Cigar Buying Guides

2016 CA Report: 8 Top Rated Cigars to Smoke at a BBQ

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EIGHT TOP RATED CIGARS to Smoke at a Barbeque

By Tommy Zman Zarzecki

Grilling a charred carcass over a roaring open flame is a rite of passage for any grunting, knuckle-dragging troglodyte – but enjoying a good cigar during a barbecue on a nice sunny day is truly a gift from the gods.

When I’m in that grilling mood I actually have a kind of a protocol for picking out the right kind of cigars to smoke. You might be thinking, “what do you mean the RIGHT kind of cigars… why not just smoke what you like?” Well, if you want to get maximum pleasure from your premium hand rolled happy sticks, you really need to consider the lineup that you’re choosing. I think of it almost like picking a 3 course dinner at a restaurant. You start light and small with soup or a salad. Next might be an appetizer or some pasta to get you feeling good. Then of course, you enjoy your main meal.

When I’m manning the grill, I also think of it as a three-course selection and I start on the medium bodied side and work my way up to full. First I’ll choose a smaller smoke while I’m actually doing the cooking and I go with a medium bodied stick because I’m what you call a “tester”. I cut slices off the steaks or burgers or ribs for the official taste test, so I want a cigar with a little body and flavor.

Now, my second stick is for when I’m actually enjoying my meal. Again, I go with a smaller size because it’s only the middle of the lineup and I need to save room for the big guns to come. But, I’m sure to choose cigars in the medium to full bodied range because I want the flavor to stand up to the steak and the rubs and the sausage and the sauces along with the cornucopia of side dishes one enjoys at a classic American barbecue.

And finally, I don’t need no stinkin’ cheese cake for dessert because it’s time to sit down with the crew for a relaxing after dinner smoke. So, now I go with a larger length and ring gauge, and of course, it’s gotta be full bodied all the way. After a hearty feast I’ll be having a strong coffee along with a port wine or a good scotch so I need a cigar with a flavor profile that cuts through to my palate as I sit back in my Adirondack chair and acknowledge that life is indeed really good.

You’ve heard the expression that “life is too short to smoke bad cigars,” so I really do pick out some good smokes in order to truly enjoy the entire experience. And each of the following eight cigars I’ve chosen for your barbecuing pleasure is rated a score of 90 and above, by you, the cigar loving fans. But please note, that sure doesn’t mean that they are expensive… some good bargains in there.

Ed. Note: Ratings noted are Famous Smoke Shop customer ratings/reviews as of May 9, 2016 and are subject to change.

Round 1 Choices – While You’re Manning the Grill

90 Rated – Rocky Patel Rosado – Robusto  – 5 1/2 x 50 – Medium Bodied

top rated cigars bbq rocky patel cigars rosadoThis is flat out a seriously underrated cigar and a great early choice. You have a nice blend of Nicaraguan and Dominican leaf on the inside that’s capped off by a gorgeous Ecuadorian Sumatra Rosado wrapper. It’s got a slight natural sweetness and everyone I turn onto them loves ‘em!


90 RatedFonseca Serie F – Natural Robusto – 5 x 52 – Medium Bodied

top rated cigars for bbq fonseca serie f cigarsHere’s another smoke you might not hear a lot about but it’s packed with wonderful flavors of coffee and nuts. The Connecticut sun grown wrapper gives it a well-rounded sweetness and the Dominican ligero longfiller gives it some nice pop. A great one while manning the grill top.


Round 2 Choices – During the Meal

93 RatedH Upmann Sun Grown – Corona – 5 1/2 x 44 – Medium Bodied

top rated cigars bbq h upmann sun grown cigarsMany say that the wrapper tobacco cultivated in Ecuador is perhaps the sweetest natural cured leaf there is which makes for a cigar that goes so well with the plethora of epicurean delights you’ll be jamming down your pie hole at a bbq feast. Just a delicious mix of Nicaraguan, Honduran and Ecuadorian tobacco goodness right here.


