It’s that time of the year again. The time of the year where us bloggers release our lists of cigars that we deemed our Top of 2012. (You can view 2011′s list here) Our list is simple. It’s based on my personal tastes, and nothing more than that. I’m not telling you these are the best cigars out there this year, these were simply my favorite. I am no cigar “expert” by any means. Just a simple man, enjoying whatever cigars I can get my hands on. That being said, you will see that this list is written in first person, meaning Daniel has a list of his own. That’s right, keep a look out later on this week for Daniel’s list. Being Canadian, he has a hard time getting his hands on a lot of these new blends. He is going to have his own take on cigars he smoked in 2012 and it’s sure to be interesting. OK, enough talk, let’s get to it!
#10. Miami Cigar – Anoranzas
Year after year Miami Cigar Company is responsible for kicking out some of the best blends on the market. This year, they had their hands full with new releases. Among those releases was one that really caught my attention, the Anoranzas. The robust flavor, smooth finish, and great construction are just a few reasons why I like this cigar. The box press format is just awesome, the price point is dead on, and I even like the incorporation of the new branding trend Miami pulled off here. Either way, this was a cigar I found myself drawn to this year and can’t wait to see what Miami Cigar has in store for 2013.
#9. Crowned Heads – Headley Grange
John Huber has been making waves throughout the cigar industry over the last two years with his initial release, the “Four Kicks”, and now with his second release the “Headley Grange”. Musically inspired and blended by the infamous Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, this unique blend takes flavor and smooth to a whole new level. This is a trend I saw in a lot of releases this year. You don’t need to make a powerhouse cigar to get the most bang for your buck in the flavor department. The Headley Grange is a perfect example of that. These cigars have been hitting shop’s shelves on the regular so be on the lookout.
On a side note: I was a huge fan of the Four Kicks, even more so than the Headley Grange. I have not had the LE Mule Kick as of yet, but it seems like something I would be totally into. Hopefully I can get a review up of that soon.
#8. Drew Estate – Liga Privada Feral Flying Pig
On the opposite end of the spectrum from mild cigars, we have Drew Estate’s Liga Privada Feral Flying Pig. This cigar is a beast, and named properly. To me, this was Drew Estate’s sole creation that ventured the furthest from their No.9 and T52 blends. This cigar has its very own character, and a bold one at that. First of all, that size. It looks strange, but feels great. Next, the power. I am a full-bodied smoker and this cigar hit all the marks in the strength category. Next, flavor. This is where the Feral shines. It doesn’t have the bold sweetness, nor the bold cedar the T52 or 9 have. Instead, the Feral flying pig stirs the pot but adding all it’s flavors equally in a well balanced mix. These cigars are pretty limited, but I know for a fact that there are still some out there. Get your hands on them before it’s too late.
#7. RoMa Craft Tobac – Intemperance BA
We all know Skip. We all Know Skip loves tobacco. And now, with the success of his company RoMa Craft Tobac, we all know that Skip also knows tobacco. If last year’s debut release of the Cro-Magnon wasn’t enough, Skip came out swinging in 2012 with the release of the dual wrapper Intemperance. Out of the two (Ecuadorian Connecticut and Brazilian Arapiraca), I thought the BA was more my style. There’s nothing wrong with the EC, in fact, I smoked the heck out of them, but the BA is where it’s at. I’ve always been a huge fan of Brazilian Arapiraca, in fact, I often wonder why more blends don’t utilize this flavorful tobacco in their creations. Anyways, the BA packs a ton of flavor into an affordable, easy to find, easy to smoke cigar. While these cigars aren’t sticks you will see in every shop you visit (yet), Skip is always readily available online and can get you what you need very quickly. One other thing I love about the Intemperance is the marketing. They don’t need drawn up bands, flashy artwork, or crazy appearances to sell their cigars. Bandless, simple and clean logos, and a great product go a long way.
P.S. Expect a review of this guy in the new week or so.
