December 20, 2014

Top Cigars of 2014; Year end wrap up

Video recap HERE.

2014 was a very good year for cigars. I reviewed a total of 80 cigars and I found many that were very good and the scores show it. I tried to review only new cigars this year and for the most part I succeeded. This is my year end countdown of the top 20 cigars but every cigar that I reviewed will be shown at the end of this post in groups according to score. The top cigars will have a link to the blog post shown in the year end countdown. Otherwise you can search for them by name.

Let's get started!

Number 16-20

Tatuaje Tattoo Cabellero
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: unknown
Filler: Nicaraguan

Crowned Heads Las Calaveras LC550
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano Oscuro (8th priming)
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

Roberto P. Duran La Punta
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Crillo
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan and other Latin America tobaccos (unknown)

CAO Amazon Basin
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Bragança, Dominican Republic, and Colombia

House of  Burgess Connecticut Toro
Wrapper: U.S. Connecticut
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican

Number 11 - 15

Reunion Digestivo Toro
Wrapper: Mexican San Andres maduro
Binder: Proprietary
Filler: Jalapa and Esteli (Nicaraguan)

Draig Cayuquero Robusto
Wrapper: Brazilian Arapirica
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

Ortega Serie D Black Robusto
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan (Jalapa)
Filler: Nicaraguan (Esteli)

Ditka Signature Toro
Wrapper: Honduran criollo
Binder: Nicaraguan corojo 99
Filler: Dominican Republic

Perdomo 12 Year Double Aged Vintage Maduro Epicure
Wrapper: Nicaraguan maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

My Top 10 of 2014

93 points
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

93 points
Wrapper: Mexican San Andres
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Dominican and Honduran

93 points
Wrapper: Limited 1999 Cuban Seed, Corojo
Binder: Grade AA Nicaraguan Tobaccos Aged 5 to 7 Years
Filler: Grade AA Nicaraguan Tobaccos Aged 5 to 7 Years

94 points
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Claro
Binder: Proprietary
Filler: Nicaraguan (Jalapa and Condega)

94 points
Wrapper: Broadleaf
Binder: Ecuadorian
Filler: Kings proprietary blend

94 points
Wrapper: Indonesian Shade (TBN) Select Vintage 2010
Binder: Aged Dominican Piloto
Filler: Aged Dominican and Olor

94  points
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

94  points
Wrapper - Sungrown Sumatra Ecuador
Binder - Brazil 
Filler - Brazil, DR, Peru and Nicaragua

94 points
Wrapper: Ecuadoran Habano 
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic

95 points
Wrapper: Honduran Colorado Oscuro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan


Perdomo Cigars
for their
12 Year Double Aged Vintage Cigars
Sun Grown


House of Emilio
for having 
5 cigars in my Top 15
Reunion Digestivo Toro
Draig Cayuquero Robusto
1502 Nicaragua Robusto
Ezra Zion Tantrum
Reunion Aperitivo

Click the link for the full review and a link inside the blog post for the YouTube video review.

There were a lot of cigars that came out this year that I simply did not have time to review so look for them early in 2015.

As always, it was fun reviewing all these cigars. I look forward to next year and a lot more reviews! I welcome  your comments so please don't be shy!

Here is the complete list of every cigar I reviewed in 2014 with score. The cigar name, size, and date reviewed are shown. Where did your favorite cigar place?

Cohiba Nicaragua En Crystale (5 x 50) 10/5/14

Reunion Aperitivo Toro (6 x 52) 5/3/14
King of Kings Broadleaf (6 x 64 Box Pressed) 6/7/14
La Patrona Robusto (5 x 50) 7/20/14
1875 Romeo y Julieta Bully (5 x 50) 8/31/14
Perdomo Double Aged 12 Year Vintage Sun Grown Epicure (6 x 56) 10/4/14
Ashton Symmetry Belicoso (5 1/4 x 52) 11/9/14

Ditka 89 Toro (6x50) 2/2/14
House of Burgess Connecticut Toro (6 x 52) 2/15/14
Reunion Digestivo Toro (6 x 52) 3/8/14
Draig Cayuquero Robusto (5 x 50) 3/16/14
Ezra Zion Tantrum (4.44 x 44) 3/29/14
Miami Cigar Bundles Maduro torpedo (5x52) 6/21/14
1502 Nicaragua Robusto (5 x 52) 8/3/14
Ortega Serie D Black Robusto (5 x 52) 8/10/14
Ditka Signature Toro by Camacho (6 x 50) 9/20/14
Roberto P. Duran La Punta (6 x 54) 10/12/14
Crowned Heads Las Calaveras LC550 (5 x 50) 11/2/14
Perdomo 12 Year Double Aged Vintage Maduro Epicure (6 x 56) 11/22/14
Tatuaje Tattoo Cabellero (Robusto) (5 x 50) 11/23/14
CAO Amazon Basin (6 x 52) 12/13/14

