Shawn’s 2015 Cigars of Year

2015 was one of the most “interesting” years for me in all of my 35 years. It started out fine and dandy, a few months in my family was basically forced to find another home. That nightmare turned into a Godsend as we found a larger house in a better neighborhood at a deal (way better than what we were paying). Other issues arose whether it was work, family or health it all started pilling up on me to edge of a mental breakdown. Once things started settling down, with help of family and friends, I started many improvements to the new home and my mental stability improved over time. With all that being said, NTA (and cigars in general) took a spot on the backburner as I was getting my life back in order.

I didn’t get to smoke as many cigars in 2015 as I did in 2014. There are many many cigars I wish I could have enjoyed, but 2016 is a new year and I hope to broaden my cigar experiences. I have many reviews I have to get done and I apologize to anyone who sent me cigars for review who are awaiting the review; they are on their way!

Over the last few years, the making of my Cigars Of The Year list was quite a task and usually took a few weeks or so of thinking and trying to remember the cigars that stood out that year. My camera on my phone and instagram were handy tools for the list. This year I used the same spreadsheet format from last year with the names of the cigars I smoked with a 0-5 rating in .25 increments. I don’t use ratings in my reviews as I just describe the flavors, experiences of the cigar and whether I like it or not. Remember, taste is very subjective and what I like, you or another cigar reviewer may totally hate. That’s one of the beauties of cigars, variety.

I wish I could do a list composed with all 2015 new releases, but my list is composed from all the cigars I smoked in 2015. There are quite a few new releases that I couldn’t or didn’t get ahold of that I wanted to. Many were not sold locally, sold only online or money was tight at the time of release. I like to support the local shops, but in 2016 I will have to venture more into online ordering to be able to try more new cigars. I made a plan to try to smoke as many new cigars or cigars that I would normally pass up this year. I was fairly successful at the plan in 2015, but there are still quite a few I wished I would have tried. My “variety plan” worked out so-so. There were a few cigars that I usually pass up that I tried that were fairly tasty and a few I know why I passed them up in the past.

Enough of all the chit-chat, this is my list of my favorite cigars smoked in 2015. They are in no particular order, except my Cigar of the Year.

Runner Ups
AVO Synchro Avo Synchro Nicaraguan – This cigar was one I strayed away from as I don’t care too much for many AVO’s regular line of cigars. Their LE lines have been more of a hit for me as the LE10 is one of my favorite all time cigars. I compared this to the Davidoff Nicaraguan as it was a cigar that was made out of the box in the company’s typical line of cigars. In fact, I like it more than the Davidoff Nicaraguan as it was a bit more smoother and a little better price.   
Suriel Day and Night Suriel Night and Day – This cigar barely squeaked in the list as it was one of the last cigars smoked in 2015. I really enjoyed it as it was a very smooth and flavorful smoke that actually caught me off guard of how good it really was. Blended by a Kelner and it shows.
Caldwell Eastern Standard Caldwell Eastern Standard – This cigar and company made a big splash in 2014 early 2015. I was not able to get ahold of these locally for some time, but when I did, I bought handfuls of them with whatever extra cash I had. The Eastern Standard was one that I always came back to as it was a good smoke for any time of the day.
EPC La Historia E.P.Carrillo La Historia – The E.P. Carrillo company has been pretty busy this year with a few solid cigars being put on the shelves. I can count on 3 fingers the cigars I don’t care for from them. I smoked probably a box or so of these in singles before I realized it was a LE cigar. Once I figured this out, they were too hard to come buy and I was bummed I couldn’t get a box at a decent price. I put this cigar in the ranks of the original Dark Ritual.
AJF Enclave AJ Fernandez Enclave – I was leery of this cigar for a while as I was thinking it was along the same lines as the New World; which I didn’t care for too much. This cigar blew the New World out of the water if you ask me. Will be looking at a purchasing a box of these in the future as the price is right on the money vs flavor vs size for me.
La Palina Black Label La Palina Black Label – This cigar made an appearance in my 2014 list and still is one solid smoke that still hasn’t let me down. Still a bit pricey, but the flavors make up for it. One of my go-to cigars to enjoy when I want something bold, dark and flavorful to pair with a cup of dark roast coffee before bed.
Regius Red USA Regius Exclusivo Red Label USA – One of the cigars that hit the US market almost by storm as their core line was previously only available in the UK. I stumbled upon this cigar at a local shop’s event and fell in love with it from the get-go. I am glad I found this cigar before all my “issues” started in 2015 as I was able to afford a box (10) of this cigar. All of Regius’s lines are good, some are better than others. But for me the Red Label Exclusivo USA was where its at.
Jericho Hill The Crowned Heads Jericho Hill – The Crowned Heads started off a few years ago with a great line of cigars (Four Kicks) and has grown feverishly since then. Every year the come out with a few LE cigar and a few regular production lines. I liked the darker flavors of the blend and it’s considerable smoothness. I also like the fact they aren’t a big producer of the large ring gauge cigars fad and still produce some smaller cigars. The “Shots” was my favorite of the line as it was a good value for the flavors and smoke time.


