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Cigars, Beer & Poker Ground >> What do you think of the 2012 top 25 cigars?


1/3/13 1:43 PM
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LeftBench
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Cigar Aficianado has been announcing their top 25 for 2012. Currently they've announced #2 - 10.

What do you think about these cigars? I was surprised to see a Romeo y Juliet take the #3 spot. Cohiba gets #2 with a Cuban and Fuente and Padron make the top 5.

I think tomorrow 1/4/13 they announce the #1 cigar of the year. After that they'll announce numbers 11 - 25 and then announce the best bargain cigars of the year.


So from what you've seen so far, have you tried any of these top cigars? Do you agree or disagree?

http://www.cigaraficionado.com/top25/show/id/16816
1/3/13 1:44 PM
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LeftBench
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http://www.cigaraficionado.com/top25/show/id/16816

 

.

1/3/13 1:57 PM
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cheesesteak
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The Prensodo shouldn't even be on that list IMO...The Guapo, tatuaje cojuno, padron 85,reloba aND Mi amor are all amongst my favorite and deserve to be on that list.


The Warlock is complete shit and so is the aging room 356 is horrible too IMO. These 2 cigars are among the worst constructed ever. The 356 always unravels on me within an inch of smoking and the Warlock has tree branch stems running through the wrapper.

Also. I firmly believe they should have the Ashton maduro on that list somewhere.

My opinions anyway...
1/3/13 2:23 PM
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LeftBench
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cheesesteak, are you talking the 2011 list? What about the 2012 list? Let me know what you think.


Haven't tried the Warlock but was planning on it. After your little review I think I'll steer clear :)
1/3/13 2:35 PM
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cheesesteak
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LeftBench - cheesesteak, are you talking the 2011 list? What about the 2012 list? Let me know what you think.


Haven't tried the Warlock but was planning on it. After your little review I think I'll steer clear :)

 Oh crap. I was talking a=bout the 2011 list!!!!! didn't even check out your link, was going off memory (i tend to do that sometimes)  my bad!!! 


Ok so far they have the top 10 bt no #1 listed yet. I've smoked all but the Nat Sherman, and the Cohiba Havana. So I cant speak for those two.

The cojuno, ashton sol, a fuente and padron are all solid. Especially the padron 85. It is super premium IMO..The romeo and julieta really doesn't do it for me. I don't think it belongs there. As a matter of fact I really am not as big fan of any R&J cigars. Oh and the rocky patel 50 is great too, I'm not usually a big fan of Rocky, but that is a truly flavorful smoke. Quite complex...Thanks for the list bro. i didn't realize it cam out yet...I can't wait until its completed.
1/3/13 2:45 PM
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LeftBench
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Yea I'm excited, the #1 comes out tomorrow.

I plan on trying the R&J just because it got such a high rating. I smoked the R&J Havoc about 2 months ago and thought it was decent. But then again my palette isn't as refined as more mature smokers.

I definitely want to give the Rocky 50 a try as well. They had all good things to say about it in the reviews.


Going back to the 2011 list for a minute. I have smoked 1 prensado, I see you don't think it deserves the #1 spot. Do you think it was a top 5, 10, or 25 cigar? I enjoyed it thoroughly but again I'm just curious about your feelings on it. I tend to agree that the Mi Amor is a better cigar.
1/3/13 3:11 PM
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cheesesteak
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LeftBench - Yea I'm excited, the #1 comes out tomorrow.

I plan on trying the R&J just because it got such a high rating. I smoked the R&J Havoc about 2 months ago and thought it was decent. But then again my palette isn't as refined as more mature smokers.

I definitely want to give the Rocky 50 a try as well. They had all good things to say about it in the reviews.


Going back to the 2011 list for a minute. I have smoked 1 prensado, I see you don't think it deserves the #1 spot. Do you think it was a top 5, 10, or 25 cigar? I enjoyed it thoroughly but again I'm just curious about your feelings on it. I tend to agree that the Mi Amor is a better cigar.

The prensado is good, but not top 25 IMO. I just don't find it flavorful enough and in general I just don't like box presses as they all burn weird for me and I hate touch ups and relighting...Except when it comes to a padron 1964 box cut...To me that is the most flavorful cigar out there. I'd rather it not be a box cut, but the complexity of the flavors, the desert like aromas...It's just great.

