For this installment of Fan Mail Q&A, we’ve compiled some of the more interesting cigar questions we’ve received about retrohaling, pigtail caps, cigar mold and controlling RH – and we thought our answers were worth sharing out loud. Watch now!
CA Year-End Report: 2017 Top 25 Best New Cigars of the Year
CA Report: Top 25 Best New Cigars of 2017
By the Cigar Advisor Editors
Did 2017 provide a little bit of adventure in your cigar stash?
This past year was a great one, if you like experimenting with new cigars. Great, too, to see that cigar makers are continuing to produce these incredible-tasting blends, despite the FDA coming in and skunking up the works. So as we get inundated with every Best of 2017 list possible right now, we wanted to carve out a little time and space of our own to recap what we thought were the best new cigars to hit cigar store shelves this year. So many good picks…
This is not to say that these cigars are better than the ones on any other Top 25 cigar list…a stroll down memory lane is nice, and there’s no arguing that some cigars are just perennial classics. But rather than revisit the cigars we already know are good – we wanted to focus exclusively on the new releases, and see what smokes we all could agree deserve to be tagged with “the best new cigars of 2017.” If you’ve already smoked them, you were one of the first – ahead of the curve, as it were. But if you missed the word when they were released, or maybe just haven’t had the chance – or been convinced – to smoke them yet, maybe this list will give you a nudge in the right direction.
How Our Best New Cigars of 2017 Were Chosen
Our process is also a lot less scientific than the other cigar folks, since we never do actual scores (meaning numbers) when reviewing cigars. We also skipped all the highbrow blind tasting business, and instead relied more on that reaction you get when you smoke a great cigar:
“Buddy, you GOTTA try this. Seriously.”
And that’s how these 25 cigars ended up on our 2017 best new cigars list. We smoked them, and we liked them enough to want to tell you, our friends, about them.
Of course, we needed consensus on what would qualify for the list; a tough putt, given that everybody’s palate is a little different. So we came up with a system: if the majority of Advisors – along with the certified master tobacconists in our shop, and some of our pro friends here in the office – smoked these new cigars, and liked them enough to recommend them to someone, they made the cut.
As with all good End-of-Year lists, full disclosure:
- No one paid us to include their cigars. We don’t do advertising, and no one did us any favors to be included. We just liked their cigars.
- No Cubans.
- No order to this list, only that the cigars are listed alphabetically. Because they’re all that good.
For each entry on our Best New Cigars list, one of the Cigar Advisors has jotted down a few notes about why they liked that cigar, or what makes it stand tall above the rest; if we convince you to give that cigar a try, we hope you find something interesting when you smoke it, too – and tell us about it.
Without further ado, the Best New Cigars of 2017…and of course, your comments – whether you agree or disagree with our picks – are welcome below!
Aging Room Quattro F55 Maduro
Another charting-topping hit from the cigar-making team of Jochy Blanco & Rafael Nodal, whose Aging Room Quattro cigars know no rating score limits. Using an attractive and inherently sweet Mexican San Andrés Morrón wrapper over a diverse Dominican core blend, this box-pressed piece de resistance starts out creamy and chewy, building to caramelized flavors of sweet cedar and spice with notes of roasted coffee on a long, lingering finish. A marvelously well-balanced cigar with a Cuban heart and a Dominican soul. – Gary Korb
Alec Bradley Prensado Lost Art
Let me be blunt – I think this is the best cigar to come out of Alec Bradley land in a while and I can’t stop smoking it. The name pays tribute to the lost art when all fine goods were handcrafted, and this one is beautifully crafted and wrapped in a shiny Honduran Corojo leaf. The inner blend features premium Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaccos that give this stick smooth and full-flavored notes of espresso, pepper and spice. What an outstanding new offering from Alan Rubin and the boys at AB. – Tommy Zman
Avo Syncro South America Ritmo
