DUNBARTON T&T | MI QUERIDA TRIQUI TRACA
Steve Saka introduced the Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Mi Querida Triqui Traca at the 2019 IPCPR trade show. This is a line extension of the original Mi Querida from 2016 that made #9 on our Top 25 Cigars of that year. The blend is based off the Mi Querida Firecracker release made for Two Guys Smoke Shop in 2018. Every year a new company makes a special “firecracker” shaped vitola of a line the already make.With the Mi Querida, Steve Saka tweaked the blend to be stronger. The cigar features added ligero and a darker wrapper. The rest of the internal components are the same. So far the Triqui Traca is available in two vitolas: No. 552 – 5.00 x 52 $10.75 and the No. 648 – 6.00 x 48 $11.75. This is a regular production cigar but the initial launch was limited. Like the original Mi Querida, the Mi Querida Triqui Traca is rolled at Nicaraguan American Cigar S.A. (NACSA).
DUNBARTON TOBACCO & TRUST | SOBREMESA BRÛLÉE TORO
Steve Saka first started talking about the Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Sobremesa Brûlée on social media early this year but it made it’s official debut at IPCPR 2019. This is the first Connecticut shade wrapped cigar from Steve Saka and marks a change from his normally stronger blends. He said in an interview that this was meant to fill the void of customers that are interested in Dunbarton, but only smoke milder cigars. This is a line extension of the original Sobremesa line and shares many of the same internal components, most notably the Pennsylvania Seedleaf ligero has been removed and Condega Seco doubled. And of course the original habano wrapper has been replaced with an Ecuador Connecticut Shade G2BW leaf. At launch the Sobremesa Brûlée was offered in three sizes: Robusto –5.25 x 52, Toro – 6.00 x 52 and Gordo 6.25 x 60. Each come packed in 13 count boxes and price ranges from $12.45 to$13.95 per cigar. This cigar is said to be Steve Saka’s recreation of the mild shade cigars from when he was younger. He thinks that over the last 30 years, shade cigars have become much wispy and uninspiring, dull and flat. He wanted something to share that reminds him of the way they used to be. This is meant to go the opposite direction of “not your grandfather’s Connecticut cigar” where as those are trying to be more modernized and stronger. This is your grandfathers Connecticut cigar.
WARPED MOON GARDEN DARK BLOSSOM
The Warped Moon Garden Dark Blossom was the final release of 2019 for Kyle Gellis’ Drop Club. This club is a method of releasing cigars to its most loyal customers first that are members of the club. Participants are given the opportunity to buy extremely limited cigars and if they pass, the opportunity is given to next in line. Dark Blossom was described as Gellis’ personal blend, and is similar on paper to last year’s Blind Man’s Puff #2 Cigar of the Year, the original Moon Garden. The blend uses a Nicaragua Jalapa Corojo ’99 wrapper, Nicaragua Corojo ’99 binder, and Corojo ’99 and Criollo ’98 fillers. It comes in one size, a 5 5/8 x 48 robusto in boxes of 10.
ROMA CRAFT BAKA
RoMa Craft Tobac had a ton of buzz about this cigar going into and coming out of the IPCPR trade show. Baka is the first completely new line from RoMa Craft since the Wunder|Lust, which wasn’t available in the U.S. Baka uses a Cameroon wrapper, which is a first for the company. The rest of the blend is undisclosed.They started shipping only one size in the line this year, which is the Bantu, which is a petite robusto measuring 4 x 52. The name Baka refers to the Baku people, a small ethnic group living in Cameroon and the surrounding countries. The cigar has been hard to find this year and only 1,000 boxes were planned for this year. Skip Martin describes it as a small annual release.
TATUAJE MEXICAN EXPERIMENT
Tatuaje showed off a re-release of the the Mexican Experiment this year at IPCPR, as well as a sequel of sorts, the ME II. The original cigar debuted in 2011. This was Pete Johnson’s first foray into Mexican San Andrés wrappers. The rest of the blend has Nicaraguan binder and filler. The re-releases are those same blends in the same bundles, of only 1,000 were made per vitola. All are rolled at My Father Cigars S.A. Esteli, Nicaragua.
