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Happy New Year to all!!  It has been a very productive year for the The Average Joe’s Cigar.  In the spirit of the holidays, I thought I would take this opportunity to reflect on some great cigars we have enjoyed over the year.  We have also taken the time to redesign our format on blogging for 2014. We are committed to providing our readers with the best information to learn and to grow in their understanding of cigar smoking.  At “The Average Joe’s Cigar,” we welcome feedback and input from our readers so that it is a mutually beneficial relationship that will allow this blog to continue its expansion.  Once the smoke has cleared, we look forward to providing more trusted, high quality and unbiased reviews of everything related to the world of cigars.  Here is a list of must-try cigars – enjoy and we look forward to smoking more cigars in 2014!

  Oliva Serie O


                    You hear so much about Oliva brand cigars and you’ll understand why once you smoke a Series O.  It’s even better than what you have heard, so now, I sit back and enjoy a glass of Cazadores Reposado (one of the best made tequilas) on a chilly evening in the city.

I’ll give you a little family history first.  Melanio Oliva first grew tobacco in Pinar Del Rio, Cuba in 1886.  His growing operations were suspended while he fought in Cuba’s War of Independence.  After returning from war, Melanio resumed his operations. In the early 1920’s, Melanio’s son Hipolito Oliva took over the growing operations and he cultivated the Oliva family fields for several decades. As Cuba became over-run by communists, the tobacco landscape changed.  Hipolito’s son Gilberto Oliva shifted the business from growing to brokering tobacco.  In the early 1960’s, the pressure became too great and Gilberto traveled from country to country in search of the distinct Cuban taste.  His travels took him to Honduras, Panama, Mexico and even the Philippines before he finally found fertile ground in Nicaragua.  Today, Gilberto along with his family are Nicaragua’s second largest grower of Cuban-seed tobacco.

Serie O is a Nicaraguan Puro – it’s made in the original Cuban tradition of growing the same Habano seed in diverse regions of the country to produce a distinct blend.  It was achieved by growing Habano in Esteli, Condega and Jalapa Valley.

Lighting the O was very easy and simple.  I had a 5×43 that I got from this year’s Big Smoke in Las Vegas, NV.  The wrapper is a Sun-Grown Habano, a perfect dark color from the foot to the head.  The feel was spongy and there is a noticeable taste of spice and cedar for the first two to three minutes of smoking. With an excellent draw and nice white smoke, it started off with an easy burn and built to a somewhat increasing medium-full finish.  The burn was very even and the ashes did not drop until the burn got up to the cigar banner.  There was no required lighting and the wrapper stayed intact.  It’s priced very good (around $10.00) but prices will vary due to state taxes.  I highly recommend you try the Oliva Serie O cigar – it was a true pleasure to smoke.

 Highlights: Notes of rich cedar with spice and a dark tobacco.

Wrapper: Sun-Grown Habano.

Binder: Nicaraguan Habano.

Filler: Nicaraguan Habano

Size: 5 x 43

  La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Chisel


What an amazing smoke!  I must say I am a sucker for dark Ecuadorian sun grown leaves – they are like sex for the first time…oops did I just say that?  This is another cigar I got from the Big Smoke in Las Vegas, NV this year and, man oh man, I must say when I got it I couldn’t wait to sit down and enjoy this full body smoke with a cool chisel shape.

After having dinner (be sure to eat before you smoke), I cut the cap with my Xikar cutter.  In my other hand I had my new Lotus double flame torch lighter and lit the butt of my freshly open Double Ligero Chisel. What a smooth color of the Ecuadorian wrapper – not viney and not a tight feel at all.  Well-constructed bodies with a leathery flavor and hints of peppery notes, some taste of chocolate and packed with spices.  Right from the start you can tell this is a full bodied smoke and very bold in taste.

If you didn’t know, Ligero is the strongest filler tobacco and Mr. Litto Gomez (La Flor Dominicana master blender) uses only the best tobacco leaf he can find.

