2014 Awards: halfwheel 25

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Statistically, this past year was fascinating as far as the quality of cigars in relation to this site’s ratings.

The staff is pretty much in agreement: new cigars, on average, were better in 2014 than they had been the last few years. Yet, despite reviewing over 40 additional new cigars than we did in 2013, fewer cigars scored 91 or above than the year before. The staff is also in agreement that there are clear gaps–perhaps larger than year’s past–between the quality of cigars, particularly on the top end of the ratings spectrum.

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Each one of us smoked nearly 30 new cigars that scored 91 or above in 2014. We then ranked the cigars from first to last, awarding 25 points to the cigar ranked first on our list, a single point to the cigar in 25th place and no points for any cigars scoring below that. The scores were then tabulated, and alas, the 2014 edition of the halfwheel 25.

1. DAVIDOFF ORO BLANCO

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The Davidoff Oro Blanco is a lot of things, but when you ignore the price (it’s $500), the packaging (finished fifth on that list) or the fact it’s nearly impossible to get (probably less than 300 cigars have been shipped to U.S. retailers)—we believe it’s an excellent cigar.

By no means was it unanimous, but it was the only cigar to finish in the top three on more than two staff member’s lists. As such, it takes home the award for being the best cigar of 2014 according to this website, the second year in a row a Davidoff has won. — Charlie Minato.

  • Davidoff of Geneva
  • Factory: Cigars Davidoff (Dominican Republic)
  • Wrapper: Dominican Republic
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Dominican Republic
  • Size: 6 x 54
  • MSRP: $500 (Boxes of 10, $5,000)
  • Original Score: 94 (Dec. 31, 2014)

Limited production.

2. ILLUSIONE SINGULARÉ 2014 ANUNNAKI

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Since 2010, Dion Giolito has created an annual limited production that begins with him scouring bales of tobacco along with the farmers each year and picking a particular leaf component to blend around. For 2014’s version, dubbed Anunnaki, Giolito crafted a 5 1/4 x 54 double robusto, that showcases tobaccos from the Chilamate farm in Nicaragua’s Jalapa growing region. The wrapper is the same Nicaraguan corojo 99 used on the company’s Epernay line, with Jalapa criollo 98 and Estelí corojo 99 binders. The result was a cigar that showed blending brilliance at points, beginning mild with hay, nuttiness and coffee, with gingerbread, cream, wheat, floral notes and touches of pepper added along the way. This year’s Singularé has been held in deserving comparison to the Phantom, the line’s debut and a cigar often suggested as being Giolito’s best work. While the Anunnaki’s place on the list of Illusione’s greatest releases could be debated, one thing that isn’t is just how fantastic this cigar is. — Patrick Lagreid.

  • Illusione
  • Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo 99
  • Binder: Nicaragua Jalapa Criollo 98 & Estelí Corojo 99
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 1/2 x 54
  • MSRP: $13 (Boxes of 15, $195)
  • Original Score: 92 (Nov. 25, 2014)

Limited to 2,000 boxes of 15 cigars.

3. TATUAJE TAA 2014

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For the fourth year in a row Pete Johnson has released a TAA cigar, and for the fourth year in a row it was solid cigar that was well received. With many of the characteristics that we’ve come to expect and enjoy from a Tatuaje with Connecticut broadleaf, the cigar has a fantastic profile that meshes well together. While it’s strong, the TAA 2014 is smooth and enjoyable without slapping you in the face with black pepper and nicotine for an hour and a half. As far as the construction goes it’s consistent and great, allowing the profile to shine without getting in its way. Great construction, a nuanced profile, and the consistency with which each sample provides these characteristics are what pushes the Tatuaje TAA 2014 to the third spot on our list. — Brian Burt.

  • Tatuaje/Havana Cellars, Inc.
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 6 x 52
  • MSRP: $11 (Boxes of 20, $220)
  • Original Score: 93 (Oct. 17, 2014)

Limited to 2,800 boxes of 20 cigars.

4. LAS CALAVERAS EDICIÓN LIMITADA 2014 LC550

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This past year was a big one for Crowned Heads with a new regular production line in Jericho Hill and seven different limited editions, six of which were produced at My Father S.A. in Esteli, Nicaragua.
Released in May, Las Calaveras was the first cigar the Nashville-based company had made at My Father. It’s slated to be released each year with the blend changing annually. As for the debut release, it was an Ecuadorian habano oscuro wrapper and Nicaraguan tobacco for the filler and binder.
With unique flavors of crispy chicken skin, burnt butter, Chartreuse and cola syrup in its profile, along with excellent construction, it is easy to see why the Las Calaveras was included in our list this year. — Brooks Whittington.

