2015 Awards: Top 25 Cigars

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As noted earlier, for the first time in quite some time, there were a lot of cigars that scored 91 points or higher and eligible for our top 25 list that do not appear below. A total of 38 cigars that debuted in 2015, or the last moments of 2014, were scored 91 points or greater and yet there’s only 25 spots. The 13 cigars that didn’t make this list would have been a decent top 10 list, but 2015 was an extremely competitive year for cigars.

The difference between first place and second place: .09 points on a 100-point scale. Between second and third? Only two one-hundredths of a point after all four reviewers gave their own opinions. As there always is, there are some surprises and perhaps more so than any other year, there were some pleasant surprises for our staff.

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1. TATUAJE TAA 2015

At times people will read the reviews of the Tatuaje Pork Tenderloin or Barclay Rex and reminisce on 2010 as the golden age of Pete Johnson’s broadleaf-wrapped cigars. And then you smoke the Tatuaje TAA 2015 or last year’s TAA 2014, which finished third on our top 25, and then you come to the realization that golden age may actually be right now. Or at least that’s what I did.

It’s challenging to imagine the Pork Tenderloin or the Barclay Rex ever playing second fiddle and yet here we are. In a year in which there were many great cigars, this one sits (literally) above the rest. The Tatuaje TAA 2015 was the only cigar to receive multiple first place votes and while it’s most certainly not unanimous, this award almost certainly never will be. This is an unquestioned great cigar. — Charlie Minato.

  • Tatuaje/Havana Cellars
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 5/8 x 54
  • MSRP: $11 (Boxes of 20, $220)
  • Original Score: 91 (Nov. 4, 2015)

Limited to 3,800 boxes of 20 cigars.

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2. LA FLOR DOMINICANA LA NOX

For a good part of the past decade, La Flor Dominicana has had a consistent presence on retail shelves, with similar branding and packaging among all its lines, that makes it easy to spot. This year, the company presented not just a new line with La Nox, but new and distinct packaging that captured the essence of the night.

This Brazilian-wrapped cigar uses a Mexican San Andrés binder and filler from the company’s La Canela farm in the Dominican Republic to create a cigar our staff found its complex array of rich, nuanced flavors to be among the best of this year’s releases. The Brazilian wrapper gets plenty of opportunity to show its sweetness, while spices, earth, pepper and a number of other flavors come and go throughout this toro’s performance. A true journey into flavor while still managing to deliver LFD’s signature full-bodied strength profile. — Patrick Lagreid.

  • La Flor Dominicana
  • Factory: Tabacalera La Flor S.A. (Dominican Republic)
  • Wrapper: Brazil
  • Binder: Mexican San Andrés
  • Filler: Dominican Republic
  • Size: 6 1/2 x 50
  • MSRP: $11 (Boxes of 10, $110)
  • Original Score: 94 (Oct. 20, 2015)

Regular production.

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3. ILLUSIONE ~ECCJ~ 20TH

In February, the spreadsheet used to tabulate this list was created and the Illusione ~eccj~ 20th was one of the first entries onto the list. Since it was added, this cigar sat as our top cigar of the year, until the last three scoresheets were turned in. For what was clearly a standout year for Illusione, the ~eccj~ 20th was our favorite cigar of the esteemed bunch. It’s a follow up to the original ~eccj~ which was made for the 15th anniversary of European Cigar Cult Journal, now known as Cigar Journal.

This past year’s version is slightly longer, slightly thicker and just as good as the original cigar, which is what the Epernay line is based off of. — CM.

  • Illusione
  • Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo 99
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaraguan Criollo 98 & Nicaraguan Corojo 99
  • Size: 6 1/4 x 48
  • MSRP: $13 (Boxes of 15, $195)
  • Original Score: 94 (Feb. 19, 2015)

Limited to 2,000 boxes of 15 cigars.

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4. LA MISSION DE L’ATELIER 1959

If you want to know what Mexican San Andrés is all about, this is the cigar. The La Mission de L’Atelier—there’s been a slightly change in name as it was previously known as du L’Atelier, which is not proper French—is everything I’ve been told Mexican San Andrés is supposed to taste like and is the standard to which I’ll compare all San Andrés-wrapped cigars in the future. La Mission was the only cigar to appear in the top 10 on all four reviewers’ lists. — CM.

  • L’Atelier Imports
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 4 3/4 x 52
  • MSRP: $8 (Boxes of 18, $144)
  • Original Score: 94 (Aug. 19, 2015)

Regular production.

