I'm afraid my 'best of list' this year would very closely resemble my list from last year. To my palate, not many cigars can compete at the level of Behikes, Siglo VIs, and Maduro 5s - I love them almost equally, depending on what I'm looking for at the moment. I see no need to simply repeat myself, so this year I'm simply going to offer a list of 'must tries,' the sole stipulation being that they can't have been on last year's list. That being given...
If you haven't tried a Liga Privada #9 Robusto with at least a year of age on it, you're missing out! Rich but detailed; great, classic flavors, but some real individuality - I just love these things! If I have a high-end, go-to cigar, this is it! Less readily available, but also fantastic is Liga's UF-4 - bold and powerful, but layers of flavors deserve serious attention.
In a smaller size, the L'Atelier 52 is a definite must-try. Featuring a very subtle, intriguing sweetness - almost stevia-like - backed up by an exotic smoked-meat/bacon impression... this is like the Cote-Rotie of the cigar world, and I can't get enough of it! 'Love it! (Its wrapper is a new hybrid, whose parents are Criollo and Pelo de Oro - truly something new!)
Larger, but milder, I'm a devout fan of the Casa Magna Domus Magnus, often sporting an exotic fruit flavor early in the cigar... and speaking of exotic fruit, the Quesada España (the short robusto, being my favorite) never fails to get my attention with a peach/apricot note that is just intoxicating!
I'm not a big Connecticut-shade lover, but the EP Carillo New Wave CT has real depth and character that makes a hot summer evening a little cooler. Similarly, when I'm seeking elegance, nothing seems to fit the bill better than the Hoyo de Monterey Epicure #2 - so delicate and refreshing! Also elegant and sophisticated in its uniquely Cuban way, but with more spine and focus, the Trinidad Coloniales is a first-rate, any-time-of-day Corona that I look forward to watching evolve in the next few years. And while I'm considering sticks from our favorite forbidden island, my first introduction to the H. Upmann #2 won me over immediately with its autumnal, savory character and understated wheat and tea notes. Similarly, I finally got to find out why so many people so highly praise the Ramon Allones Specially Selected Robusto - very impressive, even at such a young age.
I've also been a fan of Oliva's recent Serie V, vintage-dated Toros, utilizing a San Andres Mexican wrapper, but their latest creation, sporting an Ecuadorian-grown Sumatra wrapper, the Oliva Melanio (the Figurado and the Robusto being especially good in different ways). Finally, I'm not sure if they'll ever be made again, but Tatuaje's box of Mini-Monsters has been a pure pleasure, especially the Mini-Mum and Baby Face to my palate.
I'd love to hear what sticks stand out in your memory from this past year. For my part, it certainly seemed like a great year for new sticks. What do you think?