  • Crowned Heads
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 x 50
  • MSRP: $8.95 (Boxes of 24, $214.80)
  • Original Score: 94 (May 27, 2014)

Limited to 1,000 boxes of 24 cigars.

5. QUESADA 40TH ANNIVERSARY CORONA CLASICA

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The Quesada family celebrated its 40th anniversary with a new line of cigars, a quintet that featured three regular production sizes and a pair of limited productions. While those had their merits, it was the sixth cigar in the collection, one blended by Manuel “Manolo” Quesada himself, that was the real standout of the group. Visually different from the rest of the line due to its Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper that replaces the Mexican San Andrés of the original, it’s also the most limited of the bunch. It was only available at events that he attends, where it’s distributed in the form of five-packs. After that, the retailer who hosted the event has the opportunity to purchase the cigar in 50-count cabinets. It’s a complex and intriguing blend that as Charlie Minato noted, does something not found in the rest of Quesada’s offerings: it’s a medium-full cigar that can capture the finesse of some its lighter blends, displaying the more subtle and delicate notes while still packing a fair amount of body and nicotine. — PL.

  • Quesada Cigars
  • Factory: Quesada Cigars (Dominican Republic)
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Dominican Republic
  • Size: 6 1/2 x 46
  • MSRP: $9.25 (Boxes of 50, $462.50)
  • Original Score: 92 (Aug. 26, 2014)

Limited production.

6. ILLUSIONE FUME D’AMOUR LAGUNAS

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For his first new line in three years, Dion Giolito went away from ligero altogether, using only Nicaraguan viso and seco for the filler and then covering it with a Nicaraguan binder and wrapper to create a cigar that Charlie Minato said was “one of the more complex cigars I’ve smoked from Illusione in recent memory.” Notes of wood, nuts and cocoa start the cigar off before being peppermint, hickory, burnt butter sweetness and coffee all come in through the second half, with the cigar offering strength just north of medium and full body and flavor. This was a fitting addition to Illusione’s portfolio and with a name that translates as smoke of love, earns its name with generous flavor and complexity from start to finish, capped off by near flawless construction. While it narrowly missed being the second Illusione in the top five, it’s the first regular production release to make our list.— PL.

  • Illusione
  • Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 4 1/2 x 42
  • MSRP: $6.50 (Boxes of 50, $325)
  • Original Score: 91 (Aug. 28, 2014)

Regular production.

7. DAVIDOFF ART EDITION 2014

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Stunning looks and excellent flavors combine to make the Davidoff Art Edition 2014 one of the best cigars released this year. While the worthy cause the release represents is noteworthy, the actual cigar easily holds its own, featuring excellent construction from beginning to end as well as a profile that includes rich nuts, creamy leather, cinnamon, milk chocolate and lemongrass. — BW.

  • Davidoff of Geneva
  • Factory: Cigars Davidoff (Dominican Republic)
  • Wrapper: Dominican Republic
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Dominican Republic
  • Size: 5 15/16 x 54
  • MSRP: $35 (Boxes of 10, $350)
  • Original Score: 94 (June 19, 2014)

Limited to 6,000 boxes of 10 cigars.

8. QUESADA SELECCIÓN ESPAÑA NINFA

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In 2013, Quesada hit upon the idea of offering a box of 50 España cigars in a lancero vitola to a different retailer every month. In 2014, the company did the same thing, but this time the vitola was a 7 x 33 ninfa. Once again, it finds it way into our top 10.

Profile-wise, the Quesada Selección España Ninfa features an intense combination of maple and vanilla sweetness throughout the entire cigar, as well as dominant flavors of creamy nuts, milk chocolate, coffee, citrus and just enough white pepper on the retrohale to keep things interesting. The burn is razor sharp throughout, and while the draw is oftentimes tight, it is never so bad as to negatively impact the profile. — BW.

  • Quesada Cigars
  • Factory: Quesada Cigars (Dominican Republic)
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Ariparaca
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
  • Size: 7 x 33
  • MSRP: $12.95 (Cabinets of 50, $647.50)
  • Original Score: 94 (Jan. 19, 2014)

Limited to 12 boxes of 50 cigars.

