I’m not assigning rankings to these cigars, and no Cubans are listed. All these cigars were released in late 2016-early 2017. To avoid the illusion of rankings, the cigars are listed in alphabetical order. I have chosen 22 cigars for this list. 11 Will appear on this part and the second 11 will appear next week.
Remember, these are listed alphabetically, not by rank.
Part 2: [Sorry it took me a while to get to this half; life has a habit of getting in the way.]
Crowned Heads did a pre-IPCPR “soft release” of their Luminosa marque in the spring. The cigar is a bit mellower than what I have come to expect from Crowned Heads. Much more akin to the La Careme release of 2016. A very pleasant smoke that is a pleasure to smoke.
Four Kicks Maduro, however, delivers what Crowned Heads is famous for. It’s been reblended from the original Four Kicks and comes in a beautiful maduro wrapper.
Drew Estate Undercrown Sungrown
To add to the Uncercrown line, this year DE added a sungrown. In my observations they are almost literally flying off of the shelves. Flavor notes include almond and toasted tobacco with red pepper in the retrohale.
Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust
Steve Saka’s company added one major line this year, the Todos las Dias (grammatical error intentional…ask Steve). This is a very smooth yet strong cigar. It also smokes very slow, adding to the flavor. The strength also builds as you smoke, so be prepared.
Something else added to their line caused almost as much noise as the TlD. Steve’s “seconds,” called the Umbagog, are crafted from tobacco deemed not up to the high standards Saka sets for his product. The smoke is thick and rich. It seems like it almost has substance, as if one could chew it. The buzz surrounding these bundle release cigars is so intense that they are almost impossible to find because enthusiasts snatch them up so quickly.
This year AJ’s brand (more on that later) released two new blends. The Enclave, well known and well loved among cigar smokers, is now available in a Broadleaf. The complexity of this cigar is impressive from the initial draw. Sweet broadleaf notes are complemented by leather and coffee with a light touch of black pepper in the retrohale.
New World, another well-known marque, is now available in a Nicaraguan Puro. The cocoa notes are very subtle but add nicely to the profile. I would call this a medium+ bodied smoke with medium flavor.
Hamlet by Rocky Patel
Hamlet Parades, former Partagas Factory blender in Havana, has released his second marque through the Rocky Patel company, the 25th Year Master of Tobacco. Initial notes are well aged tobacco and walnut with a hint of white pepper in the retrohale. If Hamlet‘s Tabaquero had too much Mexican San Andreas in the blend (too strong) for your liking you should still give this blend a try. It is very smooth and flavorful.
This year Altadis collaborated with AJ Fernandez to produce the Montecristo by AJ Fernandez. The cigar starts off solid with leather, cocoa, and coffee with a drop or two of rye whisky in it.
Mombacho may be a lesser-known boutique brand, but their quality stands equal to the best of the rest. This year they released the Cosecha 2012, rolled with tobacco aged for 5 years. The notes are perfect Nicaraguan tobacco with a very elegant finish. There are some light pepper notes in the retrohale that complement the overall flavors of the cigar.
This up-and-coming brand is run very capably by owner Robert Holt and his wife Sharon. They put together a one-two punch in 2017 that is quite impressive. And the quality of the construction is always immaculate, being produced by AJ Fernandez (there’s that name again).
Jacob’s Ladder is a double-ligero broadleaf cigar that is best enjoyed after a full meal. Notes include cayenne, dark chocolate and cedar. Also very rich, well aged tobacco.
The Rose of Sharon is a Connecticut leaf wrapped beauty. Great smoke volume from the start. Mostly cedar and tobacco notes, with pepper coming in on the retrohale later in the cigar. A very elegant smoke and not some run-of-the-mill Connecticut.
Another collaboration between Altadis and AJ Fernandez, this cigar is quite a departure from what many have come to expect from the Upmann line. The smoke is plentiful and smooth with a good medium creaminess. While the cigar has many characteristics of an AJ Fernandez product, it’s still an Upmann. Very light spices in the retrohale.
Initially introduced to the market by Island Jim’s marketing of the Leaf by Oscar last year, Valadarez came in with two solid lines this year, the Leaf, a Habano wrapper cigar partially covered in a loose candela leaf, and the 2012 line. The best of all, in my opinion, is the 2012 Sungrown. Notes are light savory spices with a light white pepper in the retrohale.
Honorable mentions and a late addition
First, the late addition is the new T, a collaboration between Robert Caldwell, Matt Booth and AJ Fernandez. The cigar is very spicy and full-bodied with a very satisfying full finish. I will be smoking more of these.
I would be remiss not to mention the re-emergence of the Kristoff brand. With a new executive VP at the helm, the marketing has become much more accessible and the cigars themselves are excellent.
I also should mention Espinosa. The reblended Mucialago and new Habano blends are excellent.
Happy smoking. Joe Bob says smoke what you like and like what you smoke.