If you love a powerhouse smoke, then La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero would be an excellent choice to smoke after a nice dinner. So go grab a few and let your hair down.

Factory Location: Dominican Republic

Wrapper: Ecuador

Binder: Dominican Republic

Filler: Dominican Republic

Don Pepin Garcia Cuban Classic by My Father Cigars


While hanging out at 2nd Street Cigar Lounge, I decided to try the Black Label.  Looking at the Don Pepin Garcia stick, it followed in the true tradition of Cuban cigars.  It was well-constructed with a great aroma and a nice texture, and the good-looking brown wrapper was blemish free.

 The flavor profile was pepper and spice, but it also had quite a bit of complexity.  It starts out medium-bodied and progresses to full-bodied.  The firmness of the cap allows you to effortlessly cut the head off and take in that great clean, spicy aroma that guides you toward a powerful finish.

This cigar is a Cuban classic!  If your palette doesn’t like this one, you simply don’t like cigars!  It is complex, with incredible flavor and aroma; a strong smoke for the strong smoker.  Its flavor draws heavily on that of the tobacco itself, complimenting the entire blend from start to finish.  What you end up with at the end of an evening enjoying this stick is a superb combination of tobacco.

Wrapper: Habano Rosado

Binder: Nicaragua

Filler: Nicaragua

Size: 41/4 x 40

 AVO Domain 50


An AVO Domaine 50 – wow, how long have I been waiting to have one of these!  I have only heard great things about this stick and finally getting to have one was great.

 Just placing your lips on the Domaine was very pleasant.  You could tell right away the taste was going to be very good.  Domaine 50 construction was flawless – an old school perfecto shape and the smell of the wrapper and butt were amazing.

The AVO Domaine 50 is a medium-bodied mild cigar, but nicely complex with flavors of creamy, sweet cedar and a hint of spice and oil.  Essentially, it is just enough of what you want and none of what you dislike about other smokes.  This was a great smoke; it had a nice body, an amazing draw and wonderful taste.  It burns effortlessly and unloaded quite well.  All in all, smoking an AVO Domaine 50 is a great experience.

Birth Place: Dominican Republic.

Wrapper: Ecuador.

Binder: Dominican Republic.

Filler: Dominican Republic.

Size: 5.9 x 54.

 Casa Magna Oscuro


I have heard so much about Casa Magna Oscuro cigars, so I could not wait to try one.  This particular cigar has a very dark Oscuro wrapper – basically as dark as you can get these days.  The wrapper’s scent was nice and strong, an earthy aroma with light hints of pepper.  This Oscuro wrapper is very rich with a sexy, oily sheen.

You could smell the peppery aroma at the foot, body and all the way to the cap.  The construction was nicely firm with very few soft spots.  Lighting the foot was easy and the draw was very nice as well.

You could taste the spiciness of the cap and it only got better as I puffed away.  The flavors of spices stayed steady with a good earthy taste halfway into the stick and up until the ribbon.  This cigar gave off a nice, white billowing smoke.

While I noticed some brown ashes (meaning there was some unburned tobacco there), it definitely did not stop me from enjoying a great woodsy and pleasant finish.  The Casa Magna is another great medium-body stick for all to try.

Wrapper: Honduran Oscuro

Binder: Nicaragua

Filler:  Nicaragua

Size: 5 x 54

 E.P. Carrillo Core Line Cigar


 This E.P. Carrillo Core Line cigar is a really nice medium to full-bodied cigar.  Ernesto Perez-Carrillo is one of the best boutique cigar makers from the 90’s and he is famous for bring us La Gloria Cubana cigars from Little Havana, Miami.  Today, he has started E.P. Carrillo with his son and daughter, who they say persuaded him to get back into his passion of making world class cigars.

 Cutting the cap off was a nice and easy cut, and lighting the stick was just as enjoyable.  It had an easy draw and somewhat of a woody taste with a light spice.  Puffing away toward the middle of the cigar, you can taste the spice slowly increasing and it leaves you wanting more.  The burn on this cigar was even throughout and the ashes were a medium grey color.