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5. ILLUSIONE FUME D’AMOUR JUNIPEROS

The Illusione Fume d’Amour Juniperos is one of three different releases from Illusione in our top 10 and with good reason. The 7 1/2 x 40 lancero is the first extension in a line that was first introduced in 2014 and uses only viso and seco tobaccos, which come from the middle and lower thirds of a tobacco plant.

The absence of any ligero in the blend means the cigar is full of flavor, including creamy cedar, flavorful coffee, apple pie sweetness and an excellent integration of black pepper. The wonderful construction is just icing on a cigar that is as complex as it is enjoyable to smoke. — Brooks Whittington.

  • Illusione
  • Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 7 1/2 x 40
  • MSRP: $9.50 (Boxes of 25, $237.50)
  • Original Score: 93 (Oct. 22, 2015)

Regular production.

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6. DAVIDOFF LIMITED EDITION 2016 YEAR OF THE MONKEY

Another series cigar joining the list this year, Davidoff added to its Zodiac Series in November with the Year of the Monkey, one of the line’s most complex and balanced flavor offerings to date.

Choosing to go with a steady stream of distinct flavors instead of outright strength—a bit of a surprise given the Ecuadorian habano wrapper and Mexican San Andrés binder—the Davidoff Year of the Monkey kept our staff’s palates engaged from start to finish, offering flavors of earth, cream, sweetness, chocolate, nuts and many more—it’s literally a non-stop barrage of subtle, detailed flavors wrapped in dense smoke that engages the senses. Capped off by award-winning packaging, the Davidoff Year of the Monkey scored in nearly every way possible, making it a fitting addition to this list and one to enjoy throughout the Year of the Monkey. — PL.

  • Davidoff of Geneva USA
  • Factory: Cigars Davidoff (Dominican Republic)
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
  • Binder: Mexican San Andrés Negro
  • Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua & Peru
  • Size: 6 1/2 x 50
  • MSRP: $34 (Boxes of 10, $340)
  • Original Score: 92 (Dec. 9, 2015)

Limited to 3,000 boxes of 10 cigars.

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7. ILLUSIONE H-TOWN LANCERO

Illusione decided to get on STOGIES World Class Cigars’ H-Town Lancero Series and we are thankful they did. The company made a cigar based on the Singularé 2010 Phantom in a lancero size. It’s not the exact same blend or cigar, but at a certain point you stop caring because the H-Town Lancero is just plain good.

Like the lancero that finished 11th, the H-Town Lancero is also quite limited and unfortunately Jorge Ahued, who co-owns STOGIES, has already admitted to smoking a few boxes. In my opinion, this is the best single store release from Illusione and it’s going to be challenging to top. — CM.

  • Illusione
  • Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo 98 (Jalapa)
  • Binder: Nicaraguan Criollo 99
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 7 x 40
  • MSRP: $9.95 (Boxes of 15, $149.25)
  • Original Score: 93 (Dec. 29, 2015)

Limited to 300 boxes of 15 cigars.

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8. PADRÓN 50TH ANNIVERSARY LIMITED EDITION MADURO

While it was unveiled at the 2014 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, the first batch of the Padrón 50th Anniversary didn’t ship until just before the end of the year, making it eligible for the 2015 list. The cigar was worth the wait, as it delivered some of the most succulent flavors Padrón has offered; chocolate and pepper come together early before subtle earth notes enter with sweet, tangy wood joining in the complexity. Orange citrus and floral sweetness close out the smoke, capping off a flavorful and aromatic journey marked by near flawless construction. This is a cigar you want to spend a good amount of time with, enjoying every delicious puff of smoke it has to offer. The humidors that these cigars came in might have garnered most of the attention, but the cigars more than delivered in flavor and quality; making for a more than fitting cigar for this milestone celebration. — PL.

  • Piloto Cigars Inc.
  • Factory: Tabacos Cubanica S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 6 1/2 x 50
  • MSRP: $106 (Humidors of 50, $5,300)
  • Original Score: 95 (Jan. 23, 2015)

Limited to 1,000 humidors of 50 cigars between the Maduro and Natural versions.

