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29 Dec 2015

Throughout the year, we smoked scores of cigars, and six of them achieved our top rating. That’s one more than last year and three times as many as in 2013.

Obviously, our top rating isn’t easy to get. Our system, which we’ve been using for nearly ten years) notes the five-stogies-out-of-five rating is reserved for cigars that are “tasty, complex” and “truly an occasion,” deserving “your full and undivided attention.” We think you’ll find these half dozen clear that high bar.

Two of our top-rated cigars for 2015 were also among the most anticipated: Nick Melillo’s El Güegüense and Steve Saka’s Sobremesa.

Reviewing the Robusto, I found “El Güegüense more than lives up to expectations.” Smoking the Sobremasa Cervantes Fino, my colleague called it “full-bodied, complex, and balanced with loads of rich flavor and a delicate peppery zing.”

Two others were from Tatuaje, a regular on our five-stogie list: the Black Robusto and the Havana VI Verocu No. 1.

My other colleague reviewed the Black Robusto. It was, he wrote, “the best of the bunch when it comes to the recent-era Tatuaje Blacks.” I found the new Verocu every bit as good as its predecessors, highlighting “smoothness and balance, as the flavors move and shift throughout the smoke.”

Another list regular, Don Gioloto’s Illusione, scored with the Singulare LE 2014 Anunnaki. For my colleague, this Singulare was “very similar to the Epernay, but with more sweetness and a velvety texture.”

The sixth spot was also held by a widely known name in cigars, José Blanco. His Las Cumbres Tabaco Señorial Paco Robusto is, according to my colleague, “the kind of cigar that makes you want to light up another as soon as it’s finished.”

If you’re looking for more suggestions, all of our five-stogie sticks through the years are here, and an alphabetical compilation of all reviews is here. And lastly, please keep in mind this best-of list is restricted not to cigars that were introduced in 2015, but rather cigars we reviewed in 2015.

–George E

photo credit: N/A’s Top Cigars of 2015 (Part I)

28 Dec 2015

We smoked a lot of cigars in 2015, many of them truly wonderful. A handful got our top five-stogie rating, but more came awfully close. In fact, 16 cigars scored four-and-a-half stogies, while 40 earned four stogies. As we end the year with our traditional look back, we’ll focus first on those smokes that just missed the top slot. Tomorrow, we’ll come back with a look at the six that landed at the pinnacle.

The 4.5-stogie rated cigars span a wide range of manufacturers, blenders, strengths, and sizes. They’re listed in alphabetical order:

Abaddon Lancero (Blue Havana Exclusive): “An easy recommendation and a solid complement to an after-dinner serving of high-proof bourbon.”

Aging Room M19 Fortissimo Preferido: “May be the smoothest Fortissimo yet.”

Añoranzas Toro: “A box-worthy full-bodied cigar that’s consistent, complex, and downright delicious.”

Avo Heritage Short Robusto: “Beginning with cedar and a hint of the hay and grass common to many Davidoff productions, there’s quickly quite a bit of spice.”

Boutique Blends La Bohème Mimi: “Another virtuoso performance for Boutique Blends.”

Byron Serie Siglo XX Londinenses: “The flavors are as numerous as they are harmonious, and the experience is downright memorable.”

Exactus Puro Ambar Short Robusto: “If you like bold, spicy cigars, this is one to try.”

Fratello Bianco Event Exclusive: “As the cigar progresses, the complexity deepens with the additions of creamy nut, damp earth, and a dried fruit sweetness.”

Guayacan Sabor de Esteli Habana Robusto: “Teeming with taste and abundant in complexity.”

Illusione Fune d’Amour Viejos: “The flavors are a whirlwind combination of dry woodiness, hay, roast nuts, light honey, and maybe a hint of muted black pepper.”

Kilo Toro: “Balanced, cool-burning, interesting, unique, and superbly constructed.”

La Palina H-Town Lancero: “The initial profile is creamy, nutty, and bready with a significant kick of cayenne spice on the finish.”

Las Calaveras Edición Limitada 2015 LC46: “A complex smoke that began with roasted nuts, dry cocoa, and a little back-of-the-throat spice.”

Nestor Miranda Collection One Life Edition Danno Habano: “No doubt concentration will pay off in what you experience with this complex cigar.”

Padrón Serie 1964 Exclusive Natural: “You get a high-quality stick with balanced, medium-bodied flavors for your money.”

Tatuaje La Verite Churchill 2008: “Balance is wonderful and the texture is bready. The taste is bright and vibrant.”

You’ll find an explanation of our rating system here and a curated listing of our five-stogie selections through the years here. An alphabetical compilation of all reviews (spanning almost ten years!) is here. And lastly, please keep in mind this best-of list is restricted not to cigars that were introduced in 2015, but rather cigars we reviewed in 2015.