MF AntiguedadMy Father La Antiquedad – This is another cigar that is carried over into my list from last year’s. I am sure most of you saw a particular list of cigars that named the My Father Le Bijou 1922 Torpedo their top cigar of 2015. I like the Le Bijou, but towards the end of the cigar, I got a lot of harshness and off flavors that drove me more the La Antiguedad in 2015. The La Antiquedad was lesser body and lighter flavors that didn’t give me any harshness throughout the entire cigar. A few years ago, I ranked the Le Bijou Petite Robusto pretty highly, but not so much this time.



2015 Cigar of the Year
EPC 5th E.P.Carrillo 5th Anniversary – Its hard to believe that E.P. Carrillo celebrated their 5th Anniversary in 2015. Like I said before, E.P. came out with quite a few solid cigars this year. This is E.P.’s best line that was introduced in 2015 and the best cigar I smoked in 2015 in my eyes. They reintroduced the Dark Ritual in 2015, but it wasn’t the same as the original. A good smoke, but just not the same. I enjoyed a handful of singles of the 5th Anniversary, caught a box deal online and jumped on it. There is not but a few are left from that box and wish I could have afforded more than one box. The cigar retails locally for around $11-13 and is worth every penny of that. The flavors hit me just right, pairs well with coffee in the morning and pretty good with a bourbon before bed. I had a good friend David Jones of Leaf Enthusiast once say that your cigar of the year should be the one you smoked the most of that year. With David’s advice I am giving the E.P. Carrillo 5th Anniversary my 2015 Cigar of the Year title.


Honorable Mentions

Hirochi Robaina – Had it had a smaller price tag, it would have made the top ten. Great smoke, but the price tag drove me away from it enough that I couldn’t enjoy it more.

Drew Estate UF13 – Even though hard to find, its a great smoke and one of DE’s best showings. It was a toss up between the Dirty Rat, Ratzilla and L4 in this.

Rocky Patel Decade Cameroon – The Decade was a great smoke, but the Cameroon seemed to lessen the harshness of its counterpart and made it more enjoyable for me.

Herrera Esteli Norteno – Similar to the Jericho Hill in my eyes, yet a bit more on the stronger and sometimes harsher side. No slouch of a cigar by any means though.

Curivari Gloria de Leon – Once again this cigar makes its way onto my list. If I would have bought a box of these, I garuantee it would have been placed higher in my list. But since I didn’t smoke many of them I didn’t get to truly enjoy and study it more.


All Time Classics

Oliva V Maduro – This year I added the 2010 era of the Oliva V Maduros. I smoked quite a few of them over the past year and they have aged nicely. Not particularly the 2010, but basically any with about 3+ years of age on them. The 6x60s introduced recently drove me away from the V Maduro this year and drove me more to enjoy the aged Toros in my humidor.

Viaje Satori Zen (2010) – What can I say, the original release Satori is still one of my all time favorites. The Ayra came out a while back and was it good, but the OR Zen still takes the cake. I still have a box plus of these….

AVO LE10 – My annual birthday smoke that still gives me a great smoking experience after 5 years. One of the best AVO LEs that has came out in a while. I wish I would have bought more than one box so I can enjoy them more than once a year.

A. Fuente Anejo Shark – A cigar that’s very sought after that smokes great fresh or even better with a few years age on them. I buy these every year with some to smoke fresh and some to smoke aged. My aged selection is getting better and bigger each year. I did get to try the Eye of the Shark this year. It was a pretty good smoke, but its hard to beat an Anejo Shark with some age.

Reinado GER – This cigar will be one that I will smoke regularly if available to me. A bit stronger than the original Reinado but still has never let me down. Just waiting for the Petite Corona size in this blend.

Drew Estate Unico Serie Dirty Rat – Don’t get me wrong, the No.9 and T52 are great smokes and somewhat readily available. But the Dirty Rat is the one I will seek out and pay a bit more for. The size and flavors are one of DE’s best showings that I will always enjoy.


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