If you are newer to this and really want to experience some nice buttery, creamy leather flavors...I recommend the Cabaiguan Guapo and the Don Pepin blue label (not on the list but should be top 5 IMO)....These 2 cigars are my top 2, go to everyday cugars...These two are cigars that have those flavors that as a newer smoker, you always here of and can't rally pin down.

With these two I was first able to identify things like, creamy leather, butter, cocoa , toast etc...

Also the Mi amor, as you get that slight hint of cocoa with the earth and leather...I love that cigar too.

I don't know man, it's all so subjective. You really have to try them all and see what fits your pallet.

You may end up thinking that R&J is the most flavorful smoke in the world and someone else may think of it as bitter..Keep on smoking and enjoying!
1/3/13 3:23 PM
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LeftBench
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Thanks for the recommendations. I will try those 2 cigars for sure!! The local B&M has the Cabaiguan Guapo, I'll see about the Don Pepin.

Thanks again
1/4/13 7:25 AM
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occupy_DDF
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I will have to check out this list and order a few, so that I can see what a 'good' cigar is. I know what I like, but it will be interesting to see how they stack up compared to what others like.
1/4/13 1:32 PM
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cheesesteak
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WOW...I can't believe this cigar got the # 1 spot......I must say it is is an excellent cigar...I've been smoking this for months now...the belicoso version though...

It is a very rich, silky and soothing smoke with a draw that I can only describe as relaxing....I'm just shocked that this won the top spot....It's kind of a newer cigar that really hasn't gotten much hype and if anything I just thought of it as a really good underated cigar...Well whaddya know?????

 

LeftBench....Give this one a try if you haven't already....This is a nice relaxing silky smoke that would go excellent with a high quality scotch or bourbon. 

1/5/13 9:58 PM
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LeftBench
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I am excited to try this one for sure!!! Cigarsinternational.com and cigars.com are both sold out though... lol. I don't think any of the local B&M's have it, but I'll be damn sure to check.

My buddy who got me interested in cigars and is pretty knowledgable hasn't tried this one either, but he's been talking about it saying he heard good things.

Thanks for the info cheesesteak I'll let you know what I think of it!
1/7/13 5:17 PM
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cheesesteak
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LeftBench - I am excited to try this one for sure!!! Cigarsinternational.com and cigars.com are both sold out though... lol. I don't think any of the local B&M's have it, but I'll be damn sure to check.

My buddy who got me interested in cigars and is pretty knowledgable hasn't tried this one either, but he's been talking about it saying he heard good things.

Thanks for the info cheesesteak I'll let you know what I think of it!

Hey LeftBench,

Last night I picked up a a toro version of la flor de las antillas and I must stand corrected. If there is any cigar where the shape or size makes a huge difference this one is it!

If you smoke this cigar you must get it in toro. I've enjoyed the belicoso version a lot but never really thought of it as cigar aficionado top cigar...However, the toro is right up there and definitely deserves that spot...#1 will always be subjective but I would definitely give it a top 5. Now the belicoso is great as it is very silky smooth in the raw and give off subtle flavors, but the toro version is just as smooth but really brings out those flavors in a HUGE way.

The first half inch like many cigars comes of a bit strong and a little bitter...this may have something to do with the way I light them though as I tend to char them...lol

But from then on it's a bunch of creamy leather for the first half then the second you get more of that creamy leather with some woodsy notes and a little hint of coco hear and there and towards the end more leather, coco, cedar and I swear I get this but a little hint of cognac... I smoked this an hour ago and I can still taste a little creamy leather and cognac on my palette. What a difference a different size of this cigar makes.

Before you light it, smell the wrapper...It has such a nice sweet aroma...This is truly a terrific cigar..I can't emphasize enough buy it in toro just like cigar aficionado rates. You will enjoy!
1/8/13 12:30 PM
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LeftBench
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cheesesteak... thanks for the review! I will be sure to pick it up in the toro size. Very excited to try this stogie!

Yesterday I lit up a Gurkha Crest... and the damn thing practically fell apart. The wrapper started coming undone from the front of the cigar. The construction was terrible. What a joke! I couldn't even enjoy the cigar, so I put it out and enjoyed a Prensado instead. Last night was a glass of 15 year Balvenie and a Carlos Torano Noventa 90. Love that smoke.
1/9/13 6:10 PM
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joesonshuevos
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Told my buddy to get a couple of boxes.Give it a couple of weeks, but if anyone wants to split a box, Im down. PRob a 30% discount.