I really enjoyed this cigar from start to finish.  I am looking forward to smoking the New Wave Connecticut, Maduro and the INCH.  This stick should definitely be a part of your favorites to smoke.

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra

Binder: Nicaragua

Filler: Nicaragua / Dominican Republic.

Size: 51/8” x 42

Hoyo de Tradicion by Hoyo de Monterrey Cigars


Hoyo de Tradición cigars were created to honor the history of Hoyo de Monterrey, one of the oldest and most respected cigar brands in the world. An aged, hand-selected blend of Honduran San Agustín, Dominican Piloto Cubano, and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos from the remote volcanic island of Ometepe is paired with a robust Habano-leaf Connecticut binder and finished with an attractive, oily, Viso Rosado wrapper from the Jamastran Valley of Honduras. The result is a pleasurable, aromatic smoke overflowing with hearty, rich flavors, and undertones of nuts and sweetness.

Ok, there so many things you can say about Hoyo de Monterrey cigars. Just looking at the Tradición, it is a great looking cigar. You can smell how great the Viso Rosado smells. What a treat to all cigar smokers! These awesome sticks are distributed by General Cigars, which is known for its greatness.

Getting start on this stick, you can taste flavors of cream and spice. Puffing away the profile of this cigar, it just gets better. The initial draw was really great and gave way to a sweet, coffee flavor. Midway through, it got really smooth and steady. It gave off billows of white smoke with nice layers of white ash and an even burn line from start to finish. The great aroma never went away. This is a good medium bodied smoke that is a must try. Have 1 hour and 50 minutes to smoke and $5.89.  Hope you enjoy!

Honduras, Jamastran Viso Rosado

Habano Connecticut

Nicaraguan, Honduran, Dominican

6.0 x 52

 Kristoff Sumatra


Established in 2004 by Glen Case, Kristoff Cigars is one of the fastest growing boutique manufacturers in the cigar industry. They have assembled some of the finest master blenders that have years of Cuban Cigar making experience, using high quality double and triple fermented premium tobaccos for their products.

The Kristoff Sumatra is a medium bodied cigar with hints of sweetness and floral notes. Typical of Sumatra leaves, the wrapper was a bit oily with many veins and an uneven body. It had an Old World pig-tail cap with a pleasant smell.

The smoke started off with a very even burn, but then somewhere mid-body it got a little uneven. The draw of the cigar was smooth and it gave away a minimal amount of smoke with a great smell. It is ideal for those who love a good smelling stick and overall I enjoyed puffing away.

Ecuadorian Sumatra


Cuban Seed Dominican, Cuban See Nicaraguan

5.5 x 54

Time: 66 Minutes

Testarosso by Cuba Rica Tabacalera Cigars


Based in sunny Southern California, Cuba Rica was founded in 2011 by Stephen Adib and Raffi Sepetjian.  They have a combined experience of over 35 years in cigar retail, wholesale distributing, brand representation, brand launches, blending and manufacturing.

 In December 2011, Cuba Rica introduced its first brand, Via Havana, to the market.  It comes in 4 different blends of Connecticut, Corojo, Maduro and Maduro Dulce.  And later, at the 2012 IPCPR Convention in Orlando, Florida, the company debuted their second brand, Testarosso.

 I hope you enjoy the video review and I would definitely recommend that you try it for yourself. As Cuba Rica Tabaclera says, “Experience a Culmination of the Finest, Rarest and Most Sought after Tobacco Leaves Cultivated and Hand Rolled to Perfection.”

Wrapper: Ecuador Habano

Binder: Costa Rica

Filler: Costa Rica

Size: 5x 56”

 San Lotano Connecticut by A.J. Fernandez


The San Lotano Connecticut is a medium-bodied cigar wrapped up in a creamy brown Connecticut wrapper that was grown under Ecuador’s natural cloud cover.  Lighting the CT up was easy and it immediately started with spicy flavors.  It had outstanding construction with a slow and even burn that held on to become a nearly flawless white burn.

