2012 was an interesting year for cigars for me. To be totally honest, most of the new releases that I smoked this year, didn’t really wow me. Most of the newer stuff I smoked this year falls into that category that I call “okay to pretty good”. Cigars that were decent but not memorable. That category, for me, seemed to grow by leaps and bounds. Some will disagree no doubt and thats cool with me. My opinions are usually in the minority. As in the past, my Top 10 list consists of cigars that have made an appearance here on Stogie Review either in a full review, first impressions or our ever popular, Week in Smoke series. I’m looking forward to seeing what Walt, Brian, Mike, Charlie and Ben have on their Top 10 lists for 2012. It is always interesting to see where our tastes intersect. And now, onto the countdown:
10. Partagas 1845 – The Partagas 1845 features a versatile, balanced, rich flavor profile with a sweet woodsy natural tobacco flavor complimented with a slight creaminess and a sprinkling of spice in all the right places. The smokey aroma is both exotic and alluring. The solid medium body and versatile flavor profile makes the Partagas 1845 a great choice for a anytime of day cigar whether it be your first or last smoke of the day
9. Reinado Grand Empire Reserve – Wonderful creaminess, slight spiciness and a fragrant bouquet of aromas are a few things that draws and keeps your attention on the Empire Reserve. Its uniqueness is refreshing. As Brian Hewitt said in his recent review of the Grand Empire Reserve; “The Reinado Grand Empire Reserve is a cigar that stands out from the pack. It’s rich, delicious, complex and a little different than everything else…”
8. Cuenca y Blanco – Cuenca y Blanco or its new ‘legal’ name, CyB, is not the potent, full-bodied smoke that many people associate with Joya de Nicaragua, but it was never intended to be. As Jose Blanco said in an interview with us at this year’s IPCPR; “This cigar is just about about flavor, flavor, flavor…” and Jose was 100% correct. The CyB is a versatile, easy-going, unpretentious cigar whose flavor is consistently enjoyable.
7. EP Carrillo Cardinal Maduro – This maybe surprising that the Cardinal Maduro made my Top 10 list considering it only recently started hitting the shelves not too long ago. The truth is I’ve been enamored with the EP Cardinal Maduro since our IPCPR coverage when Ernesto referred to it as the “red box”. I honestly can’t get enough of the Cardinal Maduro. You can literally smell the espresso and dark chocolate notes bounce off the wrapper. An amazing cigar that slams my palate with flavor in such a way that it makes for a memorable and beautiful cigar experience. I would not expect anything less from Ernesto.
6. CroMagnon Knuckle Dragger – The first of three cigars that for the first time, make my Top 10 list in consecutive years. The CroMagnon Knuckle Dragger was my #8 Cigar in 2011. My initial bundles of Knuckle Draggers has been dwindling down. I’m at a point where a reorder would be a smart thing to do. While my friend Skip spent 2012 releasing newer lines, for me, it always comes back to CroMagnon and the Knuckle Dragger. The Knuckle Dragger still remains as my favorite of all the CroMagnon sizes and the best cigar Skip produces in his growing portfolio of cigars. Perfect size where the blend is amazing.
5. Four Kicks Seleccion #5 – Another repeat from my 2011 list is Four Kicks by Crowned Heads (#6 in 2011). Many in the blogging community will no doubt list the newer Headley Grange blend over Four Kicks this year. Four Kicks features a core woodsy flavor accompanied with a subtle sweetness that creates a Cubanesque experience. Four Kicks doesn’t have flashy packaging, trending name or some off the wall story. What Four Kicks does have is a smooth, balanced, plentiful flavor profile that can be enjoyed by anyone, anywhere at anytime (preferably on Fridays). Simply put, Four Kicks remains a beautiful cigar to experience.
4. Undercrown by Drew Estate – The Undercrown is one of the Top 3 cigars that I’ve smoked in quantity in 2011. I just couldn’t stop smoking the Undercrown. Every size from Robusto, to Gran Toro to the new Corona Viva, I love them all and love everything about it. I love the bbq-esque aroma that billows out with its signature, thick white smoke. I love the rich, dark, earthy, gritty, syrupy taste and texture that builds layer upon layer of flavors on your palate. Slow and smokey. Deep, palate penetrating flavors that never get old. A true gem of a cigar.
3. La Dueña by My Father Cigars – There is something simply amazing about smaller ring gauges that allows nuances to shine through and bring a new dimension in complexity to a cigar. Such is the case with La Dueña. A smooth and refined syrupy texture coats your palate with a wonderful assortment of dark earthy flavors like a semi-sweet chocolate. Add a little bit of a nutmeg type spice to the mix and La Dueña brings to the table the best that La Riqueza and La Casita Criolla have to offer in a balanced, mature, unique fashion. Its a winner and a staple in my humidor.
2. Ortega Series D Maduro – If there is a cigar that I wished I smoked more of in 2012 it would be the Ortega Series D Maduro. Simply put, the Serie D Maduro by Eddie Ortega is phenomenal! It is the truest definition of a flavor bomb. I’ve always been enamored with the Maduro since the first time I smoked one and I’m glad they have been a hit for Eddie who is one of the nicest guys in the industry (again, my apologies for that Cubao Maduro review I did years ago). Some would say that the Series D Maduro is a simple cigar. It is that perfectly executed simplicity that make the Series D Maduro a classic. No flash, all flavor.
1. Casa Magna Domus Magnus Limitada – If there was a cigar version of The Lord of The Rings, the Casa Magna Domus Magnus would be the cigar that rules them all. In my best Gollum voice, it would be “my precious…”so to speak. The Domus Magnus is artfully constructed, balanced to perfection, copious assortment of smooth flavors that engulf all of your senses and not to mention its ingenious and engaging complexity. This is not only a cigar for 2011, nor is it a cigar for 2012. The Casa Magna Domus Magnus continues to be a cigar for the ages.