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Guess the Best Cigar of the Year

Mike’s Cigars is currently running a contest with a chance to win a box of this year’s best cigars, as chosen by Cigar Aficionado. In order to win, you simply need to… guess that best cigar.

You can enter the contest by clicking here. Contest ends on December 11th.

Guess the Best Cigar of the Year and Win a Box

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Best Cigar Lighters

If you’re just getting into smoking cigars, a lighter is one of the essential items you’ll need. And if you’ve been smoking for years? Then you know that there’s a lighter for every occasion. Readers often ask us about our favorite lighters or those that we’d recommend.

The five cigar lighters featured in this article were designed for ease-of-use, functionality and style. They’ll make a statement wherever you go, and they’ll get the job done flawlessly!

We didn’t include luxury ($100+) cigar lighters in this selection because those we’ve owned were often inferior in terms of reliability (Dunhill I am looking at you). And if you’re looking for a tabletop cigar lighter, don’t forget to check Robustojoe’s extensive guide published a few months ago.

Here is our selection of best cigar lighters. I feel that they are all top notch in terms of quality: don’t expect the #1 to work better than the #5.

1. JetLine Super Torch Clear Lighter

Jetline Super Torch Clear

JetLine makes some sleek, beautiful lighters, but this isn’t one of them. The design looks pretty industrial; you can actually see the butane in the chamber. It’s an extra large chamber, however, and there is one advantage to the clear design, and that’s that you can see the level of the butane at all times. So you know when you’re running out and need to refill. There’s nothing more annoying than bringing a special stogie and finding you can’t light up because you forgot to fill the chamber. This lighter eliminates that problem.

While this is not the best-known cigar lighter either, it’s awesome. It’s sturdy, built to last, and lights quickly and effortlessly. It delivers reliable performance; I haven’t had a single issue with it. It may not be a looker, but for $10-$20, it doesn’t need to be. You’re not going to find a sweeter deal than that.

2. Vector Heatran Triple Flame Lighter

Vector Heatran

This lighter may not be one you’ve heard of, and it may not be the best-known brand, I was happy to give it a try anyway when a friend recommended it.

And guess what? It’s amazing. It fits easily in your pocket, it looks great with that black matte finish and simple, elegant design, and it’s amazingly reliable. The heat level is adjustable, so you can get exactly what you need. It lights up right away, too. Even though you may be thinking of going with a bigger brand, the Vector Heatran is well worth your consideration! How much will it cost you? Expect to pay $30-$40.

3. Xikar Element Lighter X550G2

Xikar Elements

Xikar is a brand that makes a lot of awesome cigar accessories, and the Element Lighter is no exception. This lighter has a pretty basic look to it (but with a beautiful finish), and it’s a top-notch performer. Standout features include an automatic protective lid, a window on the side that lets you check on your fuel level, and a built-in cigar punch for dual functionality.

The Element Lighter puts out a consistent flame and is easy to light. It’s great for precision and the punch is sharp and ideal for most ring gauges I’ve tried with it. Any drawbacks? Well, this thing really burns hot, and it burns right through your fuel too. You can expect to have to refill it pretty regularly. At $40-$60, it also isn’t cheap. It’s one of the best buys you’ll find in that price range, however, so if you want something with a sleek finish and some extra bells and whistles, it just may be worth it.

4. Bugatti B-2002 Butane Cigar Torch Lighter, Dual Flame

Bugatti B-2002

This cigar lighter has a really chic two-tone design which is just fabulous to look at. It’s also got some excellent features: two flames, wind-proofing, a smooth Zippo style lid, and a cigar punch cutter built right in which you can fold back out of the way when you aren’t using it. It shouts “luxury” without running you broke; you can buy it for $20-$50. At the lower end of the price range, that is an incredible deal.

I actually had to adjust the flame on this one to get it working right. Factory settings weren’t cutting it. That said, it now performs spectacularly, and a lot better than most other lighters I’ve tried. It’s also great for wind-proofing.

5. Vertigo Cyclone Torch Lighter

Vertigo Cyclone Torch Lighter

Here’s another handy, reliable lighter in the same price range. Buy it in charcoal or chrome—whichever suits your fancy. It’s not gorgeous, but the clear tank does show you the fluid level, and it’s lightweight, durable, and built for wind-proofing.

