Shawn’s 2012 Cigars of the Year

Every year I, like others, like to make a list of my favorite cigars of the year. Well, the year is winding down fairly fast, so its time for me to do my list for 2012. I have smoked a good number of cigars this year. Many of them are the new releases and some are not. There are some cigars I didn’t get to try or couldn’t get ahold of. So if you think one should have made my list and its not on there, its a good chance I didn’t get to try it; or I possibly didn’t like it as much as you did.

Everybody has their likes and dislikes, some like spice, some like pepper. Saying that, my list will be different from all the other 2012 lists. Not one list is the “master list” of the best cigars of the year, but these are my favorites that I had in 2012. I have never gave cigars a numerical rating and, I won’t put my list in any order, except for my cigar of the year.


Ten Favorites of 2012

Rocky Patel – Edge Habano (The Nicaraguan Edge): For about $7, its tough to find a better Nicaraguan cigar. There are some just as good, but money talks! They have sold very well from my local B&M and I have smoked a handful of them since their recent release. For a Nicaraguan Puro, its not overly spicy or strong bodied. I’d say its a medium/full, that has awesome flavors and a great price.



RomaCraft – Aquitaine: Skip Martin and Michael Rosales have got a hit with this cigar. I smoked this line in a variety of sizes and prefer the EMH size. But, they are all good and each have their own subtle differences between the vitolas. They are at a great price point at around $6-8 and have impeckable construction with no burn or draw issues. I also like the Intemperance and Crogmagon lines, but the Aquitaine will be my go-to with RomaCraft.



Room 101 – San Andreas: I have found a new love for maduro wrapped cigars. From the Brazilian to Broadleaf to San Andreas, I have found myself trying more and more maduro cigars. I have had a good number of San Andreas wrapped cigars, some were horrible and some were great. The Room 101 San Andreas was at the top of the list. I did seem to find myself smoking the Papi Chulo more than the other sizes as it seemed to funnel the flavors more into a flavor bomb.


Curivari – Gloria de Leon: I would have never thought to try a Curivari if it wasn’t for Ben Lee (from and Armando Ortiz (from Cresent City Cigars in NOLA). I smoked a good bit of the Curivari lines at the first half of the year and the Gloria de Leon came out to be my overall favorite. Not too pricey, and has flavors I have found in no other cigar. Some say they are similar in tastes to a Cuban, I can agree with that slightly. Overall, one of my favorite boutique cigars and really looking forward to what they have instore for us in 2013.


Viaje – Friends and Family: Once again, Viaje makes an appearance on my favorite cigars of the year list. Even though it was a very limited line, I did get a chance to smoke two and fell in love with it! Viaje has came out with an arsenal of new LE cigars this year. Most of them I found had to have some rest before they are good and some were so-so rested or not. The Friends and Family didn’t sit long in my humidor, maybe a month tops, and I smoked it and absolutely loved it! I wish I could get ahold of a box of them, but the chances of that are slim to none these days.


Ortega – Serie D Maduro: Eddie Ortega got a smash hit with these cigars. I bought a sampler from Buckhead Cigars and tried them all to see which size I preferred. In the long run, I enjoyed the No7 (5×46) size the most. I also liked how Eddie sold them in 10 count boxes to ease the wallet strain of getting a full box. Overall a tasty cigar that had nice body and a great flavor profile that I like. Eddie did also make this line in thenatural, but I preferred the maduro more.


Joya de Nicaragua – Cuenca y Blanco: Now known as “CyB”, this new line from Joya de Nicaragua is a hit in my book as well as a handful of other people who have tried it. Its a good change of pace from the stronger JdN lines; yet still very flavorful and balanced. I smoked more of the Lonsdale size and really liked it over the other sizes I tried. One of the best new release cigars of 2012 and a look into Jose Blanco’s vast knowledge of tabacco. A must try!


Perdomo – 20th Anniversary Sun Grown: I had tried the maduro and didn’t care too much for it at all. I was about to put them out all together, then I was told to try the Sun Grown. So, I did and really enjoyed it and am thankful for the suggestion to try it. Though its a little more pricier than the other Perdomo lines, I really think its worth the extra cash. I have had the Edicion De Silvio and at half the cost, I’ll take a 20th Anniversary Sun Grown Torpedo any day!


The Crowned Heads – Headley Grange: Yes, there was alot of social media hype for the announced Headley Grange line from The Crowned Heads. But I really like the cigar, hype or not! I had got a few of these from a twitter contest from Jon Huber and Mike Conder before their release and loved it. Then had a few when released and still loved them. Along the lines of the original Four Kicks, but just a tad bit tastier in my eyes.