–George E

photo credit: N/A

Happy New Year from!

1 Jan 2015

We’re celebrating the beginning of 2015. Naturally, we’ll be doing so with a few cigars, and we hope you do the same. We’ll return on Saturday, January 3. Until then, you can follow us on our official Twitter feed, on Facebook, or you can sign up for our free email newsletter. Happy New Year!

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: N/A’s Top Cigars of 2014

31 Dec 2014

This was a good year for good cigars. Five scored our top five-stogie rating, and 15 ranked superbly at four and a half stogies.

Unlike last year, when I was the only one to award five-stogie ratings, each contributor had at least one top-ranked smoke in 2014.

Pete Johnson’s Tatuaje brand, which has had numerous high-scoring smokes through the years, scored two five-stogie ratings this year. The other three winners also represented brands with excellent track records: RoMa Craft, La Palina, and Paul Garmirian. Here are all five, listed in no particular order:

Tatuaje 10th Anniversary Bon Chasseur: This fat robusto was called a “remarkable smoke” and “simply one of the best new releases in recent memory,” by Patrick A.

Tatuaje Black Corona Gorda: Joey J found the flavors in this 2013 re-release “intense and varied… full-flavored all the way down to the nub.”

RoMa Craft Intemperance BA XXI A.W.S. IV: Patrick A’s other five-stogie cigar. He wrote of its “tremendous” balance, noting that the Lonsdale was “a joy to smoke.”

La Palina Collection Mr. Sam Robusto: After starting as a limited edition, Mr. Sam was added to the regular line and Patrick S called it “an impressive cigar full of flavor… that will be enjoyed by all types of cigar smokers.

Paul Garmirian Reserva Exclusiva Churchill: This quickly became my “newest favorite cigar,” an incredibly pleasing stick that displayed “subtlety and complexity.”

The following 15 cigars (listed in no particular order) came close. All you’ll see, they represent a wide array of companies, countries, prices, and profiles:

RoMa Craft Aquitaine Mode 5: “At $7, the Aquitaine Mode 5 is an incredible buy.”

Drew Estate Nirvana Toro: “There is something to love here for everyone.”

E.P. Carrillo 5th Year Anniversary Limitada: “It characterizes the best of E.P. Carrillo: flavorful, complex, and affordable.”

God of Fire Don Carlos 2009 Robusto: “I may only light up a God of Fire by Don Carlos cigar a few times a year, but when I do it’s always special and worth the high price.”

Illusione *R* Rothchildes: “This small, value-priced Illusione is outstanding.”

Illusione Epernay L’Excellence: “Illusione makes some very fine cigars, but the Epernay line is the pinnacle—Giolito’s highest achievement.”

Joya Red Robusto: “The Robusto is classic with traditional tastes and plenty of balance and complexity.”

L’Atelier Imports LAT46 Selection Spéciale: “At the midway point it becomes clear this is a complex, balanced cigar with lots to offer (especially to attentive smokers).”

My Father No. 1: The second time this cigar scored a four-and-a-half-stogie rating. “No simple sledgehammer. It has the subtlety and nuance that seasoned cigar smokers look for in cigars in this price range.”

Partagas Benji Homage Toro: “If you’re a fan of bold boutique smokes, check out the Homage.”

Reinado Grand Empire Reserve Ecuador Edition Petit Lancero: “One of the best Ecuadorian Connecticut-wrapped smokes I’ve had in a long time.”

Tatuaje The Jekyll: “The Jekyll is an excellent, well-balanced smoke that’s well worth the $13 price and worthy of the Monster Series name.”

Tatuaje Pudgy Monster Tiff: “It’s dominated by sweet creaminess, along with roasted nut and woodiness, and hints of paper, graham, and spice.”

Viaje Oro Reserva VOR Aficionado: “A special spice-forward, interesting cigar worth finding.”

Drew Estate Herrera Estelí Piramide Fino: “This is an outstanding belicoso… a truly wonderful value at $10.”

Padrón Family Reserve No. 50 Maduro: “A model of restrained strength with full flavors.”

If this list isn’t enough to keep you busy for a while, you can peruse all the Stogie Guys reviews back to 2006 at our archive. We also break out the five-stogie rated sticks here. And the details on our rating system are here.

George E

photo credit: N/A

Cigar Safari: On Location in Estelí, Nicaragua

7 Apr 2014 is once again on location in Estelí, Nicaragua. We’ll return to our daily coverage of the world of cigars on Thursday, April 10. In the meantime, feel free to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, as well as via live Instagram updates:

Be sure to come back to next week as we share exciting content from our Cigar Safari, hosted by the fine folks of Drew Estate.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Stogie Guys’s Top Cigars of 2013

31 Dec 2013

With this being the last day of 2013, now is a good time to reflect, as well as look ahead. To that end, it’s common for my colleagues and I at to take a look at the cigars we awarded top ratings to. In other words, the cigars that received the heralded five stogies out of five rating in the past year.

