Best Cuban Cigars of 2013

It's true, we're seriously late with this year's lists. In the beginning, when we realized we missed the schedule, we were planning to just skip 2013 best of's and start afresh in 2014. But given the number of emails we received asking us to publish the top 5, we had to reconsider our position. So here it is, our selection of best Cuban cigars of 2013.

The list is composed of cigars that we smoked in 2013 (the box codes are mostly recent, 2012-2013, with one exception). Most of them are not recent releases and we picked the cigars that showed the highest consistency throughout the year. The Montecristo No. 4, for example, didn't make it to the list because it seriously lacked consistency both in terms of flavor and construction.

1. Hoyo de Monterrey Grand Epicure 2013 Limited Edition

Hoyo De Monterrey Grand Epicure 2013 Edición Limitada

This Hoyo de Monterrey seems to be a very successful edicion limitada. 2013 was a good vintage for LE's, as I hear the Punch Serie d'Oro No. 2 also smokes very good at the moment (review coming soon). This is how DrFever describes the Hoyo Grand Epicure LE 2013:

It is a lush, rich, creamy and extremely flavorful smoke. Every puff offered something different. It was extremely complex and had incredible depth to the flavors. The blend was always changing featuring chocolate, coffee, sweet cedar, leather, caramel, vanilla and mild pepper with hints of orange peel and dried fruit.

2. Partagas Serie P No. 2

Partagas Serie P No. 2

Partagas Serie P No. 2 is the Cuban torpedo that had the highest grades in 2013. The competition is rude in this segment, since both H. Upmann No. 2 and Montecristo No. 2 received really good praise too.

3. Trinidad Robusto T

Trinidad Robusto T

I've smoked 6 of Trinidad Robusto T's throughout 2013 and they have been very good: perfect balance, great complexity and no harshness at all. I still can't understand why in the world would Habanos SA discontinue such a wonderful smoke. I also noticed that, surprisingly, the ones that I smoked this summer seemed somewhat less complex to me, perhaps there's no use to age them further? I'm afraid it's the last time they make it to the top 5.

4. Bolivar Coronas Gigantes

I've had multiple opportunities in 2013 to dedicate 100 minutes to this impressive churchill. A friend gifted me a box of these in 2009 and thankfully there were no construction issues so far. It's a very special cigar to me because it was the very first cigar review on this blog, back in 2007. I guess it's time to update it, stay tuned.

5. Ramon Allones Specially Selected

Ramon Allones Specially Selected

Well, I'm really sorry for being somewhat predictable but the RASS remains (at least for us) the most consistent regular production cigar. It's the cigar I turn to, for the past 7 years, when I need something good and reliable.

What were the best Cuban cigars that you smoked in 2013? It's probably not that easy to answer this question in July 2014, but still, give it a try in the comments area below.

Best 5 Duty-Free Airport Cigar Shops

Duty Free Airport Cigar Shops

Looking for a great way to save money on cigars? The next time you’re traveling, head over to a duty-free cigar shop while you’re waiting at the airport. At duty-free shops, you can purchase cigars which are tax-exempt, and you can also access a selection that you might not be able to at home. This is also a chance to browse through regional and limited cigar releases. Not all duty-free cigar shops are on par with one another though; some are excellent, while others are not. Here are 5 of the best duty-free shops. Know another duty free shop with a great selection? Tell us about it in the comments area!

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Buying cigars in Munich, Germany

Where to buy cigars in Munich?

I've been to Germany several times now, but never had an opportunity to visit Munich before this month. It is often said that Munich, along with Berlin, is one of the most interesting German cities and I was quite eager to spend a long week-end in Bavaria. I confirm that most of what one might hear about Munich is true: it's a beautiful, rich town with friendly people, gorgeous monuments (almost all of them were rebuilt after the WW2, which is simply impressive) and plenty of the world's greatest beer (only Brussels can play in the same league when it comes to beer). One piece of advice I can give you is, when you grow tired of endless pints of dunkel and German taverns, do yourself a favor and visit the lakes around Munich - the nature is astonishing.

Munich boasts several well known cigar shops in the city center and the one I prefer is called Pfeifen Huber, located on Tal 22 (a very short walk from the Viktualien market: Google Maps >).

Pfeifen Huber - a cigar shop in Munich

Quite an institution (the shop exists since 1863), Pfeifen Huber has a beautiful walk-in humidor with a wide choice of both Cubans and non-Cubans as well as a vast selection of pipes / pipe tobacco and spirits. Jens (pictured below) is very friendly and knows his stuff about cigars, don't hesitate to ask him for advice.

Jens

If Pfeifen Huber is closed or something goes wrong, you can also pay a visit to Dallmayr (located on Marienhof : Google Maps >), which I found inferior in terms of advice and choice (no walk-in humidor). Another cigar shop worth mentioning is Zechbauer (Google Maps >), but unfortunately it was closed when I was passing by. All the shops mentioned in this article are in the same area, so you can easily visit all three of them. Enjoy your time in Munich and feel free to add more cigar-friendly places in the comments area below.

Best Non-Cuban Cigars of 2013

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

Illusione 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 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

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 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

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!

“Lunette C” Cigar Holder Winners

Lunette C Cigar Holder

Last week we ran a giveaway for two hand-made cigar holders for golf carts crafted by Mark from the Small Batch Innovator company. We've had some great response and here are the two winners:

  • Rick S
  • JohnH

Please get in touch with us to claim your prize, don't forget to include your shipping address.

Many thanks to Mark and those who participated, stay tuned for more contests in future!

Buying cigars in Athens, Greece

Where to buy Cigars in Athens

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 >).

Miamis - cigar shop in Athens

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.

Miamis Cigar Shop

Happy New Year 2014!

Happy New Year 2014!

Dear Readers,

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support since 2007.

We're wishing you and your family a happy new year 2014 filled with joy and prosperity.

Denis & CigarInspector.com team

Cigar Release: 601 La Bomba Warhead

601 La Bomba Warhead

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.

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