2013 Awards: halfwheel 25

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After over 250 cigars, the staff of halfwheel took more than 30 of the highest rated new cigars of 2013, smoked and ordered them individually. All four staff members smoked and ranked the eligible cigars for the halfwheel 25, which included any cigar that debuted in 2013 that had been rated by the site. The results are as follows.

1. DAVIDOFF OF GENEVA 25TH ANNIVERSARY

Davidoff_25th

The Davidoff Nicaragua got nearly all the praise, but this is the cigar that we found to be exemplary. It is exceedingly full-bodied, it is not that strong in nicotine and the flavor is still somewhat delicate, but it is absolutely incredible. There is a finesse in this cigar that seems to be only Davidoff and it’s one that stands out. This was the only cigar to garner multiple first place recommendations from the staff and that’s why it’s at the top of the list. — CM.

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  • Oettinger Davidoff AG
  • Factory: Cigars Davidoff (Dominican Republic)
  • Wrapper: Dominican Republic (Yamasa)
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Dominican Republic
  • Size: 5 x 56
  • MSRP: $22.00 (Boxes of 10, $220.00)
  • Score: 93 (September 17, 2013)

Limited to 3,000 boxes of 10 cigars.

2. QUESADA SELECCIÓN ESPAÑA LANCERO

Quesada_Espana_Lancero

If you spent your time complaining about the fact that there were only 600 cigars released, you likely did not try the España Lancero. Despite the micro release size, you also could have picked up the phone and called some of the 12 stores that received the cigar, because there was plenty of opportunity to purchase it. After six months in the humidor, the staff is split as to whether it’s the Corona or the Lancero, but its placing on this list speaks to what is unanimous, this is a good cigar. — CM.

  • Quesada Cigars
  • Factory: The Quesada Factory (Dominican Republic)
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Ariparaca
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
  • Size: 7 x 38
  • MSRP: $8.50 (Cabinets of 50, $425.00)
  • Score: 91 (November 4, 2012)

Limited to 12 boxes of 50 cigars.

3. CAIN FF LANCERO

StudioTobac_Cain_FF_Lancero
Historically STUDIO TOBAC has had great success with their limited edition and prototype lancero releases. Their latest lancero offering in the form of a Cain FF blend continues to amaze. Like the previous Cain F Lancero release, this cigar was released in the STUDIO TOBAC sampler box that was given away at events. One can hope that the company follows suit with the Cain FF Lancero in other ways too, as the Cain F Lancero was released the following year for purchase. The profile was an amazingly complex bouquet of notes that fit together perfectly while the excellent construction only added to my enjoyment. If these ever do get released, you can be assured I’ll be seeking them out immediately. — BB.
  • Oliva Cigar Co.
  • Factory: TABOLISA (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 7 x 38
  • MSRP: Not available for sale.
  • Score: 93 (July 4, 2013)

Event only.

4. TATUAJE BLACK LABEL CORONA GORDA 2013

Tatuaje_BlackLabel_CoronaGorda_2013

The original Black Label Corona Gorda has long since been relegated to mythical status among newer cigars smokers who never had the chance to try one of Pete Johnson’s most sought after cigars. The newest incarnation of the popular blend had quite a bit to live up to, and does so in spades, with the inclusion of not only the somewhat signature cinnamon note that the Black Label is known for, bit citrus, creamy leather, coffee, cocoa and an added harshness that actually adds to the complexity of the profile. Slightly less than ten thousand of the almost 200,000 cigars designated for the release made it to shelves due to delays with the jars they will come packaged in, but when the rest are available sometime this year, this will become a favorite cigar for quite a few. — BW.

  • Havana Cellars
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sun Grown Criollo Estelí
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 5/8 x 46
  • MSRP: $10.00 (Bundles/Jars of 19, $190.00)
  • Score: 92 (September 3, 2013)

Limited to 500 bundles and 10,000 jars of 19 cigars.

5. LIGA PRIVADA ÚNICO SERIE UF-13 DARK

LigaPrivada_UF13

What could be the most anticipated Liga Privada blend, the Liga Privada UF-13 Dark, was worth the wait. Earthy and strong, the UF-13 revels in its grittiness, yet also displays a complexity that at times threatens to overwhelm the palate. Flavors of leather, malted chocolate, peppery earth, creamy nuts and even Worcestershire dominate at different times, and the unique fan tail cap and excellent construction are just the icing on the cake. Easily one of the best of the cigars released this year, and for me personally, it stands alone on top of the Liga Privada pile. — BW.

