Toasted Foot’s Top Ten Cigars of 2016 – Honorable Mentions
Every year, there are some cigars that are so good that they really stood out, but for one reason or another did not make our annual Top Ten Cigars list. Many of those great cigars are ones that we feel deserve some acknowledgement, and we believe are worth pointing to our readers. The answer was to create the Honorable Mentions list, of cigars that very well could’ve ended up on our list if we published a Top 25 or 30.
Note: Unlike our Top Ten Cigars of 2016 list, the cigars on this list are not ranked in any particular order, and are all deserving of equal recognition as some of the best cigars on the market. There’s never any set number of cigars to the Honorable Mention list, but it’s typically anywhere from 10-15 cigars, featuring 15 this year. Like our Top Ten list the choices here are entirely subjective.
Cornelius & Anthony Venganza
If we had a Top 25 list instead of limiting it to 10, the Cornelius & Anthony Venganza would likely have taken the No. 11 spot on the list. Coming back from this year’s IPCPR Trade Show, this was one of the cigars I was most excited about. The Venganza is made at Erik Espinosa’s La Zona Factory, and is as good as anything to come out of that factory. An Ecuadorian Habano wrapper covers Nicaraguan binder and filler, giving the Vanganza a rich flavor profile and a strength that creeps up on you. After two stellar releases like the Cornelius and the Daddy Mac, the bar for the Vengaza was set very high, yet the latest Cornelius & Anthony provides another great experience.
Schrader MMXIII by Nat Sherman
This is another one of those cigars that barely missed cracking the Top Ten. The Schrader MMXIII is a large perfecto, that may be too full bodied for the mild cigar smoker, but lands more in the medium to medium-full range. A Dominican wrapper and binder cover a mix of Dominican, Nicaraguan and Peruvian filler tobacco in the blend for the Schrader MMXIII. While the Schrader is a great cigar for the high end cigar smoker, yet it is very reminiscent of certain Davidoff cigars, and the very close similarity is one of the reasons this cigar lands here on the Honorable Mention List instead of the Top Ten.
Espinosa Laranja H-Town Lancero
Erik Espinosa’s original Laranja Reserva took the No. 2 spot on our Top Ten Cigars of 2014 list. Exclusive to Stogies World Class Cigars in Houston, the Laranja Lancero is as good or better than the original, but since this was such a good year for cigars it earns a place on our Honorable Mention list. A Brazilian wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and filler give the medium bodied Laranja Lancero its unique flavor profile. The Espinosa Laranja Reserve H-Town Lancero is a box-worthy cigar, that is among the best in the H-Town Series, which is certainly saying something.
Padrón 1926 No. 90 Maduro
Padrón’s first tubed cigar the Padrón 1926 Serie No. 90 comes in both Natural and Maduro versions, but it was the Maduro that really managed to stand out. Evan for a company known for producing high end premium cigars, the No. 90 Maduro sets itself apart. This full bodied cigar is certain to please the veteran cigar smoker. Unlike the other cigars in the 1926 line it is not box pressed and it comes in small 5-count boxes, which helps to make purchasing a box of these $20 cigars more affordable. I’m not your typical Padrón fan, who goes crazy over every cigar they release, but the No. 90 Maduro is one that I found to be a very enjoyable cigar.
Herrera Esteli Maduro TAA Exclusive by Drew Estate
The Herrera Esteli has become one of Drew Estate’s most popular cigars with cigar enthusiasts of all kinds, so it only makes sense they’d eventually follow it up with a maduro version. Released exclusively to TAA shops, the Herrera Esteli Maduro TAA is a great medium-full to full bodied cigar. Blending a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper with a Brazilian Mata Fina binder and Nicaraguan filler, the Herrera Esteli TAA has a very unique flavor profile that is different from other broadleaf cigars made by Drew Estate. These are certain to be quickly snapped up by Drew Estate fans, so it’s worth picking one up while they’re on store shelves.
Caldwell Eastern Standard Midnight Express Corona
The Eastern Standard has been one of Robert Caldwell’s most popular cigars, so an Eastern Standard Maduro the addition of an Eastern Standard Maduro makes sense, although the Midnight Express is not a “maduro version” in the traditional sense, because it is an entirely new blend. The Caldwell Eastern Standard Midnight Express uses a Connecticut Arapiraca Maduro wrapper, Dominican Habano binder and a mix of Criollo 98 & Corojo Ligero from the Dominican Republic, as well as Nicaraguan filler. The result is a medium-full bodied cigar with a very unique flavor profile. I really enjoyed the Midnight Express in the corona size, and would definitely recommend it to the fans of previous Caldwell cigars like the Long Live the King Lancero (No. 8 on our Top Ten Cigars of 2014 list).
Gurkha Hertiage Maduro
I know. There are some out their that have a thing against anything that bears the Gurkha name, but the thing that the Heritage Maduro is a surprisingly good cigar. The Heritage Maduro features a Mexican San Andres wrapper, Brazilian Arapiraca binder, along with a blend of Brazilian and Nicaraguan fillers. Full bodied and flavorful, this is one of the best cigars the company has ever release, and is a Gurkha for the non-Gurkha smoker. It deserves its spot on this year’s Honorable Mention list.
Neanderthal H-Town Lancero
RoMaCraft is one of those companies with a cult-like following of fans, and after smoking the Neanderthal H-Town Lancero it is not hard to see why. Taking the company’s best cigar and turning it into a lancero, makes for an interesting full bodied smoking experience. While some full bodied blends made into lanceros have a tendancy to fall short, but smoking the RoMa Craft Neanderthal H-Town Lancero makes it seem like the blend was created for vitola. This is another box worth H-Town, but since it was first released, the Neanderthal H-Town has sold out several times, so it’s worth calling or checking Stogies online to see when boxes are available.