FOUNDATION HIGHCLERE CASTLE VICTORIAN
Foundation Cigar Company released the original Highclere Castle in 2017. This year they added a line extension in the form of a maduro wrapper called Highclere Castle Victorian. This new blend was shown off at IPCPR 2019. Highclere Castle is the highly recognizable backdrop for the award-winning television drama, Downton Abbey. Highclere Cigar Company is a partnership between Nicholas Melillo of Foundation Cigar Company and Highclere Castle meant to echo the style of cigars enjoyed in 19th century England. The castle’s history goes back to 1862 where the tradition has been to retire to the library after dinner for a cigar and spirits. The blend for Highclere Castle Victorian starts with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, replacing the Connecticut shade of the original. Following that is a Mata Fina binder and Nicaraguan fillers including corojo and criollo from Esteli, Jalapa, and Ometepe. The sizes for the release are Churchill – 7 x 48, Toro 6 x 52, Corona 5 1/2 x 46, Robusto 5 x 50, and Petit Corona 5 x 42. All of the cigars come in boxes of 20.
HVC 500 YEARS ANNIVERSARY
Many cigars have been made to celebrate anniversaries, but this is the first to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the city Havana, Cuba. HVC’s Reinier Lorenzo blended this Nicaraguan puro with all AGANORSA tobacco starting with a corojo 99 wrapper from Jalapa, undisclosed binder from Jalapa, and criollo 98 and corojo 99 fillers from Jalapa from Estelí. It comes in one size, a 5 7/8 x 52 toro, known as a Tesoros in the factories but is also known as a Cañonazo. Production is limited to 1,333 boxes of 15. It is made at TABSA, Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. in Esteli Nicaragua.
JOYA DE NICARAGUA NÚMERO UNO
Earlier this year, Joya de Nicaragua announced Número Uno, a cigar previously only available to wold leaders handed out by Nicaraguan ambassadors on business around the world. This is the latest release in what the company calls the Obras Maestras, or “Masterpieces” collection which also includes the Cuatro Cinco and Cinco Decedas. The cigar is described as medium in body and strength. It comes in only one size, L’Ambassadeur a lonsdale parejo that measures 6 5/8 x 44 with a pigtail. This cigar is only available to Drew Diplomat Retail Program participants and is limited to 1,500 boxes per year. It comes in boxes of 25 and sells for $15 per stick. The blend uses an Ecuadorian Connecticut shade wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguan fillers. It was shown off at IPCPR 2019 in the Drew Estate booth.
RED MEAT LOVERS BY DUNBARTON TOBACCO & TRUST
Red Meat Lovers by Dunbarton T&T is the latest in Smoke Inn’s Microblend Series. The Microblend Series is a collaboration for exclusive cigars between Smoke Inn and a manufacturer. This collaboration is with Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust. This collaboration happens to also be with South Florida-based organization, Red Meat Lovers Club. This cigar is blended to pair with steak. The blend uses a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper with Mexican San Andrés negro oscuro wrapper and Nicaraguan and Pennsylvania fillers. It comes in one vitola, a 6 x 56 parejo double toro. Only 500 bundles of 10 cigars were made and sold for $119.50. The cigars is rolled at Nicaragua American Cigars S.A. (NACSA), a factory known until recently for making bundle value cigars. The Mi Querida is also rolled there.
SOUTHERN DRAW ROSE OF SHARON DESERT ROSE
Just before IPCPR this year, in June, Robert Holt of Southern Draw announced a line extension to the Rose of Sharon: Rose of Sharon Desert Rose. This is a slightly stronger version of the Rose of Sharon and was shown off at IPCPR 2019. The original Rose of Sharon lines have scored a 92 for the lancero and a 90 for the toro on Blind Man’s Puff as well as making our Top 25 Cigars in 2017. The blend starts with a Ecuadorian cloud-grown Claro wrapper, Habano binder from Condega, Nicaragua, and a new filler combination that uses Corojo 99 and Piloto Cubano ligero from Honduras and the Dominican Republic. As with all other Southern Draw lines, Rose of Sharon Desert Rose is rolled at A.J. Fernandez Cigar Co. It comes in one size: a box-pressed Belicoso Fino measuring 5.5 x 52. Only 75,000 cigars were made in 2019 with 150,000 to be made each year after that. MSRP is set at $11.99 per cigar.
CROWNED HEADS LAS CALAVERAS EL 2019
2019 makes the sixth year Crowned Heads has released their limited Las Calaveras. The line is meant to pay tribute to the people who have passed away in the past year. The 2019 version is similar to the original blend that released in 2014. It uses an Ecuadorian habano oscuro wrapper with Nicaraguan binder and filler. They are rolled at My Father Cigars S.A. in Estelí, Nicaragua. Only 1,700 boxes of 24 cigars were made in each size, LC46 (6 x 46) – $10.50, LC5O (5 x 50) – $11.75, LC54 (5 1/2 x 54) – $12.95. There is another size, the Torpedo, but it is only available in a four-cigar sampler priced at $49.95 that contains all three other sizes. 2,500 of those were produced.
