The following are my top ten picks for 2008:
#10- Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Legend "The Crusader"
I was immediately attracted to this cigar's gorgeous reddish brown Connecticut Havana seed wrapper. The flavors are deeply earthy with notes of cedar, espresso, leather and nuts with spicy Asian cinnamon lingering throughout the smoke. This cigar retails for about $140 for a box of 20.
#9- Kristoff Criollo Churchill
This cigar was one of my favorites last year that was a pleasure to smoke from start to finish. Medium bodied and smooth, this churchill has balanced flavors of cocoa powder, wood, leather and nuts. "Yummy" is a word which best describes this cigar. This cigar retails for $5.75 a cigar at Silo Cigars.
#8- Illusione 68 "Bombone"
Sized at 44 ring gauge by 4 inches, the "Bombone" was my favorite "quickie" cigar last year hands down. It was the cigar I pulled from my humidor everytime I needed a smoke before work. Named for the year of my birth, I could not help but love it's sweet smoky flavor with notes of cedar, leather and nuts. It's a great way to wake your taste buds up in the morning! Available at Silo Cigars for $135 for a box of 25.
#7- Ashton VSG Corona Gorda
I remember describing this cigar as "elegant and refined", it even had me putting on my reddest nail polish to take pictures of it. Complex with nuances of dark chocolate, cedar, and leather, with a touch of cloves, cinnamon and vanilla. A definite special occasion cigar. Retails for around $216 for a box of 24.
#6- San Cristobal Classico
Despite it's inconsistencies, I found myself continuously re-ordering this full bodied cigar with the best looking cigar band ever. But it wasn't it's looks that had me wanting more, it was it's complexity of flavors with dark espresso notes, cedar and vanilla, followed by creamy almond and a tropical banana-like flavor. Wow, that's just so Jimmy Buffett! The Clasico retails for about $158 for a box of 22.
#5- 601 Maduro Box-Pressed Torpedo (Blue label)
This was definitely one of my favorite maduros from last year. The quality of 601 cigars in general really impressed me. For what you get (a Don Pepin creation), they are pretty reasonably priced. This cigar smells like decadent milk chocolate and tastes of dark coffee with the signature cayenne pepper zing of a DPG smoke. Sweet vanilla cream adds some balance to this cigar's strong Corojo flavor. I purchased my cigars from Silo, where a box of 20 goes for $178. This cigar should age well in your humidor.
#4- Carlos Torano Exodus 1959 Silver Edition Toro Elegante
Usually I am not into "fat" cigars, but this hefty 55 ring gauge by 5.5 inches truly is an "elegant" Toro. This medium bodied box pressed cigar actually felt very comfortable to smoke. The flavors were very smooth and balanced with just the right amount of spice, cream and sweetness to go along with it's woody character. The cigar finished with a leathery note along with roasted nuts and touch of spice. Delicious. This new vitola retails for around $114 for a box of 25.
#3- Bolivar Petit Corona (Cuba)
I think I described this as my OMG cigar because if you are lucky enough to get ahold of one either legally or, (ahem) otherwise, you are truly in for an orgasmic experience. Opulent flavors of rich coffee, cocoa, nuts, leather, creamy hay, and balanced spices will have you smoking it right down to the nub. Should be my number one smoke, if it were legal.
#2- Rocky Patel Renaissance Robusto
This was a difficult choice, as this cigar could have easily been my top choice for 2007. I feel that Rocky Patel has not been getting enough credit for some of the great cigars that he has produced because he puts out so many brands every year. I personally love the Decade, Old World Reserve, and especially this cigar, the Renaissance. This cigar contains tobacco from locations that Rocky Patel won't name. Nevertheless, this "secret" tobacco gives off tasty flavors of rich mocha, sweet cream, spicy cinnamon, raisins and roasted nuts. The tobacco tastes nicely aged with no harshness or bitterness. This cigar is available at Silo Cigars. Order by phone.
#1- Liga Privada No.9 Toro
Who knew that Drew Estates could put out such a fantastic cigar? I believe I described this cigar as "the complete package". Everything from the way this cigar was rolled, to how it smokes, to how this cigar tastes was very impressive. The flavors are wonderfully complex with notes of dark chocolate, espresso, roasted nuts, cinnamon and cherry among the standouts of this well blended cigar. These cigars may be hard to find at your local B&M, and if you do, they won't come cheap. A box of 24 retails for about $216. But what the heck, treat yourself as an executive CEO and make these YOUR personal cigar. (Take that Recession!)