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Marvin R. Shanken

Tasting the Very Best of 2007

Posted: Oct 30, 2007 3:45pm ET
This is a very serious and most rewarding time of year. I’m sitting down with my Cigar Aficionado team to select the best cigar of 2007.

Yesterday I lit up with executive editor Gordon Mott, European editor James Suckling and senior editor David Savona. We had already smoked dozens of cigars, rating each on our 100-point quality scale, but now we had to choose a winner.

After reviewing the top scores of the year from Cigar Aficionado and Cigar Insider, we selected the best of the bunch, coming up with about 45 cigars. Each had scored 90 points or higher. Our tasting coordinator, Greg Mottola, then went shopping, and bought all 45 at retail—we want the cigars we rate to be as close to what you can buy as possible—and he re-banded them to disguise their identities, then passed them out to six members of our tasting panel, including myself, for another round of analysis. At the conclusion of that blind test, we selected the very best of that bunch, they were re-banded yet again with a new code, and Mott, Suckling, Savona and myself sat down together to figure out which one was the very best.

Let me tell you, it was an amazing group of cigars, and there were some very strong contenders. We all enjoyed our work thoroughly. I brought along my new video flip phone, to give you an inside look at the process. Take a peek:



We’ve chosen a winner, but we’re not ready to tell you yet. Cigar Aficionado’s No. 1 Cigar of the Year will be unveiled in January—and for the first time ever you’ll be able to follow the countdown online. Stay tuned for more details.

What cigar do you think will win?

Comments   42 comment(s)

Jose Blanco October 30, 2007 4:55pm ET

Marvin, what a great idea you guys always come with ways to keep us updated,I have mine but it would not be fare to say, I wish luck to all the people that make this industry the best in the world.


Robert Peluso October 31, 2007 8:28am ET

I hope it's the Tatuaje v1 Almerities. That cigar was 2007 World Champs,,just like the Red Sox baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


mark weinberg — BROOKLYN NEW YORK —  November 1, 2007 9:50am ET

The padron 1964 anniversario imperial had been and continues to be "THE" cigar regardless of the year. Consistant quality makes this cigar topsmjw51


Rick Thomas — Seoul, Korea —  November 7, 2007 10:17pm ET

Bolivar Royal Corona is always one of the best, no matter what year.


Clark Chacon — Hemet Ca. —  November 11, 2007 3:16pm ET

LaFlor-- Coronado, Helps me to remember why I smoke cigars. Life really is to short to waste on a bad cigar.


Edward Schwartz November 12, 2007 5:32pm ET

Montecristo Edmundo. Had my first in Spain and they've become a real favorite. Sancho Panza Belicoso is definitely another. Question: When you all test the finalists (or any of the cigars for that matter) how far down do you go? Half-way? The band? Beyond the band? Thanks and regards


John Bowman — NY, NY —  November 12, 2007 8:15pm ET

I really appreciate the effort your team goes through to ensure that the selection is fair. I think this is absolutely necessary to keep your magazine's reputation as the premier cigar journal. While many lament the non-Cuban bent in CA, efforts like this show that you really mean business mean a lot. Keep it up. The integrity of your ratings is your most valuable asset because without it, your mailing list is worthless. Never forget that. And thanks for sharing your thoughts on this with the online community.


john dicaro — Carlsbad, CA —  November 17, 2007 10:47am ET

Oliva serie V....Best in 5 years. I appreciate this new feature. You do a great job!JRD


Naisan Modjarrad — Dublin, Ca —  November 18, 2007 9:16am ET

Any thoughts of coming up with a monthly Blog-cast / Podcast for the Ipod?


john haden — St. Louis, Mo —  November 26, 2007 10:47pm ET

The Oliva Series V Torpedo will be hard to beat for best cigar of 2007. However, as difficult to find now as the Opus X, which validates your 100 point rating system, should anyone have doubted it in the first place.


dean freeman November 27, 2007 1:38am ET

MarvinWhere can we find CA ball caps?