9. HERRERA ESTELI LANCERO

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In April, Drew Estate released a sixth vitola in the Herrera Esteli line, a 7 x 38 Lancero. Although the band and boxes say “Limited Edition,” the cigar is actually just limited in production with only one pair at the factory working on it. The profile of the cigar includes flavors of burnt clove, coffee, citrus, oak and floral notes, along with some butterscotch sweetness. It was a fairly obvious addition to the line and one that lived up to our hopes and expectations. — BW.

  • Drew Estate
  • Factory: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
  • Binder: Honduras
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 7 x 38
  • MSRP: $12 (Boxes of 10, $120)
  • Original Score: 92 (April 17, 2014)

Limited production.

10. LA COLMENA UNICO ESPECIAL

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Warped Cigars didn’t just jump back into the cigar business with both feet, but with a vigorous and flamboyant high kick straight out of a Jackie Chan movie. Among the beautiful accessories and great new regular releases was tucked a limited release in its La Colmena line called the Unico Especial. Every detail of the release was fantastic, from the packaging—which placed sixth in our packaging awards—to the great size and the smooth, beautiful wrapper. The cigar doesn’t stop impressing there, which continues with an amazing profile as soon as you light it up. There were some minor burn issues, but the flavors and balance to the rest of the cigar make it so you barely notice them. Regardless of whether or not you think Warped should qualify for “new company of the year”—making it in the top 10 is notable. — BB.

  • Warped Cigars
  • Factory: El Titan de Bronze (U.S.A.)
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian DesFlorada
  • Binder: Ecuador
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 x 48
  • MSRP: $15 (Boxes of 10, $150)
  • Original Score: 91 (Nov. 13, 2014)

Limited to 1,000 boxes of 10 cigars.

11. LA PALINA GOLDIE LAGUITO ESPECIAL

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Neither La Palina’s Goldie, nor the lancero format are strangers to our annual lists, so it should come AS no surprise to see this cigar here. What’s interesting about the La Palina Goldie Laguito Especial is that it seems to be noticeably different from the first two releases in the series, different enough that the staff’s long-time Goldie supporters seem less thrilled about the release than people like me, those that weren’t the largest cheerleaders of the first two releases. Regardless, the cigar performed well finishing inside two reviewer’s top 10 listS. — CM.

  • La Palina
  • Factory: El Titan de Bronze (U.S.A.)
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
  • Binder: Ecuador
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
  • Size: 7 x 40
  • MSRP: $16.50 (Boxes of 10, $165)
  • Original Score: 91 (May 30, 2014)

Limited to 2,500 boxes of 10 cigars.

12. HEADLEY GRANGE SNAREDRUM

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There were many impressive releases from Crowned Heads this year, placing them squarely in the company of the year slot for 2014. One of those great releases was the second limited edition in the Headley Grange line called the Snaredrum. The Headley Grange blend was already fantastic, based on Jon Huber’s idea to make a cigar that tasted like the drum intro sounds in “When the Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin, so when they blended it down to a 38 ring gauge the flavors were amplified in the Drumstick release, and again in the Snaredrum release. The Snaredrum’s burn was fantastic and the profile shined in the small ring gauge. These are still showing as available for purchase, which is good news for everybody who still wants to pick these up. Though the price point is only slightly cheaper than the one and a half inch longer Drumstick, it’s still a fantastic deal for a great cigar in a great size. — BB.

  • Crowned Heads
  • Factory: Tabacalera La Alianza S.A. (Dominican Republic)
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 6 x 38
  • MSRP: $9.25 (Boxes of 10, $92.50)
  • Original Score: 91 (Sept. 30, 2014)

Limited to 300 boxes of 10 cigars.

13. STANDARD ISSUE ROBUSTO

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The new brand from Rob Weiss was one of two lines to debut from Camacho’s Agroindustria LAEPE S.A. that were Nicaraguan puros this past year, the first time the Honduran factory has acknowledged its rolled all Nicaraguan cigars. It was an impressive debut and one of the more complex offerings in the larger Camacho family with a sweet citrus note that many Nicaraguan cigars showed off this past year. — CM.

 

  • B.G. Meyer Co./Davidoff of Geneva
  • Factory: Agroindustria LAEPE S.A. (Honduras)
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
  • Binder: Nicaragua (Estelí)
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Estelí, Jalapa & Ometepe)
  • Size: 5 x 50
  • MSRP: $8 (Boxes of 20, $160)
  • Original Score: 92 (July 3, 2014)

Regular Production.