Gary called this Avo “an extra-large, 2-hour banquet of creamy, complex flavors” when he reviewed it for his Weekend Cigar. No wonder: medium plus, and loaded with flavor, it’s all due to the fact that the South America Ritmo is one of Avo’s most diverse recipes to date – featuring fillers and binder from a half dozen different countries, all under an Ecuador-grown outer layer. All sizes are box-pressed, and very satisfying; maybe even the best new smoke from Avo in a couple years. Maybe… – John Pullo
Brick House Double Connecticut
Among the more inventive cigar blends in which Nicaragua meets Los Estados Unidos in more ways than one. A U.S. Connecticut Shade wrapper and Connecticut Broadleaf binder embrace snappy Nicaraguan long-fillers in an enjoyable “anytime” cigar. The creamy smoke issues mellow notes of hay and leather up front as flavors of roasted nuts, sweet spice, and a hint of cocoa are revealed in the latter stages of this well-balanced cigar. A very satisfying and affordably-priced selection for cigar smokers of every stripe. – GK
CAO Amazon Basin Fuma Em Corda
Hard to argue with any of the choices in this immensely popular CAO cigar line, but this cool-smoking, larger-than-average Toro size is what landed on our best new cigars list. What makes this Amazon Basin edition special are the fermentation processes that the Brazilian long fillers have undergone, both of which were “borrowed” from the Amazon locals. And clad in an oily Honduran wrapper, the Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaccos pair with these special leaves from CAO’s jungle connection to produce thick, marvelous rips of sweet smoke. – JP
CLE Eiroa The First 20 Years
Here, we’re showing Christian Luis Eiroa’s First 20 Years Maduro blend that came out in 2016; he followed it this year with a version clad in brick-hued Colorado wrappers that are cured and aged to perfection. The catch: for now, the newer Colorado is available as an in-store-only selection. Both are box-pressed puros, and both hit on all cylinders with lots of rich, chewy smoke. But if you can get your hands on the Colorado, you’ll really taste the nuances of flavor it adds to the blend: sweet tobacco and white pepper up front, which then seamlessly transition to rich notes of earth, sweet spice, nuts, and caramel with a hint of pepper on the finish. Both are great, and are a must-smoke for fans of Honduran leaf. – GK
Camacho Nicaraguan Barrel Aged
Camacho’s follow-up to one of last year’s best new cigars, their American Barrel Aged; this one smokes a little sweeter, with the core tobaccos (Nicaraguan, Dominican Piloto and Honduran Corojo – of course) having been aged for nearly half a year in barrels that previously held Flor de Caña rum. Dark and delicious, with underlying molasses and wood-tinged sensations courtesy of that rum barrel aging. While the flavors change throughout, that caramel-like sweetness basically lasts from start to finish. – JP
H. Upmann AJ Fernandez
There’s no doubting it: AJ is the hottest cigar maker on the planet right now, so the fact that this H. Upmann facelift made our list comes at little surprise. The new H. Upmann is medium-bodied, powerful yet balanced, with sweet and savory flavors. The Ecuadorian Habano wrapper is a prize by itself: dark, smooth, oily and handsome…but the vintage 98 Criollo and Dominican Piloto Cubano fillers and binders serve to elevate this premium to the next level. You’ll catch all of the Advisors singing the praises of this cigar for many smokes to come. – Fred Lunt
Highclere Castle Cigars and Foundation Cigar have partnered to create a magnificent new smoke; that makes Nicholas Melillo, former head of Drew Estate’s Nicaraguan tobacco operation, the man behind the masterpiece. The Highclere name recognizes the iconic castle featured in the award-winning British television drama, Downton Abbey. Inside the cigar boasts both Criollo and Corojo filler tobaccos with a spicy Brazilian Mata Fina binder. But it’s that beautiful Connecticut Shade wrapper leaf that makes this a creamy and delicious break from the ordinary. – TZ
L’Atelier Cote d’Or 2017 (Limited Edition)
2017 marked the third year for this limited edition cigar that boasts rare Nicaraguan tobaccos finished in a dark, flawless Ecuador Sancti Spiritus wrapper. Rolled to Churchill dimensions (7″ x 47), the cigar is full-flavored, well-balanced and avidly complex. Notes of earth, pepper, raisins, oak, spice, and brown sugar are revealed in the early stages. Floral notes creep into the mix at the midpoint, and the flavors remain true to the nub in this sweet-spicy masterpiece that’s well worth its ritzy price. – GK
La Flor de Ynclan
