Ok, Christmas, Chanukah and Festivus have come and went, Kwanzaa has just begun. I hope everyone is having a safe and happy holiday season. Today I will drop the final candidates for the top Stogie Press Cigars of the year for 2020.
In no particular order, here are the last 7 cigars (candidates) in each category. Wait shouldn’t there be just 5? Well yes and no, there are always two honorable mentions in the list each year. 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.
SMALL/BOUTIQUE CIGAR COMPANY
The 7 x 44 Kralot from Jas Sum Kral was a spectacular cigar that had a complex flavor profile with a growing strength that eventually hit full near the end. The construction was pretty much flawless and the ash on this carried for a long time.
The Danli Honduras Tabaco Don Juan Calavera Sumatra Toro was one of those cigar I smoked plenty of over time and enjoyed each one. Each sample performed excellent and the flavors and aromas were well balanced and transitioned well. The burn was decent with only a slight wave that eventually corrected itself. I highly recommend picking a box off these beauties.
The Vintage Rock-A-Feller Cigar Group (VRCG) Dominican Blue Box Pressed Churchill was a mild to medium strength and elegant smoking experience. With rich notes spice and sweet cedar forming a core it had pleasantly balanced flavor and aroma nuances moving in and out through the journey. This is a cigar both a new and experienced enthusiast would enjoy any time of the day.
The Barreda Cigars Don Chico Maduro was as well constructed and pleasant as the Don Chico Habano. It was loaded with enticing and delectable flavors and aromas from foot to nub. With just a mild wave in the burn and a solid ash this is certainly one you may want to buy a box of.
I found the Casa Cuevas Habano to be a fine smoke that offered a solid core of spice and sweetness. The burn was just a bit wavy and never required a touch-up during the journey. I really like the early dark chocolate and caramel notes that peaked my interest along with the apricot notes. Other than the ash falling often and the mild wave in the burn this was a excellent cigar and is box worthy.
The Tabac Trading Co. Trifecta – Pennsylvania/Connecticut was one hell of a flavor bomb with developing notes and aromas throughout the journey. Starting mild in strength it ratchets up through the burn to a solid full deep in the journey. The Connecticut half had pristine burn qualities and the ash held tight till it got precisely to the end of the half. The Broadleaf half picked right up and shifted flavors as one would expect, offering its version of the blend. This is truly like smoking two different cigars in a sitting.
The Rojas KSG lancero was a flavor filled cigar that an experienced cigar enthusiast would certainly enjoy with its complex and balanced array of notes throughout the journey. It started with a strong pepper blast that opened the nasals on the first retro-hale and then quickly settled into a core of sweetness and cocoa that morphed and grew through the 1 hour and 40 minute experience.
MEDIUM CIGAR COMPANY
The Crowned Heads Las Calaveras EL 2020 was a complex and flavorful cigar that offered a pleasant journey through notes of chocolate, sweetness, floral, and spice along with enticing nuances and aroma. As far as construction goes, it performed well, with just a slight wave and a bit of an off burn which did not need a touch-up.
The BLTC Bishops Blend Five Year Anniversary was just as as James and Angela described it, “highlights the broadleaf without overpowering the Nicaraguan leaves, with a great balance between richness, spice and strength.” The complex and full body of flavors were well balanced and transitioned well from foot to nub.
The JRE Tobacco Co. Aladino Vintage Reserve was very much what one would expect for a well aged cigar crafted by a master in the cigar industry. It was quite Cubanesque in flavor and aroma with a special Honduran earthy twist. Moderately complex with balanced flavors and aromas, the Aladino Vintage Reserve, just shows that you can create a terrific cigar for well under $7.00 retail.
In the final analysis, I had to get my head wrapped around the profile of the Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Muestra De Saka Unstolen Valor. It’s not like I’ve never had a cigar that offered Umami notes, but this one was quite unique. It started with some black pepper, and quickly settled into savory notes that just began the Umami journey that did not let up through the journey. Pleasant nuances of tart cherry, cedar sweetness, and earth added to the pleasure as roasted meat, cayenne pepper, and zesty BBQ certainly kept it interesting. Other than the slight jag in the burn and the flat burn cone, this is one I would certainly smoke again.
