CigarCraig’s Top Cigars Of 2011

Once again I’d like to thank everyone for making the 12 Days of Spectacular Giveaways a huge success.   I certainly couldn’t have done it without stuff to give away and people to give it to and  the great support I had at home.   It was tons of fun but it was a loads of work and quite tiring.  I’ll plan on doing it again next year but will do a few things a little differently on the back end.  Congrats to all of the winners and thanks to everyone for making it a great year on!


Everyone’s publishing their “Top Whatever” lists, and I’ve avoided doing anything like that over the years since I don’t really have a quantitative method of reviewing cigars, if you even want to call it reviewing.  I know what I like, I know how a cigar works and I also feel that nobody sets out to make a crappy cigar, so there must be someone, somewhere who likes a given cigar, no matter how offensive it is to me.  Also keep in mind that I’m not the kind of guy who runs all over creation looking for the hip boutique cigars, I’m just as happy with a Partagas Black as I am with some limited edition cigar that only comes out on arbor day and had 7 bands on it (happier, no doubt) So with all that in mind, let’s take a romp through what tripped my trigger over the last year!


You’d be hard pressed to find a list without the Tatuaje La Casita Criolla on it, and I have to concur, this is one of the cigars this year that really made me happy.  Broadleaf.  That’s all it is, Broadleaf.  I love Broadleaf.  I only smoked the corona size, but to me it compared favorably with the Liga Privada Serie Unico Dirty Rat in flavor and balance.  Tasty, tasty cigar!  I purchased these at a local shop and they weren’t too much more than $5 or $6 each.


A group of cigars that have received favorable reviews everywhere and are on everyone’s lists are the Emilio and Grimalkin cigars from Gary Griffith.  The Emilio AF1 is a nice, dark, heavy, seriously yummy cigar, it’s sibling, the AF2 is different, perhaps a brighter flavor, but equally well made and delicious.  The Grimalkin is a different beast, subtle, complex, an orgiastic feast of the senses.  I have not had the occasion to purchase these, all of the samples I smoked were provided to me by Gary, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t buy them in a heartbeat.  Gary and his partners are producing exceptional cigars, and I’m quite happy to know him.


I have also been enamored with the La Gloria Cubana Artesanos Retro Especial and the CAO OSA Sol this year, both new cigars from General Cigar Co., and I’m not just saying that because I had the great fortune of visiting their Dominican factory.  One of the many eyeopeners on that trip, besides revisiting some of their classic cigars and finding them to be outstanding, was the time and passion that goes into making every cigar.  It almost has to be harder to make a million great cigars that are great year after year thank to make a batch of a couple hundred thousand that are gone when they are gone, right?  The La Gloria Retro has been excellent and tasty in all the sizes I’ve tried, cigar after cigar,  and the CAO OSA Sol seems to shine in the Lot 50, or robusto size, but is a nice enough cigar across the board.  Both are in the medium range with lots of flavor.


One of my favorite finds of the year has to have been Oja Cigars.  I met the brand owner, Luis Garcia, on my trip to Nicaragua, and we hit it off pretty good.  His cigars are made by Tabacalera Esteli, which is owned by Kiki Berger.  There haven’t been a lot of cigars from Cuban Crafters that have floated my boat, but the Oja line is really nice.  I think my favorite cigar of the year was a Connecticut Toro I enjoyed in the pool on a hot summer day, but that had as much to do with the circumstance as with the cigar.  The line is solid, full bodied (even the Connecticut) and tasty.  The Anniversary, with a Brazilian maduro wrapper outshines them all.  It’s a little more refined and complex.  I love the whole line and look forward to seeing them in stores in my area.


