Brian’s Top 10 of 2008

I’m under the weather today, so I’m taking a page from Walt’s play book. I’m making my own top 10 list. Like Walt’s list, mine includes only cigars that I reviewed this year. Some of these cigars were new releases, but not all of them. In fact, I don’t even guarantee that these cigars were actually produced or even purchased in 2008. Confused yet? Good. Let’s count ’em down.

#10: Equus Limited Ligero Cameroon Gordo
On it’s own merits, the Equus is a pretty good smoke. But what ensures its place on my top ten list for the year is that it was the subject of a now infamous review Jerry did last year. To say Jerry didn’t care for it is an understatement. The controversy made this one of my favorite reviews of the year.

The first of these I smoked I thought was OK, but the unpleasant burnt flavor I got in the second third gave me some pause. The second really hit me at just the right time, because I kept thinking how much the cigar was just hitting the spot. Honestly, I’m surprised, I really enjoyed the cigar. As a one who generally enjoys Cameroon leaf, I shouldn’t be, but these are special circumstances. And I think if anyone who has been curious about this cigar should give it a shot.

#9: Perdomo Patriarch Corojo Torpedo
This is one of a number of great new smokes coming from Perdomo. This particular stick was chosen because it happens to be the one I reviewed! And it helps that I’ve smoked an number of them since the review, and never once regretted it.

Overall, I’d say this was a solid, enjoyable smoke. The burn was less than stellar, but turned out to be not much more than a minor irritation. It’s definitely not something that would prevent me from smoking more Patriarchs in the future. In fact, I think It’s very likely I will sample some of the other vitolas in the future. The flavor profile was very enjoyable, and definitely kept my interest the entire time. My understanding is that this cigar is now available (though I haven’t seen them yet in my local shops), and I would encourage you to pick a couple up and give them a shot.

#8: Vintage 1982 Cerdan Welles
It’s not the most potent stick on the block, but it’s got great flavor, nearly 27 years of age, and rock bottom price tag.

There just isn’t anything about these cigars to find fault with. The flavor was great, the burn was perfect, they’re vintage, and they’re really inexpensive. I think these things are definitely worth giving a shot, but keep in mind, whatever they may have been like when they were new, they are pretty mild at this point. I will definitely be smoking more of these in the future.

#7: Los Imperialistas Torpedo
You just knew Pepin was going to be on this list somewhere. This 2008 new release is a great new addition to the huge list of smokes the man creates.

In a follow up email with Jesse, he mentioned that though the vitolas don’t have creative names, the blend makes up for that. And I have to agree, the flavors were always a moving target. What I tasted initially quickly evolved into another flavor in the finish, often very woody. There was no time for boredom and barely enough room on my review sheet for all my notes on the flavors. Though I did have a bunch of burn trouble, I really enjoyed smoking the cigars anyway. I think fans of Pepin smokes will enjoy this new creation.

#6: Winston Churchill No. 10
Another mild stogie for the list, but still one I enjoy when I feel like splurging a bit. (And I have a few times this year.)

In spite of the flaws, I enjoyed this cigar. The flavors were great, and it seems to be a cigar that rewards you for taking your time with it. And besides, all the flaws I noted were mainly cosmetic in nature. The overall smoking experience didn’t suffer much as a result of an uneven burn, finger prints or wrapper cracks.

The one thing that might keep me from lighting up these cigars all the time (aside from the price tag), is that it is such a mild cigar. I can guarantee you that the next one I smoke will probably be on a relaxed Sunday morning with a good cup of coffee. And that actually sounds pretty good right now. I may have to pick another one up for this weekend.

#5: Don Pepin Garcia Blue Label Fundadores
As a fan of the Pepin’s blue label and of the panatela and lancero vitolas, putting this cigar in the list was a no brainer.

Good smokes with a bit of a humidity issue. I was warned, but I couldn’t wait to try them out. So yeah, I’m giving these cigars a bit of a pass in the burn department.

I’m thinking that anyone who is already a fan of Don Pepin’s Blue line should give this new vitola a try. The smaller ring gauge really seems to amplify the already great flavors.

#4: CAO Lx2 Rob
Though we were left waiting for these to arrive in our shops for quite a while, the cigar was worth the wait.

#3: El Titan De Bronze Grand Reserve Maduro Corona
I’ve been generally impressed with all the El Titan De Bronze cigar lines I’ve tried, and I think the Reserve Maduro is my favorite so far.

After smoking the first cigar, my opinion was that the Grand Reserva Maduro was a good, solid stick. But after the second, virtually perfect cigar, I had to upgrade my opinion. That was a stick I would smoke all day, every day and twice on Sundays, even if it had burn issues. (Not that the burn issues were all that bad.) In short, I loved it. The flavor, the great draw and the huge volume of smoke made it an experience I look forward to repeating. I would absolutely recommend giving it a shot. The Redemption has been getting a lot of good press recently, but in my opinion, the Grand Reserva Maduro is every bit as worthy of praise.

#2: The Tatuaje Black
It was a challenge to even get my hands on one of these fabled smokes. That alone made it a memorable review. The fact that it turned out to be a good smoke was a bonus!

#1: Alec Bradley Tempus Novo Terra
This was an easy decision, no other review I did this year was quite this memorable. Great cigar, and probably still my favorite new release of 2008.

I’m not going to beat around the bush, I thought this was a fantastic cigar. Very nice work Alec Bradley, you were absolutely right to make this your flagship cigar. Even when I was having burn problems, I couldn’t get over how much I enjoyed the cigar’s flavors.

Aside from the burn issues, I did noticed around the second third that this cigar did beat up on the roof of my mouth and throat a bit. But that didn’t faze me either. Right around the time I was starting to feel slightly raw, a pleasant buzz started to set in. And did I mention how tasty this cigar was? The Tempus is definitely in the running for my favorite new cigar of the year.