David O'Neill — Nevada —  December 2, 2007 10:27am ET

I'm fortunate enough to be working in Kuwait and they have a Casa de la Habanos with a outstanding selection of cigars perhaps the best I've ever seen in respect to selection and quantity.Montecristo Edmundos,El rey del mundo choix supreme and of course my all time favorite the Montecristo No.2 can't be beat.


Luis J Falto — Mayaguez, Puerto Rico —  December 24, 2007 3:36am ET

For sure the Padr¿n 80th Anniversary. Other tha that, there are whole bunch of others out there that might win.


Eric Deitrich — Woodbine, MD —  December 26, 2007 10:27pm ET

Keep up the great work guys! I love the videos too, I would love to see more videos (maybe video reviews?). Happy New Year!


Kevin Zaborniak January 3, 2008 12:07am ET

I have to admit Oliva Series V is a great cigar and very worthy of the No. 1 spot...however I think its going to be the San Cristobal Maestro...One of my favorites of 2007.


Roberto Fonseca — Nicaragua —  January 4, 2008 3:13pm ET

I'm a big fan Padron's cigar, I tasted a Perfecto 1926 and it's amazing. Congratulations!!!!


Mark A Galbreath — Annapolis, MD —  January 11, 2008 9:55am ET

I am new to cigars - began smoking in earnest in November 2007 with the Drew Estates Natural and Acid brands and liked them a great deal.

I just received my first issue of Cigar Afficianado with Tom Seleck on the cover, and read with great interest the cigar ratings section and the article on Jose "Pepin" Garcia. I have been using the online resources extensively since I signed up for a 1-year online subsciption 2 days ago. Coincidentally, I have grown tired of the flavored cigars, though I believe they have their place. I am enjoying a pretty nice Caridad right now.

This is an interesting conjunction of events. I remember smoking a Cuban cigar when I was in Trinidad 10 years ago. That's how memoraable that cigar was to me. That was the first time I actually enjoyed smoking a cigar. Since then, due to the assaninely absurd U.S. embargo, I gave up smoking cigars before I started. And after growing tired of the Drew Estates flavored and sugared cigars was ready to do so again.

Since reading the Pepin article, however, I have ordered samples of Padilla, Don Pepin, Tatuaje, and Avo cigars. They should arrive today or tomorrow and I look forward to that "taste" I enjoyed 10 years ago in Trinidad.

Thanks for a fine magazine and a great online resource!

MarkAnnapolis, MD


Mark A Galbreath — Annapolis, MD —  January 11, 2008 10:52am ET

Do you have a readers' poll for cigar-of-the-year? It would be interesting to compare Cigar Afficianado's selection with the scores of the readers'.


Eric Deitrich — Woodbine, MD —  January 11, 2008 3:29pm ET

Mark, It sounds like you have some tasty cigars to smoke- enjoy! Welcome to the wonderful world of cigars!


Mark A Galbreath — Annapolis, MD —  January 11, 2008 9:07pm ET

I have a few suggestions, if I may be so bold:Have a "rest time" suggested for each cigar, in addition to its rating. That is, how much time in the humidor at what relative humidity and temp before a stick is ready to enjoy. For example, I just got a box of Gran Habano 3 Gran Coronas and I smoked one. It did not taste like the 90 rating CA awarded them. Not that I have ever tasted a cigar with a 90 rating before, but I assume it must spend some time in my humidor.

A stat on whether the cigar matures with length of time (and how much time) in the humidor. Like a fine wine, I suppose a cigar can outlive its flavor peak.

A blurb on compatibility of various cigars in the same personal humidor. I thought of this because I have dozens of Acid herb-infused cigars and I keep them in a separate humidor for fear the odor would affect the taste of the Gran Coronas and the others I expect to arrive tomorrow. I suppose that a more subtle pollution could occur with other cigars.

What do others think about this?