Fuente Fuente Opus X - Angel's Share PerfecXion X (6 1/4 x 48) 1/4/14
Kentucky Fire Cured (MUWAT) Just a Friend (6x52) 2/1/14
Arturo Fuente Destino al Siglo De Pasion (6 3/4 x 49) 2/8/14
J. Castanon Mareba (5 3/4 x 50) 3/22/14
Nomad S-307 Toro (6 x 50) 3/29/14
La Musa Melete Toro (6 x 50) 4/5/14
Leccia Luchador El Hombre (5 x 54) 5/4/14
La Musa Mousa Toro (6 x 50) 5/18/14
Los Regalos Quetzal Toro (6 x 52) 6/1/14
Arandoza Cigars Red Label Toro (6 x 52) 7/6/14
Quesada 40th Anniversary Robusto (5 x 52) 7/27/14
L'Atelier LAT Lancero (7 1/2 x 38) 8/9/14
262 Cigars Revere Lonsdale (6 1/2 x 44) 8/16/14
Perdomo Double Aged Vintage Connecticut Epicure (6 x 56) 8/23/14
E. P. Carrillo 5th Anniversary Toro (6 1/2 x 54) 9/27/14
BG Meyer Standard Issue Robusto by Camacho & Rob Weiss (5 x 50) 10/26/14
La Palina Black Label Robusto (5 x 52) 11/16/14

Liga Privada T52 Robusto (5 x 54) 1/5/14
Baron robusto (by Kings Cigars) (5x52) 1/26/14
Tres Reynas Robusto (5 x 50) 2/9/14
House of Burgess Maduro Toro (6 x 52) 2/22/14
Cuban Crafters Medina 1959 Torpedo (6 1/2 x 52) 3/1/14
Camacho Diploma Robusto (5 x 50) 3/9/14
Tijerinos Torpedo (6 x 54) 3/15/14
The Judge by J. Fuego, Blind Justice (5 x 50) 3/23/14
Guayacan Robusto (5 x 50) 4/13/14
Gonzo Santeria Heina (6 x 52) 5/31/14
Partagas 1845 Extra Oscuro Robusto Gordo (5 1/2 x 52) 6/8/14
Miami Cigar Bundles Habano Torpedo (6 x 52) 6/14/14
Dunhill 1907 Robusto (5x52) 6/15/14
My Fathers Cigars La Antiguedad 'Toro (5 5/8 x 55) 6/28/14
Room 101 The Big Payback Chavala (5 x 50) 6/29/14
Buena Vista Reserva Piramide (6.3 x 52) 7/19/14
OSOK (One Shot One Kill) by Edgar Hoill - Cabron (6.5 x 60) 7/26/14
My Father Connecticut Robusto (5 1/4 x 52) 8/17/14
Jericho Hill OBS (4 3/4 x 52) 9/11/14
Espinosa Laranja Reserva Toro (6 x 52) 11/15/14
Surrogates Satin Glove (7 x 47) 11/29/14
Joya Red Robusto (5 1/4 x 50) 12/14/14

Arturo Fuente Casa Cuba Pre-Release 2013 toro (6 x 52) 2/12/14
Vega Fina Sumum Edicion Especial 2010 Toro (6 x 54) 4/26/14
Nomad Connecticut Fuerte Toro (6x52) 5/24/14
Cubanacan Habano Piramide (6 1/8 x 52) 8/30/14
Illusione Fume D'Amour Viejos (5 x 50) 9/21/14
A. J. Fernandez New World Gobernador (Toro) (6 1/2 x 55) 10/25/14
Ave Maria Immaculata Toro (6 x 50) 11/1/14
Black Label Trading Co. Lawless Churchill (7 x 48) 11/30/14

Inferno Flashpoint Robusto (5 x 52) 2/23/14
Inch Short Run 2014 No. 62 (5 x 62) 3/30/14
Ezra Zion Eminence Belicoso Gran Toro (5 x 58) 4/27/14
Partagas 1845 Extra Fuerte Robusto Gordo (5 1/2 x 52) 5/25/14

Juan Lopez Seleccion no. 2 (6x4) 1/25/14
Gonzo Vintage 2007 Trajabador (5 x 56) 4/6/14
H. Upmann The Banker Annuity (6 x 52) 7/13/14
Montecristo Espada Guard (6 x 50) 8/2/14
Black Abyss Banshee (by JR Cigars) (5 x 50) 8/24/14
Quesada Oktoberfest Kaiser Ludwig (6 x 49) 9/28/14
CAO Black Limited Bengal (6 x 50) 11/8/14

7-20-4 1874 Robusto Especial (5 1/2 x 52) 2/16/14
Ezra Zion Honor Series FHK Character (Belicoso) (6 x 52) 5/26/14

December 14, 2014

Joya Red Robusto (5 1/4 x 50)

Video review HERE.

I picked up this cigar at last week's New York City Big Smoke.

The new Joya Red marks the first new regular production offering since President Juan Ignacio Martinez has assumed the duties of company president. This is also the first Joya that breaks the mold of full bodied cigars. It utilizes less ligeros and thick wrappers and made use of more viso leaves. The company also says the wrapper is a lower priming habano. The binder and filler come from Esteli, Jalapa, and Condega. 

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

The cigar is a reddish brown so the name is appropriate. T'he wrapper has a nice oily sheen and average feel, as far as density.

The test draw after cutting the cap had a touch of firmness. The initial flavors were a sweet cedar flavor, graham cracker, and cream. The cream notes are so sweet they remind me of marshmallows. Yes, marshmallows. There are lot of graham cracker notes also. The pepper is a white pepper rated at a 7.

About one inch in the flavors are still very sweet and much like they started. The cigar is mild to medium bodied. The finish is a sweet cream with dry toast notes. There is not much lingering pepper at all at this point. The cigar is burning very evenly.

2 inches in and the burn is almost laser perfect. The graham cracker notes have toned down but the sweet cedar notes have greatly increased. They are almost a "berry sweet", somewhat like a sweet, juicy strawberry. The cream notes have also toned down. There is now a coffee base. The finish has taken on some of the graham cracker notes. The lingering pepper may have jumped up just a tad. The ash is very long and tight, as you can see in the picture.

At the midpoint the ash is still intact. There are now some dry toast notes on the front end. Right after you get the sweet cedar flavor you get the dry toast notes. Following those are the graham cracker and cream notes. The finish is about the same. The cigar is still mild to medium, in my opinion.

With about 1 1/2 inches remaining the pepper has made a huge jump up. It is now a black pepper! The intensity on the front end is now around an 8. The lingering pepper is also a black pepper and it is very intense and nice. The cedar is still the lead flavor with the graham cracker notes more subtle. I still get dry toast which at times taste more like dry wood. The coffee is still the base. The cream notes sort of connect everything together. The cigar is medium bodied at this point.

At the end the cigar I am still amazed at how the white pepper changed to a black pepper and became very intense. The flavors are still about the same throughout. I love the new found intense black pepper. The cigar is medium bodied, at best. Some of you may call this mild to medium. For the Joya de Nicaragua fans, this is a very different cigar than you're use to. It would be a good cigar for those who previously thought  Joya de Nicaragua cigars were too full bodied for them. The burn was almost perfect with a tight ash. I found this to be a good cigar but I missed some of the ligero.

Score: 91

December 13, 2014

CAO Amazon Basin (6 x 52)

Video review HERE.

The CAO Amazon Basin was one of the most discussed cigars at this year's IPCPR. It utilizes tobacco from Bragança, which is grown in the Amazon Rain Forest and harvested just once every three years. 

CAO describes how this tobacco is harvested:

Unlike traditional tobacco plantations where the plants are arranged in neat rows, these seeds are planted wherever there is available sunlight. Once harvested, the leaves are rolled by hand into tubes called carottes and undergo six months of natural fermentation, a technique similar to that of Andullo tobacco. Once fermented, it takes four to six weeks to get them from forest to factory, a process that involves being hand carried to the river, put into canoes and rowed to the mainland, then driven to the port and shipped to Nicaragua where they are made. 

The cigar had an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper and Nicaraguan binder. 40 percent of the filler is Bragança, with the other from the Dominican Republic and Colombia.

These cigars are available in only one vitola, the toro; 6 x 52. The come in boxes of 18.

Unfortunately, when this initial batch of cigars is sold out, it is uncertain if it will be possible to produce more, as General says it were able to purchase less than 5,000 pounds of the Bragança tobacco.

The cigar has a nice feel in the hand; quite dense.

The test draw after cutting the cap was effortless. The initial flavors were a tangy cedar with a lot of brown sugar sweetness, coffee, nutmeg, and earth. The pepper was a black pepper rated at a 7 1/2. It's starting as a very dark noted cigar.

A little over an inch in the flavor notes are about like I described but now I'm getting some cocoa notes. There is an abundance of brown sugar in this cigar. The finish is one of a sweet cream with a touch of brown sugar and a lot of tingling black pepper. The finish is very long and sweet. The cigar is medium bodied at this stage. The earth notes are now a light leather but they are secondary.

As I got closer to the vine rings the flavors are about the same but I lost the nutmeg notes. The cigar is very consistent. The cigar is medium to full bodied now and I do not expect it to move upward. The finish is unchanged. I am hopeful that I can remove the vine rings without destroying the cigar!

I successfully removed the vine band! You can tell where they were if you look closely.

This has been a very good cigar. For those of you who had given up on CAO cigars you might want to rethink your feelings. This cigar is unique in it's flavors. Undoubtedly the tobacco used from the Amazon region of Brazil make a big difference in the flavors. The cigar is very consistent; it finishes much like it starts. I loved the massive amounts of brown sugar that goes along with the tangy, sweet cedar. Try these for yourself and let me know what you think.

Score: 93