The Top 25 Cigars of 2014

 

Though Cigar Snob has been around for close to a decade, this is only our third annual list. After releasing each of the last two, we were inundated with feedback—most positive, some negative, some validating, some challenging. The common thread running through just about all the reactions we got was an appreciation for our objectivity. We know how seriously you take these rankings, and—with this new list—we remain committed to offering our honest assessments.

How did we arrive at this list? First, we took all the cigars we’d rated over the course of the last year and set aside only those which received ratings of 92 or higher. There were 78 in all. That’s the easy part. We then had our panelists re-taste those candidates. While that’s far and away their favorite tasting assignment of the year, whittling the list down to a ranked 25 is harder than it sounds.

25. 1502 Black Gold

Country of manufacture: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Lancero; Physical size: 7 X 38
MSRP: $7.90
Rating: 92

24. Flor de Gonzalez Spectral

Country of manufacture: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua & Peru
Vitola: Atom; Physical size: 6 ½ x 44
MSRP: $8.50
Rating: 92

23. Tattoo

Country of manufacture: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Bonito; Physical size: 6 1/8 X 52
MSRP: $6.00
Rating: 92

22. Padilla Vintage Reserve

Country of manufacture: Nicaragua
Wrapper: USA/Pennsylvania; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Torpedo; Physical size: 6 1/2 X 52
MSRP: $12.00
Rating: 92

21. Brick House

Country of manufacture: Nicaragua
Wrapper:  Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 5 x 54
MSRP: $4.95
Rating: 92

20. La Aurora Preferidos Diamond

Country of manufacture: Dominican Republic
Wrapper:  USA/Connecticut; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic
Vitola: Double Perfecto; Physical size: 5 x 54
MSRP: $20.00
Rating: 92

19. La Flor Dominicana Colorado Oscuro

Country of manufacture: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
Vitola: No. 5; Physical size: 5 3/4 X 60
MSRP: $8.20
Rating: 92

18. Avo Heritage

Country of manufacture: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 x 50
MSRP: $8.50
Rating: 92

17. Room 101 Master Collection One

Country of manufacture: Honduras
Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Honduras; Filler: Honduras, Nicaragua & Mexico
Vitola: Mutante; Physical size: 7 X 38
MSRP: $10.80
Rating: 92

16. Nestor Miranda Collection Habano

Country of manufacture: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Brazil, Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 4 1/2 X 50
MSRP: $7.25
Rating: 92

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15. Casa Cuba

Country of manufacture: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic
Vitola: Doble Tres; Physical size: 5 1/2 X 44
MSRP: $9.84
Rating: 92

14. Joya de Nicaragua Cuatro Cinco

Country of manufacture: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Cuatro Cinco; Physical size: 6 X 54
MSRP: $13.00
Rating: 92

13. Aging Room Bin No. 1

Country of manufacture: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic
Vitola: B Minor; Physical size: 6 1/8 X 52
MSRP: $12.60
Rating: 92

12. Oliva Serie V

Country of manufacture: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: No. 4; Physical size: 5 X 43
MSRP: $5.96
Rating: 92

11. Camacho Ecuador

Country of manufacture: Honduras
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Brazil; Filler: Honduras & Dominican Republic
Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 5 X 50
MSRP: $6.80
Rating: 92

10. Rocky Patel Super Ligero

Country of manufacture: Honduras
Wrapper: Honduras; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Costa Rica & Nicaragua
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 1/2 x 52
MSRP: $7.50
Rating92

9. Montecristo Espada

Country of manufacture: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Guard; Physical size: 6 x 50
MSRP: $11.75
Rating: 92

8. San Lotano The Bull

Country of manufacture: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Robusto; Physical size: 5 x 54
MSRP: $9.00
Rating: 92

7. EPC La Historia

Country of manufacture: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Ecuador; Filler: Nicaragua & Dominican Republic
Vitola: Doña Elena; Physical size: 6 1/8 x 50
MSRP: $8.00
Rating: 93

6. La Antiguedad

Country of manufacture: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Toro; Physical size: 6 1/2 x 52
MSRP: $7.50
Rating: 93

