It has become a tradition at Cigar Aficionado magazine to start our year with a celebration of excellence, our annual ranking of the Top 25 cigars of the year. It’s a project that has become especially popular with our readers. Our editorial team analyzes a year’s worth of cigar reviews and has a blind tasting of the top-rated cigars to see which ones rise above all others. At the end, we select the 25 best, and one cigar is given the lofty title of Cigar of the Year.
This year, the winner is the H. Upmann No. 2, a beautiful cigar rolled in Cuba. It’s a well-crafted smoke, balanced, elegant, not too strong and not too mild. It delivered again and again, and we scored it 98 points, tying it for the highest score we’ve ever given to a Cigar of the Year. You can read all about that amazing cigar and the rest of the Top 25 beginning on page 54.
This year’s champion is a Cuban cigar. While many people who are new to cigars often assume that Cuban cigars consistently dominate our ratings, that is simply not true. This past year has been particularly good for Cubans in terms of how they performed on our Top 25—four Cubans made the list, with two of them placing in the top five—but it’s been nearly 10 years since a Cuban cigar has been named Cigar of the Year. If there’s any country that dominates in our rankings it’s Nicaragua. In the history of Cigar of the Year, Nicaragua has won nine times to rank first by a considerable margin. The Dominican Republic ranks second, with five wins. Cuba has four and Honduras has one. It’s a big cigar world out there. If you think that Cuba is the only country in the world that makes great cigars, you don’t know the full story.
Speaking of stories, our cover story involves not one but six big personalities, men who should be familiar to any pro football fan: Terry Bradshaw, Jimmy Johnson, Howie Long, Michael Strahan, Curt Menefee and Jay Glazer, the all-star team that brings you “Fox NFL Sunday.” Bradshaw, Johnson, Strahan and Long are all members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame with eight Super Bowl rings between them. On February 12 (not long after this issue reaches your hands) they will be hosting the Super Bowl. To find out what makes them tick, and why their show has been No. 1 for more than a quarter of a century, turn to page 44.
Another thing about the cast of “Fox NFL Sunday:” most of them are enthusiastic cigar lovers. As we embark on year 31 at Cigar Aficionado, our mission stays the same: reviewing the world’s finest cigars and bringing you stories about some of the world’s most interesting cigar smokers.
Happy New Year.