Happy New Year!

Happy New Year 2012

It's the 5th time that I have the pleasure to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year on this blog (yes, that's right, we'll be celebrating the blog's 5th anniversary in 2012!). 2011 can't be called a calm year - indeed, the world has seen multiple rather worrying events. The cigar industry wasn't spared, and the fight with the FDA is still ongoing. On the other hand, the number of new great releases is certainly encouraging so I'm raising my glass to a more reasonable 2012.

Happy New Year!

Best Cuban Cigars of 2011

Partagas 8-9-8

December means top cigars lists and, of course, our blog is no exception here. You will find below my list of the best Cuban cigars I had the pleasure to smoke in 2011. Some of them are new releases, some of them aren't, some of them are regular production, some are limited, but in all cases I enjoyed their consistency, flavors and ageing potential - they led me through 2011 which in all honesty wasn't the easiest year for me.

  1. Partagas 8-9-8. This elegant lonsdale earns the #1 spot as it changed its status from 'discovery' to 'humidor staple'. Highly recommended.
  2. Ramon Allones Specially Selected. Now, that's quite a comeback. I've been trying to find some hidden gems within the general production in 2011, but often find myself thinking that there's not much that can equal a good RASS. And, thankfully, the recent production has been rather consistent!
  3. Hoyo de Monterrey Petit Robusto. I've been smoking a lot of these during cold months. I feel that they are on par with Monte Petit Edmundos that were crowned many times in my lists, but are more affordable and have a very pleasant sweet spot.
  4. Montecristo No. 4 Reserva. I received a fiver of these as a gift in the beginning of the year and they have been absolutely perfect. Too bad they are expensive and hard to find.
  5. H. Upmann Royal Robusto. If you read my review, you'll see that at the moment, although definitely not uninteresting, it really needs some time. I feel that the potential is high enough to get it an entry to the top list.

What makes these lists even better is your contribution. Please share your favorite Cuban smokes of the year in the comments below!

Buying cigars in Geneva

Time to talk about Geneva in my "buying cigars in" post series. Geneva is often considered like the cigar capital in Europe, because a lot of online shops operate or claim to operate from this city. However, it's a bit hard to find a cigar shop there that can provide a very wide choice and solid advice.

Buying cigars in Geneva

This is why I prefer the shop that has the choice. It's the Davidoff shop located at 2, rue de Rive (one of the main shopping streets in town) [Google Maps >]. It has a very wide selection of Cubans (no old limited editions though) and all latest offerings by Davidoff, including Avos and Camachos plus some more nice non-Cubans. Last time, I picked up some Avo 85th Anniversary Limited Editions, CAO La Traviatas and Por Larranaga Valiosos. Now, don't get me wrong - I didn't say that you could get no advice in this shop. However, there are a lot of customers and it's hard to talk to a salesman for more than 10 minutes. I think that sales people are more used to newbies who want to buy some gifts, and their advice in this case is very special - while I was checking out the selection, two boxes of Cohiba Behike were sold. Impressive.

By the way, I highly recommend you visit Geneva if you have a chance, especially in the summer. It's not overcrowded like some other European cities and you can spend a pleasant week-end if you love long walks near a lake, admiring architecture and enjoying city parks.

Update: alternatively you can also go to Gestocigars located at 12-14, rue du Marché. Thanks to B.I.G. for the suggestion.

2010 Zen Cigar of the Year

Yeah it's a bit late, but I've done a lot of pondering as to who is worthy of a "Zennie". Remember a candidate for Cigar of the Year must have been newly created for 2010; for example, Arturo Fuente Hemingway would not be eligible. The official list is located here. So without further ado, here are the nominees in random order:

Zen Cigar of the Year

Click here to read the full article...

Top Cuban Cigars of 2010

Cohiba Maduro 5 Genios

It's the middle of December again and, like every year, I am bringing you the list of the best Cuban cigars of 2010 (strictly based on my personal experiences). In fact, I'm quite surprised at the result because, for instance, I would never have thought that two cigars of a brand that I never particularly liked could make it to the list. Note: these are not just 2010 releases (in fact, none of these were released in 2010...) but simply my favorite cigars that I smoked in 2010.

