Ben’s Cigars of the Year 2011

This was a great year for cigar lovers.  So many great new cigars were released as line extensions, new lines or limited releases.  Every year it gets hard to try to come up with a list of the top cigars of the year.  This year, I’m doing it a little different.  I chose my cigar of the year and five runner up cigars that, at one time, were all my cigar of the year.  After that, I have my Lucky 13 which I consider, for me, to be the best 13 cigars of the year.  Finally, I picked two cigars that I call my budget cigar of the year and my surprise of the year.  The budget cigar is pretty self explanatory, but the surprise cigar of the year one I consider that came out of nowhere and just wowed me.  So, without further ado, here is my Cigars of the Year for 2011:

Budget Cigar of the Year: 

Habana Port Tabacums

Coming in at around $4.50 a stick for the robusto, you just can’t beat these.  They are worth more than that.  They are available in both Connecticut Broadleaf maduro and Ecuadorian Habano, each one is a flavor bomb.  Its hard for me to choose which one I like better.

Surprise Cigar of the Year: 

Reinado Torpedo

When Antonio Lam sent me these cigars, I didn’t think much about them.  He mentioned that they use a special fermenation processes that gives the cigar unique flavors.  Wow, was he right.  This cigar really caught my attention and I can see why this cigar is getting increasing popular.  A little hard to find as they are a boutique brand, but the number of retailers carrying them in steadily increasing.  This is one cigar not to be missed.

Best Limited Edition:

Casa Magna Domus Magnus Optimus

Wow, Quesada has really be on a roll this year.  I was never a fan of the original Casa Magna line, so I was unsure what to make of the cigar.  What a treat!  This is the most complex cigar I’ve had this year.  Flavors just came and went, evolving throughout the cigar.  Amazing cigar.  If it wasn’t for the Espana, this cigar would have been a contender for my Cigar of the Year as well.

Lucky 13 Cigars of the Year for 2011:

Quesada Oktoberfest Bavarian

This new cigar was introduced at the 2011 IPCPR from Quesada Cigars.  The concept behind this cigar was that it was supposed to pair well with hoppy beers.  Well, they accomplished that.  This cigar has a great flavor and, maybe its a marketing, but I get a nice hoppiness out of the cigar.  Never the less, one of best cigars I’ve had this year.

Illusion MKULTRA

This cigar is another flavor bomb.  Such a rich and powerful cigar, it was supposedly the original blend of the MK.  I’m glad Dion reintroduced this cigar.  Amazing flavor in a great size for a great price.  You just can’t go wrong with any Illusione.

Drew Estate Undercrown

The bastard child of the Liga Privada No. 9 and T52, this cigar was made for the workers at the Drew Estates factory to stop them from smoking up all the Ligas!  Well, I’m glad Jonathan put a stop to that because they came up with a great cigar as a substitute.  A very rich cigar, it combines the best of the No. 9 and the T52.  Is it better than my beloved T52?  Hell no, but it is still damn good in its own right….and cheaper!

Kristoff GC Signature Series robusto

This cigar was another surprise for me.  My local shop, The Cigar Shop in Biloxi, MS, got in the whole Kristoff line after the owner tried their Ligero maduro cigar and fell in love.  I love that cigar too, but when I saw these, I had to give it try.  Out of all the cigars I’ve smoked in the shop, I’ve smoked this the most.  Great flavors.  Watch ou for the upcoming review soon.

Ashton VSG Pegasus

The Pegasus is a new line extension for my beloved Ashton Virgin Sun Grown line.  Its a round short robusto format, but that’s not the only thing different about it from the standard line.  According to Evan Carpenter, our Ashton rep, this cigar is the original Ashton VSG blend when it was released in the round format instead of the current box pressed shape.  The flavors are mostly like the standard VSG blend, but with a nice sweetness to it.  I’ve been grabbing at least one of these every time I go to the shop.

Nestor Miranda Grand Reserve

This box pressed torpedo is the flagship of the Nestor Miranda line and, with a $14 price point, it better be.  Even at $14, the cigar delivers.  Great rich flavors throughout the cigar.  Definitely the best cigar every to come out of the Nestor Miranda line up.

EP Carillo New Wave Connecticut

I wasn’t enamored with the Inaugural Edition 2009, but, so far, every other release that Ernesto Carillo has produced as been a winner.  This New Wave Connecticut is another.  Great sweet, creamy profile, but with a lot of body, this cigar has redefined what a Connecticut cigar is all about.

Curivari Reserve Limitada Cafe 52

I know some of  you are saying, “Who?”.  Curivari is another boutique cigar that has burst on the scene this year.  Luckily for me, another one of my local shops, Crescent City Cigars in New Orleans, got in their whole line.  Armando Ortiz, the owner, sent me a sample of some of them. They are all very good cigars, but this one blew me away.  Coffee and cocoa bean are the main notes with a full body.  This is the next big brand.  Watch.

La Flor Dominicana Factory Press 4

This one is a late comer to my party.  I first had this cigar after a big steak dinner at NY Prime in Atlanta during the Atlanta Tweet Up earlier this month.  Wow.  What a cigar, especially after a big steak dinner.  Full bodied, spicy with leather and earthy notes.  The box press on such a big cigar makes this one look like a candy bar.  Amazing cigar.  Watch for an upcoming review on this cigar.

Cromagnon Anthropology

As most of you know, this cigar is a collaboration between my friend, Skip Martin, and Mike Rosales of Adrian’s Cigars.  These are full bodied…..and I mean FULL BODIED, but with great flavors.  I saw it as a cross between a La Flor Dominicana DL660 maduro (official cigar of the CGAR Clan on Call of Duty) and the Joya De Nicaragua Dark Corojo.  It comes in 5 sizes, but I prefer the Anthropology. Not just because its in my favorite size, but because it has a sweetness to it that I think adds more character to the cigar for me.

