Toasted Foot’s Top Ten Cigars of 2016
Once again, it’s the time of the year when lists of all kinds appear, and amount them is our annual Top Ten Cigars list. It has been a very interesting year for the cigar industry. The FDA regulations seem to loom large over everything. Many new cigars were released this year, owing a lot to manufacturers trying to meet deadlines, and so there was an unusually high number of impressive releases this year. This made putting together this year’s Top Ten List harder to put together than in years past, especially No. 5 to No 10. While there are always great cigar that don’t make the list, it felt like there was more this year than in the past, and some of these will appear on our Honorable Mentions List in the coming days.
This year, unlike in year’s past, the Top Ten is wholly a solo endeavor on my part. These are simply my opinion of what are the best cigars that were reviewed on the site in 2016. Only cigars with published reviews on the site within the last year were eligible to make the list. As always, it’s important to rememberer that this list is entirely subjective, and is based on my own personal palate and preferences.
As in previous years, several factors went into deciding the ranking on the Top Ten List:
– Original Score
– Impressions beyond that of the original review
– How often I wanted to (or did) smoke the cigar outside of for the review
– The list is entirely subjective and based on my own opinions of the cigars on it.
10) Finca Santa Fe by Cordoba & Morales
Previously, Cordoba & Morales surprised me with how great their cigars are, and earned a spot on our Top Ten Cigars of 2014 with their 19th Hole Maduro. This time around it’s the limited Finca Santa Fe from Azarias and Emille Mustafa’s boutique cigar brand. The Finca Santa Fe is one of the most Cuban-like cigars on the market, but has just enough Nicaraguan strength to me one amazing medium bodied cigar. Perfect for those special celebrations, the Finca Santa Fe from Cordoba & Morales is a cigar that is worth the $20 purchase price.
9) Angel’s Anvil 2016 TAA by Crowned Heads
Since releasing the first iteration of the Angel’s Anvil in 2014, the annual release Crowned Heads has become one of the more sought after of TAA exclusives. The Angel’s Anvil 2016 TAA Exclusive may be the best cigar yet to carry the Angel’s Anvil name. A Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper over Nicaraguan filler, gives this full bodied box pressed cigar a great mix of flavor with just the right amount of strength. Only 1000 20-count boxes of the 2016 Angel’s Anvil have been produced, so it’s likely to be a hard cigar to find, but it is worth it for the full bodied cigar enthusiast to seek out. I’d love to say I put a box or two aside, but somehow whenever I buy them, I end up smoking them right away, which is always a good indicator that a cigar will make the Top Ten list. Click here to buy it now.
8) The Oscar Habano
Oscar Valladares made a name for himself with his Leaf, which came wrapped in a tobacco leaf rather than cellophane, and has followed it up with The Oscar Habano that comes wrapped in a candela leaf in place of cellophane. Nicaraguan filler, as well as Honduran filler/binder and Ecuadorian Habano wrapper tobacco gives this cigar a bit of added strength to it. The Oscar is a smooth well balanced cigar for the full bodied cigar smoker. What is striking about the flavor profile of Oscar’s cigars is how different they are from other brands on the market, and The Oscar shares this wit its Leaf predecessors.
7) Warped Maestro del Tiempo 6102R
The Flor del Valle Sky Flower was so amazing, having earned the Cigar of the Year from us last year, that I was very excited that Kyle Gellis’ Warped Cigars would be releasing other cigars that made use of the medio tiempo tobacco that made that cigar so wonderful. Sure enough, the follow-up Maestro del Tiempo 6102R manages to be a very complex and flavorful medium bodied cigar that makes great use of medio tiempo filler tobacco. Warped has quickly become one of the most talked about boutique brands on the market, and it’s not too hard to see why. Since only 150 cabinets of 100 cigars were made of the 6102R, it is going to be a hard cigar to find, but it’s definitely worth seeking out.
6) Southern Draw Kudzu Code Duello Perfecto
The Southern Draw Kudzu makes the list once again (the Kudzu Gordo was No. 4 on our Top Ten Cigars of 2015), albeit in a different (and more unique) vitola. The Kudzu Code Duello comes in a two pack meant to be shared with friends, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll like the Kudzu Perfecto too much to share, Made for Robert Holt’s Southern Draw Cigars at AJ Fernandez’s facoty in Estelí, the box-pressed perfecto shape of the Kudzu Code Duello really sets this full bodied cigar apart from others on the market. I still can’t get over how much I enjoy this blend no matter what the size. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Kudzu Gordo, Kudzu Axil Lancero or Kudzu Code Duello, this is a great peppery full bodied Nicaraguan blend. Since the Kudzu Gordo made the list last year, I’ve had so many people come up to me and say that the Kudzu was the cigar that surprised them the most from our list once they smoked it. Hopefully, you enjoy this cigar as much as I have. Click here to buy it now.
5) Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua Toro
I’m alway saying that Viaje is “hit or miss”. Well the Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua is definitely a hit. This has just the right balance of complexity and strength that one wants in a full bodied Nicaraguan cigar. For a cigar of this kind to so complex is rare, but there are some very unique notes to this cigar’s flavor profile. Though it’s a great cigar in any size, it’s the Toro vitola that really lets the blend shine. I’ve been smoking this cigar regularly since it first arrived at my local retailer, and it just does not get old. The Viaje Nicaragua Exclusivo is one of those cigars that everyone I recommend it to seems to love it. While there’s a lot of hype over the various Viaje limited editions, it’s this regular production cigar that stood out the most this year. I think the Viaje Excusilvo Nicaragua may actually be my favorite cigar that Andre Farkas’ company has ever released.
4) Davidoff Yamasa
Whenever you talked to someone about the cigars they liked at the IPCPR Trade Show, it’s inevitable that someone will bring up the Davidoff Yamasa. The latest addition to the black label series, the Yamasa is more in line with the well received Davidoff Nicaragua than the somewhat disappointing Escurio. Master Blender Henke Kelner has put a lot of care into making this cigar turn out just right, and it shows in the complexity and balance of flavors in this medium to medium-full bodied cigar. The Davidoff Yamasa is one of those cigars that happens to be full bodied enough for the seasoned cigar enthusiast to enjoy, while it is balanced enough that many mild-medium bodied smokers will should not find it overpowering. Once again Davidoff proves why they are one of the most respected high end cigar brands. Click here to buy it now.
3) Illusione H-Town Lancero
Despite what you may have seen somewhere else, this cigar was released on January 1, 2016, which is why it didn’t belong on a Best of 2015 list. That said, the fact that the cigar which was our first reviewed of 2016 has managed to capture such a high spot on this list is pretty impressive. Stogies World Class Cigars in Houston has become known for its shop exclusive H-Town Lancero line, which features a ton of great cigars in the lancero vitola. Yet of all the great cigars in the line, this lancero take on the Illusione Singularé 2010 Phantom blend stands out as the best of the best. My friend Rob enjoys this cigar so much that he grabs one every time we are at Stogies together. The medium bodied Illusione H-Town has quickly become my favorite lancero or all time, and that’s saying something. Originally, this cigar was completely sold out (which would have eliminated it from consideration on this list), but there is now an ample supply at Stogies, so that everyone can try this cigar that fits a wide range of palates.
2) Cornelius Corona Gorda by Cornelius & Anthony
Rarely does a company come onto the scene in its first year of business with such a successive number of great cigars, but Cornelius & Anthony has had three great cigars in one year. Then again, when your family has been growing tobacco since the 1860s like owner Steven Bailey’s has, good tobacco probably runs in the veins. Made at Miami’s famous El Titan de Bronze factory, the Cornelius is a cigar that offers something for every cigar enthusiast. Medium bodied, perfectly constructed and richly complex, the Cornelius is one of those cigars that occupies the “Goldilocks zone” for cigar smokers of every type. Earlier this year I threw a party with several different cigars for guests to choose from, including Padrón and Opus X, but the only box that was empty at the end of the night was the box of Cornelius. If this is what they can do in their first year, I’m really looking forward to next year.
1) The Tabernacle Churchill by Foundation Cigar Company
From the first time I smoked it there was little doubt Nick Melillo’s return to broadleaf easily takes the top sport on this year Top Ten list. Last year, the El Güegüense Churchill by Foundation was our No. 2 cigar on the Top Ten Cigars of 2015, and like that cigar The Tabernacle was one of the most anticipated cigars of the year, and just like last year Melillo’s Foundation Cigar Company did not disappoint. Forgetting for a minute, Nick’s Drew Estate roots, it’s not hard to see why he has such a loyal following after two such stellar cigars in a row. The full bodied Tabernacle Churchill has serious has a depth to its earth, cocoa, pepper and cedar notes provided by a Mexican San Andres binder, as well as Nicaraguan and Honduran filler over a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. While I’ve had every size in the line, I found that the lancero and more especially the Churchill really allow for the best smoking experience. Coming from AJ Fernandez’s factory in Estelí, the Tabernacle is definitely going to be one of the year’s most sought after cigars, and in my opinion it was certainly the best.
Those our my picks for the 10 best cigar of 2016. I hope you get a chance to give some of these wonderful cigars a try, and enjoy them as much as I have. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions on the list. What was the best thing you smoked this year? Also, don’t forget to check back in the coming days for our Honorable Mentions List and our second annual Most Fascinating People in the Cigar Industry List.
Before I go, I’d like to thank all of you for being Toasted Foot readers. I hope you all have a happy holiday and a great new year.
All the best,
Jonathan David, editor