This is actually one of the most impressive lighters I’ve ever tried, and not just in this price bracket. This bad boy easily outperforms $50 lighters I’ve used! It works effortlessly, and the butane goes a long way. And how about the wind-proofing? It’s phenomenal. We were having a pretty rough gale the other day and I had no problem getting my cigar lit. So if you’re living in Chicago or on the coast or somewhere else another lighter won’t do the trick, you’ve finally found your answer!

Bonus: Zippo Classic Lighter

Zippo Cigar Lighter

The Zippo classic lighter needs no introduction. It’s a cultural icon, and it’s been used by many of them as well. Its sleek, simple design heralds back to the 1930s. For the cigar smoker who loves the whole retro look, it makes an elegant and reliable accessory.

Of course, there’s just one problem, and that’s that the Zippo lighter uses Zippo lighter fluid. If you’ve tried that in the past, you know it might mess up the flavors of your cigar. But there is a way around this! All you need to do is purchase a torch flame lighter insert like the Z-Plus. It goes right in your Zippo lighter and lets you use it for your cigars! It doesn’t come with the fuel, though, so you also will need to stock up on butane (which you’ll need for any of these lighters anyway). I recommend the Vector Quintuple Refined Butane Fuel.

I hope you enjoyed this list! Yeah, a lot of these lighters won’t turn any heads, but they’re affordable, user-friendly, reliable, and will provide you with excellent performance now and over the years to come. What are your top recommended butane lighters? Share with us in the comments below!

The Best Cigar Lighters

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This year we’re as usual a bit late with the ‘best of’ Cuban list, sorry about that. On the bright side, this delay gave us a chance to smoke all of these cigars again in the beginning of 2015, which confirmed the ratings.

Like last year, the list is composed of cigars that we smoked in 2014 (with mostly recent box codes). Without further ado, here’s the list.

1. Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure de Luxe

Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure de Luxe

Surprisingly, the Hoyo de Monterrey brand secures the #1 spot again! This time it’s a LCDH-exclusive release called “Epicure de Luxe”. It’s definitely the best Cuban cigar I smoked in 2014 and I finished my first box in January 2015. Planning to open my second box this fall!

2. H. Upmann Connossieur A

H. Upmann Connossieur A

The H. Upmann Connossieur A is another quite exclusive release which is available at La Casa del Habanos but also in Habanos Specialists shops around the world. Flavor-wise, this cigar is as good as it gets, if you like the delicate and balanced Cuban profile, you’ll be in for a treat. Overall there were a few construction issues (mainly burn) in these cigars though, otherwise they could have easily made it to the very top of this list!

3. Hoyo de Monterrey Petit Robusto

Hoyo de Monterrey Petit Robustos

Unfortunately, overall in 2014 I had way less time to dedicate to smoking than I wished, due to work and health issues. In this context, small cigars like Hoyo de Monterrey Petit Robusto really shine and I’m fairly sure that this was my most smoked cigar in 2014. If properly aged, it packs everything Cuba has to offer in a rather small format.

4. Cohiba BHK 52

Cohiba BHK 52

Reliable, consistent, posh: the Cohiba BHK 52 is just as good as last year, and is a perfect special occasion smoke all-around. This is my first choice for informal meetings with business partners.

5. Vegas Robaina Famosos

Not really a mainstream cigar, the Vegas Robaina Famosos box that I kept in my humidor since 2012 gave me some very pleasant moments on the rare occasions I could enjoy a cigar indoors in winter.

What were the best Cuban cigars that you smoked recently? – the ultimate cigars shopping tool!

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Best Cuban Cigars of 2014

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The Best Tabletop Cigar Lighter

Finding the right cigar lighter is a personal matter. We all have our preferences, and there are lots of lighter styles from which to choose. But ultimately, what we cigar smokers require from a lighter is universal: a solid flame that lights each and every time we pull the trigger. That’s not a lot to ask, but over the years I’ve been amazed at how many pocket lighters fail within the first few months of use. The only such lighter I’ve been satisfied with is the S.T. Dupont MaxiJet. Although relatively expensive ($150 street price), it’s an investment worth making.

