The end of the year is knocking at my door. That means the Cigar of the Year lists are hitting the web here and there. I have been thinking lightly upon what cigars are going to make my yearly best of the best list for the last month. The cigars on my list (like last year) were not necessarily released this year, yet are the best of the best that I got to smoke this year. There are a lot of new (and old) cigars I didn’t get to smoke this year, yet wanted to. They quite possibly could have made an appearance on this list. But, without smoking them, I will never know how they compare to the ones I did enjoy.
There is a “popular” CigAr publication that released their list already and made quite a stir with a Cuban cigar being their number one cigar of 2013. I don’t smoke too many Cubans and all of my reviews are of cigars that every law abiding cigar smoker can get ahold of. I am not knocking this CigAr publication, but it doesn’t seem very realistic to me anymore.
Enough of my ramblings, here is my list in no particular order except for my cigar of the year:
Davidoff Nicaraguan Corona: Who knew that a Davidoff cigar would ever appear upon my cigars of the year list? When Davidoff came out with this new line, I was skeptical, but a few good friends told me “try it!” It is almost as smooth as their Dominican lines, but with a Nicaraguan kick to it. You can taste the “typical” Nicaraguan nuances in the smoke, yet way smoother; the aging of the tobacco really shows through. Although they are fairly pricey, like most Davidoffs, it still is a great smoke for a “special occasion” or when you want some Niaraguan smoke, but not some of the “harshness” they can give off at times.
The Crowned Heads – Headley Grange “Drumstick”: I have not been searching out too many limited edition cigars this year. Yet, the Drumstick happen to show up on my local B&M’s shelves and I ended up buying a few and a few more. The few I did smoke, I really enjoyed. I love the Headley Grange blend in the smaller ring gauges and me being a lancero fan, this really set me off to liking this cigar enough to make this year’s list.
E.P. Carrillo – INCH Maduro “62”: I usually dislike the larger ring gauged cigars. But this cigar just seemed to be on my radar since it was announced. I finally was gifted one and fell in love with it ever since. It meets my flavor likings as a dark rich smoke that gives plenty of quality smoke, for a nice amount of time and for a good price. This cigar is less than $10 and is worth every penny of it.
Reinado Grand Empire Reserve: I had been looking for the “GER” for quite a while. The only shop that had them “locally” was over an hour and half away and typically out of stock on them. Luckily when on vacation, a stop at Burns Tobacconist in Chattanooga, TN I came across them and grabbed a few without hesitation. That few was not enough! I loved this smoke, the rich chocolate, pepper and creaminess make for one awesome smoke.
Ortega Serie D Maduro No.7: This cigar made last year’s list and this years as well. I absolutely love this smoke. The flavors always seemed to hit the spot. It pairs well with coffee, “MilkyWay” coffee and occasionally a whiskey. For around $8, this cigar has never failed me; enough for me to buy a box! I don’t buy too many boxes as I like to keep my cigar money options open. But this cigar is definitely box worthy.
Ventura Project 805R: I am really appreciative of Ventura of sending me a few of these to review. The Andullo tobacco in this smoke reminded me of the Leccia White, yet the 805R was a bit smoother the length of the cigar. I could see myself smoking many more of these as they are a great med-full bodied smoke that had some nice sweetness, black pepper and an oaky core with a interesting mustiness to it.
Drew Estate Undercrown Corona Viva: This is another cigar that I really fell in love with. Enough to buy a box of them! I like the Undercrown line and the smaller ring gauge really hits home. Gives off a good amount of dark and earthy flavors for a nice amount of time. It also pairs well with a nice Bourbon or even Scotch.
Cuenca 5 Anniversary: One of the best “house brand” cigars I have ever smoked. A great medium to full bodied cigar with nice charred wood & a slightly spicy pepper note. A good smoke that any level of cigar smoker can enjoy. This is one of the few “house brand” cigars that’s not been thrown together; they took their time with this blend and it shows in the quality of the smoke and construction.
Quesada Heisenburg Project Corona: I have found a fondness for Quesada cigars. They have been growing steadily over the last few years and the Heisenburg Project is one of the cream of the crops for me in the Quesada line-up. I really like this blend in a corona size. I would like to see the blend in the same ring gauge, yet a little longer as the smoke time was not enough for me.
Leccia Tobacco White: A lot of people favored the Black, but I preferred the White. The black was good in larger ring gauges, yet not good enough to surpass the White in my eyes. The White was more smoother and mellower than its big brother the Black. I was happy to see Sam Leccia back into the cigar business and paired up with Torano they make a great team.
Davidoff Royal Robusto: A double whammy from Davidoff for me this year, first the Nicaraguan, now the Royal Robusto. Only available at their Madison Ave (in NYC) store, this cigar was one of the smoothest cigars I have ever had. Was gifted this cigar from the owner of a local shop (greatly appreciated) and was a nice smoke. The flavors were awesome, just not in my typical wheelhouse.
EP Carrillo E-Stunner “Corriente“: One of the major things that I am always drawn back to EPC cigars is they give a great value for the money. A cigar with great flavors and a great price will always make my list. At $6 and change, this is a interesting cigar with herbal and floral notes that kept me on my toes.
Recluse Draconian Robusto: This is one of those cigars that caught me somewhat off guard. The original Recluse OTG was a pretty good smoke, but this blend was just a tad bit better. I smoked a few pre-releases which I don’t always base my opinions on. Then a rep gave me a production Draconian and it was just as good as the pre-release. Had an interesting mix of flavors that lead me to wanting more.
Moya Ruiz La Jugada Habano: This is one of the better habano wrapped cigars I have ever tried. I usually think of a habano wrapped cigar as a “entry level” cigar. They aren’t too bold, peppery or spicy. Typically a cigar anyone could enjoy. This cigar was a nice bit better than your “typical” habano cigar. It was a nice addition the original Preito line and to the Moya Ruiz family of cigars.
Reinado Habanito: From the original Reinado line, this small ring gauge cigar is a hit with me. The only thing I would like is for the cigar to be about an inch or so longer, but this size is a great “short smoke”. I am hoping Antonio makes a lancer in this blend soon!
Blanco Criollo Toro: A good friend once told me “Your cigar(s) of the year, should be the one you bought the most of.” This cigar is one of those. Coming in at $7, this is a pretty good toro smoke. Had some grassy/straw & vanilla flavors that for some reason kept me coming back to. I had probably bought the better part of a box of these in singles.
Ezra Zion Tantrum: The Ezra Zion company has been taking off the last two years. The Tantrum and Eminence lines have been a few of their newest cigars. I like almost all of Ezra Zion’s blends, but the Tantrum takes the cake.
Espinosa La Zona Connecticut: This was my 2012 Cigar of the Year and still comes in a great smoke. It still gives me a solid smoke that pairs so nicely with coffee and never lets me down for the money.
2013 Cigar of the Year
Ortega Wild Bunch “Honest Abe”
This cigar surprised me in the fact that I usually prefer a more fuller, darker & “meatier” cigar. This cigar was smooth and a higher medium bodied smoke that really hit the spot. The cigar gave off a great amount of smoke time, excellent construction. I wish I could have gotten ahold of a box of these as they were not found locally and I had to make a few phone calls to get ahold of the ones I was able to enjoy. The creaminess of the wood, nuts & black pepper combo made for a great smoke. I am looking forward to the 2014 series of Wild Bunch as Eddie Ortega has been on fire with this year’s Wild Bunch lines.
I will be posting an editorial later this week on a few things that I have noticed in the cigar industry this past year. Be on the look out for it in the next few days.