PROTOCOL SIR ROBERT PEEL NATURAL
Cubariqueño Cigar Co. announced their fourth regular production line, Protocol Sir Robert Peel, back in June before the IPCPR trade show in Las Vegas. This is a regular production cigar. Protocol Sir Robert Peel will come in both natural and maduro blends. This is the first time the company is offering more than one wrapper for a blend. Like all other Protocol cigars, it is rolled at Erik Espinosa’s La Zona Factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. The Protocol Sir Robert Peel comes in one size, a 6 x 52 box press toro. It is offered in 10-count boxes and sells for $119.50 per box. The natural blend uses an Ecuadorian Rosado wrapper with Nicaraguan binder and fillers. The maduro blend uses the same filler and binder but changes the wrapper to a Pennsylvania Broad Leaf. Sir Robert Peel is considered the father of modern day policing. Cubariqueño Cigar Co and its owners Bill Ives & Juan Cancel who are police officers and this fits with the company’s police theme.
Montecristo showed off a new cigar at IPCPR 2019 that celebrates the 50th anniversary of Tabacalera de García, the factory where most of Altadis’s brands are rolled. It is largest premium cigar factory in the world. Cincuenta is sold in two sizes: Toro which measures 6 x 50 and No. 2 which measures 6 x 52. The Toro comes in 10-count boxes while the No. 2 comes in a humidor handmade by Lucrecia Valdez, who is known as the “Queen of Tabacalera de García” having worked there for 40 years. She is currently the master roller head supervisor. The blend uses a Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, Dominican Republic binder, and fillers from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. Toro sells for $35 a piece or $350 for the box, which the No. 2 sells for $100 or a humidor for $10,000. Production is limited to 8,000 boxes of toro and 75 humidors.
ACE PRIME A CUBAN EXPERIENCE EL CORAZON
A new cigar company is officially launching this year at the IPCPR trade show and convention: A.C.E. Prime. They launched fives lines at the show: The M.X.S by Dominique Wilkins and The M.X.S by Tiago Splitter, Luciano – The Traveler, Pichardo, and A Cuban Experience. A Cuban Experience is a line made by A.C.E. Prime for the cigar lounge, A Cuban Experience in Waukegan, IL. Three versions of A Cuban Experience were released, each with slightly different blend. El Corazon uses an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Ecuador Sumatra binder, and filler from Nicaragua. El Corazon translates into The Heart from Spanish. El Corazon is a toro 6 x 52 and sells for $10.50 in boxes of 20. The cigars are rolled at Tabacalera Pichardo, which is run by Don Eradio Pichardo, originally from Habana, Cuba, and Don Eradio, a third-generation tobacco agriculturist.
PLASENCIA ALMA DEL FUEGO
After taking a break from new releases last year, Plasencia Cigars brought a new line to IPCPR 2019, Alma del Fuego. This is the third in the Alma Series, of which Nestor says there will eventually be a total of 5. This joing the Alma Fuerte and Alma del Campo. Alma del Fuego translates to “Soul of the Fire.” This is a reference to the volcanic soils of Ometepe Island in Nicaragua where most of the filler in the cigar comes from. Alma del Fuego is a Nicaraguan puro with a sun-grown wrapper from Jalapa. It comes in three vitolas: Candente 5″ x 50 robusto, Flama, 6 ½” x 38 panatela, and Concepción 6″ x 54 toro. It comes in boxes of 10. Something unique about this cigar is that the box is an ashtray.
SOUTHERN DRAW JACOBS LADDER BRIMSTONE
Jacobs Ladder Brimstone was the first new release for IPCPR to be announced from Southern Draw. Brimstone is the fifth vitola in the line and is a 6″ x 56 perfecto. Jacobs Ladder Brimstone comes in 20-count boxes and sells for $11.99. The blend uses the same Pennsylvania Broadleaf USA wrapper, and Maduro USA binder as the regular blend, but contains an additional ligero leaf making 3 from the original blend’s 2. The fillers are comprised from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Like all Southern Draws cigars, Jacobs Ladder Brimstone is rolled at Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua. Only 75,000 were made for 2019 and in the future production will be limited to 150,000. The name Brimstone refers to the Bibles’ passages about fiery torment.
CASDAGLI DAUGHTERS OF THE WIND
Casdagli Cigars (formerly Bespoke Cigars) announced their newest line, Daughters of the Wind late last year. “The Daughters of the Wind“ is a famous Arabian poem written in the 6th century inspired by the beauty of Bedouin horses. Demy & Alick Casdagli purchased the Sheikh Obeyd stables just outside Cairo in the early 1900’s and became very successful breeders of Arabian race horses. This cigar is meant to celebrate that success. Daughters of the Wind is rolled at the boutique factory “IGM” in San Jose, Dominican Republic.
