The Cigar Coop Cigar of the Year Countdown is actually older than Cigar Coop itself. The original Countdown was done on social media back in 2009, and when Cigar Coop formed in 2010, we did the first Countdown on the web-site. However, 2011 was the first Countdown done with a full year of operation with Cigar Coop.

The Cigar Coop Countdown has always been based on “what’s new” for a given Cigar Year – stretching from the day after Thanksgiving the previous year to Thanksgiving of the current Cigar Year. The original intent was something called “Epic Encounters” – namely try to identify the best 30 cigars smoked – regardless of availability and distribution. In 2015, the philosophy of the Countdown changed and started to factor in these variables.

Today, we look back at the 2011 Cigar of the Year Countdown and look at where these cigars stand in the marketplace. It was an interesting and fun exercise to do this. What I soon discovered, it was quite difficult to track some of these cigars down. This exercise has led me to appreciate the importance of longevity in the marketplace when building a Top 30 cigar list of the year.

30. E.P. Carrillo New Wave Connecticut


The Cigar: The E.P. Carrillo New Wave Connecticut introduced a Connecticut Shade offering into the EPC portfolio.

Since 2011: For the most part, the E.P. Carrillo New Wave Connecticut has been a steady performer for E.P. Carrillo. This line is still around, but this past year the line underwent a packaging overhaul.

Status: In Production, but undergoing new packaging

29-Humo Jaguar by Miami Cigar and Company


The Cigar: Humo Jaguar is a cigar that was blended by Nestor Plasencia and won a blending contest at the Humo Jaguar Festival in Honduras. Following the festival, Miami Cigar and Company made a decision to distribute the cigar as its first Honduran puro.

Since 2011: Following the 2011 Trade Show, the Humo Jaguar had some buzz, but that soon died down. While it’s still listed on the Miami Cigar and Company web-page, today this is a cigar you’d be hard pressed to find at your brick and mortar retailer (although we have seen it online).

Status: Difficult to Find

28-Viaje White Label Project (WLP) St. Patrick’s Day Candela


The Cigar: This was the first Viaje Candela release. It was a limited production candela release meant to coincide with the 2011 St. Patrick’s Day holiday.

Since 2011: This was a controversial release because at the time Illusione had also released a Candela offering out of the same factory (Raices Cubanas). While a small production, this cigar flew off the shelves. It led to two follow-up St. Patrick’s Day releases by Viaje in 2012 and 2013.  Since 2013, we have not seen a candela release from Viaje.

Status: Out of Production, Difficult to Find

27-Torano Vault (A-008)

The Cigar: This was the first installment of Torano Family Cigars’ “Blends From the Vault”.  The story of this line dates back to 1982 when president Carlos Torano started a book that logged all of the blends since 1982 that were worked on by company. This book was literally kept under lock and key in a safety deposit box (i.e. “Vault”). The purpose of this series was to revisit some of these blends, tweak them, and see if they can come to reality. The A-008 was the first of this series.

Since 2011: General Cigar Company acquired the brands of Torano Family Cigars in 2014. Since then the Vault line has been revamped with four new regular production offerings now center stage.

Status: Out of Production, Difficult to Find

26-My Father Limited Edition 2011


The Cigar: This is the 2011 installment of My Father Cigars’ (almost) limited edition series. This series incorporates Pelo de Oro tobacco, a tobacco often available in limited quantities due to the fact it has low yield.

Since 2011: This was a one and done release. My Father Cigars has released several other limited edition cigars since this release, including ones branded under the Jaime Garcia and Don Pepin Garcia names.

Status: Out of Production, Difficult to Find

25-Quesada Oktoberfest (2011)


The Cigar: This was the first installment of the Quesada Oktoberfest, a cigar that that is intended to be paired a malt liquor (aka beer) around the time of Oktoberfest celebrations.

Since 2011: Originally this was released in two sizes as Dominican puro made in different offerings. Since 2011, there have been annual releases with additional sizes added. Each year uses a different tobacco vintages. In 2015, the line was expanded to also include Nicaraguan-made, Nicaraguan tobacco offerings. The line also underwent a packaging change in 2013

Status: The 2011 Edition is out of production. It’s safe to say the 2011 release is difficult to find.

24-My Father El Hijo


The Cigar: This a shop exclusive cigar made by My Father Cigars for South Florida retailer Smoke Inn as a shop exclusive. It was the third installment of Smoke Inn’s MicroBlend Series.

Since 2011: This was a one and done release. The last we saw, there were some of these floating around the Smoke Inn Vintage Room. There also were some released as a part of the retailer’s MicroBlend Collection Sampler.

