It is that time of the year, when the cigar media starts to rank the best cigars they have smoked throughout the year. Everyone has a different list, some focus on all cigars, some include cigars from previous years, and some break down different vitolas. Here on Stogie Press, we have focused on small batch and boutique cigars. The focus of the final list is based on cigars smoked during the year, and we have focused on cigars released in the year we rate them. This year will be slightly different. As you have read in some other media, it may be prudent to not limit the cigars to just the year we got them, as we don’t always get through all the samples. I agree with this and starting this year there are a few 2018 cigars that were reviewed early in 2019 and made the cut. Starting in 2020 we will include cigars in a rolling 2 year window, so that if we did not review a cigar in the year we got it, the cigar will still have a chance of making the cut the second year.
Now, with no further adieu, I present the first five candidates of the 2019 Stogie Press Top 25 Boutique Cigars. Remember, these are not yet ranked, they are only candidates, and like in the past, there will be 28 cigars finally listed with 3 getting honorable mentions. The final ranked list will be announced, as always, at the stroke of midnight December 31, as the ball in Times Square lights up the 2020 sign and champagne glasses clink through the US eastern time zone.
MBombay – M.Esteli Toro
The MBombay M.Esteli toro was a spectacular cigar. The flavors were plentiful and the aromas shifted and changed throughout the journey keeping my interest in every puff. This a cigar that has enough complexity for the most experienced cigar enthusiast and one a newbie can learn a lot from. The ash built up to a solid stack before eventually falling, and if that was not enough, it rebuilt and stayed true to form all the way to the nub! Even better, it retails for only $8.00.
Casdagli Cigars – Daughters Of The Wind Robusto
The Casdagli Daughters Of The Wind Robusto was a an extremely complex cigar, in fact the most complex I have smoked in quite some time. It hit the palate in all dimensions. It had butter and spice, citrus and sweet, salt and nut, coffee, mint, earth, mineral, and wood. It is not every day I pick up so many notes in cigar with a smooth smoke.
Artesano Del Tobacco – Viva La Vida Toro
What can I say other than AJ Fernandez did Gus and Billy from Artesano Del Tobacco right with the creation of the Viva La Vida. Full of flavor and a fine burn, this is a cigar I enjoy anytime of the day and it has always been consistent each time I smoked it. Since we have covered this line, AJ has picked up distribution of it and features it at many of the AJ Fernandez events in the country. I have been told, AJ himself has said, the Viva La Vida filled a waiting space in his wide distribution portfolio.
Crux – Epicure Maduro Toro
The Crux Epicure Maduro is a cigar that was not rushed to the market and patience has shown through. Teased at the 2018 IPCPR, it finally made its debut at the 2019 show. The aged leaf in this blend shines in the delicious flavors and enticing aromas that appear through the smoking journey. A box worthy cigar that carries the new Crux branding.
Casa Cuevas Habano La Mandarria (The Sledgehammer)
The Casa Cuevas La Mandarria was a spectacular cigar that represents every thing Casa Cuevas. I would certainly say this is a box worthy cigar, and with only 500 out there, they are selling fast. The flavors and aromas were always pleasant and never overpowering while remaining balanced through the transitions and burn.
So there you have, let the countdown begin. These are the first 5 candidates for the 2019 Stogie Press Top 25 Boutique Cigars. Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we continue to announce the remaining candidates, then tune in New Years Day, as we announce the ranking and the Stogie Press Boutique Cigar of the Year!