94 RatedPartagas 1845 Crystal – Robusto – 5 ½ x 50 – Medium-Full Bodied

top rated cigars bbq Partagas 1845 crystal cigarsKiller flavor brought to you right here by your pals at Partagas. While this one’s a medium bodied complex smoke, as you get to the half-way point it starts moving to the fuller side. While the inside boasts spicy Dominican ligero and smooth Nicaraguan leaf, the outside sports a beautiful Ecuadorian-grown Habano leaf. Freakin’ Yum.


97 RatedDon Pepin Garcia Original – Exquisitos – 5 5/8 x 46 – Full Bodied

top rated cigars bbq don pepin original blue cigarsThis is my only true full bodied choice for Round 2, but a perfect choice because its rich, full flavor will go great with the beef dogs, crispy chicken and slaw. It’s got Nicaraguan Corojo and Criollo leaf inside and Nicaraguan Corojo outside and the flavor will rock those already rockin’ taste buds. Pepin is known for his top rated cigars, and this one is no exception.

Round 3 Choices – The After Dinner Smoke

93 RatedNica Rustica – El Brujito – 6 x 52 – Full Bodied

nica rustica cigars drew estate top rated cigars bbqBang, zoom, right in the kisser Alice! If you want an after dinner cigar that will indeed cut right through the cornucopia of grilled goodness that you just consumed, the Nica Rustica by Drew Estate is a hell of a tasty choice. It’s not a complex smoke by any means, just a straightforward Nicaraguan flavor bomb capped with a dark Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. Wowzers.


94 RatedAging Room Maduro – Major – 6 ½ x 60 – Full Bodied

aging room maduro cigars top rated cigars bbqThis Maduro is truly the perfect dessert cigar as it is loaded with complex flavors and natural sweetness. This big-ash beast gives off distinct notes of dark chocolate and cinnamon and the aroma is rich and so incredibly satisfying. Dominican leaf within and a smooth Nicaraguan Maduro outer layer, this fine stick is gonna give you 2 full hours of post-dinner flavor.


92 RatedInferno by Oliva – Churchill – 7 x 50 – Full Bodied

inferno oliva cigars top rated cigars bbqBig size, big flavor – that’s what you want in an after dinner cigar, especially a dinner that consisted of seared juicy meats and a bevy of salads and side dishes. It’s a known fact that Oliva grows some of the world’s finest cigar tobacco and it’s obvious they spared no expense with the Inferno. With Nicaraguan ligero and a Nicaraguan Habano wrapper, the complex flavor takes you down to the nub.


I believe with just a little bit of planning, your cigar experience can be greatly enhanced the next time you don the apron and grab the tongs. And while I actually do have a method to my madness, of course, these are just suggestions on my part, albeit these smokes have all been named as top rated cigars.

Please share with us in the comments below your thoughts on barbecue gars along with your favorite grilling experiences – we’d love to hear from you!


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Mike Garrigan
7 years ago

I look forward to trying your picks, however I’m somewhat disappointed that there isnt a Fuente on your list

Robert Buchanan
7 years ago

Fonseca…mmmm. Can’t wait for mine to arrive.

Tommy Zman Zarzecki

Tommy Zman Zarzecki


Tommy Zman, is an obsessive enjoyer of life’s leafy pleasures. Growing up in the bowels of northern New Jersey, parented by an eccentric Polish father and a neurotic Italian mother, what else could this man possibly be other than a humorist? ZMan’s a real throwback to a time when men were kings of the castle and smoking a cigar in public didn’t label you an outcast and a pariah. He’s an old–school down to earth guy - but when it comes to p.c. tyranny and nanny-state legislature, he’ll draw his sword and swing for the fences. Tommy gathered a faithful following as a longtime feature writer at Cigar Magazine, and his testosterone laden FaceBook community, CROMAG NATION™ is truly the last great bastion for Men’s Men.

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