At Cigar Dojo, our year-end list takes a unique approach, limiting the results to include only cigars that are regularly available (no limited editions, etc.) and under a certain price range. This way, we feel we are able to offer a more realistic ranking of the cigars that are attainable by most every cigar enthusiast.

However, there are those occasions when something more exclusive is necessary. We’d like to recognize these cigars as well and for this reason we have included a few extra awards, which we refer to as the “Exceptional Cigar Awards,” offering credit to some of our favorite cigars that didn’t fit the criteria for our Top 10 Cigars of the Year list.

NOTE: our criteria for the Exceptional Cigar Awards remove many of the restrictions of our traditional list. While each individual category contains its own unique guidelines, the only criteria that we hold all categories to is this: Cigars must have been released in 2017.

Best “Under the Radar” Cigar

These cigars are often from new brands, or maybe those that have a smaller distribution, or even cigars that are not yet available in the US. The idea here is to make yourself acquainted with new and exciting cigars that may not have otherwise caught your attention. Each of these smokes are more than worthy of a spot in your humidor, if given the chance.

Nominees

  • Casa Cuevas Connecticut – Casa Cuevas
  • JJ15 – Jeremy Jack Cigars
  • Cosecha 2012 – Mombacho Cigars
  • Wayfarer – Serino Cigar Co.
  • Imperia Aventador – MLB Cigar Ventures

And the winner is…

Mombacho Cosecha 2012 Under the Radar Cigar of the Year Award 2017

Mombacho Cigars may not be a particularly new name in the cigar scene, in fact they will be celebrating their twelfth anniversary in February, 2018. But the boutique company—named for Nicaragua’s famous Mombacho Volcano—has made strategic moves over the past few years to set the Mombacho name on a larger stage (including the recent hire of Robert Rasmussen as brand manager in 2016). Known for their elaborate factory in Granada and their usage of Nicaraguan puro blends, Mombacho revealed in 2017 that they had been aging select tobaccos for a special project unlike anything seen from the brand before. The cigars are dubbed “Cosecha 2012” (translating to mean “harvest”), with Mombacho utilizing tobaccos solely from 2012 harvests; which have been aging at the Mombacho factory since late 2013. The resulting smoking experience is nothing short of masterful, offering a medium-plus body and deep profile of dark mineral, black and red pepper, toasted caramel, nuts, rich chocolate, and a touch of chili powder.

  • Manufacturer: Mombacho Cigars
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Preferred Vitola: Toro (6″ × 52)
  • Price Range: $21.95
  • Full Review: Mombacho Cosecha 2012

Best Value Cigar of the Year

These cigars offer a tremendous “bang for your buck”! While we don’t have an exact price requirement, our interpretation of a “value cigar” typically ranges from $3 to $7—while performing like something that could be priced twice that!

Nominees

  • H. Upmann AJ Fernandez – Altadis U.S.A.
  • Asylum 13 Medulla Oblongata – Asylum Cigars
  • Umbagog – Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust
  • Cloud Hopper – Edition One, Inc.

And the winner is…

Edition One Cloud Hopper Value-Priced Cigar of the Year Award 2017

Cloud Hopper began mysteriously popping up on cigar-related social media shortly after the 2017 IPCPR Trade Show. From the classic, yet stylish/clean appearance, many assumed the cigars to be from Kyle Gellis and his Warped brand. They were right, in part… as Cloud Hopper was revealed to be the first product from Edition One, a new company from Kyle and his younger brother, Devin Gellis. As with most Warped cigars, Cloud Hopper is built from 100% AGANORSA tobaccos at the famed TABSA factory in Estelí. The biggest differentiator is the price—where Warped often hovers around the $10 range, Cloud Hopper weighs in at $6! The cigars offer a familiar refinement to many Warped lines, showing a medium body and classic flavors of black pepper, buttered toast, crackers, light-roast coffee, and rock candy.

  • Manufacturer: Edition One, Inc.
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Preferred Vitola: No. 53 (5¼″ × 42)
  • Price Range: $6.30 – $6.50
  • Full Review: Cloud Hopper No. 53

Limited Edition Cigar of the Year

Because of their limited quantities produced, manufacturers are often able to incorporate rare tobaccos with remarkable results. Therefore, these cigars are often some of the best-performing smokes you’ll find. However, they can also be quite tricky to find; often times, they’ll be completely sold out by the time we release our year-end list—this is why we’ve given LEs their own category.