La Flor de Ynclan is here to show the world that Villiger does indeed make top-of-the-line premium hand rolled cigars. This one is a recreation of a Villiger offering that came out in 2007, and has made its comeback bigger and better than anyone imagined. It’s blended on the fuller side with hearty Nicaraguan and Dominican filler leaves and covered in a flawless, silky Ecuadorian Shade wrapper. Featuring notes of coffee, cedar and the pleasant sweetness of dried fruit, this cigar is must-try if you lean towards this type of flavor profile. – TZ
La Gloria Cubana Coleccion Reserva
It’s been quite a while since Ernesto Perez-Carrillo had his hands in the blending and rolling of La Gloria Cubana. So it seems only poetic that the man who built the brand would come back and make a kick-ass LGC cigar, yet keep the cost low for smokers who enjoy top shelf quality cigars without the price tag. To make the La Gloria Cubana Coleccion Reserva as special as it sounds, Ernesto used an all Nicaraguan core with a stunning Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper. Medium-full, this premium is all La Gloria and has proudly earned a seat at the table of the best new cigars 2017 has brought us. – FL
Crowned Heads has been a hot, up and coming cigar company for the past few years and founder Jon Huber created the Las Mareas as his tribute to the surf culture he watched from his days living in Hawaii. This full-bodied Nicaraguan filled stick unleashes a tsunami of flavors (yeah, I really just said that) like sweet cedar, cocoa, coffee and leather. But it’s that stunning 1999 Corojo wrapper leaf that brings those flavors all together for a truly wonderful smoking experience. Absolute total yum. – TZ
Master blender, Steve Saka says that the name of this cigar (pronounced Me kay-REE-dah) means “my dearest” in Spanish, and is the name for the “other” woman in a man’s life who is neither his wife or his mistress. For me it’s that “other” full-bodied cigar that ignites my deepest tobacco desires. Very robust Nicaraguan leaves fill the inside while a shimmering ebony Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro leaf blankets the entire stick. You’ll find notes of black coffee, dark chocolate and a nice smack of sweetness from the wrapper. So – damned – good. – TZ
My Father La Opulencia
In this old Cuban imprint rebooted by the Garcia family, La Opulencia offers plenty of wow factors starting with its stunning Mexican “Rosado Oscuro” wrapper, so-named by the Garcias. Box-pressed around dual Nicaraguan Criollo & Corojo binders, plus a diverse filler blend from three of the Garcia’s Nicaraguan estate plantations, the result is a full-flavored smoke offering a smooth and creamy brew with base notes of earth, leather, cedar, spice, and cocoa. A rare instance in which the cigar actually lives up to its name. – GK
Pappy Van Winkle Tradition
One of the finest and most in-demand bourbons gets a cigar to match. This was one of Willy Herrera’s first blends for Drew Estate: a Dominican/Nicaraguan long filler core, bound in a tasty and aromatic Indonesian tobacco, then finished in an Ecuador-grown Habano wrapper. The smoke is thick, the flavor intensity is very pronounced on the taste buds – but Pappy Tradition is not overly strong. A spicy-sweet set of flavors mark this DE cigar that’s made with the blessing of the Van Winkle family. – JP
Plasencia 1865 Alma Fuerte
Through the course of your cigar journey, you’ve probably smoked more Plasencia cigars than you might have realized – and it’s more than private labels and budget smokes. In addition to their contract work, one of the biggest names in cigars finally gets their own top shelf cigar: Alma Fuerte, from Plasencia 1865 Cigars. It’s a Nicaraguan puro that culls ingredients from the country’s four primary growing areas, and finishes them in the same dark, oily shade-grown Habano wrapper that Nestor Jr. first talked to us about in 2013. If you want to see what came of this special project crop that’s he’s been working to perfect for years, give this medium-full luxury smoke a try. – JP
Punch Gran Puro Nicaragua
I’ve been smoking Punch, well as long as I’ve been smoking cigars, but the Gran Puro Nicaragua is a cigar unlike any other in the Punch lineup. While puro is in the name, it’s not part of the game: this mighty smoke is built with some high-powered, high priming Nicaraguan ligero, but the wrapper is a sumptuous Connecticut-grown Broadleaf. Apart from its colorful band, this cigar imparts deeply complex flavors of dark fruits, a hearty sweetness, and a balance of peppery spice and earth. This cigar came from way out in left-field and we couldn’t be happier about it. – FL
