We’re Number One! by Frank Seltzer

Ok so the ratings for last year are out.  We’re number one is the call throughout the cigar world.  There are at least about 53 sites that rate the best cigars for the year. (Charlie at Half Wheel actually spent a lot of time compiling all the ratings into a consensus list…he obviously has waaaay too much time on his hands.)

The big dog in ratings, of course, is Cigar Aficionado.  Their top rated cigar usually goes immediately into back order because everyone wants to try it.  This year, it is the Flor de las Antillas Toro.  These cigars came out in the early summer and went into serious back order.  The factory had trouble keeping up.

The number two cigar came from Cuba, so it is illegal for any citizen of the United States to buy one, anywhere in the world.  (Hate to break it to ya but U-S citizens cannot spend money for Cuban goods anywhere in the world…this is not just a within the U-S thing.)  The number 3 cigar is the new Romeo by Romeo y Julieta Piramide, made in the Dominican Republic.

If you haven’t seen the list, here it is.

Overall, I find ratings meaningless…other than the ones we did in Cigar Magazine where the cigar was viewed in context of how much it cost.  To me, I cannot separate price from the cigar.  I remember reviewing cigars for another magazine many years back and one of the cigars to be rated was a candela.  I didn’t give it much thought, but the cigar had excellent construction and the flavor was good enough to make me reconsider candela wrappers.  I thought it might have been a Don Tomas or a Fuente.  When the issue came out, I was stunned to learn the cigar was from a certain Bahamian cigar maker and the price tag was well over $20 (without any tax.)  I nearly choked on my coffee…while the cigar was good, it certainly was not worth that price.  Which is why I really liked the way Cigar Magazine rated cigars…price was a consideration.

As to the CA top 25…the list is fair, given CA’s reviewing structure and taste profiles.  While I like the number 1 cigar, I had it and another during a visit to the My Father’s Cigars office and preferred La Duena.  But that’s me and that is the trouble with any ratings, they are the personal tastes of whoever is rating them.

Here are a few highlights…Number 15 was the H. Upmann 1844 Reserve Belicoso, Number 20 was the Punch Gran Puro Santa Rita, Number 23 was the Macanudo Cru Royale Poco Gordo and Number 25 was the San Lotano Oval Corona.

Another issue for most websites and other magazines is that pressure not to piss off advertisers.  Someone who spends money on you might expect a little love in return.  It is a tough dance for everyone, ‘cept here where we don’t rate cigars.

Speaking of that, going back a few years when Jose Blanco was still at La Aurora, one blogger was adamant about knowing the age of all the tobaccos in cigars, which fields they came from etc.  (Needless to say he is from California and sees the wine industry.)  Jose thought it was a good idea.  I thought the idea sucked eggs.  You may disagree but to me it does not matter which leaves are used.  It is the skill of the blender and cigars are not like wine.  In wine you blend liquids, which are pretty easy, and through chemistry you can make almost any wine taste the way you want it to.  With cigars, you are blending solids…much harder.  Which brings us to this..the Heisenberg Project.  This is coming out from the Quesada family.

The Heisenberg Uncertainy Principle was developed in 1927 but recently has gained notoriety through the t-v show Breaking Bad where the lead character uses the name Heisenberg when he does bad things.  Anyway, the Quesadas are embracing Uncertainy with the Heisenberg Project.  They will not divulge the tobaccos used in the cigar,  if it is a limited production or even where it is made.

Heisenberg comes in 4 sizes, a petite at 4”x43, a corona at 4.75” x 40, a robusto at 5” x 48 and Pyramid at  5.25” x 55.  The prices range from $4.50 to $6.75 and the boxes will contain 10 cigars. According to Terence Reilly at SAG Imports ( the distribution arm for the Quesadas) the idea is to present a cigar to consumers where all preconceived ideas are thrown out and the cigars stand on their own.

While I like the idea, the uncertainty thing is something I experienced before…during the boom when blends changed almost daily.  If you want to see more about that period, check out my article on Rocky Patel  beginning on page 46 in the current JR catalogue. What you don’t have it?  Sign up here or download it here.

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