There has been a lot of talk about the "Best Cigars of 2009". My question is best what? Best rated, best selling, best new cigar, most requested, most talked about????
Instead of strictly going by ratings by magazines such as Cigar Aficionado, I've compiled a list eleven cigars that stood out above the rest for a variety of reasons. So here's my informal list of some of 2009's "Best Cigars":
Padron Family Reserve No.44 & No.45 - Both of these cigars fall into the categories of Best New Cigars, most requested, most talked about and highly rated. About the only category these don't fall into is "Best Selling", because very few of these cigars were made available for sale.
The Padron Family Reserve No.44 is the rarest of the two and is a torpedo shaped cigar that is available to only a handful of cigar retailers. If you can find them, they are available in boxes of 10 and 50. Each box is signed by the entire Padron Family.
The Padron Family Reserve No.45 is a toro sized cigar and was sold to a few hundred retailers, but each retailer received only a few boxes. (Plus the were boxes of 10, so 5 boxes equaled only 50 sticks.)
Fuente Fuente Opus X "Lost City" - Another cigar that created a lot of buzz but is very limited. Each year Keith Park from Prometheus and God of Fire cigars teams up with Carlito Fuente to create a special edition Opus X gift set and humidor collection. These limited edition cigars are a great way to support the Cigar Family Charity Foundation, as a portion of the proceeds goes to supporting this special charity foundation in the Dominican Republic.
Tatuaje Boris & Drac cigars - These two cigars from Pete Johnson definitely created the most "buzz" in 2009. When Pete Johnson posted a list online of where to buy these cigars, our phone system lit up like a Christmas tree. We could have sold out of these in about 10 minutes, but instead we did our best to spread the wealth and limited sales to just one cigar per person. The frenzy caused by these cigars reminded me of the cigar boom in the 90's when people practically got in fist fights over boxes of Opus X. Again, the Boris and Drac were red hot cigars but on the bottom of our list of best sellers because we had less than a few hundred of these cigars to sell.
E.P. Carillo Edicion Inaugural - Ernesto Perez Carillo is back to being an entrepreneurial cigar maker now that he has been left the corporate world and said good-by to the sinking ship of Swedish Match and General Cigar. (Ernesto was the man behind the famous La Gloria Cubana brand of cigars.) His new E.P. Carillo has been a huge hit with our sales staff and our hard core cigar guys. It is great to see Ernesto's first new product launch turn out to be a great success!
Liga Privada T52 - Drew Estate's Liga Privada is one of our best selling cigars in our retail stores and their new T-52 Stalk Cut and Flying Pig has been a huge hit. There has been a lot of buzz about Liga Privada cigars and people that have smoked them keep buying more and more. Supply on these is still spotty but most of the time they are available.
Diamond Crown Grid Iron Greats - One of my favorite new cigars for 2009. There was not as much buzz about this cigar as I expected but everyone who has smoked this cigar absolutely loves it. Diamond Crown Grid Iron Greats is available only at Diamond Crown Lounges and this cigar is worth seeking out. Part of the proceeds from the sale of these cigars goes to the Grid Iron Great charity.
Casa Fernandez Arsenio - Casa Fernandez cigars have been steadily gaining popularity (especially the Lancero size). In 2009 Paul Palmer of Casa Fernandez cigars released a special robusto size that was named after Arsenio Ramos who is Casa Fernandez/Aganorsa Tobacco's master cigar blender and tobacco agronomist. Arseno is a legend in his native Cuba and is quickly gaining the respect of the cigar public in the U.S.
Avo Companero - One of the early hits for 2009, the Avo Companero has been a great seller and has put a smile on the face of many cigar smokers! The Avo Companero was released as a special edition cigar to celebrate Avo's 84th birthday. Avo is hands down the "Top Cigar Ambassador" of the past decade.
Corona Nicaraguan 10th Anniversary - This cigar made our list because it has been such a huge hit since we first released this cigar. In fact, it is our overall best selling cigar for 2009. This is another great cigar made by the team of Paul Palmer, Arsenio Ramos and Aganorsa Tobacco. At less than $3 a stick, this is definitely one of the best cigar values of the year.
Don Pepin My Father Le Bijou - Don Pepin and his son Jamie have been hot for the past few years. But I have to admit, I wasn't sure about the Le Bijou cigar being a hit. I thought the name was too difficult for folks to pronounce and thought there may have been too many Don Pepin cigars on the retailer's shelves. Turns out I was wrong and people love this cigars. Sales have been strong enough for it to make our Top Ten 2009 cigar list.
There have been quite a few "Honorable Mentions" for 2009 including Room 101 by Camacho, La Traviata from CAO, Cain from Oliva, El Baton & Brick House from J.C. Newman, Davidoff Colorado Claro, Tatuaje Tubos, Acid Kuba Kuba Maduro, Alec Bradley Prensado, the Flip video recorder (I had to throw that in there just because I like it so much!)
I'm sure there is going to be some grumbling from some cigar makers because they weren't included as a "Best of Cigar of 2009". All I got to say is "At least it didn't cost you $20 grand a page in advertising and not make my list!"
Happy New Year!