Love em or hate em, for centuries cigars have been the choice tobacco product for millions of smokers and like fine wine, has been universally recognized as a sophisticated vice of the well-heeled connoisseur.
The US spends more than $1 billion a year on the often sneered at stogie and its impact on popular culture has grown with celebrities such as James Gandolfini's character Tony Soprano who was rarely seen without one protruding from his face.
Whether you favor the lighter claro wrappers or the darker maduro, a giant-sized churchill or a less assuming panatela, click ahead to see what Cigar Aficionado's editors select as their choice sticks for this season.
Mi Dominicana by Jose Seijas Robusto
5 inches by 54 ring, Dominican Republic, $8.00
The first Dominican puro from Tabacalera de Garcia Ltd., one of the world's largest cigar factories. Mi Dominicana is rich, spicy and leathery.
Ashton Estate Sun Grown 22-Year Salute
6 inches by 52, Dominican Republic, $20.00
The rarest Ashtons are the ESG line, crafted in limited quantities due to their rare Dominican wrapper leaf. This pyramid shape is the first figurado in the three-size line.
My Father No. 4
7 1/2 inches by 38 ring, Nicaragua, $10.44
Long, slim lanceros are among the most difficult cigars to roll, but Pepin Garcia excels at the art. His small but growing operation is making some of the world's most exciting cigars, and this is his latest creation, a bold, strong smoke with impeccable construction.
CAO Champion Sampler
Various sizes, various countries, $75.00
This sampler of 10 cigars is unique in that each of the cigars has been rated 90 points or higher in Cigar Aficionado magazine.
Don Carlos Edición de Aniversario Double Robusto
5 3/4 inches by 52 ring, Dominican Republic, $32.00
This limited-edition smoke is crafted entirely from Dominican tobacco by the Fuente family, one of the world's best known producers of fine cigars. It's a hearty smoke, laden with flavors of caramel and leather, and a truly rare find.
La Gloria Cubana Artesanos de Miami Elegante
6 7/8 inches by 49 ring, Miami, $11.00
American-made cigars are a rarity. This new Churchill is one of the best, rolled on Miami's historic Calle Ocho, or Eighth Street.
Macanudo 1968 Toro
6 inches by 54 ring, Dominican Republic, $9.50
This flavorful and thick cigar is the strongest Macanudo ever, made with a blend of tobaccos from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras and the Connecticut River Valley.
Rocky Patel Decade Torpedo
6 1/2 inches by 52 ring, Honduras, $10.50
Created by Rocky Patel to celebrate his 10th year in the cigar business, this superbly crafted figuardo is the best cigar he has ever produced. It's rich, creamy and nutty, with balance and elegance.
La Flor Dominicana Los Perfectos Sampler
5 3/4 inches by 54 ring, Dominican Republic, $54 (five cigars)
These gorgeous, curved cigars are extremely difficult to roll, and offer several tastes from the boutique La Flor Dominicana factory.
Alec Bradley Tempus Centuria
7 inches by 49 ring, Honduras, $8.25
Dark and bold, this full-bodied smoke is a powerhouse blend of Central American and Asian tobaccos.
Padrón 88 Sampler
Various shapes, Nicaragua, $30 (five cigars)
The Padrón family makes some of the world's finest cigars, and is the only two-time winner of Cigar Aficionado's No. 1 Cigar of the Year. This inexpensive sampler is a convenient way to sample five, including the Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Exclusivo.
Casa Magna Colorado Robusto
5 1/2 inches by 52 ring, Nicaragua, $5.25
One of the best values on the cigar market, this inexpensive robusto combines strength and sweetness.