of the Goldie line up over the $20 mark and here we are.

This stick is the best…the best thing La Palina sells…the best thing that’s ever come out of Titan de Bronze. Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers, bound and wrapped with Ecuadorian Habano leaves, create a rich, medium-plus smoking experience that has never let me down. They produce a different size every year, and while I’m partial to the smaller ring gauge versions, none of them has been “bad.” In our shop, it’s a sleeper hit…but everyone I introduce to them falls in love.

Padron50_angle1. Padron 50 Years Maduro “The Hammer”

Still haven’t had one of these yet? Scared of the price tag? Get over it and pony up whatever they are asking. I’ve heard of these selling for as little as $45 or as much as $120…the shop I work at sells them for $65…and we sell out of our allotment every year. Padron was looking for a way to celebrate 50 years in business. They came out with the “Family Reserve No. 50” which uses a similar band, but sells for $25 or so…and it simply isn’t as good…and then there’s this…1000 hand-made white humidors, each filled with 50 natural or maduro cigars. And if you buy one, you can get refills each year for 3 or 5 years (which number was never all that clear to me).

Each step on the Padron product ladder takes you up another notch in aging of tobacco and refined smoking experience. So this 50 Years Maduro smokes…well, exceptionally refined in nature. I was a firm believer in the fact that the 80 Year Maduro (in the 1926 Serie) was the best thing Padron had done…until I had this. While I had trouble imagining paying more the the $33 that the 80 Year costs, I now would absolutely spend $65 on one of these…on occasion…it’s never going to be a regular smoke for most people. It’s the pinnacle of cigar smoking really…and you don’t have to regret spending $750 for a Gurkha.

And now it’s your turn…what cigars above the $20 mark have blown your doors off? Anything that I missed? Or am I just wrong on something? Let me know in the comments below! Also, let me know if there is some “5 Sticks” subject you’d like to see me tackle. I’m always open to suggestion…

David Jones

David has been smoking premium cigars since 2001. He is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Leaf Enthusiast. He is a full-time retail tobacconist, working for Burns Tobacconist in Chattanooga, where he has also organized the Chattanooga Tweet-Up for the last four years. He is also an independent graphic designer and typesetter. Twitter: @dmjones1009

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  • Arless

    David, without a doubt it would be the Opus X Angel’s Share.

  • Timothy Andersen

    Hi David – Having never smoked a Davidoff I’m wondering what would you recommend from their regular production that is not difficult to find?