1/12/13 12:33 PM
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joesonshuevos
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Damn, I stopped up this thread like a block of cheese.

I shall post the 25 as I am bored at work.

1/12/13 12:35 PM
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joesonshuevos
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San Lotano Oval Corona

25

 

If ever there was an ergonomic cigar, the San Lotano Oval is it. Semi-pressed and contoured, the Oval is named for its ovular head, flat body and dramatically rounded edges that allow the cigar to sit very comfortably in the mouth. It’s made by A. J. Fernandez, who has been making third-party brands for quite some time. Fernandez eventually branched out on his own and started the San Lotano line in 2010, which he says is named for his family’s brand in Cuba before the revolution. His factory is located in Estelí. In 2011, Fernandez brought the unique San Lotano Oval to market, taking into consideration both function and form.

The robust flavors are informed by a Habano 2000 wrapper from Ecuador combined with a leathery, woody-tasting blend of Honduran and Nicaraguan tobacco that leaves a pleasant, dried-cherry aftertaste.

Headley Grange Estupendo

24

 

The goal was audacious and completely original: to make a cigar that tasted like the heavy, pounding drum beat on the lead-in to the Led Zeppelin classic “When the Levee Breaks.” The young company Crowned Heads LLC dubbed the cigar Headley Grange, after the name of the building where the song was recorded, turning to cigar guru Ernesto Perez-Carrillo (who just happens to be a former drummer) for the task.

The cigar is medium to full in body, with rich coffee flavors as well as notes of almond and spice, a solid follow-up to the first Crowned Heads cigar, Four Kicks. In another unusual move, Crowned Heads released but one size of Headley Grange in 2012. Additional sizes come this year.

 

Macanudo Cru? Royale Poco Gordo

23

 

General Cigar looked at its Macanudo portfolio and found a gap—it needed a medium-strength cigar. Macanudo Cru? Royale is far stronger than Macanudo Café but not as powerful as Macanudo 1968, and it has several tobaccos not seen in traditional Macanudos. Like many of the big brands on this year’s Top 25 list, the Cru? Royale has brought new dimension to the company portfolio by using a dark, flavorful Ecuadoran Habano leaf. General recently took this interesting blend and decided to roll it in a short, stout 4-inch by 60-ring-gauge size.

Consequently, it wound up as the highest rated cigar from the Cru? Royale line that we’ve ever smoked. Despite its dark, oily wrapper and thick ring gauge, the Poco Gordo draws and burns beautifully delivering leathery, nutty flavors, and a richness that isn’t ordinarily associated with the Macanudo line.

 

E.P. Carrillo Elencos Series Don Rubino

22

 

When one considers Brazilian wrapper, dark, rustic looking cover leaf often comes to mind. But this isn’t the case for the less common Cuban-seed Brazilian tobacco. It’s not quite as dark or gritty in appearance and isn’t always easy to procure, which is why the E. P. Carrillo Elencos series is such a limited-production cigar. The blend uses no Ecuadoran Sumatra at all. This is unusual for brand owner Ernesto Perez-Carrillo who admits an affinity for Sumatra tobacco and uses it in many of his blends.

A production run of only 50,000 cigars in total means that the Don Rubino might be a bit of a challenge to locate. The word elencos is Spanish for “cast” as in a play or movie. When asked what or who Don Rubino is, Perez-Carrillo says “It’s just a name that I came up with.” Perhaps, but it’s also the name of a great cigar.

 

Alec Bradley Fine & Rare

21

 

Alec Bradley, the maker of the No. 1 cigar of 2011 with its classic Alec Bradley Prensado, had a bold plan for a new type of smoke. Brand owner Alan Rubin and his team called upon experienced rollers at the Raices Cubanas factory in Honduras to use 10 leaves of tobacco in one cigar. It was a difficult task that led to the creation of Alec Bradley Fine & Rare, a limited-edition of medium- to full-bodied cigars made with more tobacco than the typical cigar. The first release had no name, but came in one size only, a 6-inch-long, 52-ring toro. (The follow-up, recently introduced, bears the name 2012, and is a figurado.)

