Anthony’s Top 5 Cigars of 2012, Part II
Well, the best laid plans don’t always go to spec and I was hoping to have part II up the other day after part I, but a farewell party by my co-workers and patrons lead to an epic evening that made any semblance of thoughtful reflection doubtful the next day. That being said, I’m back to pick up with Part II of my top 5 cigars for 2012 and also mention some great runner-ups. So without further, adieu we start off with my number two cigar of the year.
#2 Crowned Heads’ Mule Kick: A late entry into the 2012 line-up, but one that came in kicking like the proverbial mule. The background on the Mule Kick can be found on Crowned Heads’ website here. Essentially it’s an amped up version of the Four Kicks blend with a different wrapper. I thought both the Four Kicks and Headley Grange were nicely balanced cigars that were executed well, but the Mule Kick is one that really shined.
I was hesitant to put it on my top 5 cigars list, because it doesn’t really meet my criterion of being widely available, but this is a cigar that I’m going to recommend tracking down. The Mule Kick is a very balanced smoke, like the Four Kicks and Headley Grange, but where I think it really opens up is the flavor profile. To me the Mule Kick has a very prominent and enjoyable flavor profile. There was a very pronounced sweetness to the cigar that was balanced nicely with a little bit of spice, and a very bold body. For me, a top two contender has to have a really pronounced flavor profile and this was a cigar that delivered it in spades.
#1 Tres Reynas:
A cigar collaboration project between My Father’s Janny Garcia and Raquel and Patricia Quesada that was showcases what they were capable of in the cigar blending department. It came out a little more low key than the other big Janny Garcia release, La Duena. La Duena was a great cigar with a lot of hype and it certainly overshadowed the Tres Reynas this year. However, in my book the Tres Reynas was the clear winner in the category.
The Tres Reynas defied expectations and probably shook up a few people’s views of what a cigar designed by ladies could be. I know when I approached it, I anticipated a smooth refined smoke that was more of an easy going smoke than a bold smoke. Tres Reynas, on the other hand was anything but mild. The cigar instead reflects the fierce and independent spirit these ladies embody by being a bold flavorful smoke that has great strength and character.
For me the Tres Reynas finds the perfect balance between being a full bodied cigar and a cigar full of flavor. It is a rich smoke that has a decadent sweetness to it that is reminiscent of some of my favorite barrel aged stouts. It has a jammy quality that switches between cocoa and fig. I definitely find the fig quality to be more dominant and quite delicious. The best part about this cigar is that I have found it to be highly consistent. So, its for these reasons that I rank the Tres Reynas my number one cigar of the year. There were many great contenders, but few had the balance, consistency, strength, and flavor that the Tres Reynas possessed.
There are many cigars that I would love to put on my top 5 cigars list, but given my criterion, not all are made for the list. So every year I like to do an “Honorable Mentions” list where I list a few honorable mentions and the reason they are not on the top five list.
Best Boutique to Keep your Eyes on:
262: 262 has been a brand that has been building a lot buzz over the last year. Their first few releases were ok, but nothing that knocked my socks off. This year all that has changed as Clint and team have come up with the Revere. While it is not necessarily a top five choice it is a a cigar that shows a lot of potential in that it has a great price point and solid flavor profile. Clint has really stepped up his game in not only creating a solid smoke of excellent balance and taste, but also creating it at an excellent price point.
Look for Clint’s project on a shelf near you and give his new Revere a shot, I personally recommend the box press toro.
Best “It Should Have Been on My List, but Because I Work for Them Now it was Left Off:” Its been a busy season for Cigar Brief and with it a new change is coming with the New Year and that is I will be becoming the new Southwest Area Manager for La Flor Dominicana. I’m excited to be starting this new journey, but this also means some things will change around Cigar Brief, namely I won’t be reviewing La Flor anymore due to perceived biases that might creep in. That being said I’m bringing up La Flor here for the Double Press, because I really do like the heck out of it!
The Double Press would easily be in my top three. Its balanced, robust, and different than most other La Flor product. It has a fixation on flavor rather than strength and is the perfect medium to medium + cigar. So I guess when it comes to this cigar take it with a grain of salt. If you have lined up with my profile recommendations before, then I really think you will enjoy the La Flor Dominicana Double Press.
Best Commuter Format Cigar: There has been a lot of focus on the commuter format cigar lately. Its become a lot more popular to have a short format smoke that allows the cigar smoker to have a smoke in harsh weather or limited time circumstances. So with an influx of new choices we have had a lot of small format cigars to try out this year. Last year, we chose that Namakubi Papi Chulo for a spot in our top five and our number one commuter format stick, this year we are going with Bait Fish by Drew Estate and Joya De Nicaragua.
The Bait fish is an amped up version of the My Uzi Weighs a Ton blend and boy is it really different. It is a 4×44 vitola that packs a great punch and has a lot of flavor. I’ve grown to love the strength buildup that happens with every Bait Fish as it starts off being a medium bodied cigar and then develops into quite the full body treat. So if you love a short format cigar, but want that extra kick, then check out the bait fish!