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9. LA PALINA GOLDIE LAGUITO ROBUSTO EXTRA

This year was the fourth year for La Palina’s Goldie line and it was the fourth year the cigar earned a score of at least 90 points. While the smaller ring gauges are generally seen as the standouts of the series, this year’s 50 ring gauge Robusto Extra rolled completely by Maria Sierra at Miami’s El Titan de Bronze factory more than held its own. There is plenty of sweet spice and fruit as well as a number of puffs that evoked thoughts of pastries. It was easy to see that the Goldie Robusto Extra is more than just a gorgeous cigar.

The flavors appealed to the halfwheel staff for their balance and distinctiveness, with this size showing another successful expression of the Goldie blend. With a pattern that would indicate a smaller ring gauge will be back in 2016, you might want to get your pre-orders in now. — PL.

  • La Palina
  • Factory: El Titan de Bronze (U.S.A.)
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
  • Binder: Ecuador
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
  • Size: 6 1/10 x 50
  • MSRP: $18 (Boxes of 10, $180)
  • Original Score: 91 (Aug. 16, 2015)

Limited to 2,000 boxes of 10 cigars.

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10. HVC LA ROSA 520

Reinier Lorenzo’s HVC has improved each year since it launched in 2013, but this year it had a coming out party with a cigar most will unfortunately not be able to try. The La Rosa 520 could earn honors for the most surprising cigar on this list, particularly considering it was able to crack the top 10.

The toro extra was full, at times a bit young when reviewed in early summer, but each time it looked like the flavors were going to get away, the cigar calmed down and found some complexity and smoothness. This is HVC’s best release by a noticeable margin, now the question is whether or the company can follow it up. — CM.

  • HVC Cigars
  • Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo 99 (Jalapa)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 1/2 x 54
  • MSRP: $9.60 (Boxes of 20, $192)
  • Original Score: 91 (July 24, 2015)

Limited to 150 boxes of 20 cigars.

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11. CASA FERNÁNDEZ ANIVERSARIO SERIE 2015 VOLEUR

We’ve made no secret that while Casa Fernández has been on a roll producing cigars for other people, its own releases haven’t followed suit in the last few years. Not too long ago the company was probably the most overlooked in the industry, but in recent years it’s failed to produce anything to wow us, even when we went looking.

This is the third year Casa Fernández has produced an Aniversario cigar out of its small Miami factory and this year’s box-pressed lancero is far and away the best. It’s sweet, it’s meaty, it’s woody and it’s complex. Unfortunately, it’s also pretty limited. — CM.

  • Casa Fernández
  • Factory: Casa Fernández Miami (U.S.A.)
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo 99
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 7 1/2 x 40
  • MSRP: $12.50 (Boxes of 16, $200)
  • Original Score: 91 (Dec. 8, 2015)

Limited to 300 Boxes of 16 Cigars

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12. LA COLMENA BLACK HONEY

Warped Cigars has come out with plenty of hits since it returned to the game last year, some regular production and some limited editions. One of those limited editions this year was the La Colmena Black Honey, and it continued the impressive trend.

Delivering delicious flavors while at the same time morphing enough to keep interesting, the Black Honey easily made its way into the list as one of the top releases this year. If I had one complaint however, it would be that these were ultra limited and virtually impossible to find at only 600 cigars released. If you were one of the lucky ones to get them however, you’ll understand why these are at the 12th spot. — Brian Burt.

  • Warped Cigars
  • Factory: El Titan de Bronze (U.S.A.)
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro
  • Binder: Ecuador
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 x 48
  • MSRP: $15.50 (Bundles of 10, $155)
  • Original Score: 92 (March 8, 2015)

Limited to 60 bundles of 10 cigars.

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13. ASYLUM 33 5 1/2 X 46

The Asylum 33 is a Honduran puro rolled at the El Aladino factory in Danlí, Honduras that uses seven-year-old tobaccos and debuted in four different vitolas.

At 5 1/2 x 46, the smallest size in the line exhibits an amazingly smooth profile with notes of bananas, stone ground mustard, warm pretzels and toasted marshmallows along with a touch of white pepper. An outstanding cigar with a wonderfully balanced profile that rewards those that take the time to enjoy it. — BW.

  • Asylum
  • Factory: El Aladino (Honduras)
  • Wrapper: Honduras
  • Binder: Honduras
  • Filler: Honduras
  • Size: 5 1/2 x 46
  • MSRP: $11 (Boxes of 25, $275)
  • Original Score: 92 (Dec. 8, 2015)

Limited edition, undisclosed production.