Fine & Rare is presented in stunning fashion, with an extra-large band showing details on the production, including worker names. The cigar is quite toasty and savory, with some delicious berry sweetness.

 

 

1/12/13 12:37 PM
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joesonshuevos
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Punch Gran Puro Santa Rita

20

 

The Punch Gran Puro line came onto the scene 10 years ago and is General Cigar’s only Honduran puro, meaning that it uses only tobacco from Honduras. Blended around a proprietary dark Cuban-seed wrapper from the St. Augustín valley, this is a bold cigar that produces a very solid white ash as it burns. The highpriming leaves used for wrapper and binder are sun grown, resulting in dark, oily nicotine-rich tobacco that is also full of strength and flavor. Like all Punch cigars, it’s made in Danlí at the Honduras American Tobacco factory (HATSA). Over the last 10 years, the brand has only seen minimal price increases and is always competitively positioned in terms of suggested retail price.

This year, the near-black Santa Rita size is the very definition of bargain smoke, offering all the richness and flavor of a cigar that could easily cost three times as much.

La Palina El Diario K B

19

 

The La Palina El Diario K B, has an intriguing back story. The first sample of the cigar proved a bit much for La Palina brand owner William Paley. He jokingly dubbed it “Kill Bill,” because smoking it nearly did just that. The final name was truncated to K B.

Because cigars mellow after rolling, the final samples of K B aren’t lethal weapons, but they are still full bodied and meaty, with concentrated notes of pepper, cedar and earth. The size is the most diminutive in the La Palina El Diario line, Paley’s follow up to his inaugural La Palina Family Series of cigars. El Diarios are not only considerably less expensive than the earlier La Palinas, but they have delivered higher ratings to the boutique brand, and this is the first time a La Palina has taken a spot in our Top 25.

Oliva Serie V Belicoso

18

 

Oliva had power and richness in mind when it first released the Serie V in 2007, but the company aimed for complexity as well. Made with a dark, high-priming wrappers and Nicaraguan filler, this cigar loads the palate with flavor. The Belicoso is also strikingly well made—pristine wrappers, symmetrical taper and absolutely no soft spots along the body of the cigar.

The draw is lush and substantial despite the copious amounts of tobacco. Much of the cigar’s strength is drawn from ligero culled from Nicaragua’s Jalapa valley, a growing region known for producing powerful tobacco. Like wine, the quality and character of tobacco can vary from crop to crop and while Serie V cigars have registered in the past as being full of coffee and cocoa, this year’s Belicoso has a profoundly savory character that leaves distinct impressions of leather and nuts with a sweet, spicy undertone.

Camacho Liberty 2012

17

 

Every year, Camacho releases its one-off, limited edition Liberty Series. They are usually rolled in the company’s signature bulbous 11/18 figurado shape and have a different theme with each production run. This year, Camacho is focusing on estate vintage tobacco.

The 2012 blend consists of four primings of Honduran Corojo, all culled from an exemplary 2008 crop grown on the same lot in Jamastran. The unique shape of this cigar undoubtedly contributes to the experience. It’s crafted with a 48 ring gauge at either end but swells to a plump 54 in the middle where the cigar reaches an apex of flavor. The different primings of tobacco make for very interesting smoking, with flavors that range from almonds and cedar to peppercorns and floral notes.

Each Liberty comes individually coffined in its own slide-lid box, all of which are packaged in handsome chests of 20.

Bolivar Belicoso Fino

16

 

In the old days of Cuban cigars, if you wanted a really strong smoke you likely reached for a Bolivar, a brand dating back to the early 1900s and named after Simon Bolivar, the liberator of South America. While today’s Bolivars aren’t quite the consistent powerhouses they once were, at their best they are bold, memorable and flavorful smokes. The Bolivar Belicoso Fino size is known as a campana in Cuban cigar factories, a marque that is shorter than a piramide but with the same, plump 52 ring gauge and an artfully tapered head.

We are quite fond of recent production Bolivar Belicoso Finos, finding them loaded with flavors, from hearty leather to semisweet chocolate to cedar. These cigars are full in body, bold and rich, giving the smoker a taste of Cuban tobacco at its most memorable

1/12/13 12:38 PM
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joesonshuevos
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H. Upmann 1844 Reserve Belicoso

15

 

H. Upmann has really reinvented itself. The Dominican-made brand is a major mark owned by Altadis U.S.A. Inc. and received a complete tobacco makeover in 2011. What was once an Indonesian TBN wrapper became a rich Ecuadoran Habano cover leaf, the binder was switched from Dominican to Nicaraguan and the Brazilian component of the blend is gone, leaving only Dominican filler behind. In other words, it’s an entirely different cigar.