14. L’ATELIER EXTENSION DE LA RACINE ER14

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Since 2013, L’Atelier Imports has been offering the Extension de la Racine, a limited edition cigar to reward those retailers who come to the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show. This year’s edition, a 6 1/8 x 52 torpedo, delivered on just what anyone buying the cigar would hope to get: a great, complex stick that not everyone else is going to have. The Racine ER14 starts smooth and creamy before working in distinct notes of sweet wood, chalk and earth in the first two thirds and then blending them all together in a complex final third that leaves the senses fully satisfied from the journey of flavors and aromas that the cigar has provided. As I said in my review, the palate-pleasing twists and turns of this cigar will reward a fresh palate and attentive mind in spades. — PL.

  • L’Atelier Imports.
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sun Grown Criollo
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 6 1/8 x 52
  • MSRP: $9.50 (Boxes of 20, $190)
  • Original Score: 91 (Nov. 12, 2014)

Limited to 1,350 boxes of cigars.

15. ROOM101 MASTER COLLECTION TWO MUTANTE

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As I’ve often stated on halfwheel, the lancero size holds a special place in my heart, and another thing that held a special place in my heart this year was the Room101 Master Collection Two Mutante . This was the fourth lancero from Room101 and the second Master Collection lancero. From the fascinating and delicious cold draw all the way to the last bit of nub that I smoked it down to, the Master Collection Two Mutante was an impressive cigar. The construction and burn were ideal – something more difficult to do with the lancero size – which allowed for the plethora of flavors to shine as the developed and danced throughout the entire cigar. In the end it put itself up there as one of my favorite Room101 cigars and certainly deserves a spot on the list. — BB.

  • Room101/Davidoff of Geneva
  • Factory: Agroindustria LAEPE S.A. (Honduras)
  • Wrapper: (Undisclosed) Criollo
  • Binder: Honduras
  • Filler: Honduras & Nicaragua
  • Size: 7 x 38
  • MSRP: $10 (Boxes of 20, $200)
  • Original Score: 92 (April 12, 2014)

Limited to 1,000 boxes of 20 cigars.

16. HERRERA ESTELI NORTEÑO ROBUSTO GRANDE

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Even before his first cigar, the Herrera Esteli was released, Willy Herrera was already working on and teasing his second cigar, the Herrera Esteli Norteño. Herrera went north of Nicaragua for the wrapper, picking a Mexican San Andrés cover leaf while using a Honduran binder and Nicaraguan fillers from Estelí and Jalapa. In a year that was marked by many good cigars using San Andrés tobacco, the Herrera Esteli Norteño was one of the standouts, delivering plenty of earth and pepper to showcase the leaf’s signature notes while giving the blend plenty of space to breathe and shine, offering sweetness in the second third before closing the cigar out with more Mexican terroir. Herrera chose a soft box-press for the cigar and packaged them in ten-count boxes that had subtle stylings such as curved corners and cigar slots that both nod to the cigar’s shape. The end result was a fitting follow-up to the still highly regarded Herrera Estelí that gives customers a pair of great choices from which to pick. — PL.

  • Drew Estate
  • Factory: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
  • Binder: Honduras
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 1/2 x 54
  • MSRP: $12 (Boxes of 10, $120)
  • Original Score: 92 (July 27, 2014)

Regular production.

17. VIAJE EXCLUSIVO LEADED

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I first saw this cigar in Tucson, Ariz. late in December 2013 when I met up with Andre Farkas at a event for the Viaje Christmas Tree. Just two months later it got its official release and gave fans of the Exclusivo blend a stronger version of the company’s signature blend by using medio tiempo tobacco, leaves found on some plants above the ligero priming and renown for their strength. Even with the added strength, Farkas and the team at Raíces Cubanas managed to keep the cigar very well balanced and progressive, starting in the medium and ending as a full strength stick, showing that you can add strength without throwing a blend out of whack. For those days when you feel like the balance and complexity of a Viaje Exclusivo but want a bit more oomph in the final product, the Exclusivo Leaded is the perfect choice. — PL.

  • Viaje
  • Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. (Honduras)
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 x 52
  • MSRP: $9.44 (Boxes of 25, $236)
  • Original Score: 92 (March 14, 2014)

Limited to 500 boxes of 25 cigars.

