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2020 CA Report: 10 Top Rated Robusto Cigars
10 Top Customer-Rated Robusto Cigars
Updated February 2020
The Robusto – that pudgy little delight of a cigar! It’s among the most popular cigar shapes, mostly affordable, and perfectly sized for a good 35 to 45 minutes of smoking pleasure. In this report we take a look at 10 Robustos, all of which have received an aggregate 4½ to 5-stars by at least 25 customers and more. By my logic, that many cigar smokers can’t all be wrong. (Note that most of the individual reviews were 5 stars.) Additionally, it makes this list more accurate in terms of perceived quality and flavor. But as we always say – your mileage may vary.
What size is a Robusto cigar?
The typical, or standard Robusto is rolled to 5-inch by 50-ring dimensions. But depending on the manufacturer, Robustos can range from 4½-inches to 5½-inches in length, and 48 to 54 in ring gauge. For example, all of Rocky Patel’s “Robustos” are rolled to 5½-inches in length.
Over the years, as wide ring cigars became more popular, Robustos began to widen-up as well. Several of the cigars in this list are rolled to a 52 ring, while the CAO Brazilia Gol! comes in at a whopping 5″ x 56.
When did the Robusto first appear?
In a 2007 Aficionado article by James Suckling, “The Robusto Generation,” the author references Simon Chase, Cuban cigar agent for London’s famed Hunters & Frankau tobacconists: “[W]hen Chase entered the cigar trade back in the late 1970s, he says ‘the word robusto did not exist. In fact, it did not make its first public appearance until 1989.'”
Suckling also points out that the highly popular, Cuban Partagas Serie D No.4 (4 7/8 x 50), entered the market during the 1930s, while “other popular robustos such as Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2, Bolivar Royal Corona and Ramon Allones Specially Selected date back to the 1950s and 1960s.” However, these cigars were usually reserved for the connoisseur class, mostly in Great Britain.
It was the Cuban Cohiba “Robusto,” released in 1989 as one of the brand’s three new sizes that year, which, according to Chase, “caught everyone’s imagination.” And Suckling adds, “[Cohiba] never realized at the time that they were about to revolutionize the cigar industry with the robusto.”
How did the Robusto cigar get its name?
The name Robusto, was originally coined by the factory rollers in Cuba who used it to describe the cigar’s shape. Not only did the name naturally align itself with the cigar’s short and stout dimensions, the Robusto was one of the first times a cigar named by the factory workers became an international hit in the retail market.
601 Blue Label – 28 Customers: 4 1/2 Stars
Size: 5¼ x 52, box-pressed
Wrapper: Dark Nicaraguan Habano
One of the most flavorful and complex cigars in the Robusto category, the 601 Blue Label series was released in 2007 and was originally made by Don Pepin Garcia. Today, Erik Espinosa continues to make these puros at his La Zona factory in Estelí, and they haven’t skipped a beat. This box-pressed Robusto runs like a well-tuned Harley offering a payload of dense, creamy smoke that teems with notes of espresso, dark chocolate, Nicaraguan spice, and more.
CAO Brazilia – 127 Customers: 4 1/2 Stars
Size: Gol! (5 x 56)
Wrapper: Brazilian Arapiraca
I’m not surprised this modern classic got such a high rating from so many customers. Ever since the CAO Brazilia line was released in 2001 the Gol! has become a stock favorite for full-bodied cigar lovers. Draped in a dark Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper, this portly beast turns on the charm with dense, chewy smoke chock-full of coffee, cocoa, sweet wood, and a satisfying helping of spice. It’s not unusual to find at least one CAO Brazilia Gol! in many of the most experienced cigar smokers’ humidors.
Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur – 25 Customers: 4 1/2 Stars
Size: Epicure (5¼ x 50)
Wrapper: U.S. Connecticut Shade
A cigar that’s maintained its prized status since the Cigar Boom 90s, the Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Epicure is what I call a wonderful kick-back and relax cigar. Blended with a Dominican, Honduran and Nicaraguan filler core bound in a Connecticut broadleaf, the smoke is medium-bodied, and perfectly-balanced with a creamy finish. Notes of sweet tobacco, cedar, roasted nuts, and a smidgen of spice make this Robusto downright heavenly any time of day.