Though the classic packaging remains essentially the same, the flavors are now amped up not only in strength but complexity. The best expression of this new blend is undoubtedly in the Belicoso, which delivers a substantial serving of heady, fresh tobacco notes and a warm, toasty finish. While Altadis counts six varieties of H. Upmann in its portfolio, this one truly stands out.

El Baton Belicoso

14

 

With most of their cigars made by the Fuentes in the Dominican Republic, the J.C. Newman Cigar Co. decided it was time to add Nicaragua to their portfolio, so they enlisted Tabacalera San Rafael, a factory owned by Fidel Olivas. The new brand was called El Baton and although it debuted as a single size in 2008, it’s rich flavors and reasonable price made it an instant hit. But it wasn’t until 2011 that the Belicoso came to market—a short cigar with lots of character and a $6.00 price tag.

The cigar is big on flavor, leaving bold impressions of coffee, spice and raisins on the palate. Few will recall that El Baton first began as a vintage brand produced by J.C. Newman in Cleveland back in 1914. It was a nickel cigar that was made by hand with Cuban tobacco. Now it’s back and probably better than ever.

Partagás Serie E No. 2

13

 

Cuba’s best-selling premium cigar is a robusto, the Partagás Serie D No. 4, with its distinctive red and gold band. Embracing the worldwide trend toward fatter cigars, Cuba introduced a longer, plumped-up version of the D4 in late 2011 called the Partagás Serie E No. 2.

Not only is the E2 the fattest parejo in the Cuban Partagás line, it’s a dynamite cigar. Showing floral notes and a cedary sweetness, the cigars are balanced and elegant, with a long finish smacking of cocoa powder.

La Flor Dominicana Cameroon Cabinet Chisel

12

 

The wedge-shaped head that makes the Chisel unique comes from the busy mind of Litto Gomez, the cigarmaker behind the La Flor Dominicana brand. He was inspired to make the shape while chomping on a torpedo one day during his drive to work in the Dominican Republic.

After a while, he found himself enamored with the new, flattened head that his jaws had created, and he instructed one of his top rollers to recreate the size. Gomez now has Chisels in a variety of forms, and a number of rollers who can make the unusual cigar with ease.

The La Flor Dominicana Cameroon Cabinet Chisel brings a new flavor to the traditionally robust Chisel blend, showering the palate with notes of spices and nuts with a bit of leather and a sweet nougat finish.

Kristoff Corojo Limitada Torpedo

11

 

Eight years ago, a man in Chicago decided to walk away from a career in finance and enter the cigar business. Shortly after, the Kristoff brand was born. The man was Glen Case, and in order to stand out in the competitive cigar market, he packaged his smokes in eye-catching rustic boxes filled with shredded tobacco.

Rolled at the Charles Fairmorn factory in the Dominican Republic (a facility that focuses primarily on the European market), Kristoff quickly gained a small following. As the cigar gained popularity Case was able to branch out and create more blends, one of which was the Kristoff Corojo Limitada, which came out in 2011. The Torpedo certainly got our attention with a high score last year.

About 85 percent of the cigar is made with Cuban-seed Nicaraguan tobacco. The rest is balanced by leaves of Cuban seed Dominican Habano, and while the smoke is piquant and spicy, it is also balanced. The tobacco’s scarcity allows Case to make only 16,000 of these torpedos a year.

1/12/13 12:41 PM
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joesonshuevos
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Nat Sherman Timeless Collection No. 2

10

 

For the first time ever a Nat Sherman cigar has placed in our Top 25. The landmark is a sign of the newfound energy and commitment Nat Sherman has made to its cigar brand.

Nat Sherman cigars have been around almost as long as the Nat Sherman store in New York City, which opened its doors (albeit in a different location than where it stands now) in 1930. In recent years, the brand had fallen on hard times, and was distributed by a third party and found in many catalogues, often selling at a deep discount. In 2011, Nat Sherman decided to create a new cigar brand, and after testing several blends made by a host of manufacturers it settled on the one rolled in Santiago, Dominican Republic, by Manuel Quesada. The blend of Honduran, Nicaraguan and Dominican tobaccos combine for solid notes of cedar and espresso, along with hints of dark chocolate and nutmeg.

