Man where did 2011 go? Seems like the older you get the faster time goes by. Before 2012 gets here its time to look back at 2011. 2011 was another awesome year for cigars! I’m anxious to see what Walt, Brian, Mike and Charlie have listed this year. This year is no different than previous years. I had a difficult time paring the list down to just ten. To help me pare the list down, I limited it to cigars that appeared here at Stogie Review in 2011. These cigars weren’t necessarily released in 2011, just appeared throughout the year on the site in one form or another…now, onto the list:
10. CAO OSA Sol Lot 50 – When I started paring down the list of cigars I wasn’t sure if the CAO OSA Sol would make the cut. During my unscientific process it kept hanging around as others dropped off. The OSA Sol received mixed reviews in the blogosphere mainly due to the size they shipped to bloggers as samples. The Robusto (Lot 50) is stellar in my opinion. The OSA Sol really shines with a unique bright tasting wrapper that sets the OSA Sol a part from other things on the shelf. Looking ahead with two box pressed size extensions in 2012 I really see the OSA Sol making even more waves.
09. Tortuga Edicion Limitada 2011 – I doubt you will see this cigar on many other Top Lists mainly because its not widely known…yet. Its hard for me to think of a cigar that has surprised me this year as much as the Tortuga Edicion Limitada 2011 (aka the Tortuga 215) has. The more and more I smoke the 215, the more and more I discover something new about it. I discover a flavor, a note, a nuance and subtle bit of something that just impresses me more. Don’t let the unknown name and the almost double digit price tag keep you from enjoying this gem.
08. CroMagnon Knuckle Dragger – I’m bias here and I wonder if my bromance with Skip Martin prevented me from ranking the CroMagnon higher? I don’t know. The CroMagnon Knuckle Dragger is one of the few cigars that I bought multiple bundles of this year and kept mostly all to myself. Despite what Skip would say, I think the Knuckle Dragger is the best of all the sizes. Skip will say that the EMH or Cranium are the most popular sizes but when it comes to balance, complexity and really understanding what CroMagnon is all about (flavor first), the Knuckle Dragger is it.
07. Grimalkin by Emilio Cigars – The Grimalkin was my first introduction to Emilio Cigars and I haven’t looked back since. You could easily interchange the AF1 or AF2 on this list with the Grimalkin. While the band still creeps me out, the flavors don’t. The versatility of the Grimalkin is what really sets it a part from the AF Series. Nothing can start your day or end your day like a Grimalkin. Solid medium-full in flavor with a unique twist and texture that makes those creepy eyes standout even more. Morning coffee and oatmeal…after dinner drink and dessert or secretly smoking one during a minor league baseball game…Grimalkin is a great anytime of day cigar.
06. Four Kicks by Crowned Heads – I don’t think anyone else could release a cigar with less than two months left in the calendar year and still make a splash in numerous Top Lists except for the people behind Four Kicks. In my review I gave a lot of credit to Jon Huber, Mike Conder and Ernesto Perez Carrillo. While that credit is deserved, there are more people behind Four Kicks than those three names. What a splash they made on all fronts! Easily the argument can be made that I’m short changing Four Kicks; that they should be ranked higher and I wouldn’t have much of a counter argument. Congrats to everyone involved in Four Kicks. Bring the right people together and magic can happen. You took your time and did things right and it shows in Four Kicks.
05. San Lotano Oval by AJ Fernandez – Its no secret what a fan of AJ Fernandez I am. Whether its the Man O’War Ruination or Puro Authentico, AJ Fernandez has a way of blending cigars that connect with my palate. Its definitely nice to see AJ step out of the “catalog only” mold and develop his own brand. The San Lotano Oval is all about simple flavors that still find a way to challenge and excite your palate. He has the pulse of what cigar smokers are looking for in a cigar and the Oval is it.
04. Zino Platnium Z-Class – Typically I’m not a Davidoff or Zino kind of guy. It takes a special cigar from one of those brands to really impress me and most of the time, to justify the cost. I’m pretty sure I’m not the demographic that they are courting but the Zino Platinum Z Class is one of those special cigars that made me wake up and take notice. A savory, penetrating nutty spiciness is what draws you to the Z Class. Consistent, balanced, satisfying and a steal at $10.
03. EP Carrillo New Wave Connecticut – When you think about cigars that are in the Top 3 positions of any Top List you have to factor in how much of game changer the cigar is. The EPC New Wave Connecticut redefined Connecticut Shade and it shows with other manufacturers following Ernesto’s lead. This isn’t some mild, lack luster, stale Connecticut Shade cigar that you’ve grown accustomed to. Medium in body, full flavored and a dynamic complexity. The New Wave hits the ground running from the very first puff. Ernesto proves once again that he continues to be a trendsetter in the industry.
02. La Casita Criolla – The La Casita Criolla was either going to be a homerun or a strikeout for Pete Johnson. Many cigar smokers say they love *insert any kind of tobacco* but when a cigar is made 100% or mostly of that tobacco (like straight ligero) the cigar doesn’t live up to the hype. So that was my concern when the all broadleaf tobacco La Casita Criolla was announced. Would it be too much of a good thing? I think Pete took a risk but his risk paid off as he hit this one out of the park! Its unlike anything else in Pete’s arsenal of brands. Solid medium in strength but possesses a rich palate penetrating flavor profile. Slight peppery flavor creates a thin film on your palate giving a nice sensation. The La Casita Criolla is chock full of nuttiness, cedar and a dark, almost molasses flavor profile. Simple flavors that are delivered in a fresh way.
01. Casa Magna Domus Magnus Limitada – The Casa Magna Domus Magnus Limitada wasn’t on my radar after IPCPR. In my relatively short smoking career there have been few cigars where I’m at a lost for words to describe. One that comes to mind is the Davidoff Colorado Claro (my top cigar in 2009) and now the Casa Magna Domus Magnus Limitada joins the Colorado Claro in the category of close to perfection. The Domus Magnus is artfully constructed, well balanced, copious assortment of smooth flavors and not to mention its ingenious and engaging complexity.