It is time!
The Blowin' Smoke Podcast Cretins' Prime Nine 2014 - Our favorite new cigars from the past year. This is our humble addition to all the year end lists listing list listifications, and 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. Remember, there is no way for the lowly Cretins to have smoked, let alone even seen at whatever retail source or mooch target they acquire their cigars from, every single new release last year. So, your results may vary. You'll cheer for some...bitch about others, and likely (justifiably) question the intelligence of the Cretin collective as you immerse yourself our most sacred selections. Knock yourself out! After you settle down, pop a Xanax, and down a few Jager Bombs, make it a point, if you haven't already, to seek these fine cigars out 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 2014 Prime Nine. Saddle up!
The Blowin' Smoke Cretins Prime Nine for 2014
#9 - Herrera Esteli Norteño
The Norteño was the first release from Drew Estate following Willy Herrera being named Master Blender in June. Featuring a Mexican San Andrés wrapper around a Honduran binder and "extensively aged" fillers from the Esteli and Jalapa regions of Nicaragua, "Norteño by Willy Herrera promised a full bodied smoke and the Cretins liked it. Cretins said: "Spicy and complex." "Fantastic cigar with a long lasting finish."
#8 - Warped El Oso
If you like saying "Made in the USA," with your fine cigars, check out the Warped El Oso. From Little Havana in Miami and the famed El Titan de Bronze factory, Warped El Oso, or "papa," is made in the true Cuban technique and blended Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro wrapper around an Ecuadorian binder and Nicaraguan and Dominican filler. This combination clicked with the Cretins enough to score the eighth spot on our list this year. Cretins said: "Honey and spice, and everything nice." "The most surprising good cigar of the year." "This is a company to watch."
#7 - Island Jim #2
Somebody once said...and I am paraphrasing, "Be yourself. Unless you can be Island Jim. Always be Island Jim." The Cretins agree, and, although we can't quite pull off the yellow sunglasses, or the long hair for that matter, we can aspire to have fun at what we do for a living. If you know Island Jim, you feel like he just loves what he is doing right now. And what he is doing is working. With the continuing growth and success of the Leaf by Oscar line, Island Jim is keeping the fun going with the release of #2...a torpedo with a unique wrapper color assembly that resembles a #2 pencil. This Island Jim is not to be confused with the Island Jim cigar that was part of Eddie Ortega's unique "Wild Bunch" series. This new Island Jim, like the Leaf by Oscar line, also comes out of Oscar Valladares Tobacco and Company factory in Honduras. The "and company" part includes Island Jim. Grab this one if you see it. They were going very fast here in the Burgh at Island Jim's store...Leaf & Bean in the Strip District. The makeup of the Island Jim #2 has not been disclosed as of this writing...not even to the Cretins who said: "Unique in several ways. A great smoke." "Island Jim has another hit alongside the Leaf series." "I can't wait to see what Island Jim and Oscar some up with next."
#6 - Señorial by José Blanco
Ask anybody who has ever had the pleasure to meet José Blanco and you'll likely hear the same thing. José is one of the nicest people in the cigar business. What they will also tell you is that his presence raises the collective cigar IQ of everyone in the room. Following the success of the CyB line with Drew Estate and Joya de Nicaragua's Dr. Cuenca, and his departure, José created Las Cumbres Tobaco and began work on what would become Señorial through his cousin Jochi Blanco's factory, Tabacalera La Palma in the Dominican Republic. Señorial has an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, a binder from Esteli, Nicaragua, and filler of Dominican Piluto Cubano and Dominican Corojo. The result is a complex smoke with a subtle sweetness underneath a rich, fuller flavor and strength profile. Cretins said: "One of the best made cigars I've ever smoked." "A classic cigar." "What you think a cigar should taste like."
#5 - 1502 Nicaragua
Maybe it's the hair gel. Maybe it's the red denim jeans. Maybe it's that intangible seductive man-crush something something that surrounds Enrique Sanchez. We don't know. What we do know is he has some fantastic blending going on at 1502 Cigars. Following up the success of the Emerald, Ruby, and Black Gold lines is another uniquely flavorful and very well constructed 1502 Nicaraguan. As the Cretins continue debating the best of the first three, along comes the Nicaragua to reboot the argument again. Enrique says the Nicaragua nestles in between the Emerald and the Ruby on the strength scale. The 1502 Nicaragua is a puro featuring tobacco from the four main growing regions of the country...Esteli, Jalapa, Condega, and Ometepe. Cretins said: "A worthy follow up to the Emerald, Ruby, and Black Gold." "This puro delivers what you'd expect from Nicaragua, but with a balance of strength and spice that only Enrique can deliver." "Another score from 1502. Now, I need a box, dammit!"