Status: Out of Production, but still available through MicroBlend Collection Sampler.

23-Oliveros Sun Grown Reserve


The Cigar: This was introduced in 2011 by Oliveros Cigars prior to the company rebranding itself Boutique Blends. Until this year (when the brand was resurrected), this Nicaraguan puro was the last new regular production handmade cigar under the Oliveros name.

Since 2011Once the company rebranded as Boutique Blends, the focus shifted to the Aging Room, Swag, and La Boheme lines. Sadly this regular production cigar eventually went out of production.

Status: Out of Production.

22-Zino Platinum Z-Class


The Cigar: This was a new regular production line introduced under Davidoff’s Zino brand in 2011.

Since 2011From everything we’ve seen this cigar is still around. However, in the past few years, rebranding efforts around the Camacho, Avo, and Cusano brands – along with a big push with the Davidoff brand itself has almost made Zino a forgotten about brand.

Status: In Production, but lately tougher to find

21-Emilio AF2


The Cigar: This was a new regular production line introduced by Emilio Cigars in 2011. Production was handled by Tabacalera Fernandez in Nicaragua.

Since 2011Emilio Cigars bursted on the scene in 2011 and Emilio AF2 became one of its more popular cigars. Emilio’s 2011 success led to the formation of a distribution company known as House of Emilio where at its peak distributed nine brands in 2013. However, things have changed over the past three years and the distribution company has streamlined to five companies and is now known as Boutiques Unified. While Emilio remains a brand (and from what we understand AF2 is still around), it seems it has struggled to find itself over the past 18 months. As a result, the AF2 which was becoming a staple of many humidors has seemed to vanish from many of them.

Status: In Production, but diminished presence

20-Tatuaje Fausto


The Cigar: This was a new regular production line introduced by Tatuaje Cigars in 2011. There was also a limited production offshoot of this blend known as the Tatuaje Avion. Fausto was based off a shop exclusive cigar in Hawaii known as the T110.

Since 2011Pete Johnson created a sensational blend with the Fausto – and I still think it ranks as one of his best to date. However, minus the Avion offshoots, Fausto has only seen one regular production line extension. It seems to have gotten lost in the world of Tatuaje Monsters and shop exclusives. While nothing wrong with those projects, Fausto still very much is an excellent brand and I’d love to see it front and center.

Status: In Production

19-Casa Magna Domus Magnus


The Cigar: This was a limited production box-pressed cigar line released under Quesada Cigars’ Domus Magnus brand. Originally released in two sizes, it was expanded to five. Production of the cigar was limited by the availability of the wrapper, so once the wrapper supplies exhausted production ended.

Since 2011While it was a limited release due to the wrapper, the line saw new life when a comparable wrapper was obtained. At tat point, the cigar was branded Casa Magna Domus Magnus II (or D.Magnus II) and remains an on-going line.

Status: Out of Production, but resurrected under the Casa Magna D. Magnus II line.

18-My Uzi Weighs a Ton


The Cigar: This was a brand spearheaded by Jonathan Drew of Drew Estate and produced at the Joya de Nicaragua factory.

Since 2011Back in 2011, it was simply called “Uzi” and it was a line originally released in three unbanded 60 ring sizes. It became known as “My Uzi Weighs a Ton” and eventually grew to seven regular product sizes. Today its called MUWAT and has a new packaging look. While the MUWAT is production, it sometimes gets lost with the Liga Privada, Undercrown, and Willy Herrera releases.

Status: In Production

17-Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Limited Edition 2011 Connecticut Shade


The Cigar: This Connecticut Shade cigar was a special bonus cigar released with the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Limited Edition 2011 (Maduro). In 2012, the Connecticut Shade became the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Limited Edition 2012 Edition.

Since 2011Except for this cigar being released as the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Limited Edition 2012 Edition, this blend has pretty much been retired.

Status: Out of Production, Retired

16-Cain Daytona


The Cigar: This cigar was introduced under Studio Tobac’s Cain line. It was meant to deliver a more refined and slightly dialed back offering under the Cain brand.

Since 2011When this cigar hit the market in 2011, it generated a lot of buzz, however since 2011, the brands of Studio Tobac have been very quiet. Studio Tobac is a part of Oliva Cigar Company. Now that Oliva is a part of J. Cortès, it will be very interesting what the future holds in store for that brand. In the meantime, Cain Daytona line is alive and well.

Status: In Production

15-Rocky Patel Vintage Cameroon 2003


The Cigar: This cigar became the fourth Rocky Patel Premium Cigars’ blend under the “Vintage” series. It also introduced the first Cameroon wrapped blend into the Rocky Patel portfolio.

