It’s that time when we release our top cigars of the year. This year we’re adding a twist to our list by selecting an entire brand rather than a single cigar. As in previous years, the selection for the top spot could have gone to any number of manufacturers, but in the end only one can be chosen as the cigar of the year.   Room 101 Big Payback

Room 101 Big Payback

Room 101’s The Big Payback was introduced by brand owner Matt Booth as a way to give back and say thank you to his loyal customers that have supported his line of cigars since day one. The idea was simple, produce a line that smoked great, had tons of flavor, and came beautifully packaged all while maintaining a retail price that’s set low enough where consumers wondered how these cigars can be so inexpensive. Not only did Matt accomplish what he set out to do but he also gained new smokers that now call The Big Payback their “go to” smoke.   The cigars come beautifully packaged in a large, matte black painted box with silver “Room 101 The Big Payback” script on the lid. Each cigar comes with a primary band and a secondary foot band with the same color and design scheme as the box. The presentation alone gives you the impression that this cigar should be expensive. Upon opening, you can’t help but be drawn by the gorgeous, dark chocolate wrapper and the shine it gives off. If that doesn’t do the job, the strong scent of earth, raisins, and chocolate that comes from the tobacco itself is sure to get your attention. The cigar is medium to full-bodied and expresses a balanced spice note along with chocolate and coffee bean flavors throughout. It’s an extremely balanced blend where strength and flavor work harmoniously together.   Creating a new line of cigars nowadays that maintains a loyal following is not an easy task to accomplish but that’s exactly what Room 101 has done with this brand. Its popularity seems to grow every day and for very good reasons. From the quality of tobacco used in the blend to the suggested retail price, the Big Payback has everything smokers are looking for in a cigar. With so much to offer and the overwhelmingly positive response from consumers, it was not difficult to award Room 101’s The Big Payback as our #1 brand of 2014. Well deserved!   La Historia by Perez-Carrillo

La Historia by Perez-Carrillo

La Historia by Perez-Carrillo is one of three new lines introduced this year by renowned cigar manufacturer Ernesto Perez-Carrillo. The line pays tribute to Carrillo’s parents, wife, and children and comes with one of the most beautiful bands you’ve ever seen along with a color coordinated ribbon foot band that’s packaged in a gorgeous cherry lacquered box holding ten box-pressed cigars. There are three sizes in the line, all of which are named after family members, El Senador (5.375x52) is named after Carrillo’s father who was a Senator in Cuba, Dona Elena (6.125x50) is named after Carrillo’s wife and E-III (6.875x54) is a nod to Ernie’s son, Ernesto Perez-Carrillo III.   The blend is made up of Dominican and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos that are covered with an Ecuadorian Sumatra binder and finished off with a beautiful Mexican San Andres wrapper. The blend is medium to full-bodied and expresses a core of dark chocolate, roasted nut, and sweet earthy notes. It’s an extremely complex and balanced cigar from start to finish and many have stated it as being Perez’ best blend to date. We’ll leave that part for you to decide but one thing we know for sure is that it definitely deserves a spot on our list of best brands for 2014.   Jericho Hill

Jericho Hill

Jericho Hill is the fourth regular cigar production line from Crowned Heads, the Nashville based Cigar Company that’s headed by former CAO executives Jon Huber and Mike Condor. This is the third time that they’ve implemented music to a brand of theirs with this latest release being in reference to the Johnny Cash hit “Cocaine Blues”. These guys love their music and evenly as much the brands they make. My Father Cigars was given the green light to create this outstanding cigar making it the first time Crowned Heads has looked outside of the Dominican Republic to produce a regular production line.   The cigars come with a natural box-press to them and are packaged in rustic cabinet-style boxes. At first glance the bands are reminiscent of the old Cuban Ramon Allones brand but with a variation on the color. The cigar itself boasts a dark Mexican San Andres wrapper that covers all Nicaraguan inner-components. This combination makes for an upper medium-bodied smoke with just the right amount of spice and flavors of sweet wood, earth, espresso, and cocoa powder. As good as these cigars are now, they would be a fantastic candidate for laying down in your humidor to age.   Matilde Renacer

Matilde Renacer

Jose Seijas, the man behind Matilde Cigars, has spent 40 years in the tobacco business with the majority of that time working at Altadis overseeing the production of 60 million cigars annually with such brands as Romeo y Julieta, Montecristo, and H. Upmann. He retired from Altadis back in January of 2012 but as with any true tobacco man, you never really leave the business and so came Matilde Renacer. Matilde was an old Dominican cigar brand that Seijas was able to revive and produce in a way he never was able to while working for the mega-tobacco giant Altadis. Renacer translates to “rebirth” in Spanish which is fitting for both Seijas and the Matilde brand. From the blending to the construction, the techniques used to produce Matilde are methods that Seijas has been waiting all his life to implement into a cigar he oversees.   The blend is medium-bodied and as balanced as a cigar can be. It’s loaded with complex notes of cocoa, nutmeg, butterscotch, sweet earth, and white pepper. The construction on each Matilde cigar is flawless with an emphasis on quality placed on every cigar manufactured by Seijas. This is a great example of cigar making from a legend in the cigar industry.   La Aurora Untamed