#4 - New World by A.J. Fernandez
A.J. Fernandez does amazing things with tobacco. Odds are some of your favorite cigars were made in his factory even if they don't bear his name. New World celebrates the discovery of tobacco by the Christopher Columbus expedition in 1492, and it also marks the first collaboration with his father, Ismael Fernandez. So, A.J.'s people say this cigar is very special to him. We say bring in some uncles or second cousins too if it delivers more cigars as good as the New World. Hell, would you consider an Adopt-A-Cretin program?? New World by A.J. Fernandez is a Nicaraguan puro with a dark wrapper, binder from Jalapa, and filler from Ometepe, Condega and Esteli. New World has a complex flavor balancing spicy and sweet with a boldness that builds throughout. Cretins said: "Please, sir, I want some more." "Leather, pepper, earth, coffee, unsweetened molasses blended to almost perfection cigar to cigar." "A fantastic cigar and at a fantastic price point."
#3 - Nomad C-276
Fred Rewey, @GodFadr, of Nomad Cigar Company is one boutique cigar maker that really gets it. While he looks at his place behind the scenes in the cigar business as a journey of sorts...learning, improving, creating, and learning some more each step of the way, he also knows that building relationships with us consumers is as important as producing a high quality product, and I think he is one of the best at it. While the processes in Fred's mind frighten me quite a bit, I know his brain is always working. He is very active on social media. He ties them all into unique contests, giveaways, swag promotions, appearances, interviews, and a healthy amount of self deprecation that continues to bring new fans to Nomad. Fred's behind the scenes journey into tobacco, blending, and experimenting has been releasing some incredibly good cigars to seal the deal, keep it real, and impress the hell out of his minions. The Nomad C-276 made fans of last year's Nomad S-307 punch their grandmothers. The flavor and complexity just keeps coming in waves with the C-276. The wrapper is Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro. The binder is Nicaraguan, and the filler is made up of five different Nicaraguan leaves. Oh, and guess where it's made? Tobacalera AJ Fernandez. Cretins said: "Complex and flavorful." "Quality, tasty...this will be smoked often." "A new go to cigar for a consistent flavorful smoke." "The C-276 never disappoints." "The Nomad C-276 dazzles." "Like your favorite shirt...always good." "A ton of flavor with some spice on the retrohale."
#2 - Nomad Connecticut Fuerte
If the idea of a Connecticut wrapped cigar makes you roll your eyes or even yawn, you need to smoke the Nomad Connecticut Fuerte. With his second placing on this year's Cretin Prime 9, Fred Rewey decided to bring another Connecticut cigar to market, but wanted it to be different...not just another Connecticut...that makes you roll your eyes and yawn. He admits he thought it would be easy because, phfft, it's Connecticut, right? Turns out, it was a bitch, and it became more of a challenge. Lucky for us, Fred kept at it, sought out a variety of quality tobaccos and finally nailed it. The Nomad Connecticut Fuerte is not going to blow your head off with power, but it will deliver flavors and complexity you don't experience with a Connecticut...until now. They're not boring anymore! Yay! The Nomad Connecticut Fuerte has an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper (duh!), an Ecuadorian Habano binder, and the filler is Dominican and Nicaraguan. Cretins said: "A lot of complexity and strength, relative to wrapper, for one amazing cigar that smokes perfectly and evenly." "Notes of cocoa, coffee, cedar, and just a hint of spice." "This is THE Connecticut that all others should be compared to. Simply amazing." "Irony. Delicious irony." "Well done, GodFadr. Well done." "All around best Connecticut cigar released this year." "Wonderful cream and muted pepper notes while still giving just a bit of earth tones without being grassy like the majority of Dominicans."
#1 - Luchador
Deja Vu all over again! This Leccia cat has been here before. Winning both the number one AND number two spots last year with the Leccia Black and Leccia White respectively, his follow-up release, Luchador, hit the market and the Cretins with all the subtlety of a roundhouse kick. The Leccia Luchador ran away with this one as Cretin votes tallied a final score that was double the next highest score. Whatever Sam is tuning into when he is blending, it's working. The Luchador was also the cigar that defeated the Leccia Black in the Blowin' Smoke Podcast Cigar Match after a crazy 19 wins and one tie. If you're not careful, the Luchador will kick you in the nerts, but it will talk dirty to you while it does. Bold, rich and chewy with spicy and sweet trading punches. The longer you smoke the Luchador, the more intense the experience. Hands down, the most impressive according to the Cretins. Luchador has a San Andrés wrapper, an Ecuadorian Habano binder, and a filler of Pennsylvania ligero, Honduras ligero, and Ometepe, Nicaraguan. One! Two! Three! Win! Cretins said: "Another home run for Sam!" " Perfect balance of power and flavor." "Complex and deep flavors sting but not over powering." "Sweet to spicy and bright to dark flavors." " Luchador blows me away EVERY time I spark one." "A top rope body slam." "My favorite cigar of the year."
Congratulations, Sam Leccia & Leccia Tobacco!
So, there it is. The Cretins Prime Nine for 2014 in all its glory. Congratulations to all those who made the list! Let's do it again next year.
But wait! We have to mention some great cigars that landed right on the bubble of the Prime 9. Check out these fantastic cigars too (Just pay additional shipping and processing): Tatuaje Tattoo -- E.P. Carrillo La Historia -- 262 Allegiance -- Camacho Ecuador -- Corona Project by Rodrigo