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14. LAS CALAVERAS EDICIÓN LIMITADA 2015 LC46

If you had to ask Crowned Heads to follow up one of its limited editions with a second version, I’m sure many people would quickly and loudly ask for another Las Calaveras release. Lucky for us, that’s exactly what Crowned Heads did.

Coming in at our 14th spot, the 2015 version might not have matched the 2014 version in some people’s eyes, but it’s a very good follow-up. The mixture of spicy peppers and smooth sweetness makes for a great profile that is complemented by other flavors, keeping it complex enough to keep you engaged and wanting more. — BB.

  • Crowned Heads
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Rosado
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 5/8 x 46
  • MSRP: $8.95 (Boxes of 24, $214.80)
  • Original Score: 92 (June 28, 2015)

Limited to 1,250 boxes of 24 cigars.

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15. JOYA DE NICARAGUA CUATRO CINCO RESERVA ESPECIAL DOBLE ROBUSTO

In 2013 Joya de Nicaragua celebrated its 45th anniversary with a special cigar, Cuatro Cinco. The original release was limited to 4,500 boxes of 10 cigars and those boxes are now gone.

This year Joya brought back the Cuatro Cinco as a new limited production release. While the original was a Nicaraguan puro, this new release uses a Dominican binder. Fortunately, the company only made slight modifications to Cuatro Cinco’s wonderful production and better yet, it produced another excellent cigar. — CM.

  • Joya de Nicaragua
  • Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua (Jalapa)
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 x 56
  • MSRP: $10.50 (Boxes of 10, $105)
  • Original Score: 91 (Aug. 24, 2015)

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16. L’ATELIER EXTENSION DE LA RACINE ER15

The L’Atelier Extension de la Racine blend makes the halfwheel top 25 for a second year in a row after taking the number 14 spot in 2014, and this year’s incarnation was even better than years past.

The line has been offered limited edition cigar to reward those retailers who come to the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show since 2013, and at 6 3/4 x 43, the 2015 edition is both the longest and thinnest of the three releases so far. Flavor-wise, the cigar features a profile that is both complex and balanced, with a combination of a constant red pepper heat on the retrohale and a maple and peppermint sweetness on the finish. An excellent addition to a line from a company that is noticeably on the rise. — BW.

  • L’Atelier Imports
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sun Grown Criollo
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 6 3/4 x 43
  • MSRP: $9.25 (Boxes of 20, $185)
  • Original Score: 93 (Sept. 23, 2015)

Limited to 1,500 boxes of 20 cigars.

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17. LEAF BY OSCAR MADURO LANCERO

It’s not everyday that a cigar goes from a house stick to nearly 1,000 retailers, but that’s exactly what has happened to the Leaf by Oscar line over the past three years.

While originally available as a toro or gordo—or a robusto if you stopped by the Leaf & Bean Strip in Pittsburgh, Pa.—this year the company decided to thank some of its retailers by going small, producing a lancero that only 50 stores would be invited to carry. While the Leaf by Oscar has gained fans at near breakneck speed, the lancero only fanned the flames, delivering balanced, complex flavors that had fans of both small and large ring gauges struggling to pick a favorite. The maduro version combined earth, pepper, strength and dark fruit sweetness into an impressive flavor journey packed into one tidy, if not always pretty, cigar. — PL.

  • Leaf by Oscar
  • Factory: Oscar Valladares Tobacco & Co.
    (Honduras)
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Maduro (Jalapa)
  • Binder: Honduras
  • Filler: Honduras
  • Size: 7 x 38
  • MSRP: $8.50 (Bundles of 20, $170)
  • Original Score: 91 (Dec. 15, 2015)

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18. MATILDE OSCURA CORONA

For its second release, Matilde Cigar Co. went dark and bold with the Oscura, a Mexican San Andrés-wrapped cigar that isn’t shy when it comes to big, substantial flavors packed into a smaller format vitola. The cigar kicks off with earth, meat, espresso and just a bit of sweetness, setting an impressive baseline that it dives deep into throughout the rest of the cigar.

The flavor opens up with seemingly every puff, evolving to show new layers of complexity as it explores the flavors of its tobaccos inside and out. While all three sizes of the Matilde Oscura pack plenty of flavor, the corona has stood out for delivering some of the biggest and most concentrated, scoring points with our staff for both complexity and consistency. Between a move to Tabacalera Palma for production, Quesada’s distribution and the very flavorful Matilde Oscura, 2015 was a solid year for Matilde Cigar Co. and one that they will hopefully build on in 2016. — PL.