Just before IPCPR this year, Foundation Cigar Company announced that their event-only Menelik would become a limited release cigar. We did a quick review of this cigar last year and gave it a 91, but now let us see how it does blind. The name, Menelik, comes from the ancient emperor of Ethiopia thought to be son of King Solomon and Queen of Sheba. He was also known as Ibn al-Hakim, which translates into “Son of the Wise Man.” hence the connection to Foundation Cigars who have released El Güegüense, which translates to The Wise Man, and Wise Man Maduro. The blend uses a San Andres Mexico wrapper, Nicaraguan Corojo 99 Jalapa binder, and Esteli, Condega, and Jalapa filler. Single cigars are sold for $13 while a box of 12 cost $156. Menelik comes in one size, a soft-box pressed petit robusto or rothschild measuring 4 1/2 x 52. It also has a pigtail, or culita, cap.
ACE PRIME LUCIANO THE TRAVELER
A.C.E. Prime Cigar Company officially launched at this year’s IPCPR trade show. They made a big splash sponsoring the trade show, getting a beautiful booth, and launching two lines with former NBA players. The M.X.S. line has cigars from both Dominique Wilkins and M.X.S. by Tiago Splitter. M.X.S. stands for Maximum Excellence and Success. The company was started by Luciano Meirelles. In addition to The M.X.S by Dominique Wilkins and The M.X.S by Tiago Splitter, A.C.E Prime is launched three other lines at the show, one if those is Luciano. Luciano The Traveler is a limited edition blended by Luciano Meirelles and contains some pelo de oro. It uses a Sumatra Ecuador wrapper, with Peru and Ecuador fillers. It comes in one vitola, a 7 x 46 Churchill and comes in boxes of 12.
EL ARTISTA BUFFALO TEN
El Artista Cigars brought a new line to IPCPR 2019, Buffalo TEN. The cigar has an MSRP of $4.50 per cigar, and is priced to be an every day smoke. Buffalo TEN comes in only one vitola, a 6×50 Toro with a soft box-press. It is offered in two retail packages, a 5-Pack ($22.50 MSRP) in wooden shelf display or as a single ($4.95 MSRP) housed in a 40-count retail bundle tray. The blend uses six different tobaccos including a Mexican San Andres maduro wrapper, Dominican Negrito binder and filler from the USA, Colombia, and the company’s own fields in the Dominican Republic. It contains two exclusive tobaccos to El Artista: Dominican T-13 Hybrid in the filler and the Dominican Negrito binder.
JAS SUM KRAL TYRANNICAL BUC MADURO
Riste Ristevski and Jas Sum Kral released four blends this year. One of those is the Tyrannical Buc that comes in two versions, Connecticut and Maduro. Both are meant to be full strength cigars and use two ligeros in the filler. When announced, he gave this definition of “Tyrannical”: ty·ran·ni·cal /təˈranək(ə)l/ adj. 1 exercising power in a cruel or arbitrary way 2 characteristic of tyranny; oppressive and controlling The Tyrannical Buc introduces brothers and sisters of the leaf to a style of power so intoxicating, it is guaranteed to rule even the most independent of palates.
JAS SUM KRAL NUGGS HABANO
Jas Sum Kral was the first company to infuse CBD with cigars. The line, Nuggs comes in two blends, Habano and Maduro. The company says there is 20mg of Hemp Derived CBD in each cigar. Jas Sum Kral Inc. created a proprietary CBD solution with a laboratory that absorbs CBD at the buccal mucosa. These cigars come in boxes of 25. Each state has their own regulations and labeling requirement and Jas Sum Kral will follow for each. Each cigar will cost $12 MSRP. It made a splash in the industry by being banned from the IPCPR trade show this year.
BLACK LABEL TRADING CO. SANTA MUERTE 2019
Black Label Trading Company announced their 2019 version of their annual Day of the Dead tribute: Santa Muerte 2019 back in October. Like all Black Label cigars, Santa Muerte 2019 is rolled in Esteli, Nicaragua at James Brown’s factory, Fabrica Oveja Negra. “We have gone out of the box with Santa Muerte. It features Broadleaf, San Andres, Dominican and Nicaraguan tobacco among the 6 filler tobaccos. You experience layer upon layer of coffee, malt, spice and cocoa. As the name suggests, there is a Day of the Dead tribute to honor those we have lost,” said James Brown, creator of BLTC and partner at Fabrica Oveja Negra. The blend uses a Nicaraguan Ecuador Habano wrapper, Ecuador Habano binder, and fillers from Nicaragua / Dominican / Mexico / USA. It comes in two vitolas: Corona Gorda – 5.5 x 48 (20 count) MSRP $10.00, Short Robusto – 4.75 x 52 (20 count) MSRP $10.00.