I should mention Adrian’s CroMagnon by Michael Rosales and Skip Martin, which is another cigar that’s been on everyone’s list.  I’ve only smoked a couple samples that Skip gave me, but they are definitely up my alley.  Also, for much different reasons, I really like the Berger and Argenti Mooch line, especially the Schnorr.  The name cracks me up, but the cigar is a solid, flavorful medium bodied cigar.  Also the Undercrown and My Uzi Weighs a Ton were on everyone’s list for good reason, and I enjoyed the samples I had.  Alec Bradley is making fine cigars, Toraño is making fine cigars, La Palina, El Primer Mundo, Oliva, everyone seems to be making fine cigars!  It’s a good time, there are so many choices!


That’s about all I can think of at the moment.  Honestly, there were a LOT of great cigars this year.


Until the next time, HAPPY NEW YEAR!








Filed under Editorial, Review

17 Responses to CigarCraig’s Top Cigars Of 2011

  1. Nice job Craig – and nice body of work throughout the year. I love the personal touch your site has. Best wishes for the New Year and hopefully we will see each other soon!

  2. abraxas828282

    Thank you for all you do Craig. Can not wait to see what 2012 brings. I want to thank you for your contest and the generosity of all of the sponsors that participated. Keep up the good work!

  3. tim

    Thanks Craig,
    For all your time and trouble you put into the site.
    I always enjoy your posts and look forward to more.

    I occasionally run into a non cigar smoker who I think
    has the good taste and sense to develop a passion for
    the leaf but am at a loss as to what to recommend to get
    them off to a good start. The cigars I smoke are much too
    powerful for a newbe to enjoy but I’d like to give them
    some suggestions to begin with. Can you think about this
    and come up with a couple of good ideas?
    Tim in Napa on the left coast

    • Tim, thank you for the kind words and a great idea for a future post! I’ll give you a short answer now and work on a list for a comprehensive article.
      Joya de Nicaragua Cabinetta: visually interesting, not too strong with a great flavor. This is a cigar that I think just about anyone will enjoy.
      Cain (let me finish!) Daytona: Same deal, nowhere near the strength of the regular Cain line, but tons of flavor.
      Macanudo Maduro: I smoked a couple of these at the factory after 3 days of non-stop smoking and really enjoyed the flavors, mild but tasty.
      As I said, I’ll work on a comprehensive list, but these are the first three recommendations that come to mind.

  4. Tommy Berry (quo155)

    Great job Craig…as awlays! You have had one “heck” of a year brother…with great no-nonsense reviews, putting up with me at times, great contests, and always keeping us up to date on the latest…oh, and don’t forget Las Vegas!

    Thank you for all that you do for the cigar community!

  5. Thanks for the reviews and updates…
    Long Ashes and a Happy New Year!

  6. Thanks for the hard work. Happy New Year

  7. Mike

    I’m enjoying re-reading some of your past posts. Keep us up to date in 2012. Btw, La Gloria is tweeting that you have a contest today.
    Happy New Year!!!

  8. Swede214

    Craig, great job in 2011, like I said earlier I just found you I think mid year, always enjoy reading your comments.Looking forward to 2012, Happy New Year.

  9. Allen

    Craig, thanks again for the opportunity this christmas. The prizes were amazing. Lately i have been limited to a few cigars i brought out with me on deplyment. A few La gloria Cubana i think series N and some Cohiba’s straight from Nicarauga i beleieve is where they were picked up. I consider myself still a newbie smoker and these 2 are actually real good when they are conditioned right. Thanks again and always look forward to read what you have in store next.

  10. Lloyd L.

    Craig, you had an outstanding 2011, doing not one, but two factory tours and the IPCPR as well! I don’t know that I’ll ever have a cigar year like that, so thanks for allowing us readers to get a glimpse of all that fun that goes with attending those events. Best wishes to you and an even more eventful 2012!

    • Lloyd, If I have half the cigar year I had in 2011 this year I’ll consider myself very fortunate. I really was very lucky to have the opportunities I had this past year, and have my wife and family to thank as much as anyone for putting up with it! I’d venture to say you had a pretty good cigar year yourself, how many contests did you win? 🙂

  11. jjo

    Great job. It’s nice to see the Mooch mentioned. I love the maduro Minnie. Hope you have a fine 2012.

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