Since 2011Over the past five years, Rocky Patel has had its share on new brands and lines introduced to the market. Some have had more success than others. The Rocky Patel Vintage Cameroon 2003 is one of those lines that has been a steady performer for the company. It very much remains in production.

Status: In Production

14-Illusione Maduro

The Cigar: 2011 saw Dion Giolito add his first maduro line into his portfolio. The line was originally launched in five sizes based on the Illusione Original Documents line.

Since 2011 The Illusione Maduro line has been one of the quieter ones in Giolito’s portfolio. Since its initial release, the 4 x 44 ~68~ Maduro size was added. With the exception of the Illusione Singulare 2012, it has remained the one maduro offering by Illusione.

Status: In Production

13-Viaje Satori 2011


The Cigar: The Viaje Satori 2011 was the second installment of Viaje’s Satori series – an (almost) annual release the company has made available to retailers who attend the IPCPR Trade Show. The 2011 release saw the previous year’s dark oscuro wrapper replaced by a more traditional San Andres Maduro.

Since 2011 Until this year, Satori has remained an annual release made available to those retailers who attend the IPCPR Trade Show. Brand owner Andre Farkas is known to sometimes rest an annual release for a year or so. While Satori was not made available in 2016, it is a good bet it will return for 2017.

Status: The 2011 Edition is out of production. However with the exception of 2016, Viaje fans could always look forward to a Satori.

12-Rocky Patel Fifty


The Cigar: This was an ultra-premium cigar to commemorate Rocky Patel’s Fiftieth birthday. It came in three sizes with a limited production of 2,000 twenty count boxes per size.

Since 2011 It’s hard to believe that’s its five years since Rocky Patel turned 50 as this year a 55th birthday cigar has been released. There was large limited production run of this cigar. As more time passes, this cigar gets harder to find.

Status: Out of Production, remaining cigars dwindling.

11-Tatuaje Wolfman


The Cigar: This was the fourth installment in Tatuaje’s annual Monsters Edition Series. It was the first Ecuadorian Sumatra blend introduced into the series and was a box-pressed torpedo with a shagged foot. The full-size Tatuaje Wolfman was been a one and done release.

Since 2011 While it’s almost impossible to find the full-size Monster on the shelf, this blend has lived on in other forms found in samplers – namely the Little Monsters Wolfie, Pudgy Monsters Wolf, Skinny Monsters Wolf, and soon to be released Cazadores and full Lancero formats. The Skinny Monsters Wolf has also also had a limited 25 count box run.

Status: Out of Production (Full Monsters Size), but you can find this blend in some of the samplers or the Skinny Monsters 25 count boxes.

10-Room 101 Connecticut


The Cigar: This was the third regular production cigar by Matt Booth’s Room 101 cigars. As the name indicates, it introduced a Connecticut Shade offering into the portfolio.

Since 2011 This release was overshadowed by the concurrent release of the Room 101 Namakubi, which really was the cigar that turned the corner for Booth in the cigar industry. These days, the Room 101 Connecticut is more difficult to find. It seems like this year’s Big Payback Connecticut has become the showcase Connecticut Shade blend in the Room 101 portfolio. You can still find these at some retailers, but it is getting harder.

Status: Somewhat more difficult to find

9-Emilio Grimalkin


The Cigar: This was a cigar shrouded in mystery released by Emilio Cigars in 2011. It became one of the company’s biggest hits.

Since 2011 Early in 2012, word came that the Grimalkin to be re-branded as La Musa Mousa and incorporated into a larger La Musa brand under Emilio. It is widely believed that the cigar was going to be subject to a potential trademark issue. Once the rebranding occurred, the cigar didn’t seem to have the same momentum as the original Grimalkin release.

Status: The original Grimalkin is out of production, and pretty hard to find. Like many Emilio Cigars, the La Musa Mousas also seems to be more difficult to find these days.

8-E.P. Carrillo Core Line Maduro


The Cigar: This was a regular production offering by E.P. Carrillo. It was the company’s first maduro offering.

Since 2011 The E.P. Carrillo Core Line Maduro was received with much fanfare. As the E.P. Carrillo portfolio grew, this cigar seemed to decline in popularity. This year as a part of the E.P. Carrillo portfolio restructuring, the Core Line Maduro has been replaced by the E.P. Carrillo Core Plus Maduro.

Status: Diminishing on shelves, will be replaced by E.P. Carrillo Core Plus Maduro.

7-Room 101 Namakubi


The Cigar: This was a limited production offering introduced by Matt Booth’s Room 101 Cigars

Since 2011 This is the cigar that turned the corner for Room 101 Cigars. It has become the basis for many other Room 101 offshoot blends since its release. Room 101’s portfolio has grown and it seems like Namakubi now gets forgotten about.