  • Drew Estate
  • Factory: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Dark Mediums
  • Binder: Brazilian Mata Fina
  • Filler: Honduras & Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 1/2 x 52
  • MSRP: $13.95 (Boxes of 12, $167.40)
  • Score: 95 (February 1, 2013)

Limited regular production.

6. DREW ESTATE BOTL.org 2013

DrewEstate_BOTL_CG

Drew Estate has been hitting on all cylinders for me lately, and the BOTL.org 2013 release was no exception. It was apparently popular with a handful of other people as well with all 100 boxes made selling out very quickly. Sold by Tim Podwika, this was the second special BOTL.org release Drew Estate has done for him, though it was the fourth release with the BOTL.org name on the label. With a creamy profile consisting of milk chocolate, peppers, cinnamon, leather and coffee mixing together and a virtually razor sharp burn showing off impeccable construction, there isn’t a question as to why people scramble after this blend each time it’s released. — BB.

  • Drew Estate
  • Factory: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Binder: Ecuadorian Connecticut
  • Filler: Nicaraguan ASP Ligero & DE Jalapa Ligero
  • Size: 6 x 46
  • MSRP: $12.00 (Boxes of 15, $180.00)
  • Score: 93 (August 29, 2013)

Limited to 100 boxes of 15 cigars.

7. NICA RUSTICA

DrewEstate_NicaRustica

As mentioned under the Drew Estate BOTL.org 2013 write-up, Drew Estate has been making cigars lately that really fit my preferred profile. As soon as I lit up my first Nica Rustica I knew it was something special. At not only an amazing price point, the size, quality and flavor are all positive traits that make up a great cigar. I smoked through all the samples I got from the first run and wanted more. After some production delays they were released later than expected and there have been reports of some humidification problems with the tobacco. The Nica Rustica might have a little hiccup now, but I know what this blend’s potential is. Great cigars need great consistency, for now, Nica Rustica has some work to do. — BB.

  • Drew Estate
  • Factory: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Mediums
  • Binder: Mexican San Andrés Negro
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 6 x 52
  • MSRP: $6.95 (Boxes of 50, $347.50)
  • Score: 94 (July 15, 2013)

Regular production.

8. EL CENTURION 2013 ROBUSTO

MyFather_ElCenturion_Robusto

It’s hard to think the re-release of the El Centurion may have gotten overshadowed this year, but between the accolades My Father Cigars’ Flor de las Antillas received at the start of 2013 and the anticipation of the Don Pepín Garcia 10th Anniversary, the El Centurion’s re-emergence in May almost got lost in the shuffle. While it isn’t the same blend as the one that helped catapult García into the cigar stratosphere back in 2007, that doesn’t detract from what this cigar offers: balance, complexity and perfect construction, with a myriad of individual flavors including cinnamon, creamy oak, earth, dark chocolate and black pepper coming together to create one of the top offerings from My Father Cigars that just happens to be readily available on retailers’ shelves. As Brooks Whittington said in his review, “it is so well intertwined that it’s hard to pull out specific notes, almost creating a new individual flavor by way of the components it uses.” — PL.

  • My Father Cigars Inc.
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sun Grown Criollo ’98
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Criollo, Corojo Habano & Sancti Spiritus)
  • Size: 5 3/4 x 50
  • MSRP: $7.50 (Boxes of 20, $150.00)
  • Score: 91 (May 14, 2013)

Regular production.

9. ORTEGA THE FOX

Ortega_Fox

With many of our top cigars being lanceros, it’s not a surprise that there is another 38 ring gauge cigar on the list. With Eddie Ortega’s well-received new blends, it shouldn’t be any surprise either that another of his “lanceros” tops our charts. Originally a limited release for the Foxtoberfest event at Fox Cigar Bar, The Fox will be released as regular production exclusive at to the shop this year. This was one of my favorite cigars on our list with a profile that developed and kept me audibly going “wow” as I smoked it. I’m glad that these weren’t a one-and-done production as I’m very much looking forward to revisiting this cigar again soon. — BB.

