Saturday, January 1, 2011

Habana Port's Top 15 Cigars of 2010


Greetings, aficionados de la hoja! We have smoked some incredible cigars this year and there is a good reason for that. The cigar industry is in a state where the supply and demand are equal so that translates to a supply of high quality tobacco. It is a great time to be a cigar smoker as there are plentiful choices for great-tasting blends.

For Habana Port, it was a challenge to organize our inaugural Top 15 Cigar Rankings. We smoked and smoked and finally ranked the top 15 fine cigars that are available in our humidor (with the exception of Viaje & Illusione which are either on backorder across the country or was a limited run). We also based our decisions according to what our customers bought and enjoyed the most so this list is not entirely what our staff personally smoked. Take a look at the list and see what you think. We hope you agree with our choices.

No. 1 - Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Robusto

Dimensions: 5 1/4 x 52rg
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Broadleaf

Our top choice comes from one of the rockstars in the industry: Don Pepin Garcia. He has just opened the largest Nicaraguan-based cigar factory and he is blending some great new cigars. The Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial is named after his son, and boy what a cigar this is! Right off the bat, this cigar has a complex flavor profile exhibiting notes of caramel and cocoa. This cigar is rolled beautifully and smokes evenly. Come in and try the cigar we consider the best of 2010 (and many customers agree, too).

No. 2 - Alec Bradley Tempus Imperator

Dimensions: 6 1/8 x 52rg
Country of Origin: Hondura
Wrapper: Trojes, Honduras

The Tempus from Alec Bradley continues to deliver a consistent smoke. Medium-to-strong in strength, the Tempus landed AB a Top 25 Ranking in Cigar Aficionado and rightly so. This has become one of the best sellers in our shop and its complex flavors make it an enjoyable cigar. There is a balanced profile with earth, nuts and a hint of spice. We highly recommend this cigar!

No. 3 - Avo Heritage Robusto

Dimensions: 4 1/4 x 50rg
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Special Sungrown

The Avo Heritage is the newest line extension from this famous brand that hails from Tabadom (the factory that creates Davidoff). The Heritage was a popular cigar among smokers for these 2 reasons: a complex flavor profile at an affordable price (for an Avo). A medium-to-strong strength cigar, the Heritage exhibits mainly notes of wood and some earth & leather. A fabulous cigar, the purist will not be disappointed.

No. 4 - Padilla Cazadores Robusto

Dimensions: 5 x 50rg
Country of Origin: Honduras
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano

Our number 4 cigar comes from Padilla, the cigar-maker who creates some rich and flavorful cigars. His Cazadores line has become a go-to-cigar for many customers because (again) this is a great cigar at an affordable price point; this line is in the $5 range but it smokes like a $10 stick. Another balanced smoke, there is earth, a bit of spice and a slight chocolate frosting note. Give this a try and see if you agree.

No. 5 - La Flor Dominicana Ligero Maduro Salomones

Dimensions: 7 x 64rg
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Maduro

It is hard to justify spending over $20 for one cigar but La Flor Dominicana has managed to disprove that argument. His Salomones is, in our opinion, the best blend to be coming out of this small-batch cigar factory. Ever the perfectionists, Litto & Inez Gomez maintain strict quality control and it is certainly the case in this cigar. The tobacco in this cigar comes from their 2004 and 2005 crop so there is some nice age that has allowed the tobacco to smooth out. This mammoth of a cigar and hard-to-construct shape contributes to the price point, but for those who enjoy a full-bodied smoke, you will not be disappointed. One of the richest (yet cleanest for being a strong smoke) cigars in 2010, LFD's Maduro Salomones rounds out the Top 5.

No. 6 - Padron 7000 Maduro

Dimensions: 6 1/4 x 60rg
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaragua

Padron is another consistent cigar-maker and their cigars are always in demand. Their 7000 Maduro has had quite the accolades from our customers. A Nicaraguan puro, this fat stick exhibits dark notes like cocoa. The maduro wrapper also imparts a faint toasty sweetness. There is a reason the Padron family reigns as one of the most desired Nicaraguan-based cigar factories.

No. 7 - Guillermo Leon Corona Gorda (or Gran Corona)

Dimensions: 6 x 47
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Vuelta Abajo

The Guillermo Leon is a line that proves a cigar can gain traction through social and online networking. One of the newest blends to hail from the Dominican Republic's oldest continually-running cigar factory, this is a clean cigar that is layered with richness. Displaying tones of cocoa and a bit of wood, the GL is named after the patriarch of La Aurora. In our opinion one of the best cigars to come out of La Aurora (besides the Preferido lines).

No. 8 - Viaje's Skull & Bones Mystery (Oct. 2010)

Dimensions: 5 x 54rg
Country of Origin: ?
Wrapper: ?

Ever the secretive blender and brander, Andre Farkas, owner of Viaje Cigars, continues to dazzle small-batch cigar lovers. The first installment of the Skull & Bones came out in early 2010 to overwhelming positive feedback. His encore was released just in time for Halloween of 2010 to the surprise of many. Only about 150 boxes were made and we were fortunate to get an allocation. They did not stay on the shelves a week. This blend is unknown but we would guess there is some Nicaraguan tobacco. But who cares? This was a rich and dark cigar (with notes of espresso and spice). And the kicker? The band glows in the dark! Such ingenuity and blending skill landed this cigar a Number 8 spot.

