2012 has now come and gone, but it didn’t leave without making it’s mark on the cigar world, as many amazing releases came out in 2012. Here at the Cigar Dojo, we want to honor the best cigars of 2012 but our list is a bit different from all the other best cigars lists on the net. Our top 10 best cigars list of 2012 focuses on the best cigars for the average guy, i.e., “Joe 6-Pack”. Sure all the other “best cigars of 2012” feature obscure Cuban made cigars that you can’t get your hands on, or other ultra premium cigars that are also ultra expensive. Nope, not on our list, here we pay homage to the cigars that are affordable and easy to get your hands on. In fact, every cigar on our Top 10 list can be found for under $10, now your wallet can breathe a sigh of relief… This isn’t to say that the rare ultra premiums and Cuban cigars are not worthy, much the opposite. Yet those cigars will get covered in-depth from just about every other cigar blog on the internet, so here on the Dojo we respectfully pass over them. On the Cigar Dojo we celebrate “the regular guy”, the typical cigar smoker who just wants to get his hands on a great stick at a great price.
The criteria for our list of best cigars is as follows:
- Release date. Cigar must have been released in 2012
- Price. Cigar must have a reasonable price point for the average cigar smoker (under $10).
- Availability. Cigar must be somewhat easy to buy at the local brick and mortar or online retailer.
- Enjoyability. Cigar is judged on it’s depth or flavor and quality construction.
Therefore, without further adieu, we present to you our picks of the best cigars of 2012…
The 10 Best Cigars of 2012
#10 La Zona Habano by Espinosa Cigars
The cheapest cigar on our list (don’t worry, we’ll keep your wallet happy), the La Zona Habano is truly a “bang for your buck” cigar. Made by Espinosa Cigars in their new La Zona factory, the La Zona shows just what can be done when Erik Espinosa is in full control of the reins. This cigar offers massive amounts of smoke and doesn’t skimp on the flavor, including dark spiced rum, nut, and oak. This is a quality cigar, with construction one might expect from a high-end offering. Ready to try one? Here’s the best part, you can pick one of these cigars up for under $5, coming in at $24 for a 5 pack! Tell those cigar snobs to take a hike, this stogie is always welcome in my humidor.
#9 CyB by Joya De Nicaragua
Joya De Nicaragua released the Cuenca y Blanco this past year and caught the eye of the entire cigar world with this super tasty and affordable smoke. Later changing the name to CyB, yet keeping the same cedar and nutty flavor profile that everyone loves so much. The Nicaraguan and Peruvian fillers of the CyB are savory and salty on the tongue, which is the perfect pairing with the warm carmel finish on this smoke. Cheers to the Joya De Nicaragua team for creating a fresh cigar that stood out in a crowd of contenders this year.
#8 FREEDOM by Rocky Patel
You may or may not realize that our right to enjoy a tasty cigar is seriously in jeopardy. There are politicians plotting to take away our right to smoke as I type this message. That’s why it’s important to support groups such as Cigar Rights of America, (which of course the Dojo is a member of). Rocky Patel created the FREEDOM cigar to draw attention to this fight and lend support to the CRA. But don’t kid yourself, this isn’t just a band on cigar, this is one of the best Rocky Patel cigars I have ever had. Great draw, tons of smoke, and a delicious caramel finish that stayed with me long after the smoke was gone.
#7 La Duena by My Father Cigars
Created for Janny Garcia, daughter of the master, Don Pepin Garcia, the La Dueña was intended to be medium in body, full in flavor; a flavor profile preferred by Janny. The La Dueña was made as a collaboration between Pete Johnson of Tatuaje and the Garcia family, a combination that has proved itself many times over. It seems they have hit they’re stride with this one, creating a brilliant combination of strength and flavor. Chocolate and tobacco eat up the first third of the cigar, that balances into a nice earthy quality with a smooth, peppery retrohale. This is a very flavorful cigar that seems to offer nuances undetected with each new smoke. At around $8, this is a cigar everyone should have a few of in their humidor.
#6 Apocalypse by Tatuaje
An exclusive cigar to Smoke Inn, the Tatuaje Apocalypse follows in the footsteps of the original Microblend Series cigar, the Anarchy. Created as the brainchild of Smoke Inn smoke shop owner Abe “Ming” Dababneh and brought into fruition by non other than Pete Johnson and the Garcia family, the Apocalypse picks right up where the Anarchy left us – dazed and confused, with a smile on the lips. Tying in the release with the claimed “end of the world”, the Apocalypse had us hoping those crazy Mayans were wrong (duh). This is a beautiful cigar, sporting a very large pig tail cap, sitting atop the head of a dark, ominous-wrapped perfecto. Right away you’ll notice this is an intense smoke, with enough strength to back up its rich flavors of foreign spices, rum, and warm chocolate. An amazing construction rounds out the package, making this cigar worth every penny of its $9 tag, a deal compared to most limited releases.