  • Matilde Cigar Co.
  • Factory: Tabacalera Matilde
  • (Dominican Republic)
  • Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
  • Binder: Sumatra
  • Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua & U.S.A.
  • Size: 5 1/2 x 44
  • MSRP: $7.50 (Boxes of 20, $150)
  • Original Score: 91 (Nov. 27, 2015)

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19. PADILLA LA PILAR TORO

A return to his roots, so to speak, the La Pilar was one of Ernesto Padilla’s releases this year that was rolled at the Tabacalera Aguilar factory—the same one responsible for the Series 68. While we don’t factor in price to the score, the first thing you might notice is that a $6 toro is in our top 25 – which says quite a lot about the quality vs. price.

A medium strength, well balanced cigar that has a solid profile is as much as many people could ask in a cigar, so making it affordable is just the cherry on top. Luckily for you, these are a regular production item, which means you’ll be able to find these easily – another thing that you can’t say for all of the higher scoring cigars this year. — BB.

  • Padilla Cigars
  • Factory: Tabacalera Aguilar
  • (Honduras)
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua (Estelí & Jalapa)
  • Size: 6 x 50
  • MSRP: $6 (Boxes of 20, $120)
  • Original Score: 92 (June 19, 2015)

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There are three Padrón releases on this year’s list and one of them was made specifically to commemorate Famous Smoke Shop’s 75th anniversary. The appropriately named Famous 75th Padrón 1926 Serie is a 5 x 54 box-pressed robusto that was available in either a Nicaraguan habano or Nicaraguan habano maduro wrapper and was sold in boxes of 10 cigars.

The maduro-wrapped version features an exceedingly smooth profile that is filled with a depth of flavors, including citrus, hot chocolate, earth, cocoa and fruity sweetness, along with excellent construction and balance.  — BW.

  • Piloto Cigars Inc.
  • Factory: Tabacos Cubanica S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 x 54
  • MSRP: $21 (Boxes of 10, $210)
  • Original Score: 91 (Dec. 11, 2015)

Limited to 1,500 boxes of 10 cigars.

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21. LA FLOR DOMINICANA SALOMÓN ESPECIAL 2015

It’s big, it’s beautiful and it’s good. This is the La Flor Dominicana Salomón and this year’s version borrows a bit from the company’s TCFKA M Series with Ecuadorian Connecticut accents complementing the Nicaraguan sun grown maduro wrapper around both the foot and head. Prepare to set at least a few hours to smoke the massive cigar, but fear not, it doesn’t pack the typical punch of most La Flor Dominicanas. — CM.

  • La Flor Dominicana
  • Factory: Tabacalera La Flor S.A. (Dominican Republic)
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sun Grown Maduro & Ecuadorian Connecticut
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Dominican Republic
  • Size: 7 x 64
  • MSRP: $25.80 (Boxes of 10, $258)
  • Original Score: 92 (Dec. 5, 2015)

Limited edition, undisclosed production.

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22. ARTURO FUENTE DON CARLOS EYE OF THE SHARK

To commemorate both the 80th birthday of Carlos Fuente Sr. and the 30th anniversary of the Don Carlos brand of cigars, Arturo Fuente released the Don Carlos Eye of the Shark, a smaller incarnation of the company’s popular Shark vitola that measures 5 3/4 x 52. The profile is rich on the palate, and full of flavors of sweet and salty nuts, gingerbread, sweet charred chicken and candy cane sweetness. It’s a fitting tribute to a living cigar legend. — BW.

  • Arturo Fuente
  • Factory: Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia (Dominican Republic)
  • Wrapper: n/a
  • Binder: n/a
  • Filler: n/a
  • Size: 5 3/4 x 52
  • MSRP: $11.25 (Boxes of 20, $225)
  • Original Score: 92 (Oct. 31, 2015)

Limited edition, undisclosed production.

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23. MBOMBAY KĒSARA VINTAGE RESERVE NIKKA

Mel Shah has taken his MBombay line not just from a house cigar at his Fame Cigars & Wine retail shop to a national release but now a top 25 cigar. For the MBombay Kēsara Vintage Reserve Nikka, which is named for his wife, Shah tweaked the blend of the core Kēsara line: he kept the Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper and Ecuadorian Havana binder, but added Peruvian tobacco to what had been a Dominican-only filler. He then aged the cigars in a coffin made of sandalwood and Spanish cedar for nine months of a three-year resting period.