Rocky Patel Vintage 2006 San Andreas
Among my favorite Rocky Patel cigars are his 15th and 20th Anniversary; but it’s really the Vintage lines where Rocky’s been at his best in terms of consistency and good taste. The Vintage 2006 San Andreas was one of the best new cigars our panel reviewed this year: when RP’s super well-aged San Andreas wrapper is combined with a Connecticut Broadleaf binder, you get a smoke that might make you a little weak in the knees. Lots of kick, but lots of complexity, too. – JP
Romeo 505 Nicaragua
Call this cigar a maverick if you will; Romeo 505 Nicaragua broke age-old tradition in becoming the first all-Nicaraguan cigar from Altadis. I called this cigar my own chocolate milkshake – it’s brimming with creamy notes of dark chocolate, and you’ll find toasty notes of dried fruit, cedar and leather abound. The Plasencia family crafted the blend for this cigar using the three growing regions of Nicaragua- Esteli, Jalapa, and Condega for a hearty filler and binder combo with a savory, aged Habano wrapper. This puro was another unanimous vote on our ballot for one of the best new cigars of the year. – FL
San Cristobal Quintessence
This was Cigar Journal’s “Cigar of the Year” last year. Giving it a try ourselves, we get why. Don Pepin Garcia has woven Nicaraguan estate-grown longfiller and binder leaves with a luscious Habano wrapper grown in Ecuador into a full-bodied feast for all the senses. Perched at the root of this blend is a delicate, molasses-like sweetness and a distinctive coffee flavor. As the well-balanced smoke progresses, it’s punctuated by notes of light pepper, raisins, and sweet spice, culminating in an “ideal cigar” experience. – GK
Shadow King by AJ Fernandez
AJ Fernandez is without question the hottest cigar maker on planet Earth right now and we here at Famous are bursting at the seams because the mighty Shadow King is the first private label cigar created in his new Nicaraguan factory – and it more than exceeded our expectations. These dark and flavorful treats feature a 4-nation blend of premium leaf, including Nicaraguan, Honduran and Dominican filler with a spicy Mexican binder and a gorgeous Sumatra Oscuro wrapper. I will go on record as saying that you NEED to smoke this. – TZ
Southern Draw Rose of Sharon
Southern Draw is a boutique that took us all by surprise this year. Founded by Veteran and Southern Gentleman Robert Holt, he teamed up with AJ Fernandez to create a spectacular lineup of cigars “with something for everyone”; but it’s the Rose of Sharon that is the crown jewel. Clad in a decadent Connecticut wrapper enveloped over a rich blend of Nicaraguan and Dominican binder and fillers, this cigar broke the age-old stereotype of mild Connecticuts and put Southern Draw on the map. We highly recommend adding this premium to your next cigar haul. – FL
2012 By Oscar Corojo
From bus driver to big time cigar maker, Oscar Valladares served us some sweet cigars in 2017. The Leaf may have hogged the spotlight as the World Series cigar for the Houston Astros, but the Mayan-themed 2012 Corojo floored us as an incredible smoke. The entire line is box-pressed, and the Corojo boasts rich notes of earth, roasted nuts, molasses, graham cracker and a rich creaminess in medium-full body. One of the most unique tasting smokes among our best new cigars; so here’s hoping for more solid stuff like this from Oscar. – FL
Winston Churchill The Late Hour
There’s not much left unsaid at this point about The Late Hour…so I’ll just say that in addition to being another unanimous pick (more like shoo-in, actually) for our Best New Cigars of 2017 list, it’s also one of the best special occasion smokes we’ve had in a long time. Nicaraguan tobaccos are aged for six months in casks that held single malt whisky (that’s right, no e), to add complexity and depth. When blended with Dominican fillers and a Mexican San Andres binder, then finished in a silky Ecuador Habano wrapper – it’s a smoke that’s packed with flavors that hit every square millimeter of the aficionado’s palate. Named for Churchill’s propensity to find his greatest creative inspirations late in the night – but I say it’s just as good, if not better, after dinner. – JP
Agree? Disagree? Or maybe we agree to disagree…whatever the case, let us know your thoughts on these great new cigars – and if you have a favorite that made your personal best-of list for 2017, let us know in the comments below. Happy New Year!