December 19, 2014

Top 25 Cigars of 2014: #4 Casa Fernandez Aniversario Bohème No. 35

Coming in at #4 this year is a cigar that really began my 2014 year. It was one of the first cigars to be smoked that would quality for my Top 25 Cigars of 2014, and since I first smoked it I was truly amazed. The cigar is the Casa Fernandez Aniversario Bohème No. 35, but I typically refer to it as the Casa Fernandez 35 because of the lengthy name. This was a cigar that was showcased at the 2013 IPCPR, and was showcased to celebrate 35 years of Tabacalera Tropical. Tabacalera Tropical was bought by Eduardo Fernandez and is the company handles the growth of tobacco and production of cigars for the Casa Fernandez brand. The Casa Fernandez 35 was the first limited edition from the company, and production was limited to 2,000 boxes of ten cigars. Production was coming out of Miami, Florida, USA, and that is where the company is really moving production of their cigars to.

Cigar Review: Undercrown Flying Pig

In 2009, Drew Estate introduced the Flying Pig vitola to the Liga Privada No. 9 line. Every year following that, they introduced the Flying Pig vitola, or a slightly modified version to the T52 line and the Ünico Serie respectively. These releases are very limited and believe me that when I tell you people go nuts over them, they go nuts over them. That is why when the Undercrown brand was introduced in 2011, people wondered when the Undercrown Flying Pig would be released. It was a fair question, and in 2012 Drew Estate finally released some in a very limited manner. I was not able to smoke one at the time, I did not have the opportunity, and it was not until the media junket with Cigar Safari earlier this year that I was able to kind of smoke an Undercrown Flying Pig. I say king of, because JD handed me the Undercrown Flying Pig that was recently bunched and molded, but did not have a wrapper on it. I thought it smoked awesome as it was, but I am here today to actually smoke the finished product. 

December 18, 2014

Top 25 Cigars of 2014: #5 Intemperance BA XXI A.W.S. (RoMa Craft Tobac)

Coming in at #5 this year is a the first retailer exclusive cigar to make my list. The cigar is the Intemperance BA XXI A.W.S. by RoMa Craft Tobac, and it is an exclusive for The Cigar Hustler in Deltona, Florida. I believe it to the best cigar in the Intemperance brand, and I also believe that it is the best individual cigar made by RoMa Craft Tobac. The Lonsdale is a magical size and with the perfect blend and a great wrapper, you can make a tremendous cigar. I am typically not the biggest fan of the Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper, but Skip and Esteban have blended a tremendous line with the tobacco. For a cigar to make my Top 5, being a cigar I smoked in the beginning of January means a lot. An end of the year cigar can easily draw a smokers attention, and have them remember that smoke come December, but for a cigar to capture my attention for an entire year is truly something.

December 17, 2014

Top 25 Cigars of 2014: #6 Atabey Ritos

Coming in at #6 this year is a cigar that is truly special and limited. The line is called Atabey, and it is one of three lines in the Selected Tobacco portfolio. The company is based out of Costa Rica and is led under the direction of Nelson Alfonso. Many of you may not know who he is, and that is understandable, he has kept a low profile in the American market for years. The truth is that he is more well known in Cuba and with Habanos S.A. This is the individual who is responsible for the packaging of the Cohiba Behike line, Vegueros and other items in the Habanos S.A. portfolio. He has a very modern eye and it shows with the bands and packaging. While that was his focus with Habanos S.A., with Selected Tobacco he became more involved in the actual production of cigars.

Cigar Review: Casa Fernandez Arsenio Oro Toro

The most important stage for tobacco, after it is grown that is, is the fermentation process. This is the process where the tobacco loses its raw qualities and it begins to ripen and breakdown those nicotine levels. During this stage, the aroma and flavors begin to emerge, and the same is for the actual color of the tobacco. It is a lengthy process and an expensive one. You need to monitor the tobacco carefully, and if you are not careful you can lose a lot of money. It is definitely not the most glamorous aspect of cigar production, we always hearing about the rolling factory and rollers, but speak to any brand owner or manufacturer, and they will tell you the important of fermentation. Because it is such an important stage, Eduardo Fernandez knew he needed to have someone who understood fermentation when he began AGANORSA and Casa Fernandez. He had the farms and the farmers, but he needed an individual who mastered the fermentation process. To do this, he hired a near retired individual out of Cuba who was considered to be the best at fermentation. That man is Arsenio Ramos. Ramos has worked with Casa Fernandez over the years to produce some incredible blends with terrific tobacco, and to celebrate his part in the company, Casa Fernandez is releasing the Arsenio Oro to celebrate his 80th birthday. 

December 16, 2014

Top 25 Cigars of 2014: #7 Quesada 40th Anniversary Corona Clasica

Coming in at #7 this year is a cigar that is truly special and one of the most exciting releases from Quesada Cigars. This marks the third cigar to make my list that hails from the Quesada Factory in the Dominican Republic, and the highest ranking Quesada on any of my Top 25 lists ever. The Quesada 40th Anniversary Corona Clasica is a special cigar and it is a cigar that pays tribute to Manuel Quesada's 40th anniversary in the industry. For 40 years he has been one of the biggest manufacturers in the Dominican Republic, and he has been involved with cigars that go beyond the Quesada name. Over the years his children have become more involved in day to day operations and with their involvement they created the Quesada 40th Anniversary line. The line is actually a completely separate blend than this cigar, but Manuel wanted to get involved in the project obviously and created this cigar as a special addition to the line.

Cigar Review: Illusione Pactum

When it comes to quality control, Illusione Cigars is at the top of the list. Dion does not mess around with that, and because of that, his regular production items are often "limited" or truly small batch.I don't want to say he puts more time into his product than others, because I can't speak for all, but it comes off as he does. Because of all of this, Dion does not release a lot of blends for individual retail locations or a lot of limited editions for himself. He focuses on what he has and slowly introduces a new offering to the market. This is a modified Padron approach in my opinion, and a successful one at that. These are some of the many reasons why I love the products bearing the name Illusione and recommend them to many smokers. I know that any box that has made it to the market has undergone strict quality control, and that is the way it should always be. When it was announced that Dion and Illusione Cigars would be teaming up with the great Abe Dababneh from Smoke Inn to create the ninth and latest Microblend Series smoke, Illusione Pactrum, I was excited. I have been a fan of past release and always wondered when Dion would be added to the group of manufacturers and brand owners to participate in the series.