This post is was originally published on The Penny Hoarder
There’s something deeply satisfying about settling into a chair with a good cigar as the light fades on another day and a little rain comes down.
Lighting that cigar is like the opening of a movie: You know you’ll be invested for an hour or more, and there is a definite beginning, middle and end as the stick’s flavors develop with each draw.
But just like with a movie, sometimes you get partway through it and realize you may not want to finish it.
If you want to smoke like the stars themselves, you’ll find you can shell out as much as $15 to $20 per smoke for Cuban Cohibas or Davidoffs. If you have that kind of money, fine. Knock yourself out. But can the average Joe find a good, high-quality smoke for a reasonable price? Heck, yes.
7 Expensive-Tasting Cigars for $7 or Less
Do you like smoking cigars but don’t want to spend a fortune? All these cigars are satisfying and cost $7 or less per cigar. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder
While I understand that cigar smoking comes with health risks, the occasional indulgence can be very rewarding. If you do choose to accept the risks and light one up, here are seven cigars you can find for under $7 that simply rock.
Prices may vary, but I’ll tell you what I paid. You may have to reach for a robusto rather than the big Churchills, but you’ll still get the quality.
Penny Hoarder tip: If you don’t know what kind of cigars you like best yet, try buying a sampler or two. Samplers are generally cheaper than what you’d pay for each individual stick, and you’ll get a variety. You probably won’t love them all, but you’ll learn what sizes and wrappers work best for you.
1. Arturo Fuente Hemingway Short Story
Cigar Aficionado rating: 91 points
This 4-inch perfecto comes in either a maduro or a Cameroon wrapper. I’ve only had the maduro… but what a treat. Right off the bat, you get plenty of smoke with flavors of dark chocolate and hints of spice. At this size, you don’t have to dedicate as much time, but you still get a great smoke. This is a rich, decadent cigar.
2. Hoyo La Amistad Toro by A.J. Fernandez
Hoyo La Amistad Toro by A.J. Fernandez is a quality cigar and costs just $6.49. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder
Cigar Aficionado rating: 89 points
With a Habano wrapper, and Nicaraguan filler and binder, this smoke is right in my wheelhouse. The Hoyo La Amistad actually came at me with a bit more strength than I was expecting. The flavors are of cedar and earth. A.J. Fernandez is a cigar-making company that creates some of the best cigars out there without pricing them through the roof. If you like earthy flavors and don’t mind a stronger smoke, this stick will serve you well.
3. Brick House Corona Larga
Cigar Aficionado rating: 93 points
Brick House has become my go-to special occasion cigar. Ranked No. 17 in Cigar Aficionado’s top 25 cigars of 2016, it’s an absolute steal at the price. You don’t even have to settle for a smaller stick to stay under the $7 mark — or even the $6 mark. The Corona Larga is a beast at 6.25 inches and a 46-ring gauge. Every time I’ve had a Brick House smoke, I’ve found it to be well made, with a solid draw and easy burn. The flavors are simple, pleasant and not overpowering.
It features a Havano Subido wrapper, which is exclusive to Brick House, and the result is a smoke that is a little bit chocolatey and a little spicy but not too much of either. This cigar is like a comfortable pair of jeans: You just find yourself reaching for it again and again.
Penny Hoarder tip: Only use butane lighters or wooden matches to light your cigar. Cheap lighters or matches can add chemical flavors to the smoke that can ruin the experience. A wasted cigar is wasted money.
4. Punch Gran Puro Santa Rita
Omoth lights a Punch Gran Puro Santa Rita that cost $5.49. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder
Cigar Aficionado rating: 93 points
Here’s another cigar that is far better than its price would suggest. At just about $5.50, you can get the No. 10 cigar on Cigar Aficionado’s top 25 cigars of 2016. Made purely of tobacco from Honduras, this stick is a great way to branch out from what you typically know without breaking the bank.
This little Rothchild-size cigar brings a fair bit of pepper to the party. The draw is flawless with a nice, even burn. This is a smooth, easygoing cigar that by no means lacks flavors. It’s a smooth smoke that packs a little punch on the back end. I’ve smoked many cigars that I liked a lot less for nearly twice the coin.
5. Oliva Serie O Churchill
Cigar Aficionado Rating: 90 points
Since I started smoking cigars, this has been one of my absolute favorites. Oliva makes several great cigars, but this is one of the least expensive, and I’ve found the flavors to be on par with the best in the business. Ranked No. 11 on Cigar Aficionado’s top 25 cigars of 2013 with a 94-point rating, it’s a crazy bargain. Cigar Aficionado’s softened its stance on more recent reviews, but it’s still a highly respectable 90 points.
This cigar is another that features filler from Nicaragua and a Habano wrapper. You can get an Oliva Serie O for less than $6 at the full-blown Churchill size, so settle in. If you’re not in love with the first few puffs, give it time. This stick develops complexity of flavors as it burns. This is absolutely one of my favorite bargains out there.
Penny Hoarder tip: If you find a brand that you really like, look for cigar bundles labeled as factory seconds or overruns. These are the same smokes, but with slight flaws that are largely aesthetic. They’re sold for far cheaper. Fumas are also a good bargain — they’re cigars made from the cuttings left over from the big brands.
6. My Father Flor de las Antillas
Not only is My Father Flor de las Antillas affordable, it’s also a top-rated cigar. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder
Cigar Aficionado rating: 96 points
Yeah, you read that right. This cigar gets a crazy-high rating of 96 points, and My Father took home the No. 1 spot on Cigar Aficionado’s top 25 of 2012 with this blend. The rating is for the toro size, but I found a Rothschild to be worth every one of those 96 points.
Seriously, if you don’t try any other smoke on this list, give this one a shot. With slightly sweet, toasty flavors the Flor de las Antillas, a Nicaraguan puro, is an absolute delight. You could spend three times the money and not get flavors this rich and pleasing. If I weren’t such a fan of trying new cigars, I’d just stick with this one forever.
7. Try a Local Cigar Maker!
Odelma Matos, owner of La Faraona Cigars, rolls a cigar by hand in her shop in Ybor City, Fla. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder
If you’re lucky enough to have a local shop that rolls its own cigars, take the time to explore what it has. There’s something deeply satisfying about smoking a cigar that was made right in front of you.
I’ll admit it: I’m lucky. I live in the Tampa area, which is known as “Cigar City.” In Ybor City, a district with a rich Cuban heritage, there are a number of cigar shops that roll their own sticks daily. My personal favorite is a little shop called La Faraona Cigars. Any time I go in there, I’m likely to see Odelma Matos, the owner and “torcedora” (cigar roller). She’s happy to tell anyone about the history of her family business.
My favorite cigar from La Faraona is a robusto natural. It’s an easygoing smoke with slightly sweet flavors, almost like a good cup of Cuban coffee. The best part? It’s just $5, and I know by buying them, I’m helping keep a local business going.
Explore where you live, and see if you can find a local gem. It’s worth it.
La Faraona Cigars offers affordable hand-rolled cigars in Ybor City, Fla. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder
The Best Cigars Are Ones You Enjoy
Don’t worry about the big name brands or sticking to Cigar Aficionado’s top 25 list. There plenty of great cigars out there that never get big-time publicity. However, if you’re looking for a place to start, finding highly rated smokes that are easy to find and affordable, checking out the lower-cost sticks on Cigar Aficionado’s list is a fun way to start. These are just a few of my suggestions. I hope you find one you enjoy.
Kick back, relax and light one up. With luck, it will be your new favorite.
Tyler Omoth is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder who loves soaking up the sun and finding creative ways to help others. Catch him on Twitter at @Tyomoth.