The result is a cigar loaded with flavor but not overwhelmingly strong, with apricot sweetness a distinct note from the cigar to go with notes of almonds, leather and cream before exploring earth, cocoa, espresso and cedar. A remarkably complex cigar from start to finish that shows the brilliance that can come from a flavor-first, strength-second approach to blending. — PL.

  • MBombay
  • Factory: Costa Rica (Tabacos de Costa Rica)
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Des Florado
  • Binder: Ecuadorian Havana
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Peru
  • Size: 6 1/2 x 46
  • MSRP: $12 (Tubes of 10, $120)
  • Original Score: 92 (Dec. 12, 2015)

Limited to 250 tubes of 10 cigars.

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24. ROOM101 MASTER COLLECTION THREE MUTANTE

As the name suggests, the Room101 Master Collection Three Mutante is the third blend to carry the Master Collection name, and it is also the second blend to grace the halfwheel top 25. The 7 x 38 lancero is composed of an Ecuadorian habano wrapper along with a Dominican binder and Nicaraguan tobacco in the filler.

Profile-wise, the Master Collection Three Mutante features a milder but flavorful first half accentuated by flavors of coffee, creamy wood and dairy sweetness followed immediately by a much stronger second half filled with an abundance of black pepper and earth. — BW.

  • Room101/Davidoff of Geneva USA
  • Factory: Agroindustria LAEPE S.A. (Honduras)
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 7 x 38
  • MSRP: $10 (Boxes of 20, $200)
  • Original Score: 91 (Feb. 8, 2015)

Limited to 500 boxes of 20 cigars.

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25. PADRÓN 50TH ANNIVERSARY LIMITED EDITION NATURAL

Padrón has made a number of cigars for various anniversaries over the years, but 2015 was the year the company celebrated its 50th year in business. To commemorate the occasion, Padrón decided to release two different cigars—a 5 x 54 robusto and a 6 1/2 x 50 double robusto—each in two different wrappers. The Padrón 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Natural is a Nicaraguan puro that was sold in 50-count humidors designed by Nelson Alfonso and made by Golden Age. The profile includes a litany of flavors, including peanuts, hay, earth, citrus and a raisin sweetness on the finish, and is the perfect cigar to celebrate such an auspicious occasion. — BW.

  • Piloto Cigars Inc.
  • Factory: Tabacos Cubanica S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 6 1/2 x 50
  • MSRP: $106 (Humidors of 50, $5,300)
  • Original Score: 91 (March 13, 2015)

Limited to 1,000 humidors of 50 cigars between the Maduro and Natural versions.

BY THE NUMBERS

The average cigar on this list was 6 1/7 inches in length, 48.12 in ring gauge and $20.23—thanks Padrón. The median cigar was 6 1/4 x 50 and priced around $11. Speaking of prices, those ranges anywhere from $6 (Padilla La Pilar) to $106 (Padrón Limited Editions.) Nicaragua led the way with 13 of the 25 cigars including four each from the My Father Cigars S.A. and TABSA factories.

THE CHANGE TO REGULAR PRODUCTION

This year 18 out of 25 cigars were limited editions, up from only 16 last year. So in one regards, our decision to drop the prerelease and limited edition standards for 2015 didn’t seem to make much of a difference, until you look at the cigars on this list.

Something like the Leaf by Oscar Lancero would have simply never been reviewed under the old qualifications. Furthermore, when you look at the 13 cigars that didn’t make the top 25 cut, there’s a lot of regular production cigars that weren’t reviewed as prereleases.

DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK

Two of the top three cigars (Tatuaje TAA 2015 and Illusione ~eccj~ 20th) were explicit attempts to remake an iconic cigar. A third, the Joya de Nicaragua Cuatro Cinco Reserva Especial, easily qualifies under that standard. There are plenty of cigars on this list that are the 2015 version of a limited edition series, but it is somewhat intriguing that the top two go beyond that.

It does raise the question of what truly is new and what matters to be new. Obviously, we felt the cigars qualified—and with the Illusione and Joya de Nicaragua the blends and sizes changed quite a bit. As for the Tatuaje, it’s a different vintage of tobacco, but other than that it’s supposed to be the same cigar.

If Pete Johnson had decided to just continue making the cigar after it debuted in 2011, it’s likely that it would be exactly the same as it is today and we would have a new cigar of the year, an interesting thought on a great cigar for a great year.

Images: halfwheel.com Please don’t steal them.

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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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