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.

This year, we extend the list to ten vitolas.   We will go in reverse order:

10. Cohiba Edicion Diamante 2012 (Robusto 5 x 50)

Cohiba Edicion Diamonte Robusto

The Cohiba Edicion Diamante was actually introduced in 2011 by General Cigar Company.  When launched it was only made available in a special chest humidor with 150 cigars in six different sizes.  In 2012, the Diamonte was brought back and made available for box and individual purchases.   It was branded the Cohiba Edicion Diamante 2012.  For this release, we honor the 5 x 50 robusto as our #10 Best New Vitola for 2012.

You might say the robusto was available in the 2011 chest humidor.  The answer was yes, but the robusto was actually a 5 x 49 size, so this is a slight change.

The selling point is the 1980 Cameroon wrapper on this cigar.  There is a classic cameroon natural tobacco sweetness along with notes of citrus, cherry, pepper, wood, and salt.

Click here for our assessment of the  Cohiba Edicion Diamante 2012 Robusto

9. CAO La Traviata Maduro Luminoso (4 1/2 x 50)

CAO La Traviata Maduro Luminoso

The CAO La Traviata Maduro Luminoso is a 4 1/2 x 50 Rothschild that was introduced early in 2012 to the CAO La Traviata Maduro line.  It marks the second vitola by General Cigar Company to make this list in 2012.

The La Traviata Maduro was introduced in 2010 and finished as our #6 Cigar for that year.  It is a Connecticut Broadleaf version of the core La Traviata (which was our #2 Cigar for 2009).  The Luminoso keeps consistent the frontmarks available in both the La Traviata and La Traviata Maduro.

The Rothschild size seemed to really click with this blend.  It kept the CAO La Traviata Maduro’s classic maduro flavor profile of chocolate, coffee, caramel, pepper, baker’s spice.

Click here for our assessment of the CAO La Traviata Maduro Luminoso.

8. Viaje Satori Edicion Limitada 2012 Karma (5 x 52 boxpress)

Viaje Satori Edicion Limitada 2012

The Viaje Satori Edicion Limitada 2012 marks the third year of Viaje’s Satori series.  In 2011, the wrapper was changed to a San Andres Maduro wrapper.  Last year, the  Viaje Satori 2011 that finished as our #13 Cigar of the Year.  For the Satori 2012, there is a slight branding change (it is called Satori Edicion Limitada 2012).  There are also vitola changes While the three vitolas are the same size, the vitolas that were parejo and box-press have reversed. The Zen (perfecto) now is no longer box-pressed and is now is parejo for 2012. The previously parejo-shaped Karma (Robusto) and Nirvana (Toro) are now box-pressed for 2012.  As a result, all three of the Viaje Satori Edicion Limitada 2012 frontmarks qualify for the list.  It was the Karma that gave us the best experience.

The resulting flavor profile has notes of coffee, cherry citrus, wood, leather and pepper.  

Click here for our pre-release assessment of the Viaje Satori Edicion Limitada 2012 Karma. Click here where we provided a rating and score for this cigar.

7. Tatuaje Frank Jr. (5 1/2 x 44)

Tatuaje Frank Jr.

The Tatuaje Frank Jr. is a smaller version of the cigar that started the whole craze for the Monsters Series – the Tatuaje Frank (named after Frankenstein).  It was included in the Little Monsters sampler pack that consisted of smaller vitolas of the popular Tatuaje Monster Series.  The Monsters Series was created by Tatuaje founder Pete Johnson as a tribute to monster and horror movies. Since 2008 around Halloween, a limited edition cigar with a different monster movie theme has been released on an annual basis as a part of the series. Each of these releases has been a new blend.  The Tatuaje Frank was the inaugural 2008 release and the rest we know is cigar history.  The Frank Jr. introduces a new box-press corona size to the blend of the Tatuaje Frank.

The Frank Jr. brings a highly complex flavor profile to this box-press corona.  The flavor profile consists of espresso, chocolate, cocoa, cream, leather, red pepper, and, nut.  A very enjoyable smoke.

Click here for our assessment of the Tatuaje Frank Jr.

6. Tatuaje TAA 2012 (6 1/4 x 50)

Tatuaje TAA 2012

The Tatuaje TAA 2012 follows up last year’s Tatuaje TAA 2011.  It uses the same blend, but comes in a different size.   This is the second year in a row, the Tobacconists’ Association of America (TAA) have selected Tatuaje Cigars to blend an exclusive cigar to be made available to its member retailers to sell.  This marks the second Tatuaje cigar on the Best New Vitola list for 2012.  

Like the Tatuaje TAA 2011, the Tatuaje TAA 2012 is a box-press Toro.  The TAA 2012 measures 6 1/4 x 50 while the TAA 2011 measures 5 5/8 x 54.  While we felt the Tatuaje TAA 2011 was a good smoke, we feel the Tatuaje TAA 2012 is a great smoke.  This vitola really works well in this blend.  It provides a flavor profile of coffee, cream, raw sugar, pepper, and dark chocolate.

Click here for our assessment of the Tatuaje TAA 2012.