Serino Royale Maduro XX
This is probably the brand on the list that few people have heard of, but the parent company of the Serino brand has been around for over 20 years. Coming from the La Corona factory, the Royale Maduro is a medium-full bodied cigar with an Ecuadorian Habano 2000 Maduro Oscaro wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and filler tobacco. This is one of those cigars that is on the border between medium and full bodied, making it a cigar that can be enjoyed by both full bodied and medium bodied cigar enthusiasts. When I first tried the Serino Royale Maduro XX, I found myself immediately going back for another, and since then I’ve found myself going back to it again and again, which is certainly a good indicator of why it made this year’s Honorable Mention list.
La Flor Dominicana Andalusian Bull
The La Flor Dominicana Andalusian Bull is an interesting take on the Corojo cigar than manages to be traditional yet fresh at the same time. All the traditional Corojo flavors are here in spades in this cigar that features an Ecuadorian wrapper over Dominican binder and fillers. The cigar’s unique shape (like a salomon with the tip of the foot cut off) comes from a rare mold found and brought back by Litto Gomez while on vacation in Spain. Full bodied, the strength on the Andalusian Bull can creep up on you unexpectedly because of how flavorful the cigar is. This cigar is definitely going to please fans of good corojo cigars. I find the Andalusian Bull to be a great smoke after a Texas-sized steak dinner with guys from work.
Aladino Toro by JRE Tobacco
A different take on corojo tobacco come from Julio R. Eiroa, with his first release from JRE Tobacco. Already a legend among tobacco growers, Julio Eiroa now enters the production side of thing with a new “crop-to-shop” operation. The new Aladino is a medium-bodied cigar that is meant to evoke the Golden Era of cigars in Cuba (from 1947-1961), and that it certainly does. Using Cuban-seed Corojo tobacco that the Eiroa Tobacco Farm has become known for growing, the Aladino is a different kind of corojo cigar that offers something for everyone. Ranging from mild to medium bodied, the Aladino is a great cigar that is definitely box worthy. Ever since my friend Chief first brought one back from Honduras, I have fallen for this flavorful and wonderfully constructed cigar.
Juan Cancel and Bill Ive’s Cubariqueño Cigar Company launched the Protocol last year, and it became one of those pleasant boutique surprises of 2015. This year they extended line by bringing the blend back in the lancero vitola. I love it when an already great blend gets turned into a lancero, which is among my favorite vitolas. (For the record, the Churchill is my favorite.) This Nicaraguan puro makes use of a Habano Oscuro wrapper and Habano binder. Like the Laranja H-Town Lancero, which also made this list, the Protocol is made at Erik Espinosa’s La Zona factory. The first time I had a Protocol Lancero I wished that there was more cigar to smoke, and that’s always a good sign. This full bodied lancero is one of those cigars that the lancero lover will find worth the time to seek it out.
Daddy Mac Corona Gorda by Cornelius & Anthony
Another cigar coming from Erik Espinosa’s La Zona Factory, the Daddy Mac is a great cigar from Steven Bailey’s boutique company Cornelius & Anthony. Medium to medium-full bodied, a Brazilian binder with Nicaragua wrapper and filler tobacco causes the Daddy Mac to offer up a sweet mix of flavors.The Daddy Mac is a great cigar for all but the most novice of cigar smokers. Thought the year, I’ve found myself going back to the Daddy Mac many times.
Southern Draw Firethorn Pome Lancero
The Souther Draw Firethorn Toro made our 2014 Honorable Mention list, and as good as that cigar is, the Firethorn Pome offers up even more flavor for the lancero smoker to enjoy. Medium bodied, the Firethorn Pome is made at AJ Fernandez’s factory for Robert Holt Southern Draw Cigars. A Mexican San Andres binder adds some strength and pepper to the cigar that also features an Ecuadorian Habano Rosada Clara wrapper and Nicaraguan filler. This is one of those great cigars that is made even better by the small ring gauge of the vitola. As a medium to medium-full bodied blend the Firethorn Pome Lancero makes a great introduction to the Southern Draw brand for all sorts of cigar enthusiasts.
Davidoff Year of the Monkey 2016 Limited Edition
I typically hate putting cigar that are near impossible to find on our Top Ten and Honorable Mentions lists, but sometimes there is a cigar that stands out too much to be ignored and the Davidoff Year of the Monkey is one such cigar. The Year of the Monkey is the cigar I wished the other Chinese Zodiac cigars from Davidoff had been. Medium to medium-full bodied, this is a well-balanced complex cigar with just the right amount of strength. With production limited to 3,000 boxes of 10, the Davidoff Year of the Monkey has already become a rare collector’s item that is hard to get your hand on, so if you see some in a shop I’d strongly recommend picking some up.
There were plenty of other good cigars I smoked this year that didn’t make our Top Ten or Honorable Mention lists, ranging from big brand cigars like the Hoyo Amistad to smaller boutique stuff like the Cucubano. Since there are so many excellent cigars on the market, it’s impossible to distill them all down to one (or two) lists, so as always I encourage you to seek out the good cigars out there beyond what makes our annual lists. Looking through our past reviews is always a great place to start, as many of those cigars are still available from your local tobacconist or online from SmokeInn.com. There’s also several other cigar media sites of which I am a fan and I believe are worth giving a look including Cigar-Coop.com, CigarDojo.com. and DevelopingPalates.com. Kiss My Ash Radio is also a great source of information (and humor) regarding the cigar industry. As always we encourage your feedback and comments.
All the best,
Jonathan David, editor
PS. Don’t forget to check back soon for our annual Most Fascinating People in the Cigar Industry list.