Over the course of the year I try to keep careful notes on all the cigars I’ve smoked. Oftentimes I have to try any given stogie several times to decide what I really think of it, and it’s only after the year is over and I go over my notes that I figure out what my very favorite smokes were. I’d like to share the top 5 cigars of 2013 with you. Please keep in mind this list is 100% subjective, and in no particular order!
1. Illusione "R" Rothschildes
I am a big fan of Illusione cigars. The Illusione Rothchildes is arguably not just one of my favorite cigars for 2013, but one of my favorite Illusione cigars ever. This cigar features Nicaraguan tobacco inside a rustic maduro wrapper. The construction is amazing, and the cigar produces a lot of thick smoke. Flavors are earthy with lots of cocoa and some floral notes lending a unique edge to the entire profile. There’s a lot of complexity, but it’s all very subtly nuanced. It’s very affordable too, which is a huge plus!
2. My Father No. 1 Robusto
My Father is a classic brand that has brought us some incredible stogies. This year the No. 1 Robusto makes my list of top picks. It sells for around $10, and has a triple cap, and a beautifully smooth oily Ecuadorian wrapper around Nicaraguan filler and binder leaves. The flavors include coffee and chocolate together with cedar and spices. The aroma is as great as the flavors, and the smoke has a delightful creamy consistency. This is a full-strength cigar with a powerful kick.
3. Herrera Esteli Short Corona Gorda
I’ve seen this cigar on a number of other best-of lists for this year, and for good reason. At a $6 price point, you really can’t go wrong. This short cigar features a Honduran binder around a Nicaraguan filler inside an Ecuadorian wrapper, and is the result of a collaboration between Drew Estate and Willie Herrera. The flavors are beautifully balanced with a delicious smoothness. There’s plenty of spice on the retrohale. This became one of my favorite everyday smokes, and I have a feeling it’s going to stay high on my list for a long time to come. I love how affordable this stogie is; you can just stock up on these!
4. Aging Room Quattro F55
Aging Room is a brand that’s been increasingly on my radar. The Quattro F55 small batch cigars are a blend of Dominican Republic tobaccos in aged Sumatra wrappers. Sumatra wrappers aren’t something you run into every day, and they make a great accompaniment to the flavors in the Dominican tobaccos. Notes are on the earthy side with a touch of cedar and leather. This cigar is smoky and flavorful, and a unique and delightful experience. Available for about $10 each.
5. Leccia Black 552 Robusto
This cigar includes a complex filler of Brazilian Viso, Dominican Ligero, Nicaraguan, and Dark Fired Cured Tobacco leaves. The binder is Nicaraguan and the wrapper is Habano. The flavor profile is incredibly unique thanks to the amazing blend of tobaccos, including those special fire cured leaves! There is plenty of spice, leather, coffee, and meaty notes. In fact, the meaty notes quite literally taste (and smell) like meat. This cigar reminds me of beef jerky. It’s unusual, but if you like it, you’ll probably love it. Review / compare prices.
Thanks for checking out my list, and I hope you enjoyed it! What were your favorite cigars in 2013? Share with us in the comments below!
Today I am bringing you another short travel report with a focus on cigars. In November I spent a few days in Athens, Greece and thoroughly enjoyed my stay. The weather was marvellous (+15 C on average) and there were very few tourists (as far as I know in the summer the city and the main attractions like the Acropolis get quite crowded).
Athens turned out to be a very pleasant city, especially if you enjoy ancient ruins. Quite a few nice bars and restaurants, just make sure you read some reviews before venturing in - the only time I didn't, I found myself in a shady taverna with a waiter who obviously didn't know his maths since he wanted me to pay x 2 the menu prices. The magic word "police" seemed to calm him down though.
As for cigars, I found one shop with a good selection and it was right next to the central square (Syntagma or Parliament square). It's called Miamis (Google Maps >).
The place features a nice walk-in humidor, a decent choice of both Cubans and non-Cubans and friendly managers. If you find yourself in Athens, do not hesitate to source your cigars in Miamis.
Espinosa Premium Cigars is proud to announce they will be introducing a limited edition cigar for their full bodied 601 La Bomba line called "Warhead" at IPCPR this year. This is the first time the 601 La Bomba line is offered with a Connecticut Broadleaf maduro wrapper. The Warhead measures 6 1/2 inches by 54 ring and is semi-box pressed with the familiar fuse-like pig tail that is found on the 601 La Bomba line. "Although the wrapper is different, we are using the same powerful blend as the rest of the line." said Erik Espinosa.
Warhead is limited to 2,000 boxes of 10 and the packaging is inspired by several themes in the World War II era. When unraveled, the foot band on the cigar is revealed to be in the form of a bomb. This "bomb" features nose art or aircraft graffiti, which was common in this era. Most prominent is the shark-face which is a reference to the Flying Tigers, the 1st American Volunteer Group, who would paint the shark-faces on their military aircrafts.
The 601 La Bomba line was first introduced in 2011 and is considered to be one of the strongest cigars in the market.
You have noticed it and even e-mailed us several times with a gentle reminder - we are late with our top non-Cuban cigars for 2012 list. It's time to fix it right now! As usual, before we start, a few words about our methodology - we call it "total subjectiveness". Ah, I almost forgot about the only rule: the cigars that made it to the list were not necessarily released in 2012, but smoked throughout the year. Unfortunately, we are unable to smoke all cigars that deserve attention, so you might not see some names that are frequent guests on our blogging friends' top 5/10's.
5. San Lotano Oval
Complex,… ummmm,… not really. Delicious,… yep! Padronesque in its ability to deliver laser-like precison of flavors while maintaining an excellent and flawless burn line. [review / compare prices]
4. Xikar HC Series Habano²
We liked everything about this cigar, from start to finish. Easy to enjoy, easy to acquire.
3. Padron Serie 1926 40th Anniversary Maduro
This cigar showcases how masterful the blenders at Padrón are, not only with the balance and complexity of the individual cigar, but also with the consistency these cigars provide from year to year. This 8-year old stick might be at its peak now.
2. Aging Room Small Batch
In a world where dark cigars have gained prominence, the Aging Room Small Batch comes across as a beacon of light. There’s no earth or espresso tones in this stick, but rather aromatic flavors of wood and spearmint. Smoking it is a stimulating experience, one that begs you to keep smoking. [review / compare prices]
1. Liga Privada Feral Flying Pig
The Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper and Brazilian Mata Fina combo seems to complement each other beautifully, the wrapper lends a deep earthy core and the binder gives a punch of sweetness. All hail the Broadleaf! [review / compare prices]
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.
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.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, cigar aficionados! This is my sixth "happy new year" post on CigarInspector.com and I'm really proud of what the site has become over the years, mostly thanks to you, dear readers. On behalf of all authors I would like to thank you for your feedback and trust. I am raising that glass of blanc de blancs to many more years enjoying our common passion(s).