Tatuaje – L’atelier: Released at the 2012 IPCPR Trade show, the L’atelier line has been a huge hit in my book. There aren’t too many times that I walk into a shop and not grab a Lat 54. A interesting change from your typical Tatuajes that are bold and strong. The L’atelier is a great insight as to what other ideas that Pete Johnson has in his head.



Honorable Mentions:

 A few cigars that were good, but fell just short of my top list. They are all worth mentioning and I suggest you still  give them a try.

Bonita Smoke Shop Time Warp: A nice trip back to the days where full body & 6x60s were not the rage. Very smooth, mellow yet flavorful.

Elogio – Serie Habano: Another good boutique line that has took my smoking list by storm. Very flavorful and I wished i would have had a few more during the year. Overal a good smoke!

Drew Estate – MUWAT Baitfish: I really like the “regular” MUWAT lines, but the 60 ring gauge isn’t my thing. The smaller 44ring gauge seemed to pop more and was a flavor bomb!

Emilio – AF2: Of all the Emilio lines, I seem to be more drawn to the AF2 line. I like the Grimalkin a good bit, but always seem to grab an AF2 Toro over it.

Rock Patel – Vintage 2003 Cameroon: Surprisingly two Rocky Patel cigars have made my list this year. This is one of the most flavorful Cameroon wrapped cigars I have had. I prefer the Toro size the most.

Antonio Benitez – Maduro Corona: This cigar reminded me of a nicely peppered steak. Nice deep and dark flavors that hit the spot after a hefty meal.

Torcido: The lancero is my go to in this line. Dark earth flavors with some cocoa notes make for this good Dominican cigar.

CAO – Concert: The OSA SOL released last year was a fail in my eyes, the Concert was a cigar that had alot of advertising “hype”, but the cigar is good enough to not need hype.


2012 Cigar of the Year

Espinosa – La Zona Connecticut: To be totally honest with you, I didn’t have too high of expectations for this cigar. I had done my research on it before I tried it and for about $3.50, I wasn’t expecting much. Boy, I was way wrong! This is probably one of my favorite Connecticut wrapped cigars that I have ever smoked. Its not too strong bodied, but has an awesome buttered toast flavor that I fell for. Its not an overly complex smoke but was really and truly “wowed” by this cigar. I mainly prefer a more stronger, bolder, more full bodied cigar, but I was absolutely impressed by this cigar. The price is a great price for anybody. To me, this is a cigar that anybody from a new cigar smoker to a seasoned cigar enjoyer will like.


I may get guff for having a $3.50 cigar as my top of the list this year. But the overall deciding point for me was the cost. I have a sweet spot price that I like to pay for a cigar that is around $6-9. The La Zona Connecticut is half that and really wowed me. In the last year, the economy seems to be fluctuating from good to bad and in troubled times, people look for good deals. I think this is the best deal of the year; flavor that I personally liked and a great price point is what broke it all down to being my #1 cigar of 2012. There are plenty of Connecticut wrappered cigars for double the price that are good as well. But when you get the same quality and a good smoke for half the cost, I’m going for the latter.

Final Thoughts for the year

This year, I have had some ups and downs in life & on NTA. I would like to thank everyone who has supported me in life and on Nice Tight Ash. A lot of people have opened my eyes to new cigars, friends, food, alcohol etc… and I am 100% thankful for everybody’s help and support in 2012.

The year 2012 has gone by really fast! I hope 2013 will be a little more slower and more relaxed, yet bring lots of surprises and new things to try. Thanks for your support of me and other fellow cigar reviewers. Let me know what you think of my list by posting comments!

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Different than other lists?! That’s an understatement.

An understatement it is. I went with a more “bang for your buck” cigar this year. If you have noticed, there are a handfull of companies that are starting to make some more economical cigars over the last few years (or since S-Chip). I look for a cigar that has flavor that I personally like and is a good value. To me, the La Zona was it on MY list. Everybody is different and has their own likes and dislikes. Thats why they make more than one blend of cigars.

This is a very nice news letter!!


Bill Clausen

really enjoyed your NTA podcasts via iTunes…they dropped off. Will you be going back to video podcasts?



Your number 1 pick sounds interesting, especially given that I could use a few more affordable cigars (well, we all could!). Happy New Year!

Bill, Thanks for your comments. There will be a few new things i’m going to try out on NTA this year, so keep your eyes pealed and let me know what you think of them.

Dean, I will be trying to get some up later on this year, hopefully around late spring or summer time. Thanks.

CI, Thanks, it was one of the many cigars that “wowed” me this year. But like I said, the cost was the deal breaker for me.

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