It is time!
The Blowin' Smoke Podcast Cretins' Prime Nine 2013 - Our favorite new cigars from the past year. With all the end of the year lists out there, we like to think of the Cretin Prime Nine as a combination of the best, sexiest, favorite, and most memorable handmade lovelies we were lucky enough to get our hands on. There is no way for the lowly Cretins to have smoked, let alone even seen, every single new release last year. So, your results may vary, and you'll probably cheer and bitch as you immerse yourself our most sacred selections. Knock yourself out! More importantly, grab these highly regarded cigars, if you haven't already, and take them for a spin. Support their makers and the retailers that are fighting every day to continue providing us with this amazing indulgence that brings so many of us together every day.
The Cretins were asked to submit their top five favorite new cigars from the past year, in order, as well as some brief commentary on their selections. Positions were scored. Points were tallied and we came up with our 2013 Prime Nine...which included a couple ties too.
The Blowin' Smoke Cretins Prime Nine for 2013
#9 - TIE -- EPC Short Run 2013 & Padilla Vintage Reserve
EPC Short Run - Popping up every spring is a new E.P. Carrillo Short Run, each a limited release. This year, it caught the attention of the Cretins enough to break into the 2013 Prime Nine. Three sizes hit shelves...Corona Gorda, Double Robusto, and Robusto, with just 1,500 boxes each. For 2013, the EPC Short Run featured an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper. Cretins said: "Balanced, complex, amazing." "An excellent example of an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper. Sweet and nutty with a light spice." "A very well balanced cigar."
Padilla Vintage Reserve - After some restructuring and rebranding, Ernesto Padilla hit 2013 running with some exciting changes and offerings. His manufacturing and distribution relationship with Oliva Cigar Company had grown, new cigars were making waves, and his attitude and colorful character appeared to be in high gear. Announced in June, the Vintage Reserve features a rich Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper around aged Cuban seed Corojo and Nicaraguan Habano. Cretins said: "The levels of flavor build upon each other." "A wonderful profile of cedar and toast...a nice spice through the retrohale as notes of vanilla and a honey-like sweetness build." "Long finish, creamy with notes of bitter coffee toward the end."
#8 - TIE -- H. Upmann Legacy & Nomad Fugitive II
H. Upmann Legacy - When the H. Upmann Legacy Corona was featured as the Cigar of the Day on an episode of the Blowin' Smoke Podcast, the Cretins were very impressed with the flavor profile and even more impressed that it came from Altadis. The Legacy blend of an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, and Nicaraguan and Dominican filler pushed through like it was a small batch boutique cigar with such a unique flavor profile that was a real departure from what many had come to expect from the great big boys...that being the perception of new bands on the same cigars. We hope to see and smoke more cigars like the H. Upmann Legacy from the big guys. Cretins said: "I made this little gem last almost 100 minutes!" "The price point just pushes it over the top." "I never thought I would put an Altadis product on my list, but it surprised me, and it will surprise you." "Mild to medium smoke...great flavor!"
Nomad Fugitive II - Born in 2012, Nomad Cigar Company, headed by Fred "@GodFadr" Rewey, is one of the fastest growing, most talked about boutique brands out there. Following the initial Nomad lineup of a mild Dominican blend, Fred started 2013 with the new Fugitive II...a kicked up reblending of his limited edition Fugitive LE. While the overall blend remains a secret, we do know the wrapper is Ecuadorian Habano and that little kick is a hit. Don't look now, but this isn't the only Nomad appearance in this Prime Nine. Cretins said: "Fred has found a slice of gold from the Dominican Republic." "The perfecto shape is a nice change-up. The flavor is slightly sweet and creamy...great with coffee." "Quality, flavorful cigar in a fantastic shape."
#7 - Nomad Rambler
Making its second brand appearance in the 2013 Prime Nine, it's the Nomad Rambler. Born by request, according to Fred Rewey. While traveling around the country promoting Nomad, folks kept asking for a traditional robusto in the line-up. He listened, and the Nomad blend in the 5 X 50 format really shines. Cretins said: "Very earthy taste with a nice spice and fresh leather on the retrohale." "The flavor is excellent and well balanced." "Smooth, consistent, and very creamy."
#6 - 262 Revere Lonsdale
Clint Aaron and the crew at 262 Cigars continue to impress with flavorful blends and consistency. While the 262 Revere scored the top spot last year on the Cretins Prime Nine, Clint released two line extensions of the Revere in 2013 and the Cretins were eager for their arrival. The Lonsdale was actually blended and released in May strictly for J. Shepherd Cigars in Kentucky in ten count boxes. Limited to only 100 boxes, the 262 Revere Lonsdale is a, perhaps, hard to find Nicaraguan puro treat with a cute little twisty cap in the Revere stable. Cretins said: "Each Revere size delivers a tasty, but unique flavor tweak from the next." "Good natural tobacco flavor." "Some coffee notes with slightly less pepper than the original Revere." "A delicious stop along the way to Lancero'ville."
#5 - Leaf & Bean by Oscar Maduro
There are stories about how the Leaf & Bean by Oscar was born, both the cigar and its unique packaging. We refer you to "Island" Jim Robinson of Leaf & Bean in the famous strip district of Pittsburgh to give you fine details. In short, Island Jim met Oscar while on cigar trips to Honduras over a number of years. A friendship grew. Oscar decided to start his own cigar factory, Island Jim was immediately on board asking Oscar to make a private blend for his Leaf & Bean. The first release of 1,500 were sold in less than a week! Soon, Island Jim had sold nearly 40,000 in just three months! Available initially in Connecticut, Corojo, and Maduro, and now in Sumatra, many folks have their favorite. The Leaf & Bean by Oscar Maduro scored enough Cretin points to land in this year's number five spot. Impressive! Cretins said: "One of the best maduros I've ever smoked." "A wonderful oily wrapper and an earthy flavor that paired great with a Mexican Coke." "Rich, bold flavors. Great construction. A real treat." "Best enjoyed on a barber chair."