But everyday cigar smoking lends itself more to a tabletop lighter. One popular model is the Vector Megapump. I’ve used this lighter and it seems to works well. Not having owned one, I can’t attest to its reliability. And at prices above $100, it too is an investment. But there are two lighters I’ve been using, literally for years, and both are my workhorses for everyday cigar smoking: the Blazer Piezo Micro Torch and the Blazer ES-1000. These run in the $50 range.

The Blazer Piero Micro Torch

The secret to the reliability of these lighters is the fact that neither is actually a cigar lighter. They are jeweler’s torches, designed for prolonged use and ruggedness. Yet they make the perfect cigar lighter. The torch flame is strong and pointed, directing the heat exactly where you want it. And with huge fuel tanks, they require infrequent refueling. I’ve become so dependent on the Blazer that I carry one in my cigar bag. The poor little MaxiJet doesn’t get much use anymore.

The Blazer ES-1000 has one-touch operation.

If you want a solid, dependable, and economical cigar lighter, I recommend getting a Blazer. Either unit is terrific, although lighting the Piezo Micro Torch requires first turning on the gas, then pushing the ignition. The ES-1000 is a one-touch operation. One caveat is that some newer ES-1000 units have a locking mechanism that is a pain to operate. My friend got one of those and we immediately broke off the annoying plastic lock. I can’t say enough about these invaluable cigar accessories. I hope this bit of information leads you all to a better cigar smoking experience. – the ultimate cigars shopping tool!

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The Best Tabletop Cigar Lighter

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Best Cigar Spots in St Louis

Today we’re bringing you a guest blog post from Nikki Glenn, a cigar aficionada and a violinist entertainer for private, corporate and special events worldwide. She loves learning about and smoking cigars as much as possible.

While St. Louis, Missouri may be best known for the Gateway Arch, the World’s Fair, or for being home to Anheuser-Busch, it also has a thriving community of cigar lovers and some very unique spots to enjoy a good smoke. St. Louis has some of the most culturally diverse neighborhoods, from the bohemian to the upscale, and these cigar spots can be found within them. It is especially challenging to find places to relax and enjoy a smoke in light of the smoking bans in many states, so I’m delighted to share with you the best cigar spots in St. Louis and why I love them all.

Charles P. Stanley Cigar Company and Lounge

Charles P. Stanley Cigar Company and Lounge

The Charles P. Stanley Cigar Company and Lounge is located on Washington Avenue, a street that offers up hip nightclubs, coffee houses, and unique retail establishments along with upscale dining and wine bars. I would describe Stanley’s as “Cheers” with cigars – they really do know your name once you start going there. The staff is both friendly and knowledgeable, and always willing to chat about their favorite smokes or offer up suggestions if you don’t want your usual.

There’s a walk-in humidor for your perusal and they have top shelf liquors to enjoy at the bar or in their couch seating. You also won’t miss a second of the game as there are multiple TV’s throughout the establishment. They have live music weekly, and also host cigar events throughout the year. What I love the most about Stanley is that it is very unpretentious and relaxed. It is a great place to go hang out and unwind with a glass of your favorite libation. Please note I didn’t say it was quiet. Washington Avenue is a prime party spot in downtown St. Louis, so it does get fairly crowded on the weekends and they can be boisterous. However, if you’re looking for an unfussy place where you can have a nice drink and a smoke, Stanley’s can’t be beat.

(Hours 3 pm – 1 am, closed Sundays)

Zino’s Platinum Cigar Lounge at Brennan’s

Zino Platinum Lounge at Brennan's

If you’re looking for something a little more… highbrow, I offer for your consideration Zino’s Platinum Cigar Lounge. It is located in the Central West End, home to an eclectic mix of restaurants, bars, and gated streets with some of the loveliest old mansions in the city. On the upper floor of Brennan’s, a wine, food, and tobacco establishment, it’s impossible not to feel special when the door to the club requires a keycode to enter. The lounge is cozy and dim, but the appeal here is twofold: the company that you keep, and the music that you’ll hear. Music is vinyl (remember records?) only, spun by the bartender/doorkeeper/DJ. He spins quite the mix, from early Prince to Norah Jones and everything in between. You can bring your own smokes, or they do offer cigars for sale – their special trademark is the Durango Pipe Tobacco Cigar. Please note that this is a members’ only club, but day passes can be purchased during the week by calling in advance. The membership is a friendly lot, and you’ll most likely get quite a bit of encouragement to join up if you go more than a few times. Brennan’s has more of the “club” feel to it since it is very small and intimate – it really is a neat place to meet interesting people and have great conversations.