  • Ortega Premium Cigars
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Oscuro (Estelí)
  • Binder: Nicaragua (Estelí)
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Estelí & Jalapa)
  • Size: 6 1/2 x 38
  • MSRP: $7.99 (Softpacks of 5, $34.99)
  • Score: 91 (November 7, 2013)

Limited to 200 soft packs of five cigars.

10. ILLUSIONE *R* ROTHCHILDES

Illusione_Rothchilde

By far the least expensive cigar on the list, but that’s not why it’s on here. Rothchildes is just good, good enough that you would be hard pressed to find a cigar the halfwheel staff smoked more of in 2013. (We’ve bought cabs, plural.) While we were not the largest fans of what Dion Giolito did at TABSA the year before, his first foray into the factory in 2013 produced a cigar that delivered big in flavor and body—and then there is of course the price. There was a reason you could not find this cigar for the first few months after it was released. — CM.

  • Illusione
  • Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 4 1/2 x 50
  • MSRP: $3.99 (Boxes of 50, $199.50)
  • Score: 92 (March 13, 2013)

Regular production.

11. ROOM101 NAMAKUBI ECUADOR H-TOWN

Room101_HTown

It’s no secret that the vitola of a cigar can play a tremendous role in determining its flavors, but sometimes that exact amount catches you off guard because of just how much better it makes it. When it was launched, the Room101 Namakubi Ecuador was described as being a fusion between two previous releases to create what the company called “an absolute flavor machine.” While the original sizes of the Room101 Namakubi Ecuador remain enjoyable, the lancero size of the H-Town brought the blend  to life and begged the question about why it wasn’t a full scale release. A tight, deep and complex profile that is full of transitions highlighted by notes of pepper, wood, earth and touches of thick syrupy sweetness make this a fantastic full-bodied cigar. — PL.

  • Oettinger Davidoff AG/Room101
  • Factory: AgroIndustrias Laepe, S.A. (Honduras)
  • Wrapper: Ecuador
  • Binder: Honduran Corojo
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Honduras
  • Size: 7 x 38
  • MSRP: $9.50 (Boxes of 20, $190.00)
  • Score: 92 (December 19, 2013)

Limited to 500 boxes of 20 cigars.

12. ROOM101 BIG DELICIOUS

Room101_BigDelish

There are probably a lot of people reading this list that have not tried this cigar, and that’s a shame. The Room101 Big Delicious actually finished as the higher rated Room101 product on all but one of the staff’s list, and for good reason. With a few months of rest, the Smoke Inn exclusive is delivering tons of complexity and smoothness, more so than most of Matt Booth’s releases. For those that have understood Room101’s premium tobacco offerings, this very well might be the thing to change your mind. — CM.

  • Oettinger Davidoff AG/Room101
  • Factory: AgroIndustrias Laepe, S.A. (Honduras)
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano 200
  • Binder: Honduran Corojo Seco
  • Filler: Brazil, Dominican Piloto Ligero, Honduran Corojo & Nicaragua
  • Size: 6 1/4 x 54 x 42
  • MSRP: $8.95 (Boxes of 15, $134.25)
  • Score: 91 (April 3, 2013)

Limited to 750 boxes of 15 cigars.

13. FAUSTO UP DOWN 10/50

Tatuaje_Fausto_1050
The Fausto Up Down 10/50 however was exactly what my tastebuds wanted. With a smaller ring gauge, the delicious Ecuadorian habano maduro wrapper shines on this blend. Initially, Pete Johnson was uncertain of producing anything from the Fausto line in a smaller ring gauge because of construction quality concerns. With the buncheros having made the Fausto line for a while now, Johnson’s qualms about smaller ring gauges were alleviated and rightfully so. Though the initial release of the 10/50 seemed to be a little over humidified, a sample I smoked just recently showed off excellent construction and a delectable profile. — BB.

 

  • Havana Cellars
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Maduro
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 6 3/8 x 43
  • MSRP: $10.50 (Boxes of 20, $210.00)
  • Score: 91 (November 6, 2013)

Limited to 200 boxes of 20 cigars.

14. ILLUSIONE CRUZADO MARELAS SUPREMAS

Illusione_Cruzado_MarelasSupremeas

The seventh vitola in the Cruzado line is quite possibly the most flavorful and is easily the most interesting to look at. Sporting a cap similar to that of the Partagás 109 – the first of any Illusione release to do so –  as well as being partially covered in gold foil, the Marelas Supremas is visually stunning and a flavor bomb as well. At times creamy and nutty, along with flavors of dry tea leaves, earth and wonderful dark chocolate, the newest Cruzado wears its balanced profile like a medal, and is one of the better constructed cigars I smoked last year. — BW.