18. VIAJE STUFFED TURKEY WHITE MEAT (2014)

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It was a big year for the Viaje Stuffed Turkey, and not just because it made the halfwheel TOP 25 list. The line graduated from the Viaje White Label Project (WLP) program into a fully certified regular release, complete with its own bands and boxes. This may have been the ideal year for the Stuffed Turkey to celebrate as it earned its highest score to date and earned points from all four voters. As I said in my review, it’s hard to find much to dislike about the cigar, as it offered a steady development of flavors that starts off sweet and tangy before turning earthy in the final third while showing the importance of how a few retrohales can greatly enhance the experience of a cigar. Among the voters, it stood out in terms of flavor, balance and technical performance. While the bands may be a bit divisive, the Viaje Stuffed Turkey White Meat was otherwise a uniter this year.  — PL.
  • Viaje
  • Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. (Honduras)
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Criollo
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 x 58
  • MSRP: $10 (Boxes of 25, $250)
  • Original Score: 91 (Dec. 19, 2014)

Limited edition.

19. LA FLOR DOMINICANA 1994 MAMBO

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La Flor Dominicana’s 1994 line is a celebration of Litto and Ines-Lorenzo Gomez’s 20 years in the cigar business, and what a great celebration it is. With four regular production sizes and one limited edition size released in a beer stein for packaging, it’s a great release with lots of thought and effort put into it. The Mambo is an impressively large cigar without being too large, priced right and has great construction and flavor. Usually a seven inch cigar can start to get boring if the flavors don’t develop, change and keep themselves intriguing, but that’s exactly what the LFD 1994 Mambo does. From the beginning all the way to the end you get a deep profile with ever changing notes that keeps your palate engaged and entertained. If you’re going to celebrate 20 years in the cigar business, doing it with a flavorful, complex and interesting cigar like this is a good way to do it. — BB.

  • La Flor Dominicana
  • Factory: Tabacalera La Flor S.A. (Dominican Republic)
  • Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Dominican Republic
  • Size: 7 x 54
  • MSRP: $8.20 (Boxes of 20, $164)
  • Original Score: 94 (Aug. 10, 2014)

Regular production.

20. CABAIGUAN CELEBRANDO 25 AÑOS

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In June, Pete Johnson gave his fans another single store limited edition, a Cabaiguan 6 3/8 x 43 lonsdale made exclusively for Leesburg Cigar and Pipe based in Leesburg, Va.

The Cabaiguan Celebrando 25 Años exhibits flavors of creamy peanuts, hay, leather, espresso and a surprising amount of pepper on the retrohale. Interspersed throughout the cigar experience is a sweetness that morphs from vanilla bean to honey that brings the rest of the flavors in the profile together. Throw in excellent construction and a great vitola, and you have another winner from Tatuaje. — BW.

  • Tatuaje/Havana Cellars, Inc.
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size:  6 3/8 x 43
  • MSRP: $8.75 (Boxes of 20, $175)
  • Original Score: 91 (June 14, 2014)

Limited to 100 boxes of 20 cigars.

21. CASA MAGNA DOMUS MAGNUS II CALIGULA

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It’s the largest cigar on our list and probably the weirdest shape to boot. The 6 x 60 Caligula vitola features some surprising strength, along with flavors of almonds, cedar, sweet chocolate, grass and a toastiness that is hard to deny. The obvious complexity to the profile along with excellent construction makes it an easy choice for the top 25 this year. — BW.

  • Quesada Cigars
  • Factory: Plasencia Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua Sun Grown
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 6 x 60
  • MSRP: $10.95 (Boxes of 10, $109.50)
  • Original Score: 91 (March 19, 2014)

Regular production.

22. OLIVA FEDERAL CIGAR 93RD ANNIVERSARY RESERVE NO. 2

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Rick Gadway’s Federal Cigar is arguably the shop when it comes to single store releases and many of them, including releases from E.P. Carrillo, My Father and Tatuaje have graced lists previously, but Oliva is not really a company that comes to mind for single store releases.So how did a bundle cigar make this list?It starts with being a prototype Master Blend release that’s been aging for a while. We found plenty of rich and smooth flavors left, enough to leave us asking when Master Blends IV will arrive. — CM.

 

  • Oliva
  • Factory: Tabacalera Oliva de Nicaragua S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sun Grown
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 6 x 52
  • MSRP: $14 (Bundles of 10, $140)
  • Original Score: 91 (March 15, 2014)

Limited to 200 bundles of 10 cigars.

