Forget The Hype – Try These 5
I finally found some time to do some much-needed reading and looked towards my 2 latest editions of Cigar Aficionado languishing unread on my desk. After wiping a thin layer of dust off the covers with my hand, I stretched out on the bed with a blanket and checked out on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Their coverage of Winston Churchill (cigar-related historical facts and the latest movie) and Joya’s 50th anniversary were great reads. Reviewing their latest cigar ratings not only reminded me of a view that I’ve had for some time, but galvanized the inspiration for this list. As cigar smokers, we are treated to a seemingly endless cornucopia of cigar choices not seen since the cigar boom of the 1980’s and early 1990’s and yet only a fraction of cigars (and their makers) in this sea of variety seem worthy of constant print, discussion or accolades. What a shame. In fact, many media outlets have done what they could to elevate some of the smokes on our list. But, for reasons unknown, these cigars either fall out of favor, become the latest casualty of being lost and forgotten in a sea of choices or they simply aren’t destined to fit the mold of a particular lifestyle.
It’s important to note that many of the cigars during the earlier boom weren’t worth smoking largely because the market was bloated with hustlers out to make a quick buck on subpar cigars. And, aside from potential quality issues due to manufacturers rushing products to market to grandfather them in as legacy products (effects of the recent meddling by the FDA), today is different. Sure, there’s always going to be a few shysters out there pitching backyard turds with Cohiba labels or indolent tobacconists with big dreams and bad cigars. There’s so many choices that I learn of new brands and blends literally every single day. New boutiques are popping up every month it seems, more and more non-US market cigars are being introduced, stalwart cigar legends are extending lines and even house blends are making waves. This time the competition is a good thing and ya know what? They’re blowing our skirts up. This is a great time to be a cigar lover. At 99 Cigars we not only relish the opportunity to smoke these unique and sometimes unheralded creations, our mission is to give them the proper attention they deserve.
So, without further ado, our list highlights 5 cigars (alphabetical order) we’ve reviewed so far this year that demand a second look – and another taste. Some are unsung and others have history and while none of them are perfect, all of our picks are highly recommended.
Balmoral Anejo XO
Balmoral has only 2 cigars rated by Cigar Aficionado since 2000 and the XO garnered a respectable 89 in 2016. Add a ‘92’ rating for their Royal Selection Maduro Torpedo in Y2K and that’s it folks. We recommended this cigar boxworthy based on quality, flavor palette and complexity.
Profile: Med – Full Price: $9.50 – $11
Black Label Trading Co. Salvation
BLTC has come on strong in the last couple of years on the strength of their diverse blends, dark theme and creations from their newly minted Black Works Studio. James and Angela Brown have done their homework and created an appealing brand with a small batch focus that have earned a loyal following. This is one of the best cigars we’ve smoked this year and recommended it boxworthy based on aesthetics, build quality, combustion and a tasty, never-ending flavor wheel.
Profile: Med – Full Price: $10 – $12
Curivari Reserva Limitada
Launched in 2011, this new kid on the block has a lot of promise, but it’s been slow going. Founder, Andreas Throuvalas wanted a Nicaraguan cigar as close to those hewn in Cuba and with a little help from his friends at Plasencia, he’s got something in the Reserva Limitada. The aesthetics, build quality, complexity, flavor palette and price point are superb, but because of some combustion issues we recommended this cigar as a 5-packer.
Profile: Med – Full Price: $7 – $8
Guillermo León Family Reserve
Capitalizing on La Aurora’s storied legacy, the León family released their president’s namesake stogey in 2011. It immediately gained notoriety with a healthy rating of ‘93’ from Cigar Aficionado shortly after it’s release in 2011, but fell off the map almost just as quick. We recommended this cigar as boxworthy based on it’s complexity, balance, build quality and flavor palette.
Profile: Full Price: $8 – 10
Macanudo Inspirado Orange
Originally released for the European market, Macanudo was shrewd in it’s decision to send it across the pond. The Orange is the only blend in the Inspirado line to be sold exclusively at B&Ms. Even after receiving a ‘92’ rating from Cigar Aficionado in 2017, it just hasn’t received the attention it deserves. We recommended this cigar as boxworthy for its price point, flavor palette, complexity and build quality.
Profile: Med – Full Price: $6 – $7