Let’s face it, being a cigar lover can be expensive – especially if you get obsessive about it like me! Thankfully, there a number of viable options available to us in the premium cigar category that are merciful to our wallets while also satisfying our need for a high-quality smoking experience. I’m not talking about the budget bundle sticks or factory seconds, I want cigars that can deliver that top shelf performance, appearance, and flavor at a bargain price. With that said, I give you my personal top 5 Premium Cigars Under $8.
#5 Kintsugi by Alec and Bradley
While only one vitola of this particular blend qualifies for inclusion on this list it is worth noting that the corona gorda is, in my opinion, one of the better sizes in this blend and a personal favorite vitola of mine in general. According to Alec and Bradley Rubin, who oversaw the creation of this blend, Kintsugi refers and pays tribute to “the ancient Japanese art form of joining together ceramics with gold lacquer-making them even more beautiful. Cigars, like the gold lacquer, are a bonding agent, bringing people from all walks of life together”.
The Kintsugi features exclusively Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaccos making for a medium bodied and delicately flavored smoke. Flavors of balanced nuttiness, cream, baking spices, vanilla and cedar with a perfect level of sweetness. The band artwork is equally impressive which of course would make anyone that think this pricey smoke! The Corona Gorda comes in at around $7.75 MSRP.
#4 Henry Clay War Hawk by Altadis
Another blend that features several different sizes, with only one that technically qualifies for this list, the Corona. This one does feature an Ecuadorian shade-grown wrapper leaf, but don’t be deceived by that innocent looking color. This cigar has some kick! More of a medium+ cigar in the smoke texture with flavors that truly pop right off the first light. Flavors of bright white and black pepper, natural tobacco sweetness, citrus, and baking spices, with a satisfying mouthfeel and a generous draw.
The namesake of this stick, Henry Clay, was a fiery individual to say the least, one who fiercely advocated for military action on part of the USA against Great Britain on several occasions in the 19th century. As mentioned above, only the corona vitola offers a below $8 MSRP, however the other two sizes come in at just pennies above that mark, making this an excellent option for the budget conscious.
#3 Juarez by Crowned Heads
Jack Brown (5 x 56)
Anyone who is a CH fan will already know the greatness of the Juarez. Being of Nashville heritage, brand owner Jon Huber often makes reference to country music in his blends. The Juarez is a tip of the hat the classic prison song, Cocaine Blues by the late, great Johnny Cash which of course features the iconic line, “Made a good run, but I run too slow. They overtook me down in Juarez Mexico”. Even some of the vitola names in the lineup (i.e Jack Brown, Willie Lee) are references to names mentioned in the song’s lyrics.
The Jack Brown vitola (5”x56) is the one that tend to gravitate to most often, though most of this cigar’s sizes stay well below the 8 buck price point. Expect bold and rich flavors from this blend produced at the Pichardo factory in Nicaragua. The Juarez features Nicaraguan and Dominican long fillers under an Ecuadorian Sumatra binder, draped by a beautifully dark Mexican San Andres wrapper leaf. Excellent notes of cocoa, espresso, charred wood, and a healthy level of spice can be found in this full bodied and thoroughly affordable smoke.
#2 Charter Oak by Foundation Cigars
This lineup served a double purpose for owner and master blender, Nick Mellilo. The Charter Oak diversified the Foundation Cigars catalogue in terms of price point, while also paying homage to his home state of Connecticut. The Charter Oak refers to the state tree of Connecticut which bears the same name. There are now three different iterations of the Charter Oak cigar: the maduro, the shade-grown, and the sun-grown. All three deliver superb smoothness and balance in the draw flavors with a level of depth not often seen in cigars of this price point.
As is only appropriate, the Connecticut Shade and the Broadleaf Maduro entries in this lineup feature wrapper leaves grown in the state of Connecticut. The Habano Sun-Grown entry features an Ecuadorian wrapper. When these first hit the market in 2016 the retail price in many markets was right around $5.00, and even in today’s inflated cost environment the Charter Oak can be purchased often below $7.00 MSRP. Just the sort of thing we can use today!
#1 Buffalo Ten Maduro by Artista Cigars
Last but certainly not least, is the most affordable of this list, the Buffalo Ten. I like the original maduro version in particular, but the habano and shade-grown varieties are also delicious in their own right. El Artista Cigars debuted the OG Maduro blend in 2019 and features a 4-country recipe of tobaccos: Columbian, USA, and Domincan fillers, a Dominican Negrito binder, and a luscious Mexican San Andres wrapper leaf. The cigars come in a very sharp box pressed format and presented in brown paper bound 5-packs. Performance wise these are second to none with an abundant smoke output, medium full texture, and outstanding flavors of rich fertile earth, bold black pepper, cocoa and coffee sweetness, with accents of charred wood and florals.
I have always appreciated brands that have the wherewithal to package their blends in the 5-pack format for those of us who want to get to know a cigar well without having to buy a whole 20 count box. As of now, the Buffalo Ten can found for an astonishingly low MSRP of $5 per stick, and sometimes lower than that depending upon the retailer! These are to me the very definition of a craft cigars and are sure to satisfy even the most demanding of palates.
This list is sure to be revisited in the months and years to come, as new blends are released seemingly daily in the industry. Do you have other favorites that didn’t make this list? Let me know! I am always looking for more affordable and uncompromising options in this increasingly expensive world!