Monday, December 28, 2015

Habanos Critic: Top Ten Cigars of 2015 (Big Tuna Edition)

Habanos Critic:
Top Ten Habanos of 2015
Big Tuna Edition

When it comes to Habanos, a Top 25 Cigar list would be out of the question. You would notice the same Habanos on the list year after year, and more than likely it would be in the same place, or similar place, every year. If you recall, Catfish and Big Tuna took it to the limit in 2014, making only a Top Five, but this year Yellow Snapper and Big Tuna have something else in mind. This year, we are going with a Top Ten list. We don't exclude anything when generating the list, and you will never see Yellow Snapper and Big Tuna do that. We don't care if it is a Custom Rolled, Limitada or Regional, we might have it on there. The only thing we won't have on there is anything not from Cuba. Along with that, we are going to share the vintage and box-code, if we have it. It could be that we were smoking from a particular box and/or vintage, and if that is the case, we are going to share that with you. Enough of that though, let the goodness begin.

1) Montecristo 80 Aniversario 

It should come as no surprise that the Montecristo 80 Aniversario is my number one Habanos of 2015. If I were to smoke this every year, I would not be surprised if it was consistently in my top three for at least the first five years. The Habanos delivered what a great cigar should and that ranges from flavors to construction. From beginning to end, the 80 Aniversario delivered a beautiful draw that was easy but not too easy. The burn line was fantastic and the ash on the end was stellar, holding on for long periods of time. With that came a great flavor profile that was balanced out by a nice body and strength level. It showed that classic Montecristo flavor profile and then some. The Habano delivers that mocha, cappuccino, smoky flavor profile that I love in Montecristo,  and with this release there were some additional leather notes that took it to a new level. What the price on these will be, I don't know. All I will say is that they will be worth every penny.

2) Edmundo Dantes Conde 54 Edición Regional Mexico (2011) 

Coming in at number two this year is the second release in the Edmundo Dantes brand, a Montecristo "sub-brand" for Mexico. Because of legal restriction, Cuba could not release a Montecristo regional in to Mexico, so they created Edmundo Dantes. The first Edmundo Dantes  was El Conde 109, a true masterpiece of a cigar with great success, and to follow that release they created Conde 54 in 2011. A masterpiece and a success as well, the Conde 54 is a massive parejo that is gorgeous in all aspects. It is constructed perfectly and delivers a flavor profile that is stunning. The flavors are of vanilla, cinnamon, coffee and cream, and there some nutty and leather aspects present with that. With such success, Edmundo Dantes is slated to have a third regional for Mexico next year.

3) Punch Gran Robusto Edición Regional España (2009) (OPM NOV-09) 

Coming in at number three is a release that completely surprised me. I am not the biggest fan of regional releases, I believe it would be hard to find anyone who is truly a fan of the program, but every once in a great while there is a release that is amazing. I have found it with a variety of brands, probably less than ten total releases, and this year I found something amazing with the Punch Gran Robusto. This regional release from 2009 shows what makes the Punch brand great in a bigger vitola. It has all of those great aged Punch flavors, sweet spices, stone fruit and leather, and with it is perfect construction. You will have a hard time finding a better Punch than this. 

4) Ramón Allones Gran Robusto Edición Regional Benelux (2007-2008) (Slide Lid Box) 

At number four this year is a Habano that I picked up while in Antwerp at the city's LCDH. I don't have the box code, there wasn't even any full boxes available but I was able to pick up this regional release from the last remaining slide lid box. This actual regional was released in 2007, but with great success it was re-released in 2008 as is allowed in the program. The Gran Robusto is one of the best offerings I have had in the brand, and it delivered a flavor profile that was simply mind blowing. I picked up flavors of cappuccino, tiramisu and nutmeg, and it was a complex cigar that had a great balance between sweetness and spice. The construction is stellar and it has a nice medium-full to full strength and body level. Simply awesome.

Review Coming Soon.

5) Trinidad Vigia 

The Trinidad brand is one that does not receive a ton of attention, but with age it is awesome and better than a lot of other offerings. They are solid young, but with age they excel. Well, released late last year was the latest Trinidad and one of the largest ones at well. It's called Vigia, and for being young it is smoking great. Since I reviewed it in May, the Habano has gotten much better and I can't wait to see where it is in years to come. The Habano has that great cedar, cream, barnyard and grass flavor, and there is a nice spice level present with that. The construction is terrific, and if you are a Trinidad fan, you need to pick this up. My number five Habano of the year. 

6) H. Upmann Magnum 50 (MOA DEC-09) 

When I reviewed this in March of 2014, I said that it had improved greatly with age but it was still not the best H. Upmann on the market. Well, in the 20 months since I reviewed this Habano it has gone to a magical place and is now smoking at a level that I can't explain. This might be the year of robusto extras/double robustos, because the Magnum 50 is rocking with six year of age. The Habanos is delivering flavors of spices, leather, coffee and chocolate, and there is a nice barnyard quality with that. The construction is terrific and it has a great draw. The H. Upmann Magnum 50 smokes for a long time and with greatness like this, you don't want it to end. 

7) Trinidad Reyes (OUR NOV-08) 

Yes, there is another Trinidad on the list. This offering, the Trinidad Reyes is from 2008 and it has been aging wonderfully as the years have gone by. This petit corona is packed with flavors and shows excellent construction on top of that. I know that some are opposed to this brand, but I think that comes from the fact that it is unlike most other Habanos offerings. I always looked at the brand as a cross between Vegueros and Cohiba, and yes I know Vegueros was released after Trinidad. At number seven is the Reyes, a great smoke that with age is better than a lot out there.

8) Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure de Luxe (AME NOV-12) 

Coming in at number eight this year is an LCDH exclusive, the Hoyo de Monterrrey Epicure de Luxe. This is an LCDH release that inititally did not impress me, but with some time in the humidor and patience overall, I have found that I love this offering. It is a nice petit size that deliver those classic Hoyo flavors. You could say that I could turn to the Petit Robusto if that is what I am looking for, but the flavor profile with that offering is not in line with what the brand is known for. A creamy flavor profile that has some nice sweetness, hay, tobacco, cocoa and fruit qualities, the Epicure de Luxe is a gem among the LCDH releases. 

9) Bolivar Belicosos Finos (TEB NOV-08) 

With a box code of TEB, the year 2008 and the name Bolivar Belicosos Finos, are you surprised that this is on the Top Ten list? A masterpiece of a belicoso and one that continues to get better and better with age, the Belicosos Finos is not a Bolivar offering I turn to often, but one that does not disappoint but amazes when I do. If you come across a BBF with this box code and date, BUY!

10) Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No.1 (SOT ENE-12) 

Yes, it is back. Ever since Yellow Snapper threw this curve ball at me and I struck out swinging, I have been craving it more and more. A great Hoyo that is nothing like your typical Hoyo but far richer. With amazing flavors and terrific construction, this is a Habanos I could smoke all day, everyday. If they all smoked like this, the Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 1 would always be in the Top Ten.