The Crowned Heads Four Kicks Mule Kick LE 2020 was a very decent cigar that delivered on flavor, aroma, and burn. The cigar carried a solid ash for close to half the burn. A slight papery note did enter early in the journey but it was quickly overtaken by pleasurable coffee and caramel notes
If you enjoyed the original Jacobs Ladder Brimstone, and you have a good two and a half hours to sit back and smoke, you will certainly enjoy the Un Presidente. As described, the flavors were more mellow yet complex and well balanced through the long journey. The strength certainly crept up through the burn, slowly reaching solidly full, long before the end. Although this is a meal unto itself, this is one you want to eat a big meal before smoking and would be enjoyed by the most seasoned palate.
The Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Sobremesa Brûlée Blue a fine blend of this classic cigar from Steve Saka. The savory and caramel notes stood out early in the burn and pleasurable notes of honey, almond, peanut, and cocoa just added to the pleasure. There was a slight bitter note that lasted for a short while before finishing with delectable spice and cocoa. Construction wise, this was a well rolled cigar that had a straight and even burn line and a long ash.
LARGE CIGAR COMPANY
Artesano Del Tobacco Viva La Vida Club 500 is my favorite in the young brands line up and man did A.J. Fernandez nail this one. This is an extremely complex cigar in both flavor and aroma that the most discerning palate would find enjoyable from foot to nub. The construction was amazing as demonstrated through the long solid ash that held on for a good part of the burn. As a cigar that has been picked up by A.J. Fernandez I had to include this in the large company category.
The Drew Estate Undercrown Shade Corona Pequena was a perfect cigar to start the morning, especially if you are short on time, yet still want a pleasurable smoking experience. Perfect with a morning cup of Joe. This is not a complex cigar, but it does deliver on a consistent array of flavors and aromas much like its larger siblings. It had impeccable construction holding a long well defined ash and only dropped the ash once. If you are enjoy a well made flavorful Connecticut cigar and want to have some for a short smoking time, grab a box of these.
The Villiger Do Brazil Maduro was quite the pleasant smoking experience. Filled with enticing and well transitioning flavors and aroma, this journey kept my palate interested from foot to nub. The only negative point on this was the wavy burn but that was minimal and never required a touch-up.
I don’t recall smoking the Quesada Fonseca, but the My Father Cigars revamp was a pleasurable and flavorful cigar from foot to nub. The medium to full strength cigar started with a developing dark chocolate and cinnamon sensation. The flavors continued to evolve and transition in a well balanced 90 minute journey.
The Drew Estate Year of the Rat 2020 was a delicious corona that had a well balanced array of developing flavors and aromas through the 80 plus minute journey. With minimal burn issues the rich broadleaf wrapper burned well from foot to nub. the journey started with pepper and sweetness and ended with spice and fruity sweetness. In between there were palate pleasing notes that would intrigue the most discerning palate.
The Davidoff Year of the Ox was an incredibly pleasant smoking journey that offered a complex and balanced profile of flavors and aromas. I am always nervous about large ring gauge cigars like the Ox, but Davidoff blended this perfectly for flavor, aroma, and burn. Be careful with the Ox as its strength will catch you by surprise deep in the burn. This may not be your every day cigar with a price point of $40.00 but it is one any true cigar enthusiast most definitely should check out, at least once, before they are sold out.
The Aging Room Bin No. 2 Nicaragua was a fine cigar that had a smooth and complex flavor profile which transitioned as well as an expertly composed symphony. The burn had just a small wave and required only a mild touch up.
Tune in on 12 Midnight New Years eve as we publish the final rankings and cigar of the year for each category. You may notice there were 7 in each category here, that is because there will be 2 honorable mentions for each category also. Stay Smokey everyone and let’s put 2020 behind us and have an awesome 2021!