#6. La Palina – Goldie Laguito No. 2
The Goldie Laguito No. 2 is probably my favorite limited release run of the year. It’s also no secret that I am a big fan of La Palina in general. This cigar stands alone on the top of their portfolio. The construction of this cigar is flawless in everyway possible. If you want to see the epitome of a perfectly constructed cigar then pick one of these babies up. Along with the superior construction the Goldie packs a punch in the flavor department leading off with tons of sweet and strong flavors while finishing smooth. This is yet another cigar that came out this year with a full-bodied experience, while still finishing mild in the strength department. The only factors keeping this stick out of the top 5 were the availability (only 1000 boxes made), and the price tag ($15 a stick). These may not be easy to find, but if you do happen to stumble across them, don’t hesitate to pick them up.
#5. Room 101 – Daruma
MMMmmmm the Daruma. The flavors were so inspiring I go off into my happy, cigar smoking place whenever I think about the blend. Matt Booth had done it again. Last year I was all about the Namakubi release. At the time, I had no idea that Matt was about to out-do himself again by creating a blend that I could swear, was made for my own personal palate. This is a very bold cigar with just tons of spice and cedar, bundled with perfect construction, and some awesome marketing. I spoke with Matt recently and commended him on being one of the few manufacturers in the business who can back up marketing such as Room 101’s. I can’t think of another person who could pull that off. That being said, I have always applauded Matt’s creativity, and ability to not only make his brand stand out, but his blends as well.
#4. Joya de Nicaragua – CyB
Recently, Jose Blanco joined the Joya de Nicaragua team. Ever since then the cigar community has yearned to see what this master blender could come up with using some of the highest quality tobacco on the market. Well, needless to say, Jose and his debut release the CyB didn’t disappoint. As I stated before, manufacturers have been making better, richer, more balanced mild blends and the CyB is the epitome of what a mild in strength cigar should be. Don’t let the term “Mild” fool you, the CyB is a flavor bomb producing one of the most flavorful experiences on the market today. Readily available, perfectly priced, the CyB is a home run in ever aspect.
#3. Ortega Cigar Company – Serie D Maduro
Eddie Ortega was another one of those blending masters who decided to do work elsewhere this year. Eddie formed “Ortega Cigar Company” and started out with a boom releasing a cigar that I just can’t put down, the Serie “D” Maduro. Blended at the infamous My Father factory, this Nicaraguan based cigar carries one of the most beautiful, flavorful, sweet Mexican San Andreas Maduro wrap out right now. This is a beautiful cigar at a remarkable price. Eddie spoke to me about how he is still using just as expensive, just as premium tobacco as he always had but decided to eat more of the cost to provide a richer experience for less cost to the consumer. How can you not love the guy?
#2. My Father Cigars/Tatuaje – La Duena
Well here we are. A cigar that I knew from the first time I smoked it would be highly ranked on my top 10 list. Janny Garcia released her first blend under the My Father name blended by none other than Pete Johnson of Tatuaje himself. The first time I smoked one was actually at the My Father factory while Pete was giving us a tour. I remember each and every inch of that cigar which is pretty impressive considering the amount of cigar we smoked that trip. After the release I have kept a full stock of these cigar at all times. Again, this cigar is priced to sell and easy to find. I am a sucker for Broadleaf and this cigar is full of it. It was hard to think that Pete and My Father could outdo the Casita Criolla they kicked out last year, but it has happened.
#1. Oliva – Serie V Melanio
Right out of the gate this cigar blew the pants off the competition. I can’t think of a single experience that I was as impressed with in a long time other than the Serie V Melanio. This cigar has it all. Strength, Flavor, flawless construction, availability, and although it’s a bit steeper than most Oliva lines I think the blend itself justifies the price 10 times over. Ok, that may be stretching it, but this cigar really is worth the coin. Every size I smoked (each from the line) was just as good as the next. I’ve smoked through a ton of these and I have yet to get tired of them, nor find a bad one in the bunch. I’ve always been a fan of the Serie V, but I am going to find it hard to go back to them after smoking the Melanio. Expect this cigar to pop up in many other “Top” lists out there.
And… there it is folks. Let me know what you think! Was there something I missed? Something that shouldn’t be here? I’d love to hear your top cigars this year!