5. Quesada Q D’Etat Daga (7 x 44/50/54)

Quesada Q D’Etat Daga

The Quesada Q D’Etat Daga is the third, and currently the final of Quesada’s limited edition Q D’Etat series.  The Daga comes in a very unorthodox salomon shape.  It also comes in a different blend than the Dominican puros that made up the first two Q D’Etat cigars – the Molotov and the Howitzer.   It turns out this is not a new blend, but the same blend that was used on the Quesada 35th Anniversary cigar.  Normally I am not a fan of the salomon shape.  In the case of the Daga, I found this one the best salomons I have smoked to date.

For the Q D’Etat line, there is an undelying theme behind this line of cigars.  It is intended to support the industry’s battle against the government and anti-tobacco factions.  The Q D’Etat line follows a theme of weaponry.  The Daga gets its name from being a “dagger” like weapon and this is reflected in the salomon shape.

The Q D’Etat Daga uses Ecuadorian Arapiraca.  This helps contribute to the Daga’s flavor profile of coffee, chocolate, natural tobacco sweetness, and pepper.  This isn’t a cigar loaded with a lot of flavor transitions, but one that has great flavors to begin with.

Click here for our assessment of the Quesada Q D’Etat Daga.

4. 262 Paradigm Lancero (7 x 38)

262 Paradigm Lancero

The 262 Paradigm was the initial blend introduced by Clint Aaron‘s 262 blend in 2010  This was a blend that we were particularly high on as it finished as a honorable mention in our 2010 Cigar of the Year countdown.  In 2012, Aaron introduced a lancero vitola for the 262 Paradigm line.  It turns out that this might be one of the finest lancero cigars to be released in some time.

The small ring gauge really helps the sweet flavors provided by the Brazilian Mata Fina wrapper on the 262 Paradigm Lancero really shine.   In a lot of ways, it made this a very different cigar that the other cigars in the Paradigm line.  The flavors provided are notes of coffee, pepper, cream, honey, and citrus.

Click here for our assessment of the 262 Paradigm Lancero.

3. La Palina El Diario KB (Kill Bill) (4 1/4 x 40)

La Palina El Diario KB

The La Palina El Diario line is well documented on Cigar Coop.  It was introduced as what was meant to be a high quality smoke that can be enjoyed by cigar enthusiasts on a daily basis.  The El Diario blew us away and won our 2011 Cigar of the Year award.   The KB was a line extension that introduced a 4 1/4 x 40 petite corona for the El Diario blend.  The ratios of wrapper, binder, and filler proportions would change this blend’s profile – making it a stronger cigar.  The name came about when La Palina owner Bill Paley said he was unable to finish the first prototype of the petit corona of the El Diario because it was so strong -thus the name “Kill Bill” (or KB for short).

We found the Kill Bill to pack a punch as well.  This new size delivered a whole new cigar experience on what is an outstanding core blend.   There were notes of cedar, pepper, coffee, chocolate, berry,  and grapefruit. Like the core El Diario blend, there are a lot of intangible qualities which make this cigar a great one.

Click here for our assessment of the La Palina El Diario KB.

2. E.P. Carrillo Short Run 2010 No. 4 (5 1/8 x 42)

E.P. Carrillo Short Run 2010 No. 4

The E.P. Carrillo Short Run 2010 No. 4 is a retail exclusive cigar that was made available to Federal Cigar to commemorate the store’s 90th year in business.  It was a one time release of the E.P. Carrillo Short Run 2010 blend in a corona size.  The E.P. Carrillo Short Run 2010 was introduced in 2010 as the first blend of the Short Run series.  It finished as our #15 Cigar of the Year for that year.  It was late in 2011 that a 5 1/8 x 42 corona vitola was launched for Federal Cigar using that 2010 Short Run blend.  This has turned out to be the best size of that blend to date.

As implied by the name, “Short Run” implies limited edition – meaning the cigar is meant to be produced in a limited batch on a yearly basis.  The Short Run 2010 uses an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper.   The flavors delivered from this cigar blend are unique.  They include cedar spice, raisin, butter, pepper, and nut.  This is surely a cigar that will continue to be sought after by cigar collectors.

Click here for our assessment of the E.P. Carrillo Short Run 2010 No. 4 

1. Tatuaje Little Boris (5 1/2 x 49)

#1 Best New Vitola for 2012: Tatuaje Little Boris

The Tatuaje Little Boris is our selection for the Best New Vitola for 2012.  This was a retail exclusive cigar provided to Corona Cigar Company in Orlando, Florida.  Once released, the cigar quickly was sought after by Tatuaje fans and sold out.  In terms of new vitolas, it is the third Tatuaje entry on the list – the most by a company on our 2012 list.

The Tatuaje Little Boris is a smaller version of a limited edition Tatuaje cigar called the Tatuaje Boris. It measures 5 1/2 x 49  The Boris was the first and only release of the Actor’s Series.  It was launched as a tribute to actor Boris Karloff.  It coincided with the release of the Little Monsters series – smaller versions of Tatuaje’s Monster Series.

The Little Boris was not just hype because it was a limited Tatuaje cigar.  This is one incredible cigar.  From a conversation I had with Tatuaje founder Pete Johnson, this particular Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper is something special – and it is why this cigar was so limited.   The flavor profile is nut, pepper, natural tobacco sweetness, cedar, cream, and coffee.   The flavors are robust and mature and are balanced nicely by medium to full strength.

We were fortunate to provide the first pre-release review of the Tatuaje Little Boris.  We later provided an assessment update and score.