  • Illusione
  • Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. (Honduras)
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Criollo Rosado
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 6 1/2 x 52
  • MSRP: $9.50 (Boxes of 20, $190.00)
  • Score: 91 (July 26, 2013)

Regular production.

15. MY FATHER SPECIAL F

MyFather_SpecialF

While 2013 may have been the year of the Flor de las Antillas store exclusives sizes, it was a store exclusive based off an event-only cigar that really caught our attention this year. Based on the event-only My Father S Special, the Federal Cigar My Father Special F was released in a small batch of just 3,000 cigars and little was said about the blend’s components. While it shares the standard My Father band, the cigar delivers complexity above the standard level found in its fellow brandmates, offering well refined notes of wood, pepper and earth to create a smoking experience that I described as “part bakery, part lumberyard, part tobacco barn.” — PL.

  • My Father Cigars Inc.
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: n/a
  • Binder: n/a
  • Filler: n/a
  • Size: 5 1/2 x 46
  • MSRP: $9.00 (Boxes of 15, $134.99)
  • Score: 92 (June 21, 2013)

Limited to 200 boxes of 15 cigars.

16. INTEMPERANCE BA XXI A.W.S. IV

RoMoCraft_Intemperance_BA_AWS
With the AWS IV’s little brother, The Intrigue, taking the sixth spot in last year’s list, I wasn’t surprised at how enjoyable the AWS IV was. The Intemperance blend with a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper works and it works well. Sweet and creamy, the multifaceted profile is full of flavors that develop and dance throughout the cigar. If RoMa Craft Tobac continues to pump out the quality of cigars they have been in the last couple years, it might not be too long until they have to once again move to a larger factory. — BB.
  • RoMa Craft Tobac
  • Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos NicaSueño S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Brazil Arapiraca
  • Binder: Indonesia
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
  • Size: 6 1/2 x 44
  • MSRP: $6.50 (Boxes of 12, $78.00)
  • Score: 92 (March 5, 2013)

17. RAICES CUBANAS 1941 ROBUSTO

RaicesCubanas

Released fairly quietly in the Alec Bradley booth at the IPCPR Convention and Trade Show, the Raíces Cubanas 1941 came with a billing of being the culmination of the greatest hits the factory had put out. For a factory that has a fairly extensive list of loved cigars that run the flavor gamut, that may have been the biggest promise made on the trade show floor, but somehow the cigar delivered. It wastes no time jumping headfirst into a peppery and creamy smoke that begins a quick journey in strength and flavor that leaves you thinking you’ve smoked three different cigars in the course of a single robusto. This cigar is a real testament to the capabilities of the Raíces Cubanas factory and a phenomenal cigar that largely flew under the radar in 2013. — PL.

  • Alec Bradley
  • Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. (Honduras)
  • Wrapper: Honduras
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Honduras & Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 1/4 x 52
  • MSRP: $8.95 (Boxes of 20, $179.00)
  • Score: 92 (July 27, 2013)

Regular production.

18. DON PEPIN GARCIA 10TH ANNIVERSARY

DPG_10thAnniversary
Heading into 2013, there seemed to be a collective wondering of what the Garcías would have in store for the 10th anniversary of El Rey de los Habanos/My Father Cigars. The return of El Centurion was certainly a pleasant surprise, but the headlining release was this cigar. The blend was said to be closely associated with the blue-labeled Don Pepín Garica Original but with the addition of pelo de oro to the filler and an Ecuadorian habano wrapper replacing the Nicaraguan corojo leaf. The result was a cigar that commanded your attention in order to capture its subtle and graceful flavor transitions that abandoned Pepín’s signature big hits of pepper in favor of finesse.  — PL.
  • My Father Cigars Inc.
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano 2009
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 6 1/2 x 52
  • MSRP: $22.00 (Boxes of 14, $308.00)
  • Score: 93 (September 27, 2013)

Limited to 2,500 boxes of 14 cigars.