Eric Deitrich — Woodbine, MD —  January 12, 2008 12:17am ET

Hey Mark, You are right about humidor time- there are those cigars that seem just perfect the day we buy them, but others are much better with a little age, sometimes even a week or two in your humidor. If you buy cigars online that have to be shipped, it usually is good to give them a few days or more in your humidor to "settle". On that note, I'm going to go smoke a cigar...


Harold Killam — Casciago, Italy —  January 12, 2008 11:15am ET

Hello- I was curious to know when you guys are going to start rating the Padron 80th's? And also expanding your cuban ratings to the cigars inside of the special release humidors. Love the videos! Keep up the good work guys!


Mark A Galbreath — Annapolis, MD —  January 12, 2008 4:36pm ET

I have a newbie question to throw out for answers/suggestions. As I watched the videos here I noticed that cigars everyone was smoking had the band on them. I then checked out my latest CA and everyone pictured smoking also have retained the bands. Then I read some reviews on cigars and there are references to smoking the stick "down to the band." Since the band takes up a considerable portion of the cigar on some varieties, I have been removing them and smoking down to the point where the flavor starts to fail.Is it customary to retain the band and consider the cigar finished when the burn reaches the band? Or is this publicity/ego?Thanks!


Eric Deitrich — Woodbine, MD —  January 12, 2008 8:53pm ET

Hey Mark-I personally smoke the cigar until it is no longer enjoyable for me. Some cigars that is down to the band, yet others may be half way down (for a longer size like a churchill). But it all depends on how much you are enjoying the cigar! I leave the cigar band on unless it is loose and slides off. I actually do this because I don't want to risk tearing the wrapper leaf trying to get the band off. And hey, sometimes it is nice looking at a nice looking band on a cigar while smoking- but of course its about the cigar and not the band. If you really want to take the band off, wait until you smoke the cigar for a few minutes. The heat from the lit cigar will allow the band to come off easier. Happy smoking!


Mark A Galbreath — Annapolis, MD —  January 14, 2008 12:32am ET

May I suggest a "delete" or "edit" function for authors of these blog entries?


Mark A Galbreath — Annapolis, MD —  January 19, 2008 10:57pm ET

Why are there no "further reviews" on any of the cigars in the ratings section? Why publish a single rating on cigars that were evaluated more than 3 and sometimes as many as 10 years ago?


Mark A Galbreath — Annapolis, MD —  January 20, 2008 1:57pm ET

Suggestion: Rewrite the code for this guestlist program to be a real blog. I'm available. :-)


Mark A Galbreath — Annapolis, MD —  January 23, 2008 8:20pm ET

Woohoo! Have I been hooked! I've added (at some cost!) the following to my (now) 4 humidors:Oliva Serie V TorpedoTatuaje Havana VI AngelesDon Pepin Garcia ImperialesGran Habano 3 Siglos Gran CoronaGran Habano 3 Siglos Gran RobustoLa Aurora Preferido #3Oliva Serie O RobustoSancho Panza Double Maduro EscuderoSancho Panza Double Maduro QuixoteSancho Panza Double Maduro La ManchaCAO Maduro BelicosoIndian Tabac Super Fuerte Double CoronaGurkha Ancient Warrior EmperorAstral Talanga Valley ToroAvo #3 TubosOnyx Reserve Mini BelicosoSaint Luis Rey RothchildePadron DeliciasPadron MagnumPadron ChurchillPadron AmbassadorCarlos Torano Exodus 1959 TorpedoGispert ToroA fair beginning? Thanks to CA and CI for the education!


edward sheats — Syracuse, new york —  January 24, 2008 12:58pm ET

Where may I send a resume?


Mark A Galbreath — Annapolis, MD —  January 25, 2008 10:44pm ET

monster.com?


Mark A Galbreath — Annapolis, MD —  March 9, 2008 11:40am ET

Would someone please take the time to update the Cigar Ratings to reflect Cigar Insider and CA reviews of the past 4 months?Thanks!


DAVE Savona March 9, 2008 12:09pm ET

Mark, I've just looked at ratings from the 2.19.08 Cigar Insider. Be sure to access them while logged in as a Cigar Insider subscriber. If you continue to have problems with the ratings, or anything else on this site, use the "contact us" icon at the top of the homepage so you can be assisted by one of our customer service representatives.