(Hours Mon-Sat 3 pm-1.30 am, Sun 5 pm – midnight)

Hill Cigar Company

Hill Cigar Company

“The Hill” is one St. Louis’ oldest (and historically Italian-American) neighborhoods. You will find some of the best Italian food in the world within this neighborhood, but it is also home to the Hill Cigar Company. They have a lovely walk-in humidor featuring a wide selection of cigars, and also have a small lounge at the back of the property with couches and television. The owner is excellent at picking new smokes if you tell him what you’re currently smoking. They have over 800 different cigars available, including the Opus X line, as well as My Father, Zino Scepter series, and Padron Anniversary cigars; please note my understanding is that if you wish to smoke in the lounge, you should smoke what you’ve purchased there. It is a very low-frills place, but their genuine warmth and hospitality make it feel like going to a very good friend’s house to enjoy a smoke. However, their hours are the shortest of any other lounge in St. Louis, so you will want to come here before you enjoy a fantastic Italian dinner in the neighborhood.

(Hours Mon-Fri 10 am – 7 pm, Sat 10 am – 6 pm, Sun 12 noon – 4 pm)

St. Louis Cigars (West County) – opening soon

I’m mentioning STL Cigars because it will be reopening soon – it holds a special place in my heart as it was my regular go-to spot until a fire destroyed the building a few months ago. It will have a walk-in humidor, lounge seating, patio seating, and a bar once the reconstruction is completed. The owner is one of the friendliest gentlemen I’ve ever met, and his love and appreciation for cigars is evident. This is a place to come at the end of the day, to have a drink, and shoot the breeze. The regulars are down-to-earth and happy to strike up a conversation. I’m looking forward to its reopening. – the ultimate cigars shopping tool!

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It’s true, we’re seriously late with this year’s lists. In the beginning, when we realized we missed the schedule, we were planning to just skip 2013 best of’s and start afresh in 2014. But given the number of emails we received asking us to publish the top 5, we had to reconsider our position. So here it is, our selection of best Cuban cigars of 2013.

The list is composed of cigars that we smoked in 2013 (the box codes are mostly recent, 2012-2013, with one exception). Most of them are not recent releases and we picked the cigars that showed the highest consistency throughout the year. The Montecristo No. 4, for example, didn’t make it to the list because it seriously lacked consistency both in terms of flavor and construction.

1. Hoyo de Monterrey Grand Epicure 2013 Limited Edition

Hoyo De Monterrey Grand Epicure 2013 Edición Limitada

This Hoyo de Monterrey seems to be a very successful edicion limitada. 2013 was a good vintage for LE’s, as I hear the Punch Serie d’Oro No. 2 also smokes very good at the moment (review coming soon). This is how DrFever describes the Hoyo Grand Epicure LE 2013:

It is a lush, rich, creamy and extremely flavorful smoke. Every puff offered something different. It was extremely complex and had incredible depth to the flavors. The blend was always changing featuring chocolate, coffee, sweet cedar, leather, caramel, vanilla and mild pepper with hints of orange peel and dried fruit.

2. Partagas Serie P No. 2

Partagas Serie P No. 2

Partagas Serie P No. 2 is the Cuban torpedo that had the highest grades in 2013. The competition is rude in this segment, since both H. Upmann No. 2 and Montecristo No. 2 received really good praise too.

3. Trinidad Robusto T

Trinidad Robusto T

I’ve smoked 6 of Trinidad Robusto T’s throughout 2013 and they have been very good: perfect balance, great complexity and no harshness at all. I still can’t understand why in the world would Habanos SA discontinue such a wonderful smoke. I also noticed that, surprisingly, the ones that I smoked this summer seemed somewhat less complex to me, perhaps there’s no use to age them further? I’m afraid it’s the last time they make it to the top 5.

