Welcome to 2017, and the first official 'Top 10' published by Cigar Weekly!
2016 was a very interesting year in cigar-life, as manufacturers and consumers alike aimed for exciting new releases along with the continued availability of well established favorites.
Top 10 lists can generate a lot of emotions among people. Over the years, on our CW forums, staff and members would make mention of cigars they thought were great. And of course, we'd also delve into dissecting the other cigar magazines' Top 'X' lists. Whether you agree or disagree with the choices, these lists always attract a lot of attention and generate much discussion.
This year, we decided to do our own, and to do it OUR way - member created!
So here's what happened...
In the beginning of December, we posted a thread in the Cigar Weekly forums to collect nominations from members of some of their favorite cigars. Additionally, cigars were nominated on Twitter and Facebook. To that list, I added a few of our blind review cigars as well as some of my own nominations. At the end of the nomination period (around the 17th of December), a list of more than 40 cigars had been compiled and turned into a voting form.
What? A voting form? You mean this would not be a dictate from on high reflecting one person's opinion, or some periodical with a 'review board' influenced by advertising dollars? That's right - an actual voting form!
I took to the forums (plus Twitter and Facebook) to let everyone know the voting was open. Yes... All our followers, fans and forums members (a finer group of cigar smokers you'll not find!) were invited to vote. There was a hint of a contest attached. But more on that later.
On January 1st, 2017 at midnight (or thereabouts) US Eastern time, I closed the voting form. And then the tabulation began.
That's the mechanics of it. And it worked fairly well, though I may use a different voting mechanism next year, as there was a bit of manual fiddling I had to do with the Google form.
And so it goes. I know, dear reader, that you're patiently waiting for the results. We'll do this in a sort of 'countdown' style. Today's article will feature our runners up.
In a three way tie for 13th place, we had a diverse group:
Hoyo La Amistad - a collaboration with A.J. Fernandez and the venerable Hoyo de Monterrey brand.
Warped Cigars Flor del Valle Cristales - a rave favorite of Andy (aka AK2000 on our forums).
Mi Querida Fino Largo - from Steve Saka of Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust (a longtime friend of Cigar Weekly who had sent some of us our first Liga Privada 9s and Chateau Reals).
As I said, this was a diverse group, which included a few medium-bodied and a bold one from Mr. Saka. It's interesting that some of these cigars are not widely distributed, but that they still managed to garner a good number of votes from our followers, fans and forums members.
Coming in at Number 12, we had another boutique dominated grouping - this time a foursome (two pairs, separated by ONE point!) of fine cigars:
Warped Flor del Valle Sky Flower - another of Andy's favorites (I checked, and he only voted once! LOL) from the craftsmen over at Warped Cigars.
Fratello Boxer - from Omar de Frias, the 'Gentle Giant' who quit NASA to do cigars full time!
GTO Painkiller Robusto - from Oscar Rodriguez, an actual doctor who's embraced his family's Dominican tobacco growing tradition and turned it into producing some mighty fine cigars.
A.J. Fernandez Last Call - a cigar I was introduced to at StogieFest in Jacksonville Floriday last April, just prior to its official release. The Last Call is a flavor bomb that's easy on the nicotine - one of my favorites of 2016. I'm glad that many of you agreed - enough so as to get it on this page!
We'll wrap up the 'Runners Up' segment with another three-way tie - this time for 11th place - that includes two more of my favorites from 2016:
Illusione Epernay Le Matin - a really flavorful cigar, reportedly blended without ligero (that dark nicotine-heavy leaf) by owner Dion Giolito. This one's been so well received that it's out of stock at Cigars International!
Davidoff Yamasa - a cigar that my friend and Cigar Weekly follower Howard Gross said of, "I liked it so much I bought a box, then another box too." This one's a unique and interesting diversion for Davidoff into the realm of stronger cigars. And it's full of flavor.
Rocky Patel 20th Anniversary - I've smoked this one in the Lancero, Robusto and box-pressed Toro formats. The flavors are amazing, and consistent in all three of those vitolas (though the Lancero has a bit more 'punch' in my opinion).
I must give a big shout out to all of you who participated in the nominations and in the voting. And a special 'Thank You' goes to all the boutique brands making great cigars in these interesting times.
So there you have it - Part One of our breakdown of the CigarWeekly.com Top 10 cigars of 2016.
I want to personally give a shout out to the brands that participated in our five Blind Reviews this past year. Check out those reviews, and look for the cigars profiled in them at your local shop (or online). Each and every one of them was worth giving a try. Maybe NEXT year they'll have enough exposure to be nominated!
I was particularly fond of the 777 from J. Fuego, the Biely from Tirador Ramos (a smooth and mellow Nicaraguan treat) and the Pasión from Martinez Cigars. Who'd have thought that you'd find a great cigar made in New York City (whoops, channeling a salsa comercial!)?. And if your tastes tend toward the mild or medium, make sure to check out Isabella cigars or the treats from MBombay as well.
That's all for this edition. Stay tuned Monday for numbers 10-6!