It’s list making season and it’s about time we posted one for Stogie Review. Due to some scheduling difficulties, we’re a little later posting it this year than we planned. But better late than never, right?
This year we went with a different approach, abandoning separate lists and opting instead for a single, official Stogie Review top ten. Our approach was pretty straightforward, Ben and I made individual, unordered lists of top ten candidates based on the cigars we smoked in 2017 and compared lists. When we were promenading the markets of Amsteradam, we got to see a great deal of other inebriants, which included an assortment of vapes at the 180 Smoke Canadian vape store. We got a couple of them there, and spent the rest of the time scouring for cigars which didn’t emanate an apocryphal smell. Cigars appearing in both lists were automatically in the top ten. As luck would have it, we were just shy of ten matches. After a little discussion we settled on an order. Simple, straightforward, sans pretention. In short, the Stogie Review way. What about the cigars we really liked that didn’t make the list? That’s where Honorable Mentions come in.
The following cigars were very good, but didn’t quite make the cut.
Brian’s Honorable Mention: Foundation The Wise Man (El Güegüense) Maduro
This cigar wowed me on the floor of the 2017 IPCPR trade show, and has impressed me every single time I’ve smoked it since. Rich, balanced, delicious. It may not have a number next to it in this list, but it’s well worth buying by the box.
Ben’s Honorable Mention 1: Mombacho Liga Maestro
This cigar is probably one of the cigar I smoked the most this year. I first smoked it in Houston, TX before I moved, but really ramped up how many I smoked after moving to Florida. I have probably smoked 3 boxes worth so far, which isn’t hard when they are only 12 count boxes. They are delicious cigars with a medium body for a great price.
Ben’s Honorable Mention 2: AJF New World Puro Especial
This one is one that I found later in the year, but really made an impact on me. I’m not the biggest AJ Fernandez fan, but the latest releases have really been catching my eye. None more than the New World Puro Especial. The New World Puro Especial has a dense, rich flavor profile that isn’t overly strong just for the sake of being strong. It’s also well balanced and priced right. It’s a cigar not to be overlooked.
Ben’s Honorable Mention 3: H. Upmann by AJ Fernandez
AJ Fernandez is everywhere. It seems like he is producing cigars for everyone in addition to make his own lines. The H. Upmann by AJ Fernandez is one, if not the best, cigars he collaborated on last year, if ever. The H. Upmann line was stagnate for Altadis by AJ Fernandez breathed new life into the line with a cigar that is nothing like they had so far. The cigar is full bodied with amazing flavor and a great price to boot.
You know how this works. Let’s count them down starting with number ten.
10. The Griffin’s Nicaragua
The Griffin’s Nicaragua has quietly been a favorite cigar of ours in 2017. I don’t think either of us realized that it had developed a bit of a cult following, until the cigar came up in conversation with cigar reviewers from other websites on a trip last year. Davidoff has been doing some great things with Nicaraguan tobacco, and this cigar is proof of that.
9. La Gloria Cubana Colección Reserva
The new La Gloria Cubana Coleccion Reserva turned a lot of heads this year for many people. It was a new cigar that was a collaboration between La Gloria Cubana founder and former owner, Ernesto Perez-Carrillo and General Cigar which purchase La Gloria Cubana from Perez-Carrillo. What they produced was a gem of a cigar. Probably one of the best La Gloria Cubana cigars released since General Cigar purchased the company.
8. Drew Estate Pappy Van Winkle Tradition
The Pappy Van Winkle Tradition is a cigar that has everything going for it. It has a prestigious name attached to it, a great back story about how the blend was created, and most importantly a lot of excellent tobacco that produces a truly delicious smoke. It was clear Drew Estate had a winner here when we first lit it up at the 2017 trade show. And what has arrived in cigar shops around the country is every bit as good as what we lit up on the floor.
7. Cornelius and Anthony Venganza
Cornelius and Anthony is a cigar line that has been generating a lot of buzz over the past few years. They been releasing some great cigars and their latest is the Venganza. Made by Erik Espinoza in his La Zone factory in Nicaragua, the Venganza is their boldest cigar to date. It’s a full flavor power house for less than $10. Cornelius and Anthony are small, but growing and are a little hard to find which is why it only reached No. 7 on our list. It’s hard to find for both us, but the few we had really left an impression on us, enough that we had to have it on the list.
6. Avo Syncro South American Ritmo
The Avo line has been going through a resurgence over the past couple of years. The Avo line was a bland and boring so Davidoff decided reinvent the line with cigars using tobaccos not normally used in any other Avo cigars. The Ritmo is the latest iteration of Avo line using tobaccos and themed from South America. We both though this cigar had amazing flavor and excellent construction. Avo is doing some amazing things with their new releases and the Ritmo really showcases they exciting things they are doing and will be doing in the future.
5. Tatuaje TAA 2014/2017
As Brian said in his recent review, “The Tatuaje TAA 2014/2017 was an absolute delight to smoke every time I lit it up, and was easily one of my favorite cigars of the past year.” A consistently great cigar that you’ll regret not buying by the box.
4. CLE Eiroa The First 20 Years
CLE are the experts in corojo. That’s a fact and the new The First 20 Years Colorado is proof. Ben featured the Eiroa CBT, both natural and maduro, in previous Top 10 list so CLE is no stranger to our Top 10, but the Colorado could be the best of the bunch. The First 20 Years Colorado is a fine example of how great corojo is when used by experts with its amazing flavor, color, balance and body. It’s a great all around cigar and another great release by CLE.
3. Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Eye of the Shark
This cigar is no stranger to our top ten lists, the Don Carlos Eye of the Shark topped Brian’s list for the best cigars of 2015. And just like back in 2015, when the Eye of the Shark appeared at his local shop he smoked through the majority of the box and loved every minute of it.
The Winston Churchill Late Hour did nothing that wasn’t already being done by several other cigar companies and cigar lines. It featured tobacco aged in barrels that previous held a alcoholic beverage of some sort. The difference with the Late Hour is that no one has ever done it using single malt scotch barrels using Davidoff tobaccos. This is a huge difference. The Late Hour is one of the finest cigars we’ve ever smoked. You pick up hints of the single malt scotch when smoking cigar that really enhances the flavor. Using barrel aged tobacco isn’t something new for Davidoff as they use it in the immensely popular Camacho American and Nicaraguan Barrel Aged cigars, but the Winston Churchill Late Hour is the pinnacle in this usage, especially in the churchill size. One truly amazing cigar that is a joy to smoke.
1. Dunbarton Muestra de Saka Nacatamale 2017
Steve Saka has been doing impressive work creating memorable blends for Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust. The best of them in 2017 was his limited “sample” line, the Muestra de Saka Nacatamale. In fact, it was the best cigar we smoked this year, hands down. We thought it only fair that we revive the popular Herfin’ Heads dual video review to give this cigar the attention it is due.