#5 Oliva Serie V Melanio by Oliva
Celebrating the fifth anniversary of Oliva’s premium “V” cigar, a favorite among cigar enthusiasts, the Melanio may have been the most anticipated release of the year. Consisting of Oliva’s most prized, aged tobacco (that’s saying a lot), the Melanio comes off as a complete, well-rounded smoke. The cigar opens with spicy pepper, aged tobacco and wood, with hints of coffee on the finish. The Melanio develops well, and rounds out to a very interesting, creamy tomato soup quality, with oregano and basil spices complimenting the creaminess of the smoke. This is a very complex and refined cigar, a luxurious smoke that will make anyone feel like royalty. Pick one up for around $8 – $15, depending on the size.
#4 OSOK by Room 101
The One Shot One Kill is not your average cigar; for starters, these perfectos are rolled by – get this, one man! That’s right, 100 cigars a day, 3,000 a month, totaling in at 30,000 beautifully crafted stogies. The idea was to ensure the upmost quality and uniformity across a brand, and let me tell you, it worked! Creator Matt Booth puts his signature touch of great design into these sticks, making for one of the most amazing cigar packages you will find. In our experience, it was the Filero size that truly shined in this series. This is a small, 4.5″ x 52 vitola that manages to pack a tremendous amount of flavor. O.S.O.K. may be small, but this little guy will smoke upwards of 1 hour, with demanding flavors of charred oak, savory meat, and even toasted marshmallow. The smoke is rich and oily, and seems to coat your mouth with a sweet, buttery flavor you won’t soon forget. These may be the most rare cigars on the list, popping in and out of online shelves across the web. This might be the only cigar on our list that may be a bit difficult to find but they are out there and when available, the O.S.O.K. Filero will run you around $8, a surprisingly good value for such a small cigar.
#3 Ortega Serie D Natural by Ortega Cigars
Natural wrapped cigars don’t typically find their way into the higher rankings here at the Dojo, which really says something about the Ortega Serie D Natural. While both the natural and maduro Serie D cigars are quite exceptional, we found the natural wrapper to have an added layer of complexity and spice that compliments this cigar perfectly. This is an “old school-style” cigar, with a simple look and amazing flavor. You can expect plenty of thick, full-bodied smoke with flavors of honey and toast, with a spicy kick to finish. The Ortega D comes in at around $6 – $7 and will have any hardcore maduro fan scratching his head.
#2 Papas Fritas by Drew Estate
This little gem of a cigar was released just in the nick of time, snatching up the number two spot only two weeks before the 2012 deadline! And boy were we glad, the Liga Privada Papas Fritas is so packed with mouthwatering flavor, we simply couldn’t ignore it. Right away, we knew these little “french fries” would be fighting for the top honors of 2012. Papas Fritas starts quick, with an onslaught of full-forced flavor from start to finish! Cocoa, charcoal, and a zesty spice lead the way, with a sweet, creamy finish that lingers with you long after the smoke has gone. The burn is near perfect, self-correcting itself throughout and requiring no touchups whatsoever; a perfect choice for those “short on time” occasions. These cigars are available for around $5 – $6 a stick, but are most commonly sold in 4-pack tins. Make no mistake, this is not your average “tin” cigar, this little guy deserves every bit of its #2 ranking.
#1 Espinosa Habano by Espinosa Cigars
So what is it about the Espinosa Habano that we love so much? And why do we recommend it to everyone on our cigar app when they ask “what’s a great inexpensive cigar to try?” Heck, we have talked at least a hundred cigar smokers into buying and trying this stick and all of them have been glad they did. The Espinosa Habano epitomizes everything about our top 10 Best Cigars of 2012 list, these cigars are inexpensive ($6 per stick), they feature perfect construction, they are widely available, and best of all, these babies taste AMAZING! Imagine taking a draw and having your palette coated with a full, rich, deep smoke that might remind you of a chai latte or a warm pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving Day. This cigar is like comfort food, it’s a stick-to-your-ribs steak, potatoes, and desert all rolled up in one. All other cigar manufacturers should take note of the Espinosa Habano because it’s every bit as good as a $20 ultra premium cigar, yet at a third of the price. If the Espinosa Habano is any indication as to what might be rolling off the line in the future at the new La Zona factory in Nicaragua, Espinosa Cigars is destined for a long and legendary future.
So there you have it, our picks for the best cigars of 2012.
All hail Joe 6 Pack! May his humidor be full, and his flask be flowing with affordable cigars and tasty adult libations. The above list represents the opinions of the Cigar Dojo staff and it’s worth mentioning that this was a difficult list to create, as there were many other great cigars released in 2012. Some honorable mentions are: Headley Grange and Four Kicks by Crowned Heads, San Lotano Oval Maduro by AJ Fernandez, the Little Monster series by Tatuaje, and Revolution by Te-Amo, just to name a few. Congratulations to all the manufacturers that made our list of the 10 Best Cigars of 2012.