19. TATUAJE NOELLA RESERVA 2013

Tatuaje_Noella_Reserva_2013

While it looks quite similar to the original, the newer version of the Noella Reserva tastes different, definitively another entry into the Havana Cellars broadleaf library. Fortunately, like many before it, it’s a good one. Not as concentrated as the Petite Cazadores Reserva, but still a complex offering in a great size and one that while limited, sat around for much of 2013. Hopefully, we will see more in 2014. — CM.

  • Havana Cellars
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 1/8 x 42
  • MSRP: $8.00 (Boxes of 25, $200.00)
  • Score: 91 (October 21, 2013)

Limited to 2,500 boxes of 25 cigars.

20. EL MAYIMBE TORO

Mayimbe

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the year out of all of the cigars on this year’s list. Abdel “A.J.” Fernandez’s newest creation uses a Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper that gives it an extremely unique profile that is hard to ignore. Red pepper, creamy nuts, sweet floral and fragrant leather combine with just the right amount of strength to really push it over the top, both in terms of complexity and nuance. Full of flavor, yet with all of the pieces balanced nicely together, the El Mayimbe will surprise a lot of people who take a chance on it. — BW.

  • A.J. Fernandez Cigars
  • Factory: Tabacalera Fernandez S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Pennsylvania Broadleaf
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Honduras, Nicaragua & AJF Privativo
  • Size:  6 x 56
  • MSRP: $14.60 (Boxes of 10, $146.00)
  • Score: 91 (August 3, 2013)

Limited to 2,500 boxes of 10 cigars.

21. CAIN F543

Cain_F_543

While the Cain brand has built their core around larger ring gauge cigars, it seems that it’s the smaller ring gauges that tend to show the blend best, at least in the opinions of the halfwheel staff. While the Cain F543, an event only cigar, didn’t quite rise to the level of the near-legendary Cain F Lancero, it certainly rose to a solid #2, though it’s incredibly limited availability doesn’t mean most fans will have access to it. Less than 2,000 cigars were made and given away as raffle prizes at STUDIO TOBAC World Tour events. Big notes of pepper and spice start the cigar before it evolves into a ligero-driven yet well-balanced smoke with notes of meat and black cherry combining for a cigar that deserves a much wider release than it was given. — PL.

  • Oliva Cigar Co.
  • Factory: TABOLISA (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 x 43
  • MSRP: Not available for sale.
  • Score: 91 (October 13, 2013)

Limited to 80 boxes of 24 cigars.

22. TATUAJE MISSION PIPE SHOP CQ1

Tatuaje_CQ1
While it wasn’t part of Tatuaje’s 10th anniversary releases, Pete Johnson started off 2013 with a bang thanks to this store exclusive made for Mission Pipe Shop in San Jose, Calif. Highlighted by an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, the cigar begins with notes of sweet milk chocolate, leather, espresso that come together to form a sweet profile in the first half. Notes of cinnamon come in and begin a transition to a spicier second half led by pepper, leather and wood notes, with one reviewer describing the end product as a “sublime smoking experience” with the notes “playing perfectly off each other.” Flawless construction and a clean, creamy smoke helped this cigar earn points from three of the four panelists and made fans of the customers who had placed orders for it four months prior to its release.  — PL.

 

  • Havana Cellars
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 3/4 x 52
  • MSRP: $10.00 (Boxes of 10, $100.00)
  • Score: 91 (April 30, 2013)

Limited to 500 boxes of 10 cigars.

23. ORTEGA SERIE D MADURO #9

Ortega_D_Madruo_Lancero
While the Serie D Maduro earned plenty of accolades, the Serie D Maduro #9 stepped it up a notch. The Mexican San Andrés wrapper in this size took the blend from good to great and is one of my more favorite lanceros released in 2013. With an earthy profile consisting of sweet cocoa, coffee, and a meaty pepper, it was good to hear when I reviewed it that these were going into regular production. — BB.
  • Ortega Premium Cigars
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés Maduro
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 6 1/2 x 38
  • MSRP: $8.25 (Boxes of 10, $82.50)
  • Score: 91 (February 17, 2013)

Regular production.

24. DREW ESTATE BOTL.org 2013 CORONA

DrewEstate_BOTL_Corona

After the Drew Estate BOTL.org 2013 came and went in a matter of hours, this Corona version was released a few months later with production increased from 1,500 to 5,000 cigars. A blend that uses a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper rumored to be the same as that on the Feral Flying Pig, as well as the much sought after ASP ligero in the filler, this cigar produces big flavors from start to finish, starting with notes of chalk and earth that evolves into meaty notes that are complimented surprisingly well by a touch of sweetness before a bit of pepper closes out the cigar. While it’s loaded with a steady stream of delicious flavors, it excels by maintaining balance and complexity as well as solid construction and is another feather in the cap of the Drew Estate and BOTL.org teams. — PL.