  1. Cohiba Genios. No, not the Behike. Although the new release is certainly an excellent cigar, I think that the Genios are more complex and flavorful. This is a cigar I take out of the humidor for special occasions only; I must have smoked 5 or 6 this year and they all were amazing.
  2. Partagas Shorts. I could have placed this one on the top, but nobody would take that list seriously, so here goes. Due to the lack of free time (and recent cold weather), the Shorts, along with another cigar that you will soon discover, has been my go-to stick. I managed to acquire some aged boxes, have been ageing them some more and with 3-4 years they are just amazing.
  3. Trinidad Robusto T. Still as good as last year, Trinidad Robusto T resists and only loses a few spots. If you still haven't tried one, do yourself a favor.
  4. Partagas 8-9-8. I rediscovered this cigar in 2010. Impulsively bought a box from 2008 in Duty Free and the 3-4 that I managed to find time to smoke were great. I will try to update that old review in 2011!
  5. Montecristo No. 5. So this is my second go-to cigar this year. Again, it's better if you age them a couple of years like I did.

I hope you enjoyed the list and, as usual, I will be very happy to hear about your good smoking experiences in 2010. Unleash the comments!

2009 Blog Highlights: Summer

In the "Blog Highlights" series, we are taking a look back at the best cigar reviews & articles published on CigarInspector.com in 2009. Enjoy.

Oliva Serie G Maduro

Oliva Serie G Maduro

We ran a contest back in June and some participants submitted their cigar reviews. One of the best ones was written by Charlia a.k.a. Labman and concerned a great cheapie, the Oliva Serie G Maduro.

Montecristo No. 4 Reserva

Montecristo No. 4 Reserva

I had a chance to smoke a few very rare cigars in 2009, and the one I enjoyed the most is probably this Montecristo No. 4 Reserva. As it is extremely hard to find, I didn't include it in my top cigars list, otherwise it could have shifted the Trinidad Robusto T from the top spot.

Cain Habano

Cain Habano Belicoso

Cain is a marca released by Sam Leccia, supposed to be as strong as it can get. The Cain Habano, reviewed by Michael, is the blend that received better reviews across the blogosphere.

2009 Blog Highlights: Spring

In the "Blog Highlights" series, we are taking a look back at the best cigar reviews & articles published on CigarInspector.com in 2009. Enjoy.

Cubao Lancero

Cubao No. 3

So far, this is the only Cubao review that has been published here. Jason talks about the lancero size and thinks that it deserves the high praises this blend received from cigar blogs and publications.

La Gloria Cubana Serie R Maduro

La Gloria Cubana Serie R No. 5

Despite the ugly looks, La Gloria Cubana Serie R Maduro earns a good rating from Lee. Considering its relative cheapness ($5 a pop), this blend can be considered as a good budget cigar.

Panacea

Panacea Red Perfecto

In May, a lot of blogs started publishing raving reviews of Panacea cigars. CigarInspector.com was no exception and I reviewed the Panacea Red, which was a genuinely pleasing cigar.

Buying cigars in Madrid

In 2009, I spent my Christmas holidays in Madrid, Spain. Not only this is a very beautiful city, but it also has a couple of places that might interest cigar aficionados. Spain consumes more cigars than any other European country. This is why almost every tobacco shop (estanca) has a basic selection of Habanos (Partagas Serie D No. 4, Montecristo No. 4, Cohiba Robusto...) stored in decent conditions. However, some of the shops have a walk-in humidor. I visited two of the most famous cigar shops. Fortunately, they are located close to each other, next to the Bilbao metro station.

Jesus showing me his best Cohibas

Cava Cardenal Cisneros (Google Maps >) has a huge walk-in humidor and a very complete selection of both Cuban and non-Cuban cigars. Jesus, the owner, speaks English and will happily show you what he's got. I purchased some Partagas Serie D No. 3 LE 2006 and the new Regional Edition from Ramon Allones. This is the shop that I truly recommend.

Out of curiosity, I went to the other shop, Cava de Magallanes (Google Maps >), located just a few hundred meters away. There's also a walk-in humidor (which seemed slightly over-humidified to me), nobody was able to speak English though (make sure you carry a pocket dictionary if you're on a visit, English-speaking people are rare birds). However, I was able to purchase a few of Vegas Robaina Maestros.

And if you want to smoke a puro straight away, there is a Vips (sort of cafe-shop-restaurant) on the plaza Glorieta de Queveda which has an indoors smoking area, quite comfortable.

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