Nominees

  • Muestra de Saka Nacatamale – Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust
  • Hit & Run – Room101 / Caldwell Cigar Co.
  • Black Honey – Warped Cigars
  • Trump Presidente – Gurkha Cigars

And the winner is…



Dunbarton Muestra de Saka Nacatamale Limited Edition Cigar of the Year Award 2017

Nacatamale is the second blend released under Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust’s limited “Muestra de Saka” series—a new brand introduced in 2017 that allows company owner Steve Saka to showcase his blending talents through the use of rare tobaccos and unconventional concepts. For Nacatamale, Saka experimented with a “viejo granja” blend, in where the entire filler/binder recipe have been sourced from a single farm. This blending style challenges the ligador to create complexity through the usage of “careful leaf processing, selection and positioning within the bunch.” In our opinion, Steve was more than successful, delivering one of the most enjoyable smoking experiences of 2017. The cigars are medium to medium-plus in body, showing rich flavors of dark chocolate, cinnamon, molasses, espresso, cabinet spices, and custard-like cream on the finish. Nacatamale progresses from start to finish, showing new complexities until the final puff.

  • Manufacturer: Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Preferred Vitola: Nacatamale (6″ × 48)
  • Price Range: $15.95
  • Full Review: Muestra de Saka Nacatamale

Luxury Cigar of the Year

A luxury cigar is special in that it often combines the exquisite quality of a limited edition cigar with the more broad availability of a regular production. Including only the best tobaccos, these cigars often carry an equally luxurious price point… And while you won’t see many cigar fans smoking these cigars on a regular basis, it’s always great to have such a cigar on hand for those special, celebratory occasions.

Nominees

  • Winston Churchill The Late Hour – Davidoff Cigars
  • Alma del Campo – Plasencia Cigars
  • Highclere Castle – Highclere Castle Cigar Company
  • Camacho Diploma Special Selection Robusto – Camacho Cigars
  • Davidoff 702 Series Special «R» – Davidoff Cigars

And the winner is…

Camacho Diploma Special Selection Robusto Luxury Cigar of the Year Award 2017

Formerly a staple in the Camacho wheelhouse, Diploma made its dramatic return in 2017 with the release of the Diploma Special Selection Robusto. Switching gears from the 2013 iteration of the brand, Diploma 2017 sought to replicate the fan-favorite recipe from Diploma’s beginnings over fifteen years ago. The cigars make use of a Honduran Original Corojo puro blend with Camacho pulling out all the stops—using a select sorting process, 90% high-priming tobaccos, the five most experienced rolling pairs at the Camacho factory, aging the finished product for one year before release, and introducing one of the most impressive presentations you’ll ever lay eyes on. We found that Diploma Special Selection Robusto is the best representation of Camacho’s signature Original Corojo tobacco to date, offering a bold character that is matched by unique and atypical complexities. Key flavors include distinct notes of cola, prunes, sourdough, and Christmas pudding.

Cigar Factory of the Year

New for 2017, we are adding the Cigar Factory of the Year award. It can be difficult to assess from a singular brand what makes their cigars successful (or not), but when multiple brands begin to emerge with superior product, a common thread can often be drawn to the factory. To help determine this award, we’ve averaged out our reviews from 2017, using the factory as the metric, rather the cigar itself.

Plasencia Cigars S.A. Cigar Factory of the Year Award 2017

Plasencia Cigars S.A.

Plasencia seems to have finally figured out how to market themselves among the upper tier of manufacturers, but long before consumers identified with the company’s ultra-premium Alma Series (Alma Fuerte, Alma del Campo), they were already enjoying the world’s best from the Plasencia family’s factory in Estelí. In addition to wowing consumers and critics with their own product in 2017, Plasencia Cigars S.A. was also responsible for names such as 1502 XO Churchill, Crux du Connoisseur No. 4, Crux Epicure, and Montecristo Estoque Vintage 2002.

Cigar Brand of the Year

This award is given to the brand that we feel had the biggest impact on the world of premium cigars in 2017. Whether they made big changes to their design, lineup, or simply grew their brand exponentially, this is a brand that was hard to miss in 2017.

Caldwell Cigar Co. Brand of the Year Award 2017

Caldwell Cigar Company

In the same year, Robert Caldwell and his Caldwell Cigar Company released collaborative projects with Jonathan Drew, Willy Herrera, Matt Booth, and AJ Fernandez—need we say more? We needn’t, but we will… 2017 kicked off for Caldwell with the highly anticipated release of All Out Kings, marking the first true collaboration to come from the cigar juggernaut that is Drew Estate in years. More surprising was the announcement that fan-favorite industry personality Matt Booth and his Room101 brand would return to the world of premium cigars (after announcing an exit from Oettinger Davidoff and the industry as a whole six months earlier) under the Caldwell umbrella. With this news, Caldwell managed to “steal the show” at IPCPR 2017, introducing two collaborations with Booth: Hit & Run and The T. Already a favorite among craft enthusiasts for the company’s unorthodox concepts and artistic stylings, Caldwell Cigar Co. was clearly elevated to an entirely new level in 2017.

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