4. Bolivar Coronas Gigantes

I’ve had multiple opportunities in 2013 to dedicate 100 minutes to this impressive churchill. A friend gifted me a box of these in 2009 and thankfully there were no construction issues so far. It’s a very special cigar to me because it was the very first cigar review on this blog, back in 2007. I guess it’s time to update it, stay tuned.

5. Ramon Allones Specially Selected

Ramon Allones Specially Selected

Well, I’m really sorry for being somewhat predictable but the RASS remains (at least for us) the most consistent regular production cigar. It’s the cigar I turn to, for the past 7 years, when I need something good and reliable.

What were the best Cuban cigars that you smoked in 2013? It’s probably not that easy to answer this question in July 2014, but still, give it a try in the comments area below. – the ultimate cigars shopping tool!

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Best Cuban Cigars of 2013

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Duty Free Airport Cigar Shops

Looking for a great way to save money on cigars? The next time you’re traveling, head over to a duty-free cigar shop while you’re waiting at the airport. At duty-free shops, you can purchase cigars which are tax-exempt, and you can also access a selection that you might not be able to at home. This is also a chance to browse through regional and limited cigar releases. Not all duty-free cigar shops are on par with one another though; some are excellent, while others are not. Here are 5 of the best duty-free shops. Know another duty free shop with a great selection? Tell us about it in the comments area!

1. Dubai Duty Free

Dubai Duty Free Cigar Shop

At the Dubai International Airport, you’ll encounter a number of duty-free cigar shops (including a La Casa del Habano). The selection is enormous, and you can find even fairly obscure cigars in the shops. They can be very crowded, though, so be ready for that, and don’t expect much out of customer service. Agents are spread thin, and most of them are not cigar experts. Do your research in advance and you should find plenty to choose from and outstanding prices. Dubai Duty Free has a very strong reputation, and you can trust your purchases.

2. Duty Free Liquor & Tobacco – Hong Kong

This duty-free shop in the Hong Kong International Airport is another one that has a reputation spanning the globe. The selection is huge, the staff is friendly and genuinely helpful, and the airport itself is a beautiful, world-class institution. This makes it an enjoyable place to spend some time shopping while you wait for your plane. The drawback is the prices. You may be able to find some obscure or regional cigars here that you can’t get at home, but it may be worth your while to check prices in town too, since the Hong Kong duty-free shop can be expensive. Sadly this is more and more a problem with duty-free shops everywhere.

3. Frankfurt Duty-Free: Terminal 1

Frankfurt Airport Cigar Shop

There are several different duty-free shops in the Frankfurt Airport. Arguably, the best one is located in the B Area of Terminal 1. Customer service is very knowledgeable, and the selection is excellent. Moreover, the cigars here are actually well maintained in a humidor (some duty-free shops in other airports are not so great at keeping their cigars at the proper humidity level). There is an added convenience as well, which is that you can pre-order your duty-free cigars online. Do so up to 12 hours before your flight, and you get to enjoy a discount on your purchase. Your order will be waiting for you at the check-out counter when you arrive. This is great if you are in a rush!

4. Zurich Duty-Free

Zurich Airport Duty Free Cigar Shop

The Zurich Airport has a large duty-free zone with a wide selection of reasonably priced cigars. If you are a fan of Davidoff cigars, you will not want to miss the Davidoff shop there. This duty-free shop zone receives consistently positive reviews. While you will not likely find a lot of rare cigars here, you will find better prices than are available at many other more expensive duty-free shops around the world.

5. Tel Aviv

If you will be at the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, the duty-free shop is not to be missed. You will find a lot of older cigars here. The prices are not that low, but the discounts can be quite nice if you take advantage of their deals. The selection is better than average, but mold is a common problem. If you are asking someone else to buy you cigars on a trip to Israel, that could be a problem. If you are able to make the trip and examine them yourself though, you could get some excellent cigars at a low price.

Not Recommended

  • Heathrow. The duty-free shop here has gone downhill. Cigars are very expensive and climate control is rather poor.

When shopping duty-free, remember:

  • Do your research first. Make a list of cigars you are interested in, and check prices online to try and get a grasp for what a good deal is. That way you will not pay an exorbitant price for something on mistake.
  • Check the duty-free shop’s cigar selection online if you can. Some shops even list prices, or let you pre-order and save money and time (like Frankfurt).
  • Hunt for deals on bulk buys.
  • Be wary of poor climate control. Inspect cigars carefully before purchasing.

