Zazzle Shop

Screen printing

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Cigar Aficianado's Top 25 Cigars of 2008 (6-10)

Don't ask me why they reveal them this way because it is foolish and presumptuous in my opinion, but here are the top 6-10. 2-5 get revealed tomorrow and then the top stick on Friday. But if you want to see 11-25 you need to wait until 1/12??? IDIOTS!!

Why have a Countdown Sponsored by Bacardi 8 no less if you aren't going to release the whole list all at once. What a bunch of Douche bags over there at Shanken's Place.

Here are the results of that tournament of champions, starting with the top 10 in reverse order. On January 8 we will reveal cigars five through two, and on January 9 we will unveil the number one Cigar of the Year.

Ashton is one of the classic brands of the cigar industry. Created in the early 1980s by Robert Levin, the Dominican cigars now come in every conceivable variety, with a flavor profile built for every palate. They range from the mild and easygoing Ashton Classic to the peppery and bold Ashton VSG, with all types of flavors and strength profiles in between. Perhaps the sleeper of the storied brand is the Ashton Heritage Puro Sol.

As with all cigars bearing the Ashton name, the Puro Sols are produced by the Fuente family in Santiago, Dominican Republic. They are made with toothy, thin Cameroon wrappers grown by the Meerapfel family in the jungles of western Africa. The blend is best experienced in the robusto size, a beautifully made cigar with a rich chocolate flavor, along with notes of black cherry and spice before a toasty finish.

MADE BY: Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia.
WRAPPER: Cameroon
BINDER: Dom. Rep.
FILLER: Dom. Rep.
PRICE: $8.60
LENGTH: 5 1/2"

If you smoked cigars in the early 1990s, buying a La Gloria Cubana was a challenge. The brand was the original hard-to-find smoke in the early days of the cigar boom. When La Gloria production was greatly expanded with the opening of cigar factories in the Dominican Republic, supply caught up with demand.

La Glorias were born on Calle Ocho, in Miami’s Little Havana, and cigarmaker Ernesto Perez-Carrillo has maintained that small cigar factory even while the vast majority of La Glorias are now rolled in the D.R. He recently created a new cigar in Miami to be rolled only in that factory, the La Gloria Cubana Artesanos de Miami. It’s the best La Gloria in years. Perez-Carrillo changed wrappers, moving from Ecuador Sumatra leaf to spicy Nicaraguan wrapper, and tipped the balance of filler, boosting the Nicaraguan quotient while dimming that of the Dominican tobacco inside. The result is a bolder, richer smoke. The best cigar in the five-size line is the Elegante. The Churchill-sized smoke is finished with a triple-seam cap, and brims with flavors of rich coffee and a nutty sweetness.

MADE BY: El Credito Cigar Factory (Swedish Match AB)
WRAPPER: Nicaragua
BINDER: Ecuador
FILLER: Nicaragua, Dom. Rep.
PRICE: $11.00
LENGTH: 6 7/8"

Lanceros, long revered by smokers of Cuban cigars, have lately become a hot size in the United States. Cigarmakers have responded with amazing thin smokes, none finer than the Don Pepin Garcia Lancero, made by Jose “Pepin” Garcia at his tiny El Rey de los Habanos factory in Miami. The fabrica is one of the world’s smallest, with all of a dozen rollers.

Garcia makes many brands for other companies; Don Pepin is one of his own, and his oldest—he began making it in 2003. The lancero is a new size for the line, introduced in May. The cigar is exquisitely crafted from a core of Nicaraguan tobacco and finished with a leaf from Ecuador. The cigar is ultra sweet from the first puff, tremendously rich and flavorful. Although his favorite size to smoke is a robusto, Garcia excels at the lancero format.

MADE BY: El Rey de los Habanos Inc.
WRAPPER: Ecuador
BINDER: Nicaragua
FILLER: Nicaragua
PRICE: $9.00
LENGTH: 7 1/2"

Large cigars have gone almost completely out of fashion. It’s not that their quality has diminished: they still deliver loads of flavor with a cool, refined character. The problem is that few people have the time to smoke such a large cigar as the Sir Winston—let alone such longer ones as double coronas. But aficionados who do opt for a large cigar usually puff on a Romeo y Julieta Churchill or a Cohiba Esplendido. Perhaps that’s why Cuba makes so few Sir Winstons, most of which are rolled in the new H. Upmann factory on the outskirts of Havana. Until the mid-1990s, the cigar came in a smart green lacquered box, but today it comes in a varnished cedar one with a clasp. The band, once the standard brown and white H. Upmann, is now gold, white and red.

Find some time if you are going to smoke this. It’s worth relaxing and contemplating what the Sir Winston has to offer. It’s so good to look at that you may not want to see it go up in smoke. The ones we smoked had beautiful silky, oily wrappers and excellent caps. The first puffs were immediately rich with leather and spice, then developed into woody, meaty undertones. This cigar has the richness and structure to age well. We think that Winston Churchill would have loved this cigar.

MADE BY: Habanos S.A.
PRICE: £21.00

This is the second time that Romeo y Julieta’s robusto has shown up in our Top 25, following its debut in Cuba’s annual cigar festival in March 2006. We said then that the Short Churchill was “destined to be another classic,” and we were right. It’s one of those “go to” Cuban cigars that never disappoint, and it’s incredibly popular in the global market at the moment. It’s proving more popular than the RyJ Churchill, which had been an icon cigar for decades from Cuba. Production at the H. Upmann factory—the newest export factory on the island—is finally up to capacity, and the cigar seems to be getting better and better, even richer to our taste than on release. It also comes in tubes, which makes it convenient to throw in your pocket if you are going out for the night. The cigar traditionally comes with an almost claro, or light-brown, wrapper, and its red, white and gold livery. The cigar delivers full-bodied flavor yet remains balanced and refined. Leather, cocoa bean and wood abound, and are punctuated with an almost citrus element.

MADE BY: Habanos S.A.
PRICE: £12.00
LENGTH: 4 7/8"