E.P. CARRILLO ENCORE MAJESTIC
Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, the man behind the famed La Gloria Cubana brand, scored a No. 2 cigar of the year with his La Historia line. The Encore cigars are, fittingly, an encore to that hit cigar, and they don’t disappoint, earning Carrillo the No. 1 cigar of the year this time around. The first all-Nicaraguan cigar from the Carrillos, it features filler tobacco from the Esteli, Condega, and Jalapa regions that has been aged for two years along with its Nicaraguan binder and wrapper. This is a complex but relatively smooth and naturally sweet smoke, unusual for a Nicaraguan puro. Notes of caramel, nutmeg, and cinnamon, along with an undertone of citrus, round out this wonderful, balanced, and intriguing cigar.
MICALLEF RESERVA LIMITADA PRIVADA
Micallef cigars are produced by the legendary Gómez Sanchez family in Nicaragua, and the Reserva Limitada is the crown jewel of the Micallef flagship brand. Blended from five different unique tobaccos each aged eight years, the cigar features a filler of Honduran, Dominican Republic, and Peruvian leaves, binder from Nicaragua, and habano wrapper from the famed San Andrés region of Mexico. This combination makes for an incredibly rich and complex smoke, containing unusual tasting notes of sweet peppers along with fresh fruit and nutty undertones. A truly rich, unique, bold entry into the cigar world.
OLIVA SERIE V MELANIO
Smoother Nicaraguan smokes are hard to find these days, but Oliva has produced one of the best in their Melanio series, earning the No. 1 figurado-shaped cigar of the year in Cigar Aficionado a few years back. The Melanios feature long-filler Nicaraguan habano ligero tobacco, usually known for its heavy power and spice. By carefully selecting leaves from the Jalapa region, coupled with a precise aging and fermenting process, Oliva has managed to keep the full, complex nature of Nicaraguan ligero without overwhelming strength or peppery bite. This filler, along with an aged Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, yields a balanced, smooth yet full smoke that’s leathery and nutty, naturally sweet with chocolate notes, and a mild spicy quality.
TATUAJE 15TH ANNIVERSARY
Offered in two sizes—a Belicoso and the larger Torpedo Grande—the Tatuaje 15th Anniversary cigars feature a pointed tip, which tends to focus and intensify flavor. They feature Nicarguan binder and filler and an Ecuadoran Rosado wrapper that comes in two varieties, an Oscuro and a Claro. The Oscuro offers a dense, rich flavor and remains smooth throughout its smoke with a wonderful blend of coffee, chocolate, some mild spice, and a nutty, slightly floral character as well. Many of Pete Johnson’s Tatuaje cigars lend an almost candy bar–like flavor to the typical Nicaraguan spicy offering. This cigar highlights that quality.
Torpedo Grande: $21
DAVIDOFF ROBUSTO REAL ESPECIALES 7
Davidoff’s special-edition cigars are nothing less than spectacular, and the Robusto Real Especiales 7, a reissue of one of its most popular short-run limited editions from 15 years ago, lives up to this reputation. The 7 stands for the seven different strains of tobacco blended to make up this incredible cigar. Here we have filler from five different regions of the Dominican Republic, a Dominican binder, and a special Ecuadoran habano wrapper. The result is a smoke that combines the best flavor qualities of Davidoff’s Signature, Aniversario, Grand Cru, and Millennium lines. A medium-bodied cigar with a roasted, nutty quality, the flavor is balanced by sweeter light chocolate flavors, at times even floral, it remains a darker, denser smoke than your typical Davidoff Dominican blend. It’s rich, smooth, never harsh or spicy, with a consistent burn and draw.