As the year winds down and after having sampled many a Cuban and non-Cuban cigar alike, both for my own smoking pleasure and for the purpose of reviewing them for CigarInspector.com, I wanted to give readers my thoughts on 5 of the most memorable cigars I smoked this year and why I placed them into my top 5 list. I’ve listed them in a descending order, starting at number 5 and working my way to number one.
5. H. Upmann No. 2
A cigar not often seen on the top of the year lists, the H. Upmann No. 2 is a cigar that lovers of the Piramides should take time to sample. While I do enjoy the Partagas Series P No. 2, I included the Upmann because it is simply a tastier cigar. Construction issues aside, these cigars offer very pleasant flavors and thick clouds of smoke. Also, newly constructed cigars show significantly less flaws and, as noted in my review, people wanting to search these out would be best advised to try to find newer ones to avoid those construction flaws. Those looking for older box codes of these should be cognizant of the fact that they will encounter construction flaws that might disrupt their experience, but those flaws never impact the flavour that I described as having a sweeter profile, one that provides noticeable cocoa and coffee tones with hints of vanilla and occasional notes of citrus balanced with just the right amount of saltiness and spice. This, along with the Behike was the only cigar where I caught myself mumbling “yum” as I exhaled the thick velvety smoke after a flavor rich draw. If you’ve never tried one then you definitely owe yourself giving one a try.
4. Cohiba Robusto
Another fine cigar from the Cohiba line-up. As I wrote in my review of this cigar earlier in the year, “Overall, the cigar was very complex, starting with a hit of cracked pepper over deep woodsy and earthy notes that evolved perfectly into cocoa, dried fruit, citrus and leathery notes with a subtle offering of cedar. The smoke output was full, rich and had a velvety texture to it. All of this was perfectly complimented by an ever so subtle salt on the lips.”
What I enjoy about these cigars is that they are consistently consistent. It is extremely difficult to ever find a bad one in the lot and for me consistency is important. I want no surprises when I reach into the humidor.
3. Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2
I wrote in my review of this cigar that this is perhaps one of the most flavourful robustos on the market and I was extremely impressed that the growing popularity of these cigars hasn’t impacted construction.
When I reviewed its flavor (5 out of 5 stars) I noted that I was extremely impressed with how the Epicure No. 2 was very balanced and showed signs of complexity with very discernible and pleasurable flavour changes. These subtle changes are what keeps a cigar from being one dimensional. The texture of the smoke remained consistent and provided the cigar with the sweetness it needed to keep the white pepper, occasional bitterness and subtle saltiness in check. I wish all my cigars would have as much smoke per puff as this one does.
If I had to best describe the flavour journey the cigar went from sweet coffee tones to dark unsweetened chocolate, hints of cedar and hints of tea. A pleasing mild salt and pepper was evident throughout serving to nicely balance the sweetness of this very flavourful cigar.
2. Ramon Allones Specially Selected
This cigar is one that I had always been putting off. I had been reading quite a bit about it in early 2012 and noticed that it even made Inspector’s 2011 top five list. I can’t tell you why I always put it off but I am so glad that I decided to grab a few and see what all the buzz was about. I am glad I finally decided to make the purchase and add these to my collection.
This cigar is consistently creamy and tasty. It can come off as a little rustic in appearance and not always perfect in that aspect but it surely delivers where it counts: flavor. The construction is consistent as is its rich creamy texture with flavors of sweet coffee, honey and black cherry with the occasional nutty and very subtle pepper undertones. A nice complex cigar that is a bit more on the sweeter side rather than the earthy tones that come to the forefront in other Cuban cigars. The RASS is definitely worth the money and those looking for a sweeter and very velvety smoke output would do well to add these to their humidor. My overall review of this cigar was 4.75 out of 5 Stars but it delivered a perfect score of 5 where it counted.
1. Cohiba Behike BHK 52
This is my number one Cuban of the year. It has become my absolute favourite cigar and although it is not my regular daily smoke because of the price, I always want to make sure I have these on hand for those special occasions when you want to kick back and enjoy 70 minutes of absolute pleasure.
No other cigar I smoked this year, or in the last decade for that matter, did so much to involve all my senses while smoking it. It is superior to any other cigars I smoked this year in so many ways. Price aside, no other cigar offers the complexity that this cigar offers. Your palate will consistently be awakened with complex flavors from earthy tones that Cohiba cigars are so known for, with undertones of citrus, vanilla, cocoa and chocolate. The sweetness is balanced by the occasional hints of dark chocolate or unsweetened espresso. The smoke output is simply outstanding with a velvety texture akin to the texture of the froth off a perfectly made cappuccino. Every puff of this perfectly constructed cigar offers your palate an explosion of flavour and because of the way it is manufactured, you can essentially smoke them right out of the box without the need to age them.
We all have our favourite things in life for which we don’t mind spending a little extra money on. Whether it be clothing, spirits, food or fine wine. This, for me, is what I spend my money on to spoil myself now and then.
This cigar was the only one I reviewed in 2012 that earned a perfect 5 out of 5 in every category.
Honourable mentions go to the Partagas Series D No. 4, the Vegas Robaina Famosos, the Bolívar Royal Corona and the H. Upmann Royal Robusto, cigars that have I have not compiled detailed reviews for yet but watch for them in the coming weeks. Who knows, perhaps one of these very worthy cigars will make it into my list next year.
There are many great cigars coming out of Cuba these days and really, doing a top 5 list is difficult because there are so many factors that I needed to consider. This should not put anyone off any of the wonderful cigars coming off the Island of late but these are cigars that I felt offered the best flavor for the dollar in 2012, for my palate.
Please feel free to leave a comment and tell us what were some of your most memorable Cuban smokes that you enjoyed this year.