This is the best Nat Sherman cigar ever tasted by Cigar Aficionado, and a sign of the 83-year-old company’s newfound devotion to its brand.

Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Sumatra

9

 

There’s a secondary white band wrapped around the corners of the box-pressed Sumatra Tatuaje Cojonu. It reads: Cojonu 2012. This is not an age statement. Nor does the secondary band indicate limited-edition status. Last year, it came in three wrapper varieties—Habano, Broadleaf and Sumatra. All three share the same internal Nicaraguan tobacco components, but the Sumatra version is so distinctive with its interplay of black pepper, espresso and cocoa powder flavor, that it landed the No. 9 spot in our Top 25 list.

At 6 1/2 inches by 52 ring, the Cojonu 2012 is the same size as the first Cojonu released almost 10 years ago, only this release is box pressed. According to brand owner Pete Johnson the box pressing reduces the airflow thereby concentrating the smoke. The size also holds sentimental value to Johnson as it was not only the original vitola, but a size that was otherwise only smoked around the factory for family and friends.

Pronounced Koh-ho-NU, the term is Cuban slang for someone who is brash or ballsy. A Cojonu cigar has been released every three years since 2003. Last year, that came to an end. Johnson decided to stop making any new Cojonu sizes. That’s not to say that he’s cancelled the Cojonu line. To the contrary, all previous Cojonus will continue to be made and circulated like any other brand.

Rocky Patel Fifty Robusto

8

 

It’s easy to be taken by the box of the Rocky Patel Fifty. The lid glitters with amber crystals in relief against a brushed copper plaque, all set in a handsome dark wood-grain veneer. But it would all be for naught, if this weren't such a great smoke. It came out in late 2010 to celebrate brand owner Rocky Patel’s 50th birthday, yet wasn't rated until early 2011 when the robusto scored an impressive 91 points. And the cigar is as attractive as its box. The pressed robusto owes its good looks to the dark Ecuadoran Habano-seed Oscuro wrapper that was culled from the upper primings of the plant.

Underneath, a double binder and a hearty Nicaraguan blend amounts to a very lush and satisfying smoke, full of complex flavors that range from coffee and coconut to blackberry and licorice. Patel created only 2,000 numbered boxes of the Robusto and the Rocky Patel 50 is the most expensive cigar line he’s ever put out, limited edition or otherwise.

Much of the tobacco is provided by the famed grower and leaf broker Nestor Plasencia, long-time supplier to Rocky Patel’s myriad brands. But the Fifty is produced in Estelí, Nicaragua, at Patel’s Tabacalera Villa Cuba factory, more commonly known as Tavicusa. The facility allows Patel more hands-on control over his cigar-making operation and the Rocky Patel Fifty Robusto is a testament to what his factory is capable of producing.

Ashton Heritage Puro Sol Belicoso No. 2

7

 

The Ashton Heritage Puro Sol brand combines three landmark cigar families in one delicious cigar. All Ashtons are made by the Fuente family for the Levins, and Ashton is one of the best-known names in cigars. This somewhat off the radar variety, called Puro Sol, is also the only Ashton made with Cameroon wrappers, which come from the Meerapfel familiy, the leading name in Cameroon tobacco.

Cameroon is an intriguing tobacco, grown on small plots of land in Western Africa under cloudy skies, on lands so fertile that farmers must hack them clear with machetes every year. The wrapper develops natural, small bumps, known as tooth in the cigar industry, and it pairs beautifully with the Dominican tobaccos Fuente uses in this blend.

The Ashton Heritage Puro Sol Belicoso No. 2 is a tidy size—less than five inches long—and it sports a ring gauge of 49, which feels slim in the hand in this world of ever-fatter cigars. The cigars are rich and beautifully balanced, with notes of leather, coffee and a chocolate sweetness.

This is the second time that an Ashton Heritage Puro Sol has placed in our Top 10: the robusto size ranked No. 10 in our 2008 Top 25 list.