  This stick just got better and better as I got to the head.  With its medium body and full flavored characteristics, this is a smoke that’s highly recommended for all to try. Myron Gooch Sr.

  Wrapper: Ecuador.

Binder: Honduras.

Filler: Nicaragua / Dominican Republic.

Size: 6.5 x 52.

 Undercrown by Drew Estate Cigars


This Drew Estates cigar was developed by their master makers and the unsung factory workers.  In early 2009, they asked their Torcedores to smoke less Liga Privada cigars because they were leaving too few to be exported.  This request was met with the disappointment, but rather than being disgruntled, these workers responded by blending their own signature Liga.  They incorporated many of the same rare tobaccos, but of different vintages and primings to create an exceptional smoking experience of uncompromising quality and flavor.

To summarize this smoke, I would describe it as a mellow, medium-body cigar with a creamy and woodsy flavor.  It is a little sweet but well balanced by a soft oaky and leathery aroma.

 Birth Place: Dominican Republic.

Wrapper: Mexican Otapan Negro Ultimo Corte.

Binder: Connecticut and Habano.

Filler: Brazilian Mata Fina and Nicaraguan.

Size: 6 x 52

Time: 2 hrs 5 minutes

 Hoyo de Monterrey Reposado by Hoyo de Monterrey Cigars


I’ll give you a little Hoyo de Monterrey history first. In 2010, General Cigar launched Hoyo de Monterrey Reposado en Cedros at the IPCPR show, launching the world’s first cigar to use the new Inmersión™ process. This was the culmination of more than 2 years of research, pioneered by the factory workers at the HATSA facility in Honduras.

After being masterfully handcrafted by Honduran artisans, each Hoyo de Monterrey Reposado en Cedros cigar undergoes the Inmersión™ process and is left to rest for an extended period of time. Enveloped in fragrant cedar, the cigar matures to a complex, medium-bodied smoke with a uniquely spicy, rich taste.
In developing their own proprietary advancement in aging, they are able to utilize cedar to deliver a seasoned cigar that boasts an unmatched level of complexity and balance. This collection is sure to appeal to a wide-ranging group of new and tenured smokers.
Personally, I love to see cigars in cedar sleeves. En Cedros had a leathery brown wrapper and the cedar aroma burst through thanks to the sleeve. It was firmly rolled with no blemishes or spots. This cigar was incredibly smooth and nicely balanced with a great flavors from start to finish. With a great aroma and a little pepper in every draw, you are going to really enjoy the En Cedros. It burned very well and consistently all the way down to the head of cigar. There were nice solid ashes all the way down to the ribbon and no touch-ups were required to enjoy.

Overall, this cigar is well constructed and complex with a rich taste. Its medium body is not overpowering and makes it great for beginner smokers. All in all, this was a true pleasure to smoke.

Wrapper: Ecuadoran Sumatra

Connecticut Broadleaf

Honduran, Nicaraguan, Dominican (Piloto Cubano)

5.5 x 54

One thought on “MUST-TRY CIGARS OF THE YEAR Leave a comment

  1. Myron Gooch Sr.,
    I’d like to give many thanks to The Average Joe’s Cigar blog for its insightful “everyday Joe’s” review of cigar smoking. I have been enjoying cigars for years as my form of relaxation. Over the years I have tried many brands, strengths, and sizes. Cigar Aficionado magazine had been my consistent forum for reviews of what to try. The Average Joe’s Cigar blog has taken CA’s place as my “go to” guide!
    I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your in depth review of a cigar: the history of the maker, how and where the tobacco for the cigar is grown and produced, the textures, taste, and flavors throughout smoking, etc. You also offer reviews of great cigar bars and lounges to enjoy a smoke with people who share a passion for cigar smoking.
    Thanks again for the cigar box full of knowledge and the enjoyment of reading your insights!
    To a good light,
    David K. McIntyre
    Hemet, CA


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