No. 9 - A. Fuente Rosado Sungrown R-56

Dimensions: 5 5/8 x 56
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra

The Rosado Sungrown line from the fabled Fuente family is one of the newest cigar blends to hail from this major cigar concern. Reserved for brick-and-mortar shops, this blend is mild-to-medium to medium strength. An elegant cigar, the RSG has larger ring gauges than its other lines (which is unusual for this traditional cigar family). Cedar and earth are the major notes that one experiences when smoking this cigarro. This cigar should not come as a surprise to passionate smokers of the golden leaf. Fantastic and a great buy!

No. 10 - Ashton VSG Spellbound

Dimensions: 7 1/2 x 54rg
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuador Sungrown

A second A. Fuente-made cigar hits the Top 10 of our list in the Ashton VSG Spellbound. El Rushbo (Rush Limbaugh) talked up this cigar when it was initially released over 10 years ago and rightly (no pun intended) so. Still consistent and flavorful, the strength is about medium. This size has been a favorite for the VSG legion this year and we usually rank this cigar that is distributed by the Levin family high on our all-time favorite's list. Wood and a bit of nuttiness dominate the palate. A gem in this industry, Ashton's Virgin Sun Grown will not disappoint.

No. 11 - Oliva Connecticut Reserve Robusto

Dimensions: 5 x 50rg
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Connecticut

Oliva = Consistency. Any cigar-maker who wants to remain in this business for the long-term should adopt Oliva's business philosophy and model. Because this company has vertically-integrated the cigar-making process, they are able to pass the savings to the consumer. Their Connecticut Reserve line is a mild-to-medium blend that is surprisingly flavorful. A bit of spice lights up the taste buds initially but the blend quickly smooths out to a slight buttery profile with a bit of earth. Fantastic for anytime of day, we would also recommend this as a morning smoke with your demitasse of Cuban coffee.

No. 12 - Illusione hl Maduro

Dimensions: 7 1/2 x 40rg
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaragua

We would dub this Number 12 cigar as the Carmen Sandiego smoke for 2010. Where in the world are you Illusione hl Maduro? Okay, we'll stick to our day jobs and not enter the stand-up comedy business, but seriously, this cigar has been so tasty and rich (and because brand owner Dion Giolito strictly adheres to small runs in order to maintain consistency) it has flown off our shelves. It is on backorder currently and with good reason. A rich lancero, the Holy Lance Maduro is the only maduro in Illusione's portfolio. Let us know when you get some more, Dion. We're hungry.

No. 13 - Brickhouse Mighty Mighty

Dimensions: 6 1/4 x 60
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Havana Subido

Distributed by J.C. Newman, one of America's oldest cigar companies, the Brickhouse is a great value for the smoker! Incorporating a Nicaraguan wrapper, the Brickhouse is a medium-bodied smoke with more woody notes. The Mighty Mighty is a size that has been popular within the cigar community lately. This is a cigar that should be priced higher, so smokers are getting a real deal with the Brickhouse.

No. 14 - J. Fuego's Origen Originals

Dimensions: 5 x 44

Country of Origin: Honduras

Wrapper: Brazilian Corojo

A novel concept, the Origen Originals from Jesus Fuego is a short smoke. Unpressed, this is the size J. Fuego makes when testing new blends. A medium-bodied smoke, the Origen Originals will satisfy the connoisseur who does not have time. Leather and earth dominate in this cigar. You can buy them by the single but why would you? Normally packaged in nice 5-count packs, the Originals will be offered in his other lines, too. Click here to see our YouTube video interview of the man himself.

No. 15 - Gran Habano Azteca Aguila

Dimensions: 5 1/2 x 52rg (Torpedo)
Country of Origin: Honduras
Wrapper: San Andreas Maduro (Mexico)

A new release from Gran Habano, the Azteca is a medium-to-strong blend with hints of sourdough bread. This cigar is unique and has been a customer favorite. Packaged in an orange pyramid-shaped box, Gran Habano has created a fantastic cigar in the Azteca line. The Rico family has done it again and you can be rest assured that the cigar will make some more splashes in the coming year.

Honorable Mentions
Five cigars who do not make the Top 15 list but definitely deserve praise will make our Honorable Mentions List. These cigars are also fantastic and deserve a light if you have not had one. Congratulations to these and all the cigars who made our Lists. And to you smokers, let us know what you think of these cigars!

Honorable Mention - Los Blancos Nine Double Corona

Dimensions: 7 x 52rg
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Oscuro Corojo

Honorable Mention - Perdomo Reserve 10th Anniversary Champagne Epicure

Dimensions: 6 x 54rg
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Connecticut

Honorable Mention - Torano Single Region Toro Grande

Dimensions: 6 x 54rg
Country of Origin: Honduras
Wrapper: Jalapa Valley (Nicaragua)

Honorable Mention - Quesada Tributo Julio

Dimensions: 5 x 50rg
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuadorian HCHS

Honorable Mention - 7-20-04's 7-20-4

Dimensions: 5 x 50rg
Country of Origin: Honduras
Wrapper: Brazilian

Until the next post, siempre fumando,

Habana Port

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