H. Upmann Royal Robusto

6

 

Cuban cigars are getting fatter, and the Cuban Edmundo size—5 3/8 inches long by 52 ring—is akin to a longer, fatter robusto. It works beautifully in this new H. Upmann Royal Robusto, a chunky cigar unveiled at the 2011 Habanos Festival in Cuba and brought to market later that year as an exclusive for sale in Casas del Habano stores around the world. (Note the secondary band bearing the Casa del Habano logo.) There are some 140 such stores around the globe, making the cigar not terribly hard to find, which is a good thing.

The cigar has a fine, lush draw, which delivers big notes of earth, coffee bean and concentrated minerals before a long and oaky finish. Those who believe Cuban Upmanns are milder smokes should think again—these cigars have some oomph.

In 2011 the H. Upmann Havana location was moved to the Romeo y Julieta factory, where H. Upmann workers and supervisors hung up their own banner and began rolling, while their own factory was renovated. The H. Upmann Royal Robusto was one of the first new smokes they rolled in their new, albeit temporary, home.

1/12/13 12:42 PM
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joesonshuevos
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Arturo Fuente Rosado Sungrown Magnum R Vitola Forty-Four

5

 

Innovation is traditionally the domain of the young, but the Arturo Fuente Rosado Sungrown Magnum R Vitola Forty-Four is a new take on a cigar brand that just turned 100 years old. Carlos Fuente Jr., the lead blender for Fuente, is best known for such power smokes as Fuente Fuente OpusX and Ashton VSG. To make the Rosado Sungrown series of cigars, he looked to his warehouses of well-aged Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper, taking leaves placed lower on the plant than the ones he uses for the spicy VSG and creating a more sublime and mellow blend.

This is the second year in a row that a Fuente Rosado Sungrown has made our Top 25. We love the cigars, which have a savory leather core and a smattering of sweet spices on the palate. It’s the type of cigar you can smoke over and over, and they come in big boxes that contain nearly four dozen cigars. Unlike the other sizes in the line, the name Vitola 44 doesn’t refer to the ring gauge of the cigar, but rather the number of cigars in the box. Perhaps the best thing about the smoke? At $6.75, it is one of the least expensive in our Top 25.

Padrón Family Reserve 85 Years (Natural)

4

 

Cigars made by José Orlando Padrón, his sons Jorge and Orlando and the entire Padrón family are models of consistency, scoring in the 90s on a regular basis, and unfailingly at least one example has placed high on the annual Top 25 list. The family is the sole company in the cigar world to have won Cigar of the Year three times, a testament to the care and patience they have used in making their cigars for close to 50 years.

Most years the Padróns turn to some of their oldest tobaccos to make a new size in the Family Reserve blend. One of its most recent creations is the Padrón Family Reserve 85 Years, made in honor of company patriarch José Orlando’s 85th birthday in June 2011. They come in two varieties, natural and maduro. The naturals have wrappers the color of milk chocolate as well as the traditional and heavy Padrón box press.

The Nicaraguan cigars are complex and earthy, with a touch of herbal flavors and a black cherry and black truffle note. They are rare, delicious smokes.

Romeo by Romeo y Julieta Piramide

3

 

Altadis U.S.A. Inc. made a bold statement with the launch of its Romeo by Romeo y Julieta line last year. Not only is the packaging very assertive, but the blend is perhaps the strongest, most complex Romeo y Julieta to come out of the Dominican Republic.

One of the major departures for the Romeo brand is the wrapper. Traditional non-Cuban Romeos are made with Indonesian wrappers and have a much milder flavor profile. Romeo by Romeo y Julieta carries a dark, oily leaf of Ecuadoran Habano-seed wrapper around a gutsy Dominican blend. Though many companies are using this type of wrapper, Altadis has really hit the mark with its new line. Most of the sizes are fairly large, which adheres to current trends, but at 6 1/8 inches by 52 ring, the Pirámide is a classic Cuban pyramid size. Each puff layers the palate with a brawny core of black and red pepper spice, savory leather flavor and sweet impressions of raisins and dried fruit—a truly balanced smoke that covers the sweet, salty and spicy spectrum with elegance and strength. It’s rolled at the Tabacalera de Garcia factory in La Romana, Dominican Republic and includes Dominican Olor and Piloto to complement the flavorful wrapper.

