Reading Time: 3 minutes Gary takes a ride on the Kristoff Guardrail Matador, one of three vitolas in the new line. Although the story behind the cigar is chilling, thankfully it ended well. See this review now to learn whether it bears a similar conclusion.
Cigar Advisor’s Ultimate Guide to the Best Cigars of Summer
Our Top Summertime Smokes of 2023 Reviewed!
As we find ourselves in the heart of summer—with temperatures as high as a giraffe’s ass and the humidity dial cranked up to eleven—picking the right cigar is more important than ever.
Whether you’re navigating the sizzling heat, wrestling with misery amid the humidity, or lucky enough to experience those rare, cooler, pleasant summer reprieves—I’ve got some handpicked cigars suitable for each situation. And I’m not just throwing a dart at a humidor here—these premium cigar picks are tried, tested, and perfectly paired to these all-too-familiar summer conditions.
So, sit back and check out the cigars of summer—and make sure your cigar game is as ready for the season as your grill and pool floaties are.
When It’s Just Plain Hot
When the heat is high but not oppressive, these premium smokes offer the perfect duration—45 minutes to an hour—allowing you to revel in the summer sun a little longer.
H. Upmann 1844 Nicaragua by AJ Fernandez
When you put flame to the H. Upmann AJ Fernandez, you’re igniting your senses. Dressed in a sumptuous Sumatra wrapper from Ecuador, masterfully aged Nicaraguan Corojo and Criollo tobaccos complete the medium-plus bodied blend. Flavors are rich and balanced, with Advisor reviewer Gary Korb offering the following, “…caramel, cedar, leather, and peppery spice are the cast of this uber-creamy cigar.” The H. Upmann AJ Fernandez Robusto is just the cigar you’ve been looking for on a hot day in the late afternoon.
Crowned Heads Le Careme Pastelitos Limited Edition 2023
Recently featured in a #NowSmoking review, Crowned Heads Le Careme Pastelitos is compact and jam-packed with a mouthwatering flavor profile including creamy, nutty, spicy, sweet, and cedar elements. Enveloped in a rich, dark chocolate-like USA Connecticut Broadleaf, underneath lies an Ecuador Sumatra binder and Nicaraguan long filler tobaccos. Don’t let its small stature fool you, this medium-bodied fireplug of a cigar will keep you engaged for about an hour or so (depending on individual puffing rate). On that note, I’d advise taking your time between pulls to fully appreciate the balance in the sweet and savory flavor profile.
Rojas Street Tacos Barbacoa
Being one of Cigar Advisor’s Ten Best Cigars of 2021, you’d be correct in the assumption that we’ve burned quite a few Rojas Street Tacos Barbacoa around Advisor HQ. In fact, it’s become a humidor staple. Earth, cedar, pepper, baking spices, fermented fruit, and coffee beans are the standouts, but there’s even more in store. Perhaps Advisor Jared Gulick summed it up best, “…the blend is superbly balanced and is consistently full-bodied (and flavored) throughout the entire session.”
E.P. Carrillo Encore
How do you follow up a cigar that was ranked as highly as no. 2 in some cigar of the year rankings? With an encore, of course. Encore is the follow-up to the hugely successful La Historia and was the first time E.P. Carrillo blended a cigar using only Nicaraguan tobaccos. I’ll let the results speak for themselves—a cigar of the year award by a magazine (yeah, they got this one right) and nearly universal acclaim. The flavors pop from the first puff down to the nub and highlights include woodiness, floral elements, caramel, and a tangy citrus undercurrent. An ideal cigar to help to while away a hot summer day, pick up the EPC Encore for a taste of the extraordinary.
When it’s Hot and Sticky
On those sweltering days when the humidity can be overwhelming, short format cigars are the way to go. The following picks are perfect for getting a full cigar experience without spending too much time baking in the heat.
Blackened M81 by Drew Estate
What can be better than a cigar, some Metallica, and bottle of American Whiskey? How about a dynamite cigar that incorporates the other two. I’m talking about Blackened M81—the result of shared passions between Jonathan Drew, James Hetfield (of Metallica), and Rob Dietrich (of Blackened American Whiskey)—and a cigar that’s captured the hearts and minds of full-bodied fans everywhere. Not too long ago, Blackened M81 was featured in a one-of-a-kind spontaneous #NowSmoking review with Advisor’s John Pullo and Jared Gulick joining me. We all agreed that this cigar “…began like a house on fire with a burst of black pepper and spice…roasted nuts and citrusy sweetness entering after the initial blast of pepper.” Not for the faint of heart, try Blackened M81 for a full-bodied feast in a shorter format.
Arturo Fuente Don Carlos
I can’t add too much to the volumes of praise that’ve already been written about the Arturo Fuente Don Carlos. What I can say is that the Natural Corona is what I reach for most often when it’s hot, muggy, and the situation calls for a cigar. Medium bodied overall, the profile is rich and creamy with hints of vanilla, and cedar with light salt and pepper notes. I’ll give Advisor Gary Korb the final word on the Don Carlos, “Unlike the proverbial ‘box of chocolates,’ with the Don Carlos blends, you know what you’re gonna get – a rich-tasting, and luxurious cigar experience that’s approachable to cigar smokers of every experience.”
Rocky Patel Disciple
As the smallest cigar on the list, the Rocky Patel Disciple Half Corona manages the tough task of delivering an entire medium-to-full bodied cigar experience in a 3½” x 46 vitola. Pepper, espresso, and earth are the main flavors, while cedar, cream, and caramel/toffee sweetness provide balance and depth. Great to enjoy during the dog days of summer, the Rocky Patel Disciple Half Corona gives you all you could ask for—and sometimes more.
Cool Summer Days and Nights
On those rare temperate summer days and evenings, take advantage of the cool breeze and lazy sun with a longer duration cigar. The following Toros will provide 90-plus minutes of cigar smoking bliss.
Avo Syncro Caribe
Can’t afford a beach vacation in the Caribbean? Well, the Avo Syncro Caribe can get you there with elements of citrus, spices, sweet wood, and much more that’ll have you feeling those vacay vibes. Caribe manages to straddle the line between richly mellow and a blend with some oomph. What do I mean? Advisor John Pullo said this about smoking the Avo Syncro Caribe during the summer, “…this is a good stick to start turning the corner and head back to the heavier stuff for fall.”
Drew Estate Liga Privada Undercrown 10
The dedication Drew Estate put into getting the Undercrown 10 exactly right is palpable with each puff. Smooth and well-balanced, the blend delivers an exquisite symphony of flavors that join together into a satisfying, robust experience. Warning—after you’re finished, you’ll want to sign up for another go-round. You’ll find rich notes of earth, dark chocolate, cappuccino, leather, baking spices, and brown sugar with a medium-plus intensity overall. One of the best cigars I’ve tasted amongst the Liga Privada lineup (and that’s saying something), Undercrown 10 is the perfect way to cap off a cool summer day.
Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Sobremesa Brulee
The Sobremesa Brulee manages to echo the heartbeat found in the revered Connecticut Shade-wrapped cigars of the past. The current Connecticut revival—while charting exciting new paths forward—fails to capture the magic in the better examples of old-school Connecticut Shade blends. Brulee changes all that by delivering a naturally sweet and creamy smoke with gently intense notes of cedar, caramel, and coffee. Sobremesa Brulee completely captivates by capturing the best of what’s old and new in Connecticut Shade wrapped cigars and is an ideal summer companion.
Let me know your picks for the best summer cigars in the comments below. And in the meantime, when you’re outside, might as well light up a great cigar, grab a cold one, and make the most of it.