Top 15 Cigars of 2012

It is the time of the year when we here at A Cigar Smoker’s Journal weigh in and give our opinion on the best cigars of the year. My first year here at A Cigar Smoker’s Journal has been a real pleasure and quite the exciting journey. As this year is just about coming full circle I have the privilege of giving my opinion on the top 15 cigars of this year.

Now an opinion is just what this is, out of all the new cigars in 2012 that Kevin and myself have smoked, we have come to a consensus as to what the top 15 were. Are there some great cigars we missed? Surely there must be. So many new companies pop up and some of them have crafted some real masterpieces. It is nearly impossible for us to try every new cigar that is released, so this is list is limited to cigars we were able to sample. To make the list a few things were required.

  1. We must have reviewed the cigar
  2. The cigar must be on retailer shelves in 2012, not just announced 
  3. It must either be a new blend or a new size released in 2012

Here they are, my top 15 picks for 2012!

15. Room 101 One Shot One Kill Chingon – Matt Booth is certainly a guy with a lot of personality, and you can easily see it in the One Shot One Kill. Not only did this cigar come packed with a lot of flash, it smokes with it too! It had a wonderful blend of strength, complexity, all backed up with the quality construction Camacho is known for. These might be hard to find soon, so pick up a box when you see one!

14. Quesada Q D’Etat Daga – The spirit of the Q D’Etat line from Quesada is one that every cigar smoker should respect. The entire line was all about the fight for our rights, each box containing a sign up card for the CRA, and each blend being named after a weapon. While I enjoyed the Molotov and the Howitzer, I have to say the Daga was something special for me. Like the rest of the Q D’Etat line the Daga was limited to 1,000 ten count boxes, so get yours soon!

13. Rodrigo La Fortaleza Cinco 5 – When it comes to Dominican Puros, the new La Fortaleza from Rodigo cigars is hard to beat. Dollar for dollar this cigar stacks up well against anything out there. This was also one review that was a real pleasure. Kevin and I got to hang out with our good friend William Cooper from Cigar Coop for this review and have a live Skype video call with George Rodriguez, owner AND blender! This is a full release cigar which is quickly appearing in B&Ms nationwide, make sure to check this one out.

12. Nat Sherman Timeless (Dominican) – I think it is safe to say that all smokers feel certain affinities and loyalty to certain companies, sometimes for reasons even they themselves don’t quite understand. Nat Sherman is one of those companies for me, yet I doubt that love of Nat Sherman cigars affected my choice at all. The Dominican version of the Timeless is an excellent cigar which is priced to be enjoyed daily, and the company is part of the fabric of American tobacco tradition.

11. Emilio AF Suave Toro – Many companies speak about remaking the Connecticut Shade cigar, giving it a fuller body, strength, and flavor. While many of the new blends have impressed me, the Suave from Emilio cigars is the one that takes the cake. The Suave is as unique as Gary Griffith himself, with a stepped up body, strength, and flavor. Certainly a cigar worth seeking out.

10. Diamond Crown Maximus Double Robusto No. 6 – The Diamond Crown Maximus is one cigar I really enjoy, it combines full flavor, with subtle complexities, and an excellent strength. This year the Double Robusto No. 6 vitola was made for full release, and it is my favorite size in the line so far. This is one of the cigars that really teaches you the difference between a $7 dollar cigar and a $12 dollar cigar.

9. Montecristo Epic Toro – Billed by Altadis as the most “Epic” cigar ever made, the Montecristo Epic combines all vintage 2007 tobacco. While I don’t quite consider this to be the most epic cigar of all time, I certainly did love the flavors, and I have smoked a box and a half already.

8. Ortega Serie D Natural No. 8 – One of the new cigars which missed the mark for me, by just a little bit, was the Ortega Serie D Maduro. Now while the Maduro didn’t quite do it for me, when I tried the Natural I was blown away by it. I enjoyed it so much that I’ve been looking high and low for the Wild Bunch for a while now to no avail. My hat is off to Eddie. He has done quite well this year with the launch of his new company and I can’t wait to see what else he has coming up.

7. La Dueña Petit Belicoso No.9 by My Father – I’ve always been a big fan of My Father cigars, and a big fan of Tatauje cigars. So when I heard about the new La Duena,blended by Pete Johnson as a tribute to Janny Garcia, yet still maintained as a My Father line I was excited to sample it out. At the IPCPR I was lucky enough to get a sample to try out, and I have to say this Broadleaf beauty did not let me down.

6. Headley Grange Estupendos – When Crowned Heads launched the Four Kicks I was blown away by it, and when I heard about the upcoming Headly Grange I couldn’t wait to try it out. Once I had it lit I was hooked, the blend of flavors was so rich. This is one of those cigars that challenged my previous thoughts on the sumatra wrapper.

5. Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Reserva – In the world of cigars, Pete Johnson has quite the following, and everything he makes meets quite the demand. When it comes to the tri-annual Cojonu release, this is certainly no exception. The new broadleaf wrapped Cojonu is phenomenal, one of those cigars I have no issue recommending to others. It has yet to cease to please me and I’m nearly done with my first box already.

4. Joya de Nicaragua CyB – There was a bit of controversy around the name of this cigar, originally released under the name Cuenca y Blanco, named after José Blanco and Dr. Alejandro Martínez Cuenca. Joya de Nicaragua faced some legal issues and it is now named CyB. This answers the age old question, would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? Call it what you want it, the CyB is certainly an exceptional smoke and worthy of its place as #4 on my line up.

3. La Palina Maduro – La Palina is one of those companies that I’ve heard a lot about, but sadly don’t see on store shelves quite as much. The cigars I have smoked were quite good, and when I had a chance to speak with Bill Paley at the 2012 IPCPR, I was given a sample of the new Maduro. This one sat in the humidor for a few weeks after the trade show, and when I did finally light it up it blew me away. Coming in at under a $10 MSRP, the La Palina Maduro performs well over the price point. As soon as I see a box of these, I am picking them up.

2. Oliva Serie V Melanio Petit Corona – Much like the original Serie V, the new Melanio from Oliva has been met with a very favorable reception. It places yet another Sumatra wrapper on my top 15, and is a cigar that has not failed me once. Released at the 2012 IPCPR in Orlando, FL and hitting store shelves shortly after the Serie V Melanio is taking B&Ms by storm. Savory, rich, smooth, and creamy, the Serie V Melanio is one of the best cigar I’ve smoked, not just in 2012.

1. EPC Cardinal Natural 52 – Anyone who has spoken to Kevin or myself recently won’t be shocked by this cigars placement. This cigar has caused me to completely rethink the Sumatra wrapper. I generally lean towards Maduro and Habano wrappers, but I can’t get enough of this cigar. Before trying this I was already a fan of the EPC, but once I lit this one up it cemented my love for EPC’s work. The rich savory smooth flavor just did something for me that I can’t even explain. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the best cigar I smoked in 2012.