While the Romeo by Romeo y Julieta may seem to contradict the idea that a large operation can never achieve the type of quality and complexity usually associated with smaller, boutique style brands, it may be time to rethink that notion.

Cohiba 1966 Edición Limitada 2011

2

 

It isn’t often that Cuba releases a Cohiba for its Edición Limitada program, but last year, the El Laguito factory rolled a 6 1/2-inch-long, 52-ring-gauge cigar, wrapped it in a dark leaf of Cuban tobacco, gave it a pigtail cap and called it the 1966—and it was delicious. No, it’s not a Behike or a Siglo VI, but a thick cañonazo extra (as they’re called in the factory), and the cigar really impressed us with its profound coffee bean flavor and even combustion. As the cigar progressed, it was creamy in the right places, leathery in the right places and rounded out the savory aspects with a milk chocolate sweetness.

The 1966 commemorates Cohiba’s 45th anniversary and is named for the year that Cohiba was created, when it was Fidel Castro’s personal smoke and only available through diplomatic channels. Cohiba did not become commercially available until 1982 and the Edición Limitada program didn’t officially begin until 2000. Unlike most other Cohibas, the 1966 is only available on a limited basis.

The wrapper is darker than those usually found on Cubans, which is typical of cigars released for the limited-edition program and one of its defining characteristics. As these are destined to be a hot auction item, one might conceivably purchase any remaining boxes as an investment, but as this Cohiba 1966 really represents everything we love about Cuban cigars from its flavor to its richness to the overall harmonious and aromatic experience, it is better to smoke them than to sell them

1/12/13 12:43 PM
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joesonshuevos
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The 25 Best Cigars of the Year 2012

Flor de las Antillas Toro

1

 

The story of Cigar Aficionado’s 2012 Cigar of the Year begins in Cuba, the island home of José “Pepin” Garcia, his son Jaime and daughter, Janny. Pepin began rolling cigars at the age of 11 in his hometown of Baez. He rose to prominence in Cuba as a talented cigarmaker, but yearned for freedom and opportunity. One by one the Garcias left, eventually making their way to Miami where they began producing cigars.

Their beginnings were humble: the factory was tiny, with all of a dozen rollers, and they didn’t own the entire operation. But they had their first taste of glory with the Tatuaje brand, which they made for Pete Johnson. It brought critical acclaim as well as increasing demand, which led the family to venture out on its own, eventually constructing the massive and gorgeous My Father Cigars S.A. factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

Today, Pepin focuses his energies on growing tobacco in Nicaragua, trying various seed varieties. Jaime is the company’s master blender. They released the Flor de Las Antillas brand in May 2012, using a variety of Nicaraguan tobaccos, their trademark double binder and a wrapper leaf grown in the open sunlight. They named the brand for Cuba, the largest of the Antilles Islands, which are called Antillas in their native Spanish.

The standout of the four-size brand is the Toro, which has a gentle, rounded box press and a beautiful and evenly colored wrapper. The smokes are delicious from the first puff, with notes of nutmeg, white pepper and just enough strength without being overpowering. They are hard to put down. They are classics, 96-point smokes on our 100-point scale.

The Garcias have worked long and hard since coming to the United States, coming a long way in a very short time. Their cigars have made numerous appearances on Cigar Aficionado’s Top 25 list, but this is the first time they have won Cigar of the Year.


Watch the video of Gordon Mott and David Savona smoking the Flor de las Antillas Toro.

 


MADE BY: My Father Cigars S.A.
FACTORY LOCATION: Nicaragua
WRAPPER: Nicaragua
BINDER: Nicaragua
FILLER: Nicaragua
PRICE: $6.90
RING GAUGE: 52
LENGTH: 6"
RATING: 96


 
1/12/13 12:43 PM
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joesonshuevos
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AND DONE!

1/13/13 7:08 PM
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LeftBench
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I'd split a box with you but I have been on a buying binge and haven't been smoking much due to the cold weather... barely any room in my humidor at the moment. LOL!
2/6/13 10:32 AM
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rckr24
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i've never had nmbr 1. I am looking forward to getting a few in my humidor.

speaking of humidors any suggestions on a 100-150 humidor?
2/8/13 9:58 AM
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LeftBench
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I finally tried the #1 Flor de las Antillas a few weeks ago and really liked it.

rckr24: I just get humidors off cigarsinternational.com or from my local B&M

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