#21 Padilla 88 Aniversario Robusto
Here’s another brand that may not be the biggest on the market, but that’s going to carve out a little real estate for itself in the coming years, we’ll bet.
The 88 Aniversario is a lush blend made with the help of A.J. Fernandez – who else? It combines Nicaraguan tobacco, a little Pelo D’Oro (a favorite of Don Pepin), and a handsome brown Ecuador Habano wrapper. The smoke is full of notes of “butterscotch, earth, and caramel, with a honeyed finish.”
It’s an exquisite experience and a fitting tribute to its namesake.
Americans will probably like the sound of a man who stood up to the Cuban government in the name of free speech. Heberto Padilla was a courageous poet who was tossed into the slammer in ’71 for speaking his mind. Now, his son Ernesto is in the cigar business celebrating the 88th birthday of his father, a man who wouldn’t kneel even when faced with frightening consequences.
What a proud legacy (and a fine reason to toast up a great cigar in his honor).
This one is the non-Cuban Ramon Allones brand, and like everything AJ touches, it's turning to red-hot gold right in front of our eyes. This is a high-end Nicaraguan puro that brings out some of the best of what Fernandez fields have to offer.
All of them.
A.J.’s Ramon Allones is on the best cigars of 2021 list because he found just the right way to harmonize so many different tobaccos. There’s the Medio Tiempo wrapper, the spicy touch of Corojo ’99, a fine Criollo ’98, and a hybrid tobacco from Estelí. Other growing regions are also represented. The man practically went on a national tour, harvesting one leaf from each field to find the flavors he was looking for.
His efforts were well rewarded, and now so are we. It’s a strong stogie with raisin, walnut, and tangy cedar.
Never boring, always finding just the right mix—A.J. is the blender of choice for half the world’s cigar companies, and smokes like this 92-point work of art are the reason why.
One of the reigning kings of Dominican tobacco has a real beauty for us this year that combines two of the best cigar growers around: Fuente and Oliva. Naturally, the Dominican leaf is from the Fuentes. The Olivas brought a rich Ecuador Habano wrapper to the table, and a wondrous and potent smoke was born.
Tobacco leaves are like those of many green plants – they’ll grow big and strong with a hearty dose of sun. Growers cover leaves in partial shade sometimes to obtain better control over the properties of their produce. This blend is named “Puro Sol” and brings robust, healthy leaves into the mix.
You get “a complex weaving of hickory, walnut and leather notes,” but the most interesting note has to be the “touch of smoky, earthy flavors” that Cigar Aficionado said were “reminiscent of your last dram of Islay Scotch.”
Oh man, we’re there.
Is it quittin’ time yet? Can we have a drink on this job? Happy hour can’t come soon enough.
You didn’t think Cigar Aficionado would publish a Top 25 Cigars of the Year list without mentioning the man who’s owned the top spot twice in recent years, right? Ernesto Perez-Carrillo is represented on the 2021 list by La Historia, a Nicaragua/Ecuador/Mexico blend that once nearly was a CotY winner itself.
In 2014, La Historia took #2 honors. This year, it’s just made the cut thanks to a “bold, flavorful blend, redolent of coffee, wood, and earth, even a touch of briny olive.” That Mexican San Andrés wrapper is doing a lot of heavy lifting but joined with the other tobaccos represented here, it becomes something quite special.
La Historia will never go out of style in an industry that’s completely infused with tradition and reflection. This one is a standout blend even among Ernesto’s other chart-toppers. Toast the foot and bask in pleasure.
E.P. is a Hall of Famer already, and he ain’t even done.
These Chicago boys have done good. Pops taught them well. And now, they’re on the big list while he can step back and beam with pride at the next generation coming into their own.
Alan Rubin named his cigar company Alec Bradley after his two sons, Alec and Bradley. Now, to add to the name confusion, they’ve got their own brand, Alec & Bradley. It doesn’t matter too much because all the cigars put out under both names are high-quality smokes.
The Kintsugi is among their initial releases, and it makes us quite excited for the future for this team. This Honduran-forward blend offers notes of “dried fruit, cinnamon, espresso bean, and hazelnut, which “come together for a complete picture.”
A cigar dedicated to the Japanese art of repairing fragmented items is a fitting entry to seal off the 2021 Top 25 Cigars of the Year list.
Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’ve got some cigars to set aside!
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