The cigar countdown began Saturday December 1st with cigar #30.  Cigar #29 is unveiled on December 2nd, Cigar #28 on December 3rd, etc. When we get to #1 and #2, I will hold a little suspense and announce those cigars on New Years’ Eve.  Cigars eligible are ones released for the first time to retailers during the “2012 Cigar Year” (November 25, 2011 through November 22, 2012 – the Cigar Coop Black Friday to Thanksgiving cycle). The process is detailed in the December 2012 Editor’s Corner column.

I hope you will enjoy this original concept in sharing my top cigars of the year.

The List (Scroll down to see current spot in the countdown)



1 La Palina Collection – Goldie Laguito No. 2
2 Montecristo New York Connoisseur Edition
3 Illusione Singulare 2012 Vimana 
4 Viaje Friends and Family
5 Liga Privada Unico Serie Ratzilla by Drew Estate
6 E.P. Carrillo Cardinal Maduro
7 Liga Privada Unico Serie Feral Flying Pig by Drew Estate
8 La Flor Dominicana Oro Maduro
9 CyB by Joya de Nicaragua (formerly Cuenca y Blanco)
10 Tatuaje Mummy/Mini Mum
11 Montecristo Epic Vintage 2007
12 CAO Concert
13 Undercrown Corona ¡Viva! by Drew Estate
14 262 Revere
15 Emilio Draig K
16 La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor Reserva by Ashton Cigars
17 Alec Bradley Fine and Rare 2012 (BR1213)
18 El Primer Mundo Clase Reserva
19 Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Habano
20 Pinolero by A.J. Fernandez
21 Merlion by La Sirena
22 CLE Corojo
23 La Flor Dominicana Limitado V
24 Oliva Serie V Melanio
25 Timeless Collection (Dominican Edition) by Nat Sherman
26 Nestor Miranda Special Selection Danno 2012
27 E.P. Carrillo Cardinal Natural
28 My Father Commemorative 911 Limited Edition 2012 Habano Maduro
29 My Father Le Bijou 1922 Ecuadorian Connecticut Federal Cigar Edition
30 La Gloria Cubana Trunk Show Twenty Twelve Liga LR-1

Honorable Mentions

We list ten “Honorable Mentions”.  The purpose isn’t to expand the list to 40, but provide recognition for some other cigars that came very close to making the list.  A lot of cigars were released, and a lot were reviewed on this web-site, so in a way, there are still many quality smokes omitted.

We detail the Honorable Mentions on this link, we list them below.  They are listed in alphabetical order and are not ranked:

Anoranzas by Miami Cigar
CLE Connecticut
Iconic Leaf Recluse
La Palina Classic
Nestor Miranda Grand Reserve 2012
Reinado Grand Empire Reserve
Rocky Patel Burn Naples
Freedom by Rocky Patel
Torano Master Maduro
Viaje Super Shot

Best Aged Cigar for 2012

For the second year in a row, we look at a previous year where a cigar was reviewed and then rank which ones aged the best in the following year.  The following are the five best 2011 cigars that we felt had a greatly enhanced cigar experience with some aging in 2012.

1. Para Japon by La Aurora
2. VegaFina Jose Seijas 2011
3. Fonseca CXX Anni
4. Liga Privada Unico Serie L40 Lancero
5. My Father Limited Edition 2011

Best New Vitola for 2012

The concept behind our Cigar of the Year countdown is to acknowledge the best cigars released for a calendar year.  We base this on the new cigar blends released during our Cigar Coop calendar year.  Much like you wouldn’t give the original Rocky movie (made in 1975) the 2012 Movie of the Year, we don’t award an old blend Cigar of the Year.  However, there still is a lot of activity with line extensions/new front marks to existing cigar blends.  Sometimes these line extensions deliver very good cigars.  Thus, in 2011 we created the “Best New Vitola” list to recognize the best new frontmarks to an existing blend.

The criteria for 2012 Best New Vitola is as follows:
1) The cigar blend must already be available by retailers prior to the start of the 2012 Cigar Coop cigar year.
2) The new vitola/frontmark must have been released and made available to retailers during the 2012 Cigar Coop cigar year.
3) Only one vitola per cigar blend will be considered.  The best vitola for that blend will be listed.
4) It is possible for an existing blend to undergone some slight branding/name changes.  If this occurs as long as the blend is the same it is eligible.

The following is our list for top ten new vitolas for 2012:

1. Tatuaje Little Boris (uses Tatuaje Boris blend)
2. E.P. Carrillo Short Run 2010 No. 4
3. La Palina El Diario KB
4. 262 Paradigm Lancero
5. Quesada Q D’Etat Daga (uses the Quesada 35th Anniversary blend)
6. Tatuaje TAA 2012
7. Tatuaje Frank Jr.
8. Viaje Satori Edicion Limitada 2012
9. CAO La Traviata Maduro Luminoso
10. Cohiba Edicion Diamante 2012

Best Pre-Releases of 2012

In this new year end category, we have decided to list the top five pre-release cigars that as of the end of the Cigar Coop cigar year (11/22/12) have still not been released.  The purpose of doing this is to try to identify some cigars that could be “Epic Encounters” during the 2013 cigar year. 

Here is the criteria for the best Pre-Releases of 2012:
1) As of 11/22/12, the cigar on this list has not been made available to retailers. 
2) The pre-release cigar was smoked during the 2012 cigar year. 
3) There is no guarantee the cigar will ever be made for sale.  It could be also an unreleased cigar.

Note: We put together this list shortly after the close of the 11/22/12 Cigar Year deadline and since then two of the cigars have been released.

1. Los Regalos Quetzal
2. Herrera Esteli by Drew Estate
3. Liga Privada Unico Serie UF-13
4. Tatuaje Apocalypse
5. Liga Privada No. 9 Pequeno

Top Manufacturers for 2012

We ranked these based on average score for manufacturers that had at least five cigars rated.  We did not limit this to new releases, but all cigars we reviewed during the Cigar Coop year.  Here are the top ten.  We list the average score and the number of cigars scored.

1. E.P. Carrillo 93.0 (6)
2. Drew Estate 91.89 (9)
3. Tatuaje/Havana Cellars 91.69 (16)
4. My Father Cigars 91.64 (14)
5. S.A.G. Imports 91.57 (7)
6. Altadis U.S.A. 91.38 (8)
7. Miami Cigar Company/La Aurora 90.5 (11)
8 .Rocky Patel Premium Cigars 90.4 (10)
9. PDR Cigars 90.4 (5)
10. General Cigar Company/CAO 90.14 (14)

Top 12 Cigar Stories/Themes for 2012

Click here for our article on the top twelve cigar stories/themes for 2012.