Viaje Late Harvest robusto

Another home run from Viaje.  This cigar had a unique flavor profile that I haven’t found in any other cigar: buttery corn.  I know, you’re saying, WTF?  I swear its there and its awesome.  I wish I was able to buy a box of these.

Lou Rodriguez Edicion Reserve Lancero

I could have picked any size of the Edicion Premier or Edicion Reserva from Lou Rodriguez, but I decided to go with the Reserva lancero.  Mainly because it was the last one I smoked and because its one of the best lanceros I’ve ever had.  Leathery, coffee and chocolate profile, this cigar just delivers….as does the rest of the line.

Gran Habano STK Zulu Zulu Habano

Another great lancero.  I really like this bigger size also.  Something about that 40 ring gauge….anyway, besides having amazing flavors, this cigar is also for a charity.  Proceeds of this cigar will be going to Invisible Children.  An organization that help being awareness to children soldiers in Africa.  Great cigar, plus  you’re helping a great cause?  Winner, winner.

Cigar of the Year Runner Ups:

Quesada Seleccion Espana

Short robusto, robusto, corona…who cares.  They were ALL amazing cigars.  Complex, medium bodied, rich flavors.  I know this has been thrown around a lot, but this is the most “cubanesque” cigar I’ve ever had.  Only supposed to be sold in Spain….cough….cough…..I was able to get a sampler of 2 of each size.  Let me tell you, this cigar is a death bed cigar.  Quesada….FOR THE LOVE OF GOD….release this in the United States!

Crowned Heads Four Kicks Robusto

Well, I’m glad I have this picture to remind me what my box of Four Kicks robustos looked like.  I swear I’ve never burned though a box of cigar like I did these.  Amazing flavors in a medium bodied cigar.  I have yet to find a person that didn’t love this cigar.  This cigar is something special.  I actually believe the hype UNDERsold this cigar.  Absolutely unbelievable cigar.  Epic.

Emilio Grimalkin

This is the only cigar I’ve ever smoked where I was smoking my one and only sample and immediately had to stop and set up my review station to record a review.  It was so good, I just had to get it on video.  Great flavors and at around $11 a stick, well worth the price.  I sought out a box of these like Indiana Jones after the Ark of the Covenant.  This is also the single most shared cigar I’ve ever had.  I’ve given these out to my friends and cigar shops I want to carry them so they can see how great these are.  One of a kind.

Viaje Tower 45th Anniversary Exclusivo

Best Viaje cigar I’ve ever had.  That’s saying something considering I’ve smoked every Viaje cigar ever released.  The Exclusivo blend really pops in this larger, boxed press cigar.  Mark Just of Tower Cigars and Andre Farkas really came up with an all time Champion here.  Its the only Viaje cigar that I’ve managed to get a whole box of and I was DETERMINED to get a box of these.

AJ Fernandez San Lotano Oval

What a great shape for a cigar.  Oval!  It feel really great in the mouth and also doesn’t have all the burn problems of most box pressed cigars.  The do this by pressing the cigar in a mold with oval sides.  Works great.  Also has outstanding flavors of wood, spice and coffee.  Every size is great, but, for me, the robusto is something special.


….and now the moment you’ve all been waiting for……

Ben’s 2011 Cigar of the Year

Tatuaje L’Esprit de Vérité Robusto 2009 Vintage

One of the best cigars I’ve ever had in my life.  Great flavor profile of sweet coffee, leather, cedar and nuts.  Very elegant and smooth cigar.  If you look up elegant and smooth in an dictionary, there will be a picture of this cigar and Billy Dee Williams aka Lando.  All tobaccos are from a single farm which Pete Johnson has treated like Bordeaux wine.  First, pricing them like Bordeaux wine futures and having vintages as well.  What a great concept.  As a wine newbie, this really sparked my interest.  A truly world class cigar.

There  you have it.  My best cigars of 2011.  I could have added about 10 more, but I had to draw the line somewhere.  What a great time to be a cigar smoker.

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Great list!! Ive been to The Cigar Shop once or twice and LOVE that place. Great prices, selection, and the house/castle/lounge is SWEET. Liked Crescent City a lot, too. Unfortunately I only get to either when I visit my folks in Pass Christian.

Damn Ben – this is a very well done list, thanks for providing it. Your love of cigars really comes shining through. I had to chuckle, though, when I read your write-up on the Four Kicks — it’s a very good cigar, don’t get me wrong, but some of the bloggers seem intent on outdoing each other on the hype.

Nice list Ben I have managed to try a couple of these sticks not near all of them or enough of the ones I have tried but they look yummy all of them. Happy new year

Great reading…grimalkin can be had for $7 per stick at good online retailer! Also, I’m proud of you for not jumping the La Casita bus….bought a box and half were junk construction!

Great list, Ben. I may be partial, but this is much more in line with the top cigars of 2011 than what CA put out.

Tatuaje LOL, are you serious? What about the Behike 52, Cohiba GR, Mont GR?


Those are cigars that a vast majority of cigar smokers will never smoke, let alone even see. I’ve never even smoked them myself, so, no, they will not be on my list. Also, just because it cost $125 doesn’t make it the best cigar in the world.

The Ashton VSG is a really good cigar, I’ve seen on your list some key cigars but also you all might to give these few a try to: Alec Bradley Black Market, very nice cigar. The My Father line has some exceptional cigars too, and also mentioned in another comment, the Nica Libre Potencia, very nice medium bodied cigar with full flavor and not to overpowering like a CAO LX2.

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