Status: Limited Production

6-Casa Miranda Chapter One by Miami Cigar and Company


The Cigar: This was a limited production offering cigar that was distributed by Miami Cigar and Company that was produced at the El Titan de Bronze factory in Miami, Florida.

Since 2011 The cigar was received some fanfare and acclaim when it first hit the market. Because it had a higher price point, it became a tougher sell stating at $10.00 and up. It would give way to Casa Miranda Chapter Two, a limited production cigar made at My Father Cigars. The original Chapter One has pretty much completed its run.

Status: Out of Production, Difficult to Find

5-Avo Limited Edition 2011 85th Anniversary


The Cigar: This was the 2011 installment of the annual Avo Limited Edition series. Each installment of this series features a different blend and a different size.

Since 2011 This is a true “one and done” limited edition. However, in 2014 this cigar was included in a sampler called “Avo’s Greatest Hits”.  As time continues to pass, this cigar gets more difficult to find

Status: Out of Production, Difficult to Find.

4-Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Limited Edition 2011 (Maduro)


The Cigar: This was first Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Limited Edition cigar. This incorporated Pelo de Oro into the blend.

Since 2011: In 2011, the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Limited Edition Connecticut (see #17) was included as bonus cigar with this maduro. A year later the Connecticut became the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Limited Edition 2012 and the Maduro became the bonus cigar. Since then, these cigars have been out of production and are getting more difficult to find.

Status: Out of Production, Retired

3-Tatuaje Anarchy (2011)


The Cigar: This was the first installment of Smoke Inn’s MicroBlend Series.

Since 2011: The Tatuaje Anarchy quickly achieved legendary status. In 2015, Smoke Inn released a redux version of the Tatuaje Anarchy. The original Tatuaje Anarchy is also a part of the MicroBlend Collection Sampler.

Status: Out of Production. Finding the original release the Anarchy is hard, but still available through MicroBlend Collection Sampler. The Redux version has also sold out.

2-La Sirena


The Cigar: This was the first release by the La Sirena brand. It was the original Connecticut Broadleaf release. At the time this was a brand distributed by Miami Cigar and Company.

Since 2011: The original La Sirena quickly established itself as one of the great Connecticut Broadleaf produced from My Father Cigars. When La Sirena parted ways with Miami Cigar and Company, the production of this cigar ended at My Father Cigars. While the La Sirena line moved production to La Zona, it is a new blend that uses a Nicaraguan Habano wrapper. The original Connecticut Broadleaf releases are now difficult to come by

Status: Out of Production, Difficult to Find (Original Connecticut Broadleaf), but a new Nicaraguan Habano version is still available and easier to come by.

1-La Palina El Diario


The Cigar: This was the second line produced by Bill Paley’s La Palina Cigars. La Palina’s first line, the Family Series was positioned as an ultra-premium offering in the $20.00 range. El Diario was meant to be more of an everyday premium cigar at about half the price.

Since 2011: El Diario continues to be in production, but it was the El Diario KB (Kill Bill) line extension released in 2012 that contributed to putting La Palina on the map. El Diario is still in production, but with larger portfolio, this cigar often gets overlooked.

Status: In Production

Final Thoughts

It was interesting that with the exception of one, all of the companies that sell the brands on this list are still in business. The one exception is Torano Family Cigars, but that brand still lives under the General Cigar portfolio. With FDA regulation set to kick in over the next few years, consolidation will most likely be a consequence. It will be curious to revisit this list again five years from now and see where things stand.

Of the Top 30 Cigars, only nine of these cigars qualify as regular production cigars that are still “active” in the market. Those cigars designate as “limited production” or “annual release” are not included. Two of these cigars (*) underwent a packaging change.

  • La Palina El Diario
  • Illusione Maduro
  • Rocky Patel Vintage 2003 Cameroon
  • Cain Daytona
  • My Uzi Weighs a Ton (MUWAT) *
  • Tatuaje Fausto
  • Emilio AF2
  • Zino Platinum Z-Class
  • E.P. Carrillo New Wave Connecticut *

This leads me to believe – was the method of “Epic Encounters” the best way to determine what the best cigar of the year was? The fact that a little over 20% of our Top 30 list is a regular production release still in the market in its present form has me questioning that. At the same time, perhaps it shows how flooded the market has been with releases (especially limiteds) and ultimately it comes down to a game of supply and demand in the market. Perhaps too much effort was put into chasing this down in the past.

On the other hand, there were some great limited releases from 2011 – and some of these I really miss being able to get my hands on them.

Photo Credits: Cigar Coop