Yes, it is that time of the year when cigar media outlets like Stogie Press announce the best cigars we enjoyed during the year. As I noted earlier this year, Stogie Press will be giving awards now for three categories – Large, Medium, and Small/Boutique companies. We feel this is important as some small companies of the past have certainly grown and no longer fit in the small category and we also want to give credit to the big guys for their craft also.
Though we have received samples through the year, Stogie Press also launched a mission to KEEP THE LIGHTS ON and reached out to numerous brick and mortar shops to purchase many of the cigars reviewed this year.
In each category, there will be 15 cigars that made the cut for the category. Starting with this article we will be announcing, in no particular order, 5 cigars (candidates) in each category. As we have done in the past, the final ranking will be published on New Years Eve at 12-Midnight.
Additionally, on the first Taking It To The Nub show of season 2, which will air January 2, 2020, we will announce the overall 2020 Stogie Press Cigar of the Year, based on the three number 1 cigars for each category.
Now without further adieu here are the first five candidates in each category in no particular order.
SMALL/BOUTIQUE CIGAR COMPANY
The Chaffiot Collection – Brothers Keeper was a spectacular cigar from foot to nub. It is what I expected from the collaboration between Justin Chaffiot and “Z” from Cordoba y Morales. This is an an amped up flavor bomb to say the least with just a mild wave here and there through the journey. This is a cigar that is certainly box worthy and any experienced cigar enthusiast would enjoy.
The Rojas Cigars Statement Corona was a quite pleasant cigar with a solid core of fruit, spice, and toffee flavors. Construction was solid carrying a decent ash between falls. The burn line was decent with just a slight jag through the journey.
The Blackbird Cigar Co. Rook Gran Toro was an excellent, medium body cigar, with fine burn qualities, intriguing flavors, and enticing aroma. This medium strength cigar is one I could easily enjoy to start my morning along with a cafe latte. Other than the slight off burn in the final third, the journey was pleasant from foot to nub. This is one I suggest picking up a flock of.
The HR Ilegal Habano was a spectacular smoke that offered a balanced and complex flavor profile. The transitions were easy on the palate and enjoyable from foot to nub. The oils developed beautifully through the burn. The thick and creamy smoke had me blowing smoke rings through the journey. Don Alejandro would be proud of Hirochi for this creation.
The Stallone Nicaragua Cigars Alazán Habano was a spectacular cigar that had a well balanced array of flavors and aromas from foot to nub. Medium in strength, this is a cigar any enthusiast would and should enjoy. I smoked two of these and will be looking to get more. Construction wise, it was just about flawless.
MEDIUM CIGAR COMPANY
I found The King Is Dead – Nicaragua to be an extremely pleasant smoke with well developed flavor and aromas from foot to nub. This is an extremely well balanced cigar that the finest cigar enthusiasts would certainly enjoy. The burn was spot on through most of the journey. A.J. Fernandez and Robert Caldwell have teamed up to make a spectacular cigar with this one.
The Asylum 13 Pandemonium 52 Ring Gauge was an amazingly constructed cigar that provided 3 hours of pleasantly well balanced flavor and aromas throughout the journey. It had minimal burn issues with just a mild jag in the burn here and there and offered a perfect draw and full volume of smoke off each puff. The ash held for good chunks before falling. This is one that the finest of palates would enjoy and perfect for watching a long sports game.
The Foundation Cigars “The Tabernacle David” was a very pleasurable, slightly complex and balanced smoking journey, which is what I have come to expect from Nick and his Foundation Cigars team. The journey started with floral and caramel notes and continued to evolve in flavor and aroma from foot to nub. The ash held for a good half or more of the cigar and the burn was pristine.
The Crowned Heads Mil Dias was a terrific smoking experience. As a mild to medium strength cigar, the Mil Dias enticed the palate from puff after puff, starting with a sweetness and honey, moving into chocolate and caramel and finishing with a mild spice. The burn was spot on and carried a decent ash between each fall. This is most certainly worth a box buy.
The Southern Draw Desert Rose was a spectacular cigar and having known Sharon Holt for a quite a number of years, it truly reflects her sweet but firm demeanor. The flavor was pleasantly complex and well balanced with no bite or harsh bitterness. In contrast, sweetness, cream, butter, and fruit highlight the profile with hints of floral, malt and vanilla. As the surprising strength builds there is a well balanced spice that takes you down to the nub. The burn was spot on through the journey and the ash held tight and when it fell it had a Stogie Press signature burn cone.
This is by far my favorite in the Hiram and Solomon Veiled Prophet lineup. The flavors in this cigar were just scrumptious from pre-light to nub. There was no harshness, bitterness, or sour tastes and I would say the flavors were balanced and well transitioning. The cigar burned slowly and evenly. I would certainly recommend buying a box (or splitting a box with a friend).
Large Cigar Company
The Joya De Nicaruagua Número Uno was a spectacular cigar. I can understand why it was given to world leaders by Nicaraguan ambassadors. It started with an intriguing pre-light set of aromas and flavors and once the flame was set to the foot it only got better with swirling and shifting aromas and flavors that took you on a journey that only the best can do. Considering this was a Connecticut shade, there was no discernible bitterness at all. There was even a core of sweetness that added to the pleasure in various stages of the burn.
The Perdomo Barrel Aged Maduro was a well constructed cigar that carried an amazingly long ash before falling. The flavors, though not overly complex, were enjoyable and well balanced with enticing notes like malt, dry-fruit, cream and citrus. I find this a box worthy cigar, so go get some and enjoy a Perdomo Cigars journey.
The Henry Clay War Hawk Rebellious was a wake-up call for me when it come to this brand. A.J. Fernandez nailed this blend with an array of balanced and well transitioned notes that kept my palate interested down to the nub. The only issue I had with this, and it is a minor one, is it had a flat burn cone once the ash fell.
The Gurkha Real is a cigar I would certainly offer to a new cigar smoker but also one that a seasoned enthusiast would enjoy as the first cigar of the day. The profile was balanced and the flavors transitioned well offering a surprising back note of sweetness and cream with added nuances of fruit, herbal, spice, and even dark chocolate in the final. Construction was spot on, from the perfect draw, to the solid light grey ash that held for a decent run and dropped in solid chunks.
The Drew Estate Herrera Esteli Edicion Limitada Lancero was a spectacular blend and perfect draw lancero. Never needing a re-light or touch up this beauty graced the palate with ever evolving complex yet balanced array of flavors and aromas from foot to nub including Butter, Cedar, Citrus, Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Maple Syrup, Nut, Pepper and Spice.
Tune in next Monday when we release the next five cigars in each category.