Top 10 Cigars of 2013
It is that time of year when we break down our list of Top 10 Cigars for 2013. When I say we, I mean the cigar “brain trust” of ABC, Steve Mungeer and myself. To qualify for the list the cigar just needs to be available for purchase in one of the many ABC Fine Wine & Spirits locations throughout the state of Florida. The release date doesn’t matter nor does the price. We will issue a top list of value cigars later. This assortment of cigars is composed of those sticks that we both consider top dogs in our humidors today. As with any list, many will agree and disagree with our selections. The key word to remember is that they are our selections and the best cigar is the one that you enjoy smoking. I just hope you will take a look at this list, read our comments about each cigar, and then try them for yourself. As with everything that gets posted on our blog site, feedback is welcome, so please feel free to contact us.
Without further delay, we present cigars number 10 through six today:
Starting off our list is number 10, Rocky Patel Decade Toro. This cigar was originally released to commemorate Rocky Patel’s tenth year in the cigar industry. It is produced in their Honduran factory and is encased in a delicious Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper. It is a medium bodied smoke with lots of earthy and nutty flavors.
Chris Gwaltney: “Rocky Patel always puts out quality products so it’s no surprise that the cigar they chose to commemorate their 10th anniversary would be outstanding. The wrapper really makes this cigar special, as its appearance is only second to the flavor it adds to the smoking experience. This cigar received a 95 rating upon its release and it hasn’t changed a bit in the years since. A wonderfully complex smoke with a nice blend of sweet and spicy flavors.”
Steve Mungeer: “The Decade has been around for several years now and while receiving stellar reviews when it first hit the market…it seems to have dropped off the radar with all the new cigars that hit the market. Revisiting this cigar was definitely worth it. This cigar still deserves all the praise it received when it first hit the market. Beautiful appearance…well-constructed…nice aroma. Nice medium body with some very complex flavors of coffee, chocolate, spices…and while not as creamy as some cigars, this leaves a great mouth feel. If you haven’t smoked one of these in a while, pick one up and revisit this outstanding line.”
The number nine cigar on our countdown is the Montecristo Monte Conde. This one is a new release for 2013 and thoughts were that this would be a hit like Altadis’ previous new release Romeo by Romeo. I’m not sure if the sales are what they hoped for nationally, but both Steve and I think it’s a winner. The Monte has an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and a double binder leaf consisting of Dominican olor and Nicaraguan corojo.
CG: “I really love this cigar, although I don’t think it will have the mass appeal that the other Montecristo lines carry. It is a cigar that packs a bigger punch than its other Dominican namesakes and has a considerable amount of spice. I absolutely love it and considering the manufacturer, the cigars are expertly hand crafted and smoke really well.”
SM: “The newest offering from the Montecristo line…this cigar proved to be a pleasant surprise. While we tend to think of Montecristo in terms of mild cigars, the Monte has a different agenda. This is a cigar that now has some nice strength and some interesting complexity by utilizing a second binder from Nicaragua. To me, this just brought in that “little extra” that shot this new smoke to the top 10.”
Coming in at number eight is the Oliva V Melanio Churchill. The cigar that is named for the Oliva family patriarch, utilizes some specially aged tobacco from Jalapa, Nicaragua. The wrapper is a rosy red Ecuadorian habano and if spice is what you like, then this cigar is right up your alley.
CG: “I can remember the first time I smoked one of these beauties. My friend Albert Sosa handed me a few after an event, and after smoking one I knew it was something special. It is a strong cigar but the flavor complexity and how they change make it an amazing smoke. I reviewed the robusto vitola of this cigar last April and reading over my notes just brought back fond memories. This is a must try for everyone.”
SM: “Another one of those nearly perfect cigars. While this cigar highlights the more refined tobaccos of Jalapa, it still packs some considerable strength. Some creaminess along with a bit of pepper and chocolate notes makes this a very tasty smoke.”
Our lucky number seven is appropriately the La Gloria Series R #7 Maduro. As great as all of the cigars in the “R” Series line, there is just something extra special about this particular one with its rich Connecticut Broadleaf maduro wrapper. They keep a tight lid on the other components in this cigar but I can promise it has some very nice Nicaraguan Ligero in it. It is certainly a cigar designed for the more veteran smoker, but a must-have in all humidors.
CG: “When Steve and I sat down to do the list, I told him that there is no way that I do a list and not have this cigar on it. Steve agreed with my sentiment as we both really love this cigar. The La Gloria Series R #7 Maduro will always hold a special place I my heart. It’s a cigar that really changed the cigar world for me. It’s rich, creamy smoke is everything a maduro should be. Rich coffee flavors, a hint of sweetness, and large volumes of smoke almost mask the strength of this oily masterpiece.”
SM: “While I tend to like my cigars on the medium-full side, every so often you want something just a little different. When the mood strikes for a full bodied smoke, this is one of those go to smokes. It’s rich, it’s dark, it’s earthy, and it’s big!! And it is smooth. One of those smokes that goes wonderfully with a little bourbon or some Port wine.”
Our number six cigar is one that also appeared on a few other lists this year but it is such a great cigar there was no way we could leave it out. It’s hard to find a better premium stick at the price of this longtime winner. The Arturo Fuente Don Carlos #2 with its delicious African Cameroon wrapper has been delighting smokers for years. This medium bodied cigar will give you many complex flavors. There is a mild pepper flavor blended with some sweet cocoa notes.
CG: “It’s hard to find anything bad to say about any cigar from Arturo Fuente. This cigar was meant to be a tribute to the family patriarch and, wow, does it ever glorify his name. The filler used in this cigar is some of the most aged tobacco in their inventory. I also don’t think you will find a better constructed figurado, this size, anywhere in the world. It’s a cigar that gets stronger as you smoke it, but never reaches beyond the medium bodied spectrum. This is one that Cigar Aficionado got right!”
SM: “A cigar that has been around since the 1990s, the Fuente Don Carlos 2 is simply a classic smoke. This is a subtle smoke, while you can’t pin down exactly what is great about this cigar you just simply can’t find any faults. The sweetness of the Cameroon wrapper along with the aged Dominican filler just blends together perfectly. Plain and simple…this is just a great well-made cigar that is very enjoyable.”
So this wraps up the first five cigars in our Top Ten of 2013 list. I must admit that when we sat down to discuss this list we each had our own top ten which was secret from the other. I am proud to say that both Steve and I had 5 of the same cigars on our respective lists. I’m not sure if great minds do think alike, but I know Steve and I do. Make sure you come back and check out cigars #5-#1 next week.
Chris Gwaltney, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits North Florida Regional Manager. Certified Tobacconist and Cicerone Beer Server. Follow me on Twitter @abccigarchris.