#4 - Nomad S-307
Making its third brand appearance on this Prime Nine is the latest release from Nomad Cigar Company...the S-307. This is the first full production Nicaraguan cigar following the limited edition Esteli Lot 1386. Cut loose in November, the S-307 made waves and found fans very quickly. Manufactured at Tabacalera AJ Fernandez, it's box pressed, kicked up and magically delicious. Fred "@GodFadr" Rewey has certainly demonstrated the ability of Nomad Cigar Company to diversify its portfolio. The wrapper is Ecuadorian Sumatra around an Ecuadorian Habano binder, and Nicaraguan filler. You may be tempted to eat the S-307 as they look that good, but we suggest you smoke them instead. Cretins said: "THIS is a flavor bomb." "Easily my favorite of the Nomads...good tasty smoke." "A fantastic stick!" "A spicy retrohale with notes of black pepper, wood, and nuts with some cocoa thrown in...very enjoyable." "Try this for breakfast. Boom!"
#3 - 262 Revere Lancero
The second line extension release under the Revere badge, and the only one as a full production cigar, the 262 Revere Lancero sent both the lancero sluts and 262 fans into a frenzy to get their hands on them. Clint Aaron, perhaps, first mentioned plans for the Revere Lancero on the Blowin' Smoke Podcast episode 164 (48:00 mark) on September 8, 2012, at the time the Revere line was being rolled out in its initial three sizes. He also hinted at what likely became the Revere Lonsdale which is in our number 6 spot. The Revere Lancero hit some delays in its release and by the time the first shipment landed, they were already in short supply. Again, each size in the Nicaraguan puro Revere blend gives you a different flavor experience. Clint is a lancero fan and it shows. Cretins said: "This is how a cigar was meant to taste." "The most pepper of the line, but well balanced with notes of earth and coffee." "I love the wrapper flavor of this lancero, and the construction is great." Lancero sluts rejoice!" "It's like AeroPress(ing) your favorite coffee beans."
#2 - Leccia White
The return of Sam Leccia to the industry in 2013 was one of the most talked about and anticipated cigar happenings of the year. Sam came back with a renewed vigor and the results of a lot of time and hard work while away from the spotlight. To say his fans AND his competition were happy to see him back is a colossal understatement. His booth at IPCPR was jammed with retailers wanting the new Leccia Tobacco releases on their shelves yesterday. Yes, releases...as in plural. Maybe not satisfied to jump back in with a more simple single release, or maybe just too damned excited to have two delicious yet distinctly different blends in the pipeline, Sam reentered the cigar scene with the Leccia White and the Leccia Black. The Leccia White received very high marks from the Cretins with many specific mentions of the 4 X 46 Petit Rothschild, nicknamed "Little Buddy" by Leccia himself as one of his favorites in the lineup. The Leccia White is made in Nicaragua and has a sun grown African Cameroon wrapper around an Ecuador binder, and filler comprised of Nicaraguan Ligero, Dominican and Pennsylvania Seco. The result is fantastic and a solid #2 in our Cretin Prime Nine! Cretins said: "This cigar absolutely blows me away!" "The 'Little Buddy' is packed with flavor in a great size." "Complex and nuanced." "Something special with the 'Little Buddy'...a very unique flavor I'd never experienced before." "Tremendous flavor, complexity and just enough of a kick to keep you focused to the nub...oops, did I say that?""
#1 - Leccia Black
The Leccia Black is the hands down, runaway, numero uno, points winner in the 2013 Cretin Prime Nine! This line quickly jumped out in front and never looked back in the minds of the Cretins. The differences between the Leccia White and the Leccia Black couldn't be more...well.... It's all in the blend, baby, and according to Sam, he was turned on to some unique tobacco during his blending that's description was sort of lost in translation at the time. He knew he wanted to use it, but its distinct characteristics needed just the right blend of other tobaccos to bring out its flavor without it being too much. Leccia calls that tobacco "Dark Fire" and the result is a sweet and smoky profile that is reminiscent of barbecue, whiskey, or a campfire. The Leccia Black is made in the Dominican Republic and is wrapped in a dark Habano leaf with Nicaraguan binder and a flavor orgy of Nicaraguan and Dominican ligeros, Brazilian viso, and just the right amount of that dark fired tobacco rounding out the filler. There have been debates over White or Black...even rumors of fisticuffs outside the Blowin' Smoke Podcast world studios, but in the end, the Leccia Black is the indisputable winner of the Cretins' number one cigar of 2013! Cretins said: "An awesome blend of earthy flavors reminds me of summertime." "Pepper and natural tobacco nuances are prevalent, but that delicious fire cured leaf make this cigar special." "Om Nom!" "That smoky aroma takes it over the edge for me." "Only you can prevent forest fires!" "That BBQ uniqueness compliments the slight spice very well." "A perfect balance to the flavor profile." "The Leccia Black is easy to get lost in your thoughts with any time of day...very enjoyable." Congratulations, Sam Leccia & Leccia Tobacco!
So, there it is. The Cretins Prime Nine for 2013 in all its glory. Congratulations to all those who made the list! Let's do it again next year.
But wait! We would be remiss if we did not mention some of the great cigars that landed near the bubble. Check out these fantastic cigars too (Just pay additional shipping and processing): RoMa Craft Tobac Intemperance BA XXI A.W.S. IV -- Fratello -- Cubanacan Habano -- Herrera Esteli -- Cabal -- Leaf & Bean by Oscar Connecticut