BLACK LABEL TRADING COMPANY BISHOPS BLEND 2019
Black Label Trading Company announced in February of this year they were going to ship Bishops Blend vintage 2019. Bishops Blend is rolled like all other Black Label Trading Co. cigar in Esteli, Nicaragua at James Browns Fabrica Oveja Negra. “I’m very excited about this release of Bishops Blend. We wanted to start the year off strong and release one of our most anticipated releases early. Bishops Blend boasts big bold flavors of anise, pepper, raisins and a sweet earthiness on the finish. It is very complex and extremely refined. As with the past vintages, the broadleaf fillers shine at the forefront and are perfectly balanced by the Nicaraguan filler tobaccos,” said James Brown, creator of Black Label Trading Co. and partner at Fabrica Oveja Negra. BISHOPS BLEND will be available in limited quantities at select retailers. The blend uses an Ecuador Habano Maduro wrapper, Ecuador Habano binder, and fillers from Nicaragua, Connecticut & PA Broadleaf. It comes in two sizes: Corona Larga – 6.25 x 46 (20 count) MSRP $11.50, Robusto – 5 x 48 (20 count) MSRP $11.00
ILLUSIONE EPERNAY 10TH ANNIVERSARY D’AOSTA
The Illusione Epernay line was originally released in 2009. It was a line extension to the Illusione ~eccj~ which came out in 2008. It was a lighter version of that cigar and was said to be a good pair for Champagne. The first was a 5 5/8 x 46 corona gorda and only 300 boxes of 15 cigars were made. It is rolled at the Raíces Cubanas factory in Danlí, Honduras. It is a Nicaraguan puro and a somewhat tweaked blend from the regular production. The name d’Aosta comes from a region of Geneva where wine is famously made using Fumin and Cornalin grapes.
Every year we put together a list of our Top 25 Cigars of the Year. Our list is a bit different from some other lists, it is not simply a rehashing of our top scores from the year, or one person’s opinion. We gave each of our panelists 10 votes to cast how they please for what they enjoyed the most in 2019. The order of their votes matter, so their #1 pick is worth twice as much as #10. The cigars do not have to have been reviewed by Blind Man’s Puff, but the panelist must have smoked it. To qualify for a vote, the cigar must have been released in 2019 with a few exceptions:
- Re-releases of old brands are eligible
- New sizes in blends that already existed are eligible
- Lines that were not previously introduced to the US but became available in 2019 are eligible
- Cigars that had a limited release to beat the FDA deadline and got a wide release this year are ok.
- Limited production cigars that turned regular production are ok.
- Annual limited releases are ok.
Here is a full sortable list of the top 25 cigars with links to the ones we have reviewed:
- Votes were submitted individually without discussion.
- This list was not based off blind reviews as is our normal procedure. The reviewers knew which cigars they were voting for.
- Only one vote per cigar per reviewer.
- To see the votes of each individual panelist, click here.
- Dunbarton finished #1, #2, and #9 this year. Last year they also took #1 with the Sin Compromiso.
- 6 Companies finished with multiple cigars in the top 25 including Dunbarton, Foundation, Southern Draw, ACE Prime, Jas Sum Kral, and Black Label Trading Company.
- Crowned Heads has taken at least 1 spot every year we have made a list (since 2013).
- No Cuban cigar made the list again, this happened again in 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2014.
- This year there was a tie with the number of factories having the most cigars on the list: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A. and TABSA each had 3. Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A. included: Foundation Highclere Castle Victorian, Southern Draw Rose of Sharon Desert Rose, and Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder Brimstone. TABSA included: Warped Moon Garden Dark Blossom, HVC 500 Years Anniversary, and Foundation Menelik.
- Several Factories had two make the list including TABSA with Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Mi Querida Trique Traca and Red Meat Lovers by Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust. My Father had Tatuaje Mexican Experiment and Crowned Heads Las Calaveras EL 2019. Tabacalera Pichardo had ACE Prime A Cuban Experience El Corazon and ACE Prime Luciano The Traveler. Tabacalera de Aragon S.A had Jas Sum Kral Tyrannical Buc Maduro and Jas Sum Kral Nuggs Habano. Tabacalera Oveja Negra had Black Label Trading Co. Santa Muerte 2019 and Black Label Trading Company Bishops Blend 2019.