Top 10 Lists
Top 10 Cigars of 2013 – Jeremy Hensley Edition
Wow, what an unbelievable 2013! I made it almost an entire year with Casas Fumando and I am looking forward to what’s to come in 2014 (as long as Tony keeps me around). Today, I bring to you my top 10 list of 2013. My list will focus on cigars I reviewed this year, not all the cigars I have smoked. So, maybe a more correct name for this list is “Top 10 Reviewed Cigars of 2013”. The list is based on my personal preference and my opinion. Nothing more, nothing less. At the end of the day, I hope you find the list helpful and find some cigars that you may enjoy. Lastly, a big “Thank You” to all of our readers who made 2013 successful.
#10 – Joya De Nicaragua – Rosalones
I have smoked more Rosalones than any other cigar on this list, which is understandable since it has a price point just over $3 a stick making it is easy on the wallet. Tony raved about this stick upon his return from Drew Estate’s Cigar Safari back in April when he first sampled the cigar and I will continue rave about this cigar because, for the price, there is not much competition out there.
#9 – La Gloria Cubana – Serie R Esteli
If you would have asked me at the start of 2013 if any of the manufacturing giants would have found a spot on my top 10 list I would have said “no” without question. But, as with many other things in my life, I was wrong. The Serie R Esteli by General Cigar Company is a complex cigar that performs exceptionally well. For almost two hours, the Esteli will bring you on a journey of flavors consisting of deep notes of cedar, earth, cocoa, and dark fruit. All for a price around $7.00.
#8 – Leccia Tobacco – Black
After a two-year hiatus from the industry, Sam Leccia made quite the return in 2013 with his release of the Black and White. The Black features a unique “Dark Fire” tobacco alongside Nicaraguan, Brazilian, and Dominican fillers, a Nicaraguan binder, and a Habano wrapper. The Dark Fire tobacco brings out peaty and hickory notes that balance well with the other flavors in the cigars.The Black offers complexity, balance, and a whole lot of uniqueness for around $8.00.
#7 – Espinosa Cigars – Espinosa Habano
While this is a 2012 release, I did not have opportunity to smoke the Habano by Espinosa Cigars until March of this year. So, while I may be breaking all of the rules, I believe this stick is worthy of a spot on my top 10 list. The Habano shows off a crazy creamy, spicy profile with a welcoming sweet cedar flavor that I absolutely love. For a price around $6-$7, this is a cigar I am always on the look out.
#6 – Cuenca Cigars – Cuenca 5 Anniversary
There are not many cigars produced by A.J. Fernandez that I do not enjoy and the Cuenca 5 Anniversary is no exception. The Cuenca 5 is a full flavored, full strength cigar made exclusively for Cuenca Cigars in Hollywood, Florida. The box pressed format and tapered head, makes this 7 by 54 behemoth of a cigar easy to manage in both the hand and mouth and the bold, complex flavors make it even easier to enjoy.
#5 – Leccia Tobacco – White
Leccia Tobacco is the only company to find two slots in my top ten list and that is probably a bigger surprise to me than to anyone else. Back in August, Skip Martin’s tweet summed it up best when he said
Leccia Black Robusto is going to bring them to the brand, but White is going to keep them.
While this is a more traditional cigar than the Black, the White delivers in all aspects and does not disappoint.
#4 – Ortega Cigar Company – Cubao
With Ortega Cigar Company’s release of the Ortega Wild Bunch this year, several other offerings from the company have gone overlooked and the Cubao is one of those. The Cubao has been on the market since 2008 under EO Brands but it was relaunched under Ortega Cigar Company earlier this year. The Cubao sports an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper overs its Nicaraguan filler and binder and delivers flavors of peppery spice, rich cedar, orange peel, and some sweetness. On top up the profile that just suits my palate, the Cubao always seems to perform beyond expectation, even in the Lancero format, which is my favorite.
#3 – Moya Ruiz Cigars – La Jugada Prieto
The La Jugada Prieto is the freshman release from Moya Ruiz Cigars produced at Erik Espinosa’s La Zona factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. Back in June, when Tony Casas and I were guests on episode 55 of Stogie 411, I mentioned that the La Jugada Prieto was one cigar that stood out to me this year and, at the close of 2013, that has not changed. The Prieto showcased the San Andres Maduro wrapper better than any other cigar I have smoked this year.
#2 – Ezra Zion Cigar Company – Tantrum Eicion Limitada
You may think it crazy to spend $9.50 on a 4.4 by 44 Petit Corona but that is probably because you have not smoked the Tantrum by Ezra Zion Cigar Company. This little sticks packs a punch and is fitting of its slogan – “a little baby powerhouse”. But beyond its punch, the Tantrum delivers full, spicy flavors with complex subtleties. While my experience with other offerings from Ezra Zion is limited, I would not hesitate to recommend the Tantrum even with its higher price. I look forward to getting to know the other lines from the company in 2014.
#1 – Crowned Heads – J.D. Howard Reserve
Last year, Crowned Heads found the #9 spot on Tony’s top 10 list with their Headley Grange. This year, Crowned Heads found the #4 spot on Tony’s list and the #1 spot on my first top 10 list with their J.D. Howard Reserve. As I mentioned in the full review, I have a lot of respect for how Jon Huber and Mike Conder run the company but even more respect for the excellent product they have put on the market. From the presentation to the flavors, the J.D. Howard is one heck of a smoke making it worthy of the #1 spot for 2013.