Mark A Galbreath — Annapolis, MD —  March 10, 2008 10:16am ET

Thanks, Dave!


Geraldo Scotto — S?Paulo/Brazil —  March 14, 2008 12:17pm ET

Dear Mr.Shanken,I believe you have already about our company, Menendez Amerino, which produces hand made premium cigars. One of our brands is very recoginized in US market, Dona Flor. I am writting this message to invite you to come to visit huge exhibition to be held here in S¿Paulo/Brazil, on the end of April 2008, where we will be exposing all our products portfolio on our own booth (almost 200 square meters).It will be a pleasure to have you with us, to explain to the audiences your option and knowlodge about cigars. You do not need to be worry about your tickets, hotel or food, it will be covereged by us. Please just let us know, as soon as possible, about your availability to allow us to book your tickets and hotel. Regards,Geraldo C.Scotto - Export Director.


Tim Bacich — United States —  April 15, 2008 7:06am ET

Hey Marvin, I'm probably not the first or certainly not going to be the last, because I know how nutty some of your readers can get about mistakes, but you have the wrong cigar as the H. Upmann Sir Winston in your June Issue. You have the H. Upmann Manarcas pictured as the cigar that was rated a 92. As you know that is the "sister" cigar to the Sir Winston. Little less striking and not quite the punch packing cigar. Both are 7/47's, but the Manarcas isn't quite what the Sir Winston is. My question is, which one was rated and is the Sir Winston actually the cigar deserving the 92 rating?


DAVE Savona — New York —  April 15, 2008 10:36am ET

Dear Tim,I'm answering this for Marvin. The H. Upmann Sir Winston that is pictured is correct. The Sir Winston and the Monarca that you mentioned are identical twins outside of their cigar boxes, much like the old Punch Black Prince and the Punch Punch. The two bands are the same. The cigar that was rated and photographed is, indeed, the Sir Winston, so that's the one that received (and deserved) the rating of 92 points.


Tim Bacich — United States —  April 15, 2008 12:16pm ET

Dave I have to disagree. The bands are different and so are the boxes. Have a look. The Monarca is a brown band and the Sir Winston is the traditional red gold and white that you have on your website under the couterfit section.


Paul Perez December 5, 2008 10:42am ET

The last comments of the video sum it all up "its a tough job but someone has to do it". I'm glad you guys are up to the challenge. :)


Preston Weiters Jr — Jersey City,, NJ, 07305, US.,  —  January 12, 2011 9:38pm ET

1/12/11, My favorite stogie is Nat Sherman, University 6x50 (ggeorgiadis@natsherman.com).

What I miss from, apx 10years ago, are the tapered Metropolitans (7x60)that came in the unvarnished sliding-top box. these gems were 20-count, no cellophane, just wax paper in the box.

Whenever I got a delivery & opened a box, the aroma was out of this world.

Aaaahh! ~~~ Preston Weiters Jr.


Tom Lonergan April 17, 2011 11:26pm ET

Can Mr. Shanken or Mr. Suckling or others suggest a cigar friendly bar or restaurant in Rome, Naples, or Sardinia? -Thanks!


peter chechotko — sparwood, british columbia, canada,  —  April 17, 2012 5:10pm ET

Marvin, don,t let it be said you are beyond the reach of the common man . since i first started reading cigar aficionado, i have attended two big smokes in vegas, one with my wife who loved it, taken up golfing. and am now the owner of a porsche boxster. yes life is good, and the common man can participate , everything is a choice. thanks keep up the good work.


John I. Allen October 29, 2013 5:43pm ET

Hey, You do alot of great stories.. I've got what I feel would be good for our readers, It's the Ken Brenan the detective retired from New York City. What a great guy. If feel after you take a look at 20/20, dateline you will see a cigar smoker that settles with nothing but the best. This guy is and would be a great story for Aficionado. Thanks for taking the time to read my comment.



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