Want to know how EPC made the #1 Cigar of 2018? We dug into the CA Video Vault for a look back at our May ’18 sitdown with Ernesto, and learned everything there is to know about Encore Majestic by EP Carrillo. Watch now, and learn from the Master…
2018 CA Report: 2018 Cigars of Summer – Memorial Day Weekend Edition
Memorial Day 2018 Cigars: What You’ll Smoke on Repeat This Summer
By John Pullo
The world has been moving pretty fast – but weekend time is upon us, as is the official kickoff of Summer. Now, everything slows down; the sun gets a little hotter, the steaks sizzle a little louder, the drinks get a little colder.
Memorial Day is more than a non-stop macaroni salad parade; it represents good times spent with family and friends: cookouts, fireworks, open the pool, and enjoy cigars together, of course. So what to smoke during your feet up, ass-in-seat hours in the backyard or on the dock this weekend? Some newer additions to the humidor we’ll call 2018 cigars.
Consider this list a mid-year review, of sorts…we’re looking at the 2018 cigars that have stood tall over the first 5 months of the year. These may be new to you; there are also some others that have just recently come on to our radar, and demand that they be put in your must-smoke category at the next BBQ.
The catch…I think you’ll be hard-pressed to smoke just one. I might even be so bold as to say, you’ll smoke one or more of these picks on repeat this summer.
Above all, however, remember that this is also a time to celebrate our rights and our freedoms, and honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice doing what needs to be done to protect those rights and freedoms. Happy Memorial Day weekend – and enjoy this look at our must-try 2018 cigars…
Casa Fernandez Miami Aganorsa Maduro
First things first: this is not “new”…but if you are not familiar with Aganorsa Leaf, they grow and supply exceptional Nicaraguan tobaccos to many of the top premium cigar makers, and their sweet Jalapa leaf is in some highly rated stuff. Now an insider secret…Mexican San Andrés Maduro wrappers go really well with Aganorsa tobaccos, and it’s shown in the ratings. Here, this made-in-Miami Maduro combines estate-grown tobaccos from three regions of Nicaragua for a box-pressed cigar that smokes medium in body, but full and satisfying in flavor. THIS is your cookout cigar: with this Miami Aganorsa clenched between your teeth, your steaks can not possibly come off the grill tasting any finer.
My Father La Opulencia
For La Opulencia, My Father Cigars has again gone antiquing…this time, it’s a breath of new life into a defunct Cuban marque that translates as “the opulent” – and boy, is it. Cuban-seed Nicaraguan long fillers are combined with Criollo and Corojo binders and clad in a San Andres wrapper that Pepin had never used before. The result is a slow, full-bodied burn that’s simmering with chocolatey, earthy, and woody flavors. La Opulencia smokes full, as is the My Father way; box-pressed, for an even more intense experience.
Brick House Double Connecticut
Brick House hoists the colors proudly in this Memorial Day Weekend parade of cigars, showcasing a smoke that features a double-helping of genuine US-grown Connecticut tobaccos. It’s a rare bird: most cigar makers would match an Ecuador CT with this blend (Nicaraguan long filler, US Connecticut Broadleaf binder), but they opted to go with Connecticut-grown Shade for better representation of all the toasty flavors: hay, leather, coffee, cocoa, nuts and sweet cedar. Great aroma, and great for sharing, too.
Alec Bradley Black Market Esteli
You liked the Black Market? There’s more to love here with the Alec Bradley Black Market Esteli. Spicy? YES. It actually sizzles with a bite that makes the mouth water. A mostly-Nicaraguan recipe offers nice pops of well-defined flavors; the thick n’ creamy smoke keeps it interesting, for sure. A slow and savory burn that’s (probably) best reserved for the more experienced cigar lovers in the holiday block party crowd.
Indomina by AJ Fernandez
If you’re fortunate enough to spend some time on the boat over the weekend, you may find it worth your while to smuggle the Indomina by AJ Fernandez aboard. An abundance of peppy flavors – mostly spices, along with oak, earth and what I call a “meaty” sensation – should delight the taste buds, thanks to AJ’s recipe of medium-full Nicaraguan tobaccos under a Habano 2000 hybrid wrapper. One of the new 2018 cigars, these come in their own HumiJar – keeping them ship-shape and ready-to-smoke all weekend.
ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta San Andres
Rafael Nodal (Altadis USA/Aging Room Cigars guru) pairs with AJ Fernandez (Nicaraguan cigar wunderkind); massive flavor ensues. Rolled with Nicaraguan and Dominican tobaccos, it’s the shimmering, jet-black San Andres Morron wrapper – sleek and oily – that’s the star. Among the tasting notes: cedar, caramel, dark chocolate, espresso, black pepper. They’re big, dark and lingering flavors, and they hit the taste buds with a medium-plus expression that you don’t expect from Romeo. If you’re fortunate enough to pull a chair up to a firepit after the sun goes down on your holiday, make sure the Romeo San Andres is with you.
La Aurora ADN Dominicano
Quite possibly, one of the most diverse blends you’ll smoke this summer: long fillers from the DR, Nicaragua and Pennsylvania; a binder from Cameroon, all draped in a flavorful Dominican wrapper. Then, there’s the Andullo…this hard-to-grow tobacco is fermented within the twisted “rope” formed by intertwined yucca leaves. It’s a heritage Dominican technique, but the results are tremendous: medium-full, stunningly complex smoke. One of our contenders for top 2018 cigars of Summer, it’s a unique story to ponder while you smoke it on the dock with a drink.
Macanudo Inspirado Red
You remember Macanudo…Now clear your mind and see what’s different about this Macanudo Inspirado Red: It’s made in Nicaragua. It’s full-bodied. It would be perfectly understandable to think someone else made this cigar. But this is Macanudo through and through, where Inspirado Red relies on extremely well-aged Nicaraguan and Honduran tobaccos for more intense flavors, but less punishment by the cigar’s strength. Oh, it’s still strong and spicy – Inspirado Red just isn’t so aggressive about it. Great way to cap off your long weekend.
Trinidad Esteli by Plasencia
For a blender, the tobacco stockpiles at a place like Plasencia is a playground…so much good stuff to work with. Then Rafael Nodal (yep, he’s back again) found the room where they keep the “vintage” leaves – well-aged, smooth-smoking Nicaraguan tobaccos whose buttery, creamy flavors cross the taste buds like satin. Cigar nerds, you’ll sense notes of wood, earth and a mix of sweet spices, as Trinidad Esteli uses mostly Jalapa tobaccos along with Ometepe Habano and Condega Habano Ligero long fillers. Translation: it’s a nicely refined smoke that’s great for newcomers at your picnic, and totally in your wheelhouse if medium/medium-plus cigars are your go-to. One of the newest 2018 cigars, but already a greatest hits contender.
Encore by E.P. Carrillo
To say EPC has a sweet spot for Nicaraguan tobacco is an understatement; Ernesto told us it changed the whole way he blended cigars. And then he one-upped himself: for this Family Series Encore blend, he used a rare, old-school method of aging the tobaccos inside bales made from the bark of palm trees (called “tercios”). It took him two years to get the blend of this box-pressed, full-bodied Nicaraguan puro just right. Unique flavors and pinpricks of spice abound from the creamy smoke, but the EPC Encore’s aroma is what wins the day: sweet, warm and chocolatey.
Got any other 2018 cigars you can recommend to your pals here at Cigar Advisor? Or even just a comment with what you’re smoking for Memorial Day – give it a mention below!