It is that time of year again, where Top 10 Lists are in abundance and manufacturers salivate at the opportunity to Re-Tweet, Share, and +1 all of the praise that their cigars receive. I generally enjoy this time of year and am eager to put a list of my own together. This year, however, I am absolutely dreading it.
In years past I would open up the Cigar Review Index and take in all the cigars we’ve reviewed throughout the year. Most times the index wasn’t necessary as there were several cigars that stood out in my mind as being a fantastic smoke. This year, there are three.
It isn’t that releases this year were sub par, it is simply that my variety has been sub par. Due to finances and my work situation at the time, I had to pass on attending the IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas. To make matters even worse, Kensington Tobacconist, my local cigar shop, went out of business earlier this year. Getting the odd sample, a chance run in with area cigar reps, gone.
Don’t take this as a ‘woe is me’ post. I have hundreds of cigars stashed away in coolers that I’ve collected over the years. The problem is, I have very little ‘new’ product and have fallen into a rut. When it is time to buy cigars, I pick up the phone and order what I know I like. I can’t afford to take a chance on a five-pack these days, and I mean that in the literal sense. Dropping cash on cigars these days is hard enough, I can’t chance spending $35+ on a five pack that I may not like.
So where does that leave us? To be honest, if I knew where this article was heading I would have gotten to the point already.
I suppose it would be best if I talked a bit about what cigars I have enjoyed this year. I can promise you that most of my list will not be new and exciting, but these cigars have put a smile on my face throughout the year.
To make a long story short, I’m not a fan of the Nestor Miranda Special Selection lineup. Back when they were regular sellers at my local shop, I tried on several occasions to like them. The Oscuro and Rosado simply weren’t for me. Not only did I not like them, I thought they were expensive for what they were (easy to say if you have already determined that the line isn’t for you, I suppose).
Shortly after my daughter was born, I met Shing999 for a cigar. He handed me a Nestor Miranda Special Selection Oscuro with an additional band. At the time I was well aware of Buckhead Cigar Club. Not only had I met Mike at an IPCPR Trade Show and talked with him on Twitter, Buckhead is Brian’s local shop. I thanked Paul for the cigar and slipped it into my shirt pocket.
A few days later I thought I’d give the Nestor Miranda Special Selection one last try before giving up hope. The story was that the Buckhead variety had an extra ligero leaf in the blend. I didn’t think it would make much of a difference in how the cigar tasted. I was wrong.
The very next day I climbed into my car and drove back to Kensington Tobacconist. I walked into the humidor and picked up a Nestor Miranda Special Selection Coffee Break, feeling like a junkie trying to get his fix. Not only was that cigar a disappointment, I recall pitching it before the half-way point and lighting up something else.
It didn’t take me long to order a five-pack from Buckhead. I’m not sure how many I’ve smoked this year (I’m looking at two empty boxes right now) but when it comes to my smoking the Nestor Miranda Special Selection, it is either the Buckhead blend or nothing.
EP Carrillo New Wave – El Decano
A few months back I received a Direct Message, on Twitter, from Ernesto Perez Carrillo. Ernesto asked if I would be interested in trying a new size of the EP Carrillo New Wave and giving him some feedback. I can’t express how much I appreciate being asked to give feedback on a line. Being asked to review a line is nice but being asked to give feedback back to the manufacturer is a completely different animal.
I told Ernesto that I’d be happy to smoke a few samples and let him know what I thought. A few days passed by and some mammoth sized cigars arrived for me to smoke. I later learned that these cigars were the upcoming EP Carrillo New Wave El Decano.
I’ve never been a big fan of sixty ring gauge cigars. I think they taste watered down and not nearly as enjoyable as the smaller vitolas. I began smoking the monsters and think of them as gentle giants. They were mild to medium in body and oh-so-creamy.
It was as if this blend was made specifically to be paired with a piping hot cup of black coffee. The El Decano won me over and is one of the few sixty ring gauge cigars that I’ll actually go and seek out.
Since being introduced to the El Decano, I’ve easily smoked 20+ cigars. I’m convinced that it is the ultimate “Lazy Sunday Morning Cigar”.
The Oliva Serie V Maduro Especial 2011 surprised me. I’ll be honest, before lighting up I didn’t have high hopes for it. Disappointment is an understatement of how I felt about the 2010 release. Not to get all theatrical on you, but last years release had no soul. It was like Oliva stole one of my favorite lines away from me.
When I was handed my very first Serie V Maduro 2011, I was skeptical. I thought, “hey, at least it isn’t a torpedo, I should at least get a decent draw out of this one”. I opened up the cigar and set flame to foot. That cigar genuinely surprised me. It smoked and tasted great.
Since that first one, I’ve smoked about a box. It was a sad moment taking the last cigar out of that 10 count box. I wish I’d have gotten more. At this point I just hope that Oliva stays away from the torpedo shape next year.
Thats all your giving us?
Yeah, thats all you’re getting out of me this year. Adding any more cigars at this point would only water things down. I’ve had the pleasure of trying a couple of the more recent cigars, some of which rank high on other peoples Top 10 Lists, but that was just it, there was a cigar here and a cigar there.
If you’re eager to read about other cigars to try, check out Jerry’s Top 10 Cigars of 2011. If that isn’t enough, I’m sure Brian, Mike, and Charlie have their own lists in the works, to be published in the near future.