On the whole, if you are going to shop duty-free, you should be aware that the prices are probably not going to be as low as you may be expecting. In fact, some duty-free shops may be more expensive than other options, usually because of their location (the Heathrow shop, for example; everything is expensive in the UK). You will save the most money shopping duty-free by taking advantage of deals like the one offered at Tel-Aviv. And you may find cigars for sale in duty-free shops that are hard or impossible to find in your own country. – the ultimate cigars shopping tool!

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You have noticed it and even e-mailed us several times with a gentle reminder – we are late with our top non-Cuban cigars for 2012 list. It’s time to fix it right now! As usual, before we start, a few words about our methodology – we call it “total subjectiveness”. Ah, I almost forgot about the only rule: the cigars that made it to the list were not necessarily released in 2012, but smoked throughout the year. Unfortunately, we are unable to smoke all cigars that deserve attention, so you might not see some names that are frequent guests on our blogging friends’ top 5/10′s.

5. San Lotano Oval

San Lotano Oval Robusto

Complex,… ummmm,… not really. Delicious,… yep! Padronesque in its ability to deliver laser-like precison of flavors while maintaining an excellent and flawless burn line.
[review / compare prices]

4. Xikar HC Series Habano²

Xikar HC Series Habano² Robusto

We liked everything about this cigar, from start to finish. Easy to enjoy, easy to acquire.

3. Padron Serie 1926 40th Anniversary Maduro

Padrón Serie 1926 40th Anniversary Maduro

This cigar showcases how masterful the blenders at Padrón are, not only with the balance and complexity of the individual cigar, but also with the consistency these cigars provide from year to year. This 8-year old stick might be at its peak now.

2. Aging Room Small Batch

Aging Room Small Batch M356

In a world where dark cigars have gained prominence, the Aging Room Small Batch comes across as a beacon of light. There’s no earth or espresso tones in this stick, but rather aromatic flavors of wood and spearmint. Smoking it is a stimulating experience, one that begs you to keep smoking.
[review / compare prices]

1. Liga Privada Feral Flying Pig

Liga Privada Feral Flying Pig

The Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper and Brazilian Mata Fina combo seems to complement each other beautifully, the wrapper lends a deep earthy core and the binder gives a punch of sweetness. All hail the Broadleaf!
[review / compare prices]

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Best Non-Cuban Cigars of 2012

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Cohiba Behike BHK 52

As the year winds down and after having sampled many a Cuban and non-Cuban cigar alike, both for my own smoking pleasure and for the purpose of reviewing them for, I wanted to give readers my thoughts on 5 of the most memorable cigars I smoked this year and why I placed them into my top 5 list. I’ve listed them in a descending order, starting at number 5 and working my way to number one.

5. H. Upmann No. 2

H. Upmann No. 2

A cigar not often seen on the top of the year lists, the H. Upmann No. 2 is a cigar that lovers of the Piramides should take time to sample. While I do enjoy the Partagas Series P No. 2, I included the Upmann because it is simply a tastier cigar. Construction issues aside, these cigars offer very pleasant flavors and thick clouds of smoke. Also, newly constructed cigars show significantly less flaws and, as noted in my review, people wanting to search these out would be best advised to try to find newer ones to avoid those construction flaws. Those looking for older box codes of these should be cognizant of the fact that they will encounter construction flaws that might disrupt their experience, but those flaws never impact the flavour that I described as having a sweeter profile, one that provides noticeable cocoa and coffee tones with hints of vanilla and occasional notes of citrus balanced with just the right amount of saltiness and spice. This, along with the Behike was the only cigar where I caught myself mumbling “yum” as I exhaled the thick velvety smoke after a flavor rich draw. If you’ve never tried one then you definitely owe yourself giving one a try.

4. Cohiba Robusto

Cohiba Robusto

Another fine cigar from the Cohiba line-up. As I wrote in my review of this cigar earlier in the year, “Overall, the cigar was very complex, starting with a hit of cracked pepper over deep woodsy and earthy notes that evolved perfectly into cocoa, dried fruit, citrus and leathery notes with a subtle offering of cedar. The smoke output was full, rich and had a velvety texture to it. All of this was perfectly complimented by an ever so subtle salt on the lips.”