JAVA by Drew Estate – 42 Customers: 4 1/2 Stars
Size: 5½ x 50, box-pressed
Wrapper: Brazilian Mata Fina
By far, one of, if not the best coffee infused cigars on the planet. Even cigar smokers who smoke traditional blends 99.9% of the time reach for a JAVA when they get the urge to try something out of the ordinary. Pressed in a silky, Brazilian Mata Fina wrapper, the all-Nicaraguan core actually does offer an adequate amount of natural tobacco flavor. But for the most part, the JAVA Robusto is lusciously sweet and creamy throughout with a rich flavor profile, and a mocha-java aroma to die for.
Oliva Serie V Melanio – 25 Customers: 5 Stars
Size: 5 x 52
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
If you’re a fan of Oliva Serie V cigars, the Serie V Melanio Robusto is their magnum opus. (It also took the #8 slot for Aficionado’s Top 25 Cigars of the Year in 2016 with a “94.”) Packed with Jalapa-grown Habano ligero that’s been fermented and aged to perfection, the cigar is full-boded, yet extra smooth, offering well-defined notes of leather, coffee, and caramel, underscored by a ribbon of dark chocolate. A simply exquisite cigar that must be smoked to truly appreciate.
Padrón 2000 Maduro – 47 Customers: 4 1/2 Stars
Size: 5 x 50, box-pressed
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Maduro
This Robusto from Padrón’s main line, “Thousands” series is one of the best ways to introduce yourself to this iconic brand’s legendary “cocoa and coffee” character. Padrón cigars always draw effortlessly, and the oily Maduro wrapper on this puro lends a little more sweetness to the mix. Earthiness and cedar set the table for a full-flavored smoke studded with notes of cocoa, espresso, bittersweet chocolate, and a trace of raisins with a shot of pepper on the finish.
Perdomo Lot 23 (Natural) – 31 Customers: 4 1/2 Stars
Size: 5 x 50
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sun Grown Habano
In 2000, Nick Perdomo and his late father, Nicholas Sr., discovered a field in Nicaragua (later named “Lot 23”) that was so fertile they needed to do little more than plant the tobacco seeds and water them. Using Cuban-seed Corojo & Criollo ’98 tobaccos bale-aged five years, this Robusto (one of three Lot 23 blends) is capped by a plush, natural sun grown Habano wrapper. Deafening applause and rave reviews ensued due to this cigar’s rich, creamy flavors of earth, cedar, and nuts on a respectably spicy finish.
Plasencia Reserva Original – 60 Customers: 4 1/2 Stars
Size: 4¾ x 52
Wrapper: Organically-grown Nicaraguan (aged 3 years)
Someone had to be the first to successfully grow tobacco organically in Nicaragua, and the credit goes to Nestor Andrés Plasencia. This Plasencia Original Reserva Robusto is an excellent example of one of the purest tasting cigars you’ll ever press to your lips. A puro through-and-through, the tobaccos are aged over three years offering a smooth, medium-bodied smoke with a rich, natural tobacco flavor. The flavor profile is well-balanced and primarily cedary underscored by notes of leather, coffee, and sweet tobacco.
Rocky Patel Rosado – 43 Customers: 4 1/2 Stars
Size: 5½ x 50
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sun Grown Sumatra (aged 5 years)
I’ve lost count of how many cigar smokers have told me how much they love the Rocky Patel Rosado cigars. Capped with an extra-long-aged Ecuador sun-grown Sumatra wrapper, the Robusto issues primary flavors of leather, cedar, and nuts with a peppery finish. A welcome hint of chocolate enters and exits the scene at times, but to put it simply – the Rocky Patel Rosado Robusto offers a smooth, medium-bodied tapestry of sweetness and spice.
Romeo y Julieta 1875 – 64 Customers: 4 1/2 Stars
Size: Bully (5 x 50)
Wrapper: Indonesian Java (Shade grown)
A tried-and-true classic in the Robusto universe, the Romeo y Julieta 1875 Bully is one of the best selling Dominican cigars of all time. For (1) it has always been affordable, (2) as recommendations go, it’s one of the best cigars for beginners, and (3) it’s amazingly consistent. Built on a medium-bodied Piloto Cubano core, the key note is cedary, underscored by a chorus of leather, toasted nuts, sweet spice, and a ¼-teaspoon of coffee. Great anytime of day, and a welcome break from the heartier, spicier fare.