Join us in reflecting back on 2019 in our Editor’s Choice Awards! These are the cigars that haunted our dreams and mysteriously disappeared from our humidors and into our hands.
If you haven’t read our Top 10 Blind Reviews of 2019 yet, we’d also invite you to see which cigars our Blind Review Panel rated above the others last year. Unlike the list below, our Panel never knew what they were smoking until all reviews were submitted for the week and locked in.
Also, I’d like to thank Brian from our Small Batch Crew for assisting with a couple of his favorites in the list below! He’s a gentleman, a scholar, and a damned fine judge of cigars.
The following cigars were released in 2019, available to the United States, and in a perfect world would be viewed without any particular order.
#10 Crowned Heads / Drew Estate La Coalición
La Coalición feels like an old friend with a new twist. There’s a sense of nostalgia mixed with wonder that accompanies this cigar, making it feel a bit like coming home to a new city. If you enjoyed the Liga Privada T52 and All Out Kings, buckle up for a very well-rounded cigar experience that touches equally on sweet, sour, and savory aspects with impeccable construction.
Memorable Tasting Notes: Leather, Loam, Caramel, Dried Apricot, Bread Stuffing
#9 Joya de Nicaragua Numero Uno
Until this year, Numero Uno was only available to world leaders and special events as gifts from Nicaraguan ambassadors. Now, it is available to us in a limited edition, 6 5/8 x 44 size with only 1,500 boxes produced each year worldwide. This is the cigar that’s been living rent-free in Andrew’s mind over the last few months, as we discussed in a recent Daily Batch article. Numero Uno made our 2019 list because it tastes like the very best of a mild, Connecticut-wrapped cigar while still commanding the attention of veteran smokers.
Memorable Tasting Notes: Cream, Cedar, Brown Sugar, Leather, Pepper
#8 Foundation Tabernacle Havana Seed CT #142
Ok… we might be cheating a bit on this one! This is the second year in a row that Foundation Cigar Company’s Tabernacle Havana Seed CT #142 has made the list, but the Lancero vitola wasn’t introduced until just a few months ago in 2019. As much as I loved the tasting notes from the 2018 Corona expression, Nicholas Melillo’s Lancero dials it in even further to create an even richer, fuller, more satisfying experience.
Memorable Tasting Notes: Earth, Pepper, Cinnamon, Fruit Cake, Dark Chocolate
#7 Edgar Julian Friends & Family 002
Edgar Julian introduced the Campesino White Series in 2016, left the U.S. market for almost two years, returned in 2018, and introduced his Friends & Family line in 2019. It’s been quite a rollercoaster for this boutique brand owner, and I wasn’t sure that he’d be able to recapture the magic from his original White Series line again so soon. Enter the Friends & Family 002, a charming little cigar that tastes like distilled sophistication. This mild, bandless wonder has indeed captured the same old magic as before and is an absolute joy on the palate.
Memorable Tasting Notes: Cream, Cedar, Cinnamon, Black Tea, Nuts
#6 Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust Mi Querida Triqui Traca
“The Triqui Traca is a more complex version of the Mi Querida. The pepper and strength are still there in all their glory, but they ride parallel to some delicious cocoa, bread, slight nougat sweetness, and some of the signature Saka vegetable notes. As you smoke down the cigar, pepper and strength fall off to bring the other flavors into the limelight. If you're brave, the retro hale brings out some minty herbs along with the pepper and bready sweetness already present in the cigar. I'd highly recommend this cigar to the lover of the original Mi Querida who's looking for a little more complexity to play with their palette.” -Brian, Small Batch Cigar
Memorable Tasting Notes: Sweet Earth, Pepper, Cedar, Loam, Mocha, Leather, Nougat
#5 Cavalier Geneve Limited Edition 2019
Cavalier Geneve’s limited edition cigars come in a format that I’m not particularly fond of and was hesitant to try. Tossing those preconceived notions out the window, I was rather pleasantly surprised to find a 4 3/8 x 58 vitola that I completely fell in love with. Sebastian DeCoppet expertly judged the perfect balance of flavor and strength, creating a wonderful push and pull of tasting notes, textures, and sensations.
Memorable Tasting Notes: Wood, Mild Earth, Chocolate Milkshake, Nuts, Floral, Leather
#4 Ventura PSyKo Seven Nicaragua
As soon as I lit the new PSyKo Seven Nicaragua, I knew that I was smoking something refreshing and new. It takes a lot to create a truly new expression these days, and I took to this cigar like a kid in a candy store. I found this blend to be a dizzyingly satisfying combination of exquisite sensations that worked together like a professional sports team. If Indiana Ortez wasn’t on your watch list before, she definitely warrants your attention moving forward.
Memorable Tasting Notes: Wood, Cinnamon, Pepper, Cream, Hay, Leather, French Bread, Citrus
#3 Casdagli Daughters of the Wind Pony Express
Exclusive to Small Batch Cigar, Pony Express features a square-pressed, tweaked blend for a completely new experience in the Daughters of the Wind line. Looking back at last year, this is also the second time Daughters of the Wind has been featured in our Editor's Choice Awards. “The Pony Express blew me away the first day we smoked it in the shop, and as the cigar has rested it's only gotten better. The cigar is sweet, peppery, bready, the smoke is smooth and voluminous, and the flavors change and play with each other as you smoke through the cigar. I've smoked somewhere around a box of these since we got them in, and I don't see myself stopping any time soon.” -Brian, Small Batch Cigar
Memorable Tasting Notes: Rye Toast, Baking Spices, Cream, Finished Leather, Cocoa, Pepper
#2 Foundation Highclere Castle Victorian
Nicholas Melillo’s sequel to the original Highclere Castle, Victorian takes on a completely different tone and reaches for the full-throttled market. This latest cigar produced for Highclere carefully threads the needle between finesse and strength, somehow taking us just to the edge of possibility without diving over. If you can measure a Blender’s talents by the breadth of their portfolio, Melillo is turning out to be a veritable Leonardo DiCaprio of cigars.
Memorable Tasting Notes: Nougat, Cedar, Roasted Coffee, Cocoa, Cinnamon, Nuts
#1 Davidoff Small Batch #7
A few months ago, Davidoff released several cigars under the Small Batch umbrella with limited edition runs ranging from 1,140 cigars to 35,000 cigars. Eight cigars were released to retailers in the United States, with additional Small Batch releases either held for the Davidoff website or released in other countries. The largest ring gauge of Davidoff’s Small Batch series in the U.S., #7 juggles a complex set of flavors to create an experience for the history books. In fact, as soon as it was passed around at our Maxamar Ultimate Cigar Lounge this cigar became an instant classic!
Memorable Tasting Notes: Hay, Dark Chocolate, Leather, Pepper, Citrus, Star Anise