5. Herrera Estelí Norteño

Country of manufacture: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Mexico; Binder: Honduras; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Robusto Grande; Physical size: 5 1/2 x 54
MSRP: $12.00
Rating: 93

After the IPCPR trade show in Las Vegas last summer, we named this the “Best Follow-up Cigar” released at the show. Truth be told, that distinction was cool, but didn’t quite give this cigar all the props it deserved. Willy Herrera made a name for himself with his classic, Cuban-style blending. So when he joined Drew Estate and created Norteño, we were thrown for a loop. Despite being patently Central American—a departure from its creator’s “Cubanesque” wheelhouse—Norteño lives up to the quality standard that Willy set with Herrera Estelí. We can’t wait to see what he’s got in store for 2015.

4. Las Calaveras

Country of manufacture: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: LC550; Physical size: 5 x 50
MSRP: $8.95
Rating: 94

This was a departure for Jon Huber and Mike Conder of Crowned Heads, who are known for more medium-bodied offerings like Headley Grange and Four Kicks. For our No. 4 cigar, they teamed up with My Father to create this knock-you-on-your-ass masterpiece. It’s got about as much punch as anything we’ve smoked this year, but it’s so balanced and beautifully constructed, you just can’t put the thing down.

Aside from being a great smoke, Las Calaveras is also a tribute cigar. The coins on the band commemorate friends and colleagues of the Crowned Heads team who’ve passed away over the last few years. “Not in a macabre or morbid way,” said Jon, “but as a celebration. That’s what Las Calaveras is about.”

Check out this video interview with Jon Huber to learn more about Las Calaveras.

3. Casa Fernandez Aniversario Serie 2014

Country of manufacture: USA/Miami
Wrapper: Nicaragua; Binder: Nicaragua; Filler: Nicaragua
Vitola: Ares; Physical Size: 6 1/4 x 52
MSRP: $12.50
Rating: 94

This impeccably made, slightly pressed cigar got our attention when it was released and we’ve been hoarding them ever since. This cigar is made in Casa Fernandez’s Miami factory where only Cuban tabaqueros who have achieved at least level 9 are employed. The combination of these highly skilled rollers and Aganorsa’s choice raw material resulted in this balanced, complex, and flavorful cigar, which is most deserving of this high ranking.

2. Nat Sherman Epoca

Country of manufacture: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuador; Binder: Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
Vitola: Prince; Physical size: 6 x 50
MSRP: $11.35
Rating: 94

This is yet another cigar we fell in love with at the IPCPR trade show, after which we named Epoca the Best Brand Resurrection of the event. Epoca became Nat Sherman’s first cigar brand after the company acquired Schwab Bros. and Baer back in 1929. At the time, Epoca was a “Clear Havana” cigar—a blend of Cuban tobaccos manufactured in the States. Last summer, Nat Sherman brought back the long-absent brand, even preserving the original box art.

Epoca is made at the Quesada family’s MATASA factory in the Dominican Republic. Whatever they’re doing down there is working, because this is, without question, our favorite Nat Sherman yet.

1. Fuente Fuente OpusX Angel’s Share

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Country of manufacture: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Dominican Republic; Binder:Dominican Republic; Filler: Dominican Republic
Vitola: Corona Gorda; Physical size: 5 5/8 x 46
MSRP: $14.79
Rating: 94

Some of the best things in life are born out of unfortunate circumstances. In 2011, a fire ravaged two of the Fuente family’s tobacco warehouses setting ablaze an untold amount of aging Fuente tobacco. As Carlos Fuente Jr. watched his prized tobacco go up in smoke, he took solace in the idea that his ancestor’s (his angel’s) were smoking his best tobacco. And the idea for the Fuente Fuente Opus X Angel’s Share was born.

As for the cigar itself, imagine an Opus X with a little less power. It’s addition by subtraction as the decrease in strength allows subtle flavors and aromas that struggle to shine in a standard Opus X to take a larger role in this elegantly balanced blend. We fell in love with this cigar from the moment we first tasted it and gave it a 94 rating in our July/August 2014 issue. It’s not surprising that as time goes by, it keeps getting better and better.