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Cream of the Crop

Marvin R. Shanken, Gordon Mott
From the Print Edition:
Ron Perlman, January/February 2014

For the third time since we started awarding a cigar of the year in 2004, we have given the title to a Cuban cigar, a Montecristo No. 2. The iconic brand, and its iconic pyramid shape, have often been among the best Cuban cigars on the market. But this year, the No. 2 kept coming out on top in the special rounds of blind tastings we conduct to pick the best of the best in 2013.

In many ways, the most interesting aspect of the Top 25 Cigars of 2013 is the diversity in almost every aspect of cigar-making: size, shape and country of origin. Each of those qualities shows how global the world of the premium hand-rolled cigar has become and how many different kinds of great cigars are available to smokers all over the world today.

Our No. 2 cigar, the Aging Room Quattro F55 Concerto hails from the Dominican Republic. The brand is a collaboration between Rafael Nodal, a newcomer to the cigar world, and Jochi Blanco, a grower of premium cigar tobacco in the Dominican Republic. Both men are passionate about cigars, and it shows in the products they are bringing to you.

Our No. 3 cigar contains only Nicaraguan tobaccos, although it is made at the Davidoff factory in the Dominican Republic. This top global luxury brand has relied on a mild to medium-bodied profile smoke since they left behind a production deal with Cuba over 20 years ago. Davidoff Nicaragua, as the new line is aptly called, shows a depth of flavor and strength that consumers have come to expect from that Central American country.

The rest of the list includes very familiar brands, such as Arturo Fuente, Padrón (a three-time winner), Ashton VSG, La Flor Dominicana and Oliva, and cigars from winners in previous years such as Casa Magna, Alec Bradley and last year’s champion, My Father Cigars. But there are some newcomers too: Herrera Esteli from Drew Estate, Curivari and Gurkha.

Those are the cigars that rose to the top after a year’s worth of blind tastings, more than 700 cigars during the 12 months. We selected cigars which scored at least 91 points, and then picked a sampling of 45 cigars in that list, and resmoked them blind again. David Savona joined us in smoking those cigars, which were then culled down to a final 13 contestants. And, then, we smoked them blind again, picking the Montecristo No. 2, which scored the highest in that final round.

It’s an exhaustive process, and to come out on top at the end is a clear sign not only of excellence, but of consistency too. We hope you enjoy the Top 25 Cigars. Join us on cigaraficionado.com to discuss your favorites, and to debate our choices.

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