Lit Cigar Lounge Top 10 Cigars of 2014
For the third installment of our Top 10 cigars of the year, we’re once again limiting the selections to cigars that we carry and to those released since our last Top 10 in December of 2013. Let’s start with our Honorable Mentions – some great smokes that are worth checking out:
- La Aroma de Cuba Noblesse – I had my reservations about a La Aroma cigar that retails for nearly $20, but once I smoked it, I got it! The Ecuadorian Habano wrapper is obviously well aged, as this cigar is complex and medium bodied.
- La Antiguedad – Another cigar from My Father, the La Antiguedad is the follow up to the 2012 Cigar of the Year, Flor de Las Antillas. It shares some similarities, as both cigars are box pressed and Nicaraguan puros, but the La Antiguedad is fuller bodied and spicier, with much more of the pepper kick that the Garcia family is known for.
- Aging Room M20 ffortissimo – This cigar was extremely limited (only 20,000 total) and priced at $15 for a corona sized perfecto. For those who love aged tobacco and the rich flavors of a high quality San Andres maduro wrapper, the M20 certainly lived up to its hefty retail price.
- Fernando Leon Preferido – La Aurora released both the Guillermo Leon and Fernando Leon in their popular Preferido size this year. While both are great, I loved the Fernando Leon’s medium bodied flavor and depth. The Corojo wrapper on this cigar is flawless and oily. This cigar quickly became my favorite of a great La Aurora lineup.
- Montecristo Espada – One of the trends of 2014 was the release of several Nicaraguan versions of storied Cuban legacy brands. The best of the bunch, in my opinon, is the Espada. Altadis USA partnered with the Plasencia family to create a Nicaraguan puro that is worthy of the Montecristo name. Flawless construction and a great balance of sweetness are two reasons why.
- Best Buy for 2014 – Foundry Elements Carbon – Taking an idea from the Cigar Aficionado list, I decided to nominate a Best Buy cigar. The Carbon, a chunky 5.5x60 maduro cigar, has become one of our best sellers. It’s not only friendly on the wallet – the Carbon is firmly packed with tobacco and has a pleasant medium-bodied profile.
Now for the Top 10!With the exception of one or two sold out limited editions, all of these cigars are available at Lit.
- 10. La Flor Dominicana Capitulo II – The follow-up to Tony Gomez’ debut cigar, the Capitulo II has the same size and box pressed chisel shape as the Chapter I, but these cigars are night and day. Capitulo II is super strong, with a dark oily wrapper and an easy draw. It’s sometimes dangerous to have a cigar this full bodied draw so easily! I like to smoke it slowly, over 2-3 hours so as not to be overpowered. The flavors are great though – strong notes of leather and pepper.
- 9. Illusione Singulare 2014 Anunnaki – The fifth release in Illusione’s Singulare series, the Anunnaki is a stout 5 1/4x54 Double Robusto that is just packed with tobacco and features the same silky wrapper as their wonderful Epernay line. I was blown away by the construction on this cigar and by how slowly it burned. It’s mild to medium bodied with some delicate fruit and floral notes.
- 8. Nestor Miranda Collection Habano – Miami Cigar & Co. reblended and rebranded their flagship Nestor Miranda line in honor of the company’s 25th Anniversary. Produced in Nicaragua by My Father Cigars, there are three different blends – Maduro, Habano, and Connecticut. The Habano stands out for me, delivering that signature Pepin spice without sacrificing complexity. Kudos to Nestor and Jason Wood at Miami Cigar for taking the risk to improve upon an already established brand.
- 7. Drew Estate Nica Rustica – Technically released in 2013, these cigars were such a hot commodity that we didn’t receive our initial order until after the 2013 list was compiled. For shops, like ours, that aren’t eligible to carry Drew Estate’s more prestigious Liga Privada or Herrera Esteli lines, the Nica Rustica is an able substitute. It carries an affordable price tag and produces an insane amount of thick blue smoke. The dark Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper and strong filler blend of Nicaraguan tobaccos give this cigar a great balance of maduro sweetness and spice.
- 6. Leccia Luchador – Another full bodied Maduro, this time from Sam Leccia, whose fire-cured Leccia Black made our list last year. The Luchador honors the origins of the San Andres wrapper that it features, with a unique band that pays tribute to the masked Luchador wrestlers that are so popular in Mexico. This cigar hits you like a dropkick to the solar plexus, but is as complex and intricate as a figure four leg lock!
- 5. Rocky Patel Decade Cameroon – It’s sometimes hard to figure out which new Rocky Patel release to bring in, since they usually have about five new cigars each year and our space is limited. This year, however, the choice was easy. Rocky took his popular Decade blend, the highest rated cigar he’s ever produced, and wrapped it in a delicate, sweet Cameroon wrapper. The result is a cigar that is extremely flavorful without a lot of strength.
- 4. EP Carrillo La Historia – Ernesto Perez-Carrillo is most known for his big ring gauge cigars, such as the Serie R he created with La Gloria Cubana, and most recently the INCH series. This cigar is unlike anything he’s ever done, softly filled and box pressed and wrapped in a dark, bumpy San Andres Maduro wrapper. It’s medium to full bodied, with an effortless draw and notes of dark chocolate and espresso.
- 3. CAO Amazon Basin – Easily one of the most unique cigars released this year, the Amazon Basin uses a tobacco called Bragança, which is grown organically in the tropical rainforest and harvested every three years by the natives of that region. It has a flavor that’s hard to describe, but bold and delightful. Sadly, these cigars are long sold out, but hopefully we’ll see another release at some point.
- 2. Padron Family Reserve 50 year – The cigar world was blown away by the Padron Family’s 45th Anniversary cigar, and remains one of the best on the market. The 50 year is a different cigar than that one – it’s smaller, more of a robusto size, and the wrapper is nearly jet black and oily. The Padron 50 year is generously filled and is a spicy, full bodied gem of a cigar. It’s by far the most expensive cigar on this list, but worthy of trying, even if you have to wait for a special occasion.
- 1. Our cigar of the year for 2014 is the Ashton Symmetry. I was excited when I heard that Ashton was releasing its first new blend in ten years, but wasn’t quite sure where a new Ashton cigar would fit in their already formidable lineup. They have mild, medium and full bodied blends, all of them fantastic in their own right. The flavor profile of the Symmetry fits somewhere between the VSG and ESG in this regard. It’s medium to full bodied, but the flavors are nuanced and balanced. Carlito Fuente uses an Ecuador Habano wrapper along with filler tobacco from his farm in Nicaragua, both a first for an Ashton cigar. The delicate notes remind me of an aged Cuban, but the Symmetry also contains a nice healthy kick of spice and nicotine. We’ve had the Ashton Symmetry at Lit for just a couple months, but it’s obvious that this cigar has a place in our humidor for a long time.
Thanks for reading another “Best of…” list! I invite you to come out to the Lit Cigar Lounge at Snoqualmie Casino to try these or any of our cigars and we can discuss in person!
Lit Cigar Lounge Manager