  • Drew Estate
  • Factory: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Binder: Ecuadorian Connecticut
  • Filler: Nicaraguan ASP Ligero & DE Jalapa Ligero
  • Size: 5 1/4 x 42
  • MSRP: $10.00 (Boxes of 15, $149.95)
  • Score: 94 (November 10, 2013)

Limited to 300 boxes of 15 cigars.

25. ZINO PLATINUM MAKE OF LOS ANGELES COLLECTOR’S EDITION

ZinoPlatnum_MakeofNY copy

The Make of L.A. was smooth. While the packaging was eccentric and flashy, the cigar was anything but. This is an ideal candidate for those wanting some of the better Davidoff flavors with more of the strength. Of course, the price also looks very Davidoff-like, but the cigar is very much worth it. — CM.

  • Oettinger Davidoff AG
  • Factory: O.K. Cigars (Dominican Republic)
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habana
  • Binder: Dominican Republic (Yamasá)
  • Filler: Dominican Republic (San Vincente MejoradoVisus, Piloto Visus, Olor/Piloto Visus, San Vicente Mejorado Visus & San Vicente Mejorado Seco)
  • Size: 6 x 54
  • MSRP: $18.00 (Boxes of 10, $180.00)
  • Score: 91 (December 25, 2013)

Limited to 3,000 boxes of 10 cigars.

Davidoff’s to Lose

That’s at least one way to describe 2013. By-in-large, the quality of cigars definitely improved this past year, but it seems the competition amongst the very best was not as strong in year’s past. Davidoff (almost) swept halfwheel’s awards because it had a very good, perhaps great, year when everyone else failed to shine on a similar stage. It’s hard to find another company that has been around for more than five years and argue that 2013 was a banner year. Davidoff spent the money, took the risks, did the work and made better cigars than what they were making in 2012. It is a giant corporation within the industry and this year it proved to be just as competitive in the cigar making category with many of smaller companies normally garnering the praise.

Cuba

We did not plot a very good strategy to reviewing new Cuban cigars and as such, none made it onto our top 25. It’s an obvious flaw, one we realized later in the year, but decided against artificially fixing in regards to the list. We reviewed 24 cigars from Cuba last year averaging 87.74 points, nearly identical to the average of the site itself. There will be significantly more reviews of new Cuban cigars in 2014, which will likely mean a lot of complaining about the prices of Edición Regionals.

Viaje’s Shrinking Frequency

Despite what many commenters might think, we reviewed a lot less Viaje in 2013 (20 reviews) than in 2012 (34 reviews). A lot of it has to do with the changing nature of Viaje as a company and our belief that reviewing the same vitolas annually was not in the spirit of the site’s reviewing mantra. Still, the amount of Viajes we review compared to the company’s increasing annual production is probably at the extremes.

Dominican 1, 2

If you had told anyone of us that our top two cigars would both be from the Dominican Republic, we likely would have looked at you funny and we definitely would not have guessed these two. It’s not that the Dominican Republic is making inferior cigars, but given that there were only three cigars from the Dominican Republic on the list, it’s hard to imagine the country taking the top two places. The remainder of the top 10 was all from Nicaragua, which is less than shocking.

Small Ring Gauge Success

This site has never been shy about its general inclination towards smaller ring gauges, 10 of the 25 cigars on the list were 44 ring gauge or thinner. That being said, the top cigar was also the thickest on the list.

Other Stats

We reviewed 267 cigars last year, 174 saw their debut in 2013, 29 were eligible for the halfwheel 25, plus two cigars that were reviewed in 2012. The average scores were virtually identical, 86.83 for new cigars and 86.88 overall. Nicaragua continued to score the highest, with an average score of 87.73. We reviewed five cigars from Drew Estate this past year averaging 92.2 points, the highest of any company. That being said, My Father Cigars S.A. had nine cigars in our top 25, compared to just four from Drew Estate.

Images: Brooks Whittington, halfwheel.com Please don’t steal them.

0 Overall Score

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Charlie Minato
About the author

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.

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