What I enjoy about these cigars is that they are consistently consistent. It is extremely difficult to ever find a bad one in the lot and for me consistency is important. I want no surprises when I reach into the humidor.

3. Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2

Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2

I wrote in my review of this cigar that this is perhaps one of the most flavourful robustos on the market and I was extremely impressed that the growing popularity of these cigars hasn’t impacted construction.

When I reviewed its flavor (5 out of 5 stars) I noted that I was extremely impressed with how the Epicure No. 2 was very balanced and showed signs of complexity with very discernible and pleasurable flavour changes. These subtle changes are what keeps a cigar from being one dimensional. The texture of the smoke remained consistent and provided the cigar with the sweetness it needed to keep the white pepper, occasional bitterness and subtle saltiness in check. I wish all my cigars would have as much smoke per puff as this one does.

If I had to best describe the flavour journey the cigar went from sweet coffee tones to dark unsweetened chocolate, hints of cedar and hints of tea. A pleasing mild salt and pepper was evident throughout serving to nicely balance the sweetness of this very flavourful cigar.

2. Ramon Allones Specially Selected

Ramon Allones Specially Selected

This cigar is one that I had always been putting off. I had been reading quite a bit about it in early 2012 and noticed that it even made Inspector’s 2011 top five list. I can’t tell you why I always put it off but I am so glad that I decided to grab a few and see what all the buzz was about. I am glad I finally decided to make the purchase and add these to my collection.

This cigar is consistently creamy and tasty. It can come off as a little rustic in appearance and not always perfect in that aspect but it surely delivers where it counts: flavor. The construction is consistent as is its rich creamy texture with flavors of sweet coffee, honey and black cherry with the occasional nutty and very subtle pepper undertones. A nice complex cigar that is a bit more on the sweeter side rather than the earthy tones that come to the forefront in other Cuban cigars. The RASS is definitely worth the money and those looking for a sweeter and very velvety smoke output would do well to add these to their humidor. My overall review of this cigar was 4.75 out of 5 Stars but it delivered a perfect score of 5 where it counted.

1. Cohiba Behike BHK 52

Cohiba Behike BHK 52

This is my number one Cuban of the year. It has become my absolute favourite cigar and although it is not my regular daily smoke because of the price, I always want to make sure I have these on hand for those special occasions when you want to kick back and enjoy 70 minutes of absolute pleasure.

No other cigar I smoked this year, or in the last decade for that matter, did so much to involve all my senses while smoking it. It is superior to any other cigars I smoked this year in so many ways. Price aside, no other cigar offers the complexity that this cigar offers. Your palate will consistently be awakened with complex flavors from earthy tones that Cohiba cigars are so known for, with undertones of citrus, vanilla, cocoa and chocolate. The sweetness is balanced by the occasional hints of dark chocolate or unsweetened espresso. The smoke output is simply outstanding with a velvety texture akin to the texture of the froth off a perfectly made cappuccino. Every puff of this perfectly constructed cigar offers your palate an explosion of flavour and because of the way it is manufactured, you can essentially smoke them right out of the box without the need to age them.

We all have our favourite things in life for which we don’t mind spending a little extra money on. Whether it be clothing, spirits, food or fine wine. This, for me, is what I spend my money on to spoil myself now and then.

This cigar was the only one I reviewed in 2012 that earned a perfect 5 out of 5 in every category.


Honourable mentions go to the Partagas Series D No. 4, the Vegas Robaina Famosos, the Bolívar Royal Corona and the H. Upmann Royal Robusto, cigars that have I have not compiled detailed reviews for yet but watch for them in the coming weeks. Who knows, perhaps one of these very worthy cigars will make it into my list next year.

There are many great cigars coming out of Cuba these days and really, doing a top 5 list is difficult because there are so many factors that I needed to consider. This should not put anyone off any of the wonderful cigars coming off the Island of late but these are cigars that I felt offered the best flavor for the dollar in 2012, for my palate.

Please feel free to leave a comment and tell us what were some of your most memorable Cuban smokes that you enjoyed this year. – the ultimate cigars shopping tool!

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Best Cuban Cigars of 2012

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