La Aurora Untamed

If you’re familiar with La Aurora, you’ll know that this is a company that prides itself on tradition and rarely, if ever, veers away from the path that’s brought it to where it is today. After 111 years of producing some of the finest cigars to come out of the Dominican Republic, La Aurora decided to go off that path and introduce a style of cigar never before made by them. La Aurora Untamed is an entirely different approach to cigar making and marketing from the Dominican Republic’s oldest cigar factory. This blend is their fullest-body cigar to date and implements bands and boxes that portray the traditional La Aurora lion in a totally different and aggressive manner. The idea behind this blend was to create a cigar that met the demands in today’s market while still keeping the La Aurora signature taste. They hit it on the head!   La Aurora’s master blender started by using the best Dominican and Nicaraguan tobaccos for the filler and binder and then covering them with one of the finest Connecticut Broadleaf wrappers available. The wrapper on this cigar has one of the most pungent yet attractive aromas you’ll ever smell. There’s a definite roar upon lighting this cigar with its burst of pepper that’s accompanied with notes of sweet cedar, caramel, and café con leche. It’s a relentless cigar that’s intended for the mature palate. As aggressive as this cigar is, your palate constantly seems to want more. A must try!   La Gloria Cubana Serie R Esteli

La Gloria Cubana Serie R Esteli

When the folks over at La Gloria Cubana decided to create an all new blend for this classic brand they started by going to Nicaragua’s renowned Jalapa valley in search of the perfect wrapper. The sun grown wrapper chosen for this blend had great flavor, aroma, and appearance and worked perfectly with the Viso and Ligero leaves in the filler and binder. The end result was an all Nicaraguan La Gloria Cubana, a first of its kind, which had strength, balance, and complexity all in one cigar.   The line was quickly accepted and has not stopped gaining momentum. People who’ve tried this blend generally will come back and pick more up simply because it’s that good. Traditional Nicaraguan tobacco flavors of spice, coffee bean, chocolate, and leather are easily noticed. This medium to full-bodied blend definitely puts down a smacking on the palate but in a good way. Being on the market for just over a year now and to make our list of best brands after such a long period says a lot about these cigars and how good they truly are.   George Rico S.T.K. American Puro

George Rico S.T.K. American Puro

The George Rico S.T.K. American Puro is one of the latest lines to come out of Gran Habanos’ factory located in the famed Miami neighborhood of Little Havana. As its name states, this all American cigar uses tobaccos from Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. Being an American Puro is special enough but what makes this cigar even more exotic is the use of the fire-cured tobacco grown and processed in Kentucky and blended in the filler to give it a unique profile seldom found in cigars today. At a slight distance the bands are reminiscent of the Cuban Hoyo De Monterrey Epicure. Each cigar is finished with a Trinidad flag on the cap and come in dressed, cabinet-style boxes that make for a simple yet elegant presentation.   The cigars themselves are a solid medium-bodied smoke that display a nice balance of complex flavors from the initial light until the final puff. The fire-cured tobacco, which can easily overpower everything else it’s put together with, has been perfectly blended with the other American tobaccos to give the blend a nice balanced smoky note character. There are also flavors of cream, salted caramel, and milk chocolate that work harmoniously together with the characteristics of the Kentucky tobacco. This All-American cigar is one to take notice of not only for its unique features and tobaccos but also for the simple fact that it’s really good. It not only deserves a spot on our list of best cigars but also a place in the humidor of cigar enthusiasts!   Alec Bradley Black Market

Alec Bradley Black Market

The Alec Bradley Black Market was introduced a couple years back and was received with open arms due to its incredible blend and good value. The momentum has been non-stop for the brand since its introduction and it’s actually more popular today. Consistency in quality and constant improvements in the tobaccos being used have been huge factors in keeping the brand moving and turning it into a household name. The Black Market is not only selling better, it’s also smoking better than ever.   The dark Nicaraguan wrapper that covers the Sumatran binder and Honduran and Panamanian filler tobaccos makes for a medium-bodied smoking experience that displays a nicely balanced amount of spice and earthy notes with coffee bean, chocolate, and hints of dark cherry. The smoke is refined with each flavor note playing its role exactly as it should. Alec Bradley has been making some of the finest cigars to hit the market, with one of the company’s blends being awarded as the #1 cigar in the world, yet the Black Market seems to be the one that consumers have opened up to most. A proven blend that never disappoints!   My Father Connecticut Edition

My Father Connecticut Edition

This is a blend that was long overdue from one of the top cigar manufacturers in the world, a Connecticut Shade cigar under the My Father banner. All we can say is that it was worth the wait! The My Father Connecticut Edition uses the highest grade Connecticut Shade wrapper available from Ecuador. This wrapper covers all Nicaraguan tobaccos grown by the Garcia family themselves. This combination makes for an extremely tasty, mild to medium-bodied smoking experience that has a rich cream and nutty core.   The flavors don’t just stop there either! Coffee and milk chocolate notes work meticulously together with a slight cedar and sweet pepper taste making for a cigar that’s loaded with an arsenal of diverse flavors. Its relentless flavor attack on the palate makes it a suitable candidate to smoke any time of the day. It’s mild enough to be your morning choice and complex enough to light up after a big meal. Another fabulous creation from the Garcia family and the man known as “Pepin”.   Achilles by Curivari

Achilles by Curivari

Curivari introduced the brand Achilles at last year’s trade show as their ultra-premium line. As many of you know, Curivari makes some of the finest cigars in the world that utilize 100% Nicaraguan tobacco in their blends. It’s a company that’s very traditional in how they conduct business and present themselves with small batch production and simple packaging. The Achilles is made up of tobaccos that are aged between 5 and 6 years with only the best leaves making it into the cigars. Curivari never compromises its brand’s quality over demand and there are times when product isn’t available on the market but that’s all for the benefit of the cigar and the person smoking them. Once you light one up you’ll understand why they take their time.   Achilles displays a multitude of complex flavors that appear and disappear throughout the smoke and make for a fantastic experience. When one flavor leaves, another comes in and draws your palate deeper into the cigar. There’s a noticeable creaminess to the cigar along with coffee bean, vanilla, sweet cedar, and a light tingle of spice. The finish is extremely long and creates a likable numbness on your palate. An outstanding cigar!