23. JOYA RED ROBUSTO

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After years of being known as a company that produces stronger cigars, Joya de Nicaragua introduced the decidedly medium-bodied JOYA Red into its portfolio this year.Along with falling firmly in the medium range strength-wise, the JOYA Red is nicely balanced as well as extremely well constructed. Flavors of sweet leather, earth, creamy nuts and citrus combine nicely with a plum-like sweetness to produce a stellar example of full-flavored cigar. Kudos to Joya, this the most affordable cigar to make our list. — BW.
  • Joya de Nicaragua
  • Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 1/4 x 50
  • MSRP: $5.75 (Boxes of 20, $115)
  • Original Score: 91 (July 27, 2014)

Regular production.

24. INTEMPERANCE EC XVIII HUMILITY

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For the third consecutive year, an Intemperance makes our list. This time it comes in the form of the ultra-thin Intemperance EC XVIII Humility is a 5 1/2 x 37 panetela that was included in the El Catador De Las Panetelas sampler produced to commemorate Springfield, Mo.-based Just For Him’s 25th anniversary.

The profile includes flavors of sweet chocolate, coffee, orange peel sweetness, maple and peanut butter along with the perfect amount of white pepper to pull them all together. Thrown in the wonderful construction that the cigar offers, and you have a winner. — BW.

  • RoMa Craft Tobac
  • Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos NicaSueño S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
  • Binder: Indonesia
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 1/2 x 37
  • MSRP: $6 (Samplers of 8, $54)
  • Original Score: 91 (Aug. 22, 2014)

Limited to 225 samplers of two cigars.

25. GEORGE RICO S.T.K. BARRACUDA MADURO

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George Rico closed out 2014 with the release of the S.T.K. Miami Barracuda Maduro, a cigar that we had been patiently waiting for since first smoking it in October. It’s a powerful but refined cigar, using an all-ligero filler from Nicaragua along with a Nicaraguan binder and a Pennsylvania broadleaf maduro wrapper. Made in Miami at the G.R. Tabacaleras Unidas factory, the cigar takes the palate on quite a journey in a relatively small amount of time. The cigar starts with sweetness in the aroma and baking spices on the palate, the launchpad for a flavor ride that includes white pepper, chalk, earth and coffee. It’s a well-balanced and well constructed cigar that should provide for some great smokes in the coming year, with the first batch shipping in mid-December and the second batch slated for an early 2015 release. — PL.

  • Gran Habano
  • Factory: G.R. Tabacaleras Unidas (U.S.A.)
  • Wrapper: Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 x 52
  • MSRP: $8.50 (Boxes of 20, $170)
  • Original Score: 91 (Oct. 26, 2013)

Limited to 200 boxes of 20 cigars.

THE GAPS

There’s really no way to connect the top three cigars in anyway, other than that they were all good. They don’t taste anything alike, they feature varying amounts of strength and body, and yet, there they are. The difference between third and sixth place was remarkably small, yet the difference between seventh and 10th is quite large. This emphasizes the idea that most members of the staff had, there were clear quality differences between various points of the list.

BY THE NUMBERS

Cigars that made our top 25 averaged 5.84 inches in length, 48 ring gauge and $30.82 price—thanks Oro Blanco. The median numbers reveal 6 inches in length, 50 ring gauge and a $10 price point—while a $10 toro sounds common, those dimensions don’t match any particular cigar on the list.

Our love of small ring gauges continues with eight out of the 25 cigars measuring below 46 and only two exceeding 54. Parejos fared well—only five cigars were perfectos or belicosos. Davidoff of Geneva claimed four spots, the most of any single company; My Father Cigars S.A. took four spots, the most of any single factory; and Nicaragua was response for 12 out of the 25 cigars on the list.

DAVIDOFF, AGAIN?

Look back at the 2012 version of this list and you’ll see that Davidoff didn’t even make the top 20 brand ranking, let alone the list of cigars itself. A lot has changed in the last 24 months and the reality is Davidoff is making different cigars, particularly amongst its limited offerings. The cigars are generally stronger in strength, body and flavor. Davidoff made a variety of excellent cigars prior to 2012—many of them we’ve reviewed over the years—but these days there are a lot fewer misses.

We will never—even collectively—be able to answer the question of whether Oro Blanco will be worth it to you, but its rating and now ranking should make it clear, it’s a special cigar.

Images: 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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