This year there were but two, and, coincidentally, both reviewed by me:

— Arturo Fuente King T Rosado Sun Grown: “From the first rich puffs to the finger-burning last, the cigar is a powerful pleasure.”

— La Flor Dominicana Limitado V: “A terrific cigar with more changes than a Rockette in the Christmas show.”

In addition to the two cigars that received our highest rating in 2013, fifteen came close, earning the impressive rating of 4.5 stogies:

— Abaddon (Blue Havana Exclusive): “One of the more interesting cigars I’ve smoked this year.”

— Curivari El Gran Rey Belicoso: “I can see why this small manufacturer has gained such a large reputation.”

— Dante Canto VI Asmodeus: “While Dante puts itself in some pretty exclusive company with that price, it’s not out of its league.”

— Drew Estate Herrera Estelí Short Corona: “Cubanesque and a wonderful buy.”

— Drew Estate Liga Privada Único Serie UF-13 Dark: “Dark flavors with charred oak and lots of powdery earth.”

— J. Grotto Reserve Lancero Limitado: “An impressive smoke worth seeking out, even if finding it may be difficult.”

— Joya de Nicaragua Cuatro Cinco: “It’s traditional in flavor yet somehow also unique, powerful, and nuanced.”

— La Musa Mοῦσα Toro: “The quality, subtlety, and balance of the blend cannot be denied.”

— Ouroboros (Blue Havana Exclusive): “A dense, leathery flavor with pepper spice, coffee bean, earth, and traces of bitterness.”

— Reinado Grand Empire Reserve Elegidos: “Unique, flavorful, and spirited.”

— Sencillo Platinum Pirámide: “It makes you want to fire up another as soon as you’re done with the first.”

— Swag Elite: “It’s nicely balanced and smooth. And the flavors are diverse.”

— Tatuaje The Mummy: “A creamy profile of peanut, white pepper, clove, and dry cinnamon.”

— Tesa Picadura King Connecticut Robusto: “Mild, harmonious, and well-balanced with an interesting interplay between sweetness and spice.”

— Tesa Picadura King Habano 5.5 x 48: “I absolutely love what the Picadura King Habano brings to the table for such a reasonable price.”

As a matter of perspective, two is by far the fewest five-stogie ratings in a calendar year since’s mid-2006 founding, and I was surprised. I know I smoked a lot of excellent cigars in 2013. And I’m sure my colleagues would agree.

But the more I thought about it, the more sense I think it makes. I believe the ratings are a reflection of the fact that there are more terrific cigars available now than ever before. Not only do high-quality boutique brands continue to proliferate, the industry giants are experimenting and creating smokes far beyond their regular high-production lines. And it’s easier for more smokers to get more cigars. Cigars that once were nearly impossible to find are available at more and more tobacco shops as well as online, with several specialty sellers offering extraordinary selections. So, it takes more for a cigar to truly stand out from its peers.

At least, that’s the way it seems to me. I know I smoked a lot of excellent cigars this year. I’m looking forward to smoking even more in 2014.

You’ll find our complete list of five-stogie rated smokes here, as well as our complete archive of reviews here. Take a look, and let us know what you think. And, finally, keep in mind the above cigars are simply the best smokes we reviewed this year, not necessarily our take on the best cigars to come out in 2013.

George E

photo credit: N/A

Contest: Win a Box of La Gloria Cubana Gilded Age Toros

14 Aug 2013

Famous Smoke Shop, a Pennsylvania-based online cigar retailer, recently launched a new exclusive blend called La Gloria Cubana Gilded Age. Today, courtesy of our friends at Famous, we’re giving away a couple 18-count boxes in the Toro format (6 x 54).

LGC Guilded Age

Gilded Age is an extension of the famed La Gloria Cubana brand originated by the legendary Ernesto Perez-Carrillo. It features an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, Honduran binder, and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos of the viso and ligero varieties. Four sizes are available at Famous—Churchill, Magnum, Robusto, and Toro—with singles in the affordable $5-7 range.

My full review of La Gloria Cubana Gilded Age is forthcoming, but I didn’t want to hold off on the opportunity to give away two boxes to a couple lucky readers. So, to enter for your chance to win, here’s all you have to do:

— Leave a comment below about your favorite experience with La Gloria Cubana.
— Make sure you’re registered for’s free email newsletter.

That’s it (though, if you’re interested, you can read our contest rules and regulations here). Good luck, and special thanks to Famous Smoke Shop for making this giveaway possible.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys