It’s less than a week into 2010 and already top ten lists have been done to death. So why should you bother reading mine? Well, to begin with, isn’t mine really the one you’ve been waiting for? I know it’s the one I’ve been most looking forward to. Additionally, my top 10 differs from the others in that for a cigar to make it on my list, I had to smoke it in 2010, and it had pass through the highly scientific, 100% objective process of me liking it. Or the maker had to offer me a bunch of money. But since the latter didn’t happen this year (high hopes for the next list!), my preferences are responsible for this, the 2010 Box-Worthies.
10. Master by Carlos Toraño
It’s rare that a cigar wows me as much and as quickly as the Master by Carlos Toraño did. The complex and engaging flavor profile ensures that if I walk into a shop that carries them, it’s a guaranteed sale.
9. Rocky Patel Edge Sumatra 2010
This shouldn’t be much of a surprise. I loved (and hoarded) the original Edge Sumatra, and was overjoyed to see it once again on the cigar shop shelves. Especially when it became clear that they were every bit as good, and still very reasonably priced.
8. Drew Estates Liga Privada T52
The Liga Privada T52 is a tough cigar to keep in stock, both in cigar shops and in my humidor. It’s a beautiful oily, smokey cigar with a rich earthy flavor that I could smoke daily without growing tired of it.
7. 7-20-4 Dog Walker
Some line extensions aren’t very exciting. The Dog Walker is not one of those. It is, hands-down, the best tasting 7-20-4 vitola yet, and also my favorite short smoke of 2010.
6. Avo Heritage Robusto
The Heritage is a home run for Avo and Davidoff. It’s like they took the best parts of Puro d’Oro and the Zino Embassy Selection put them together, and accidentally left a digit off the price tag. All the Heritage vitolas are worthy, but I find myself drawn to the robusto most.
5. CAO La Traviata Divino
The impressive rich flavors, slow burn and low price tag make the La Traviata a cigar that’s tough to top, and one that’s likely to be a staple of many top 10 lists for years to come.
4. Casa Fernandez Aganorsa Leaf
Casa Fernandez is better known for the cigars they make for other people, but thanks to the phenomenal Aganorsa Leaf stick that hit the market this year, that may soon change. As I said in my review, this smoke is thick, rich and fairly potent, but unlike many stout smokes, it doesn’t sacrifice flavor for power and is immensely satisfying. These are now a staple of my humidor.
3. Nestor Miranda Art Deco Gran Toro
It’s funny to think that my initial impression of the Art Deco was that it was just an OK stick. Admittedly, I arrived at that impression on the floor of the IPCPR trade show light on sleep and deep on palate char. Because of the generosity of the folks at the Miami Cigar booth (aka Cigar Party Central) I wound up with quite a few samples. By the time I finished them all, I was ready for a box. (In fact, I believe I bought the first Art Deco “lunchbox” in the country.) It’s one of a very few cigars I can happily smoke back to back.
2. Illusione 88
Back again in the number two spot is the Illusione 88. Try as I might to find another one of Dion Giolito’s smokes I like better, it just didn’t happen. Come to think of it, that applies to every other cigar this year but the one in the top spot. As I said last year, “the Illusione 88 is a perfect illustration of what is possible when the best creative minds and the finest tobacco come together.”
1. J. Fuego Grand Reserva Corojo No. 1
I thought about shaking it up this year, but I just couldn’t do that and have this be an honest list. If I were stuck on an island that miraculously maintained a balmy 70 degrees and 70 percent humidity year round, and I had to pick one cigar to keep me company for my stay, it’d be the Grand Reserva Corojo No. 1, either in the robusto or the petite corona size. There’s just something to that combination of earthiness, cedar and sweet paprika spice that makes burning one transcend merely smoking a cigar.
To begin with, I’m still very much a fan of all the cigars featured on last year’s list, but sadly, there just wasn’t enough space for them and all the new additions. And in the case of the limited editions, some of them simply aren’t around any more. In addition to favorites, here are a few smokes that also got dangerously close to making it into my top ten.
My Father Le Bijou 1922 Petite Robusto
Early on in 2010 I picked up a handful of Le Bijous, and they didn’t do much for me. That set me up for big surprise when I tried a couple out of a more recent box a month or two ago. They were incredibly rich and complex and went on to win one of my Brian’s The Week in Smoke. If they continue to be this incredible, keep an eye out for them in next year’s top 10.
EP Carrillo Edicion Limitada 2010, Core Line and Short Run
Great, rich smokes, all of them, and I haven’t been able to yet pick the one I like the most. And that’s why these fuller bodied follow ups to my much loved Edicion Limitada 2009’s didn’t make the list. I simply didn’t get to know and love them the way I did with the 2009. (Also it didn’t help that I was still smoking quite a few of those 2009’s in 2010.) It’s an oversight I hope to correct in 2011.
Avo LE 10
Uncharacteristically potent for an Avo, and until the Heritage came around my favorite Avo. Time is been incredibly kind to these sticks, they’re even better now than when I reviewed them in early 2010.
Padilla 1932 Toro
A favorite from a while back that became a favorite again when I found most of a box hiding in a humidor a few months before the year came to a close. A lot of rich flavor that I’ve been burning down to the nub pretty regularly since.
Gran Habano Azteca
The cigar that rekindled my interest in Gran Habano smokes. Great smoke, great price and a leap in the right direction.
Best New Cigar Concept
Every year somebody comes up with something interesting and inventive in the cigar industry. This year I thought I’d recognize the one I liked the most.
Originals (aka “The Soft Pack”) by J. Fuego
When Jesus Fuego pulled the paper packet of cheroot-like Origens out of his shirt pocket, it was love at first sight. The simple packaging containing no-frills short smokes are perfect anytime you’re on the go and want a quick, no-hassle burn. Of course it helps that the cigars are actually good. And bonus, you can now get Grand Reserva Corojo No. 1’s in this format.
Surprise of the Year
In addition to great new ideas, ever year has a surprise or two.
Macanudo Cru Royale
Macanudo, you’ve come a long way baby. While the 1968 was pretty good, the Cru Royale is the first Macanudo I’ve ever considered buying by the box.