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Image’s Top 10 Cigars of 2010

The year is coming to a close, and you know what that means—we’re one year closer to 2012. That aside, it also means that it’s time for a top 10 list! I know it’s clichéd, but we thought it was fitting to pay tribute’s top ten new arrivals. Two of these aren’t exactly new releases, but we just managed to get our hands on them within the last year, so they made it onto our list. Anyway, without further ado, here’s a rundown of our best stogies of the last year:

10. Avo Heritage

Avo Uvezian has been around the cigar circuit since 1988, when the first ever Avo cigars went on sale in New York City. He has since released countless blends, the strongest of which is Avo Heritage, which debuted this past summer. These stogies feature an Ecuadorian sun grown wrapper, Dominican binder, and filler from the Dominican Republic and Peru; the unique blend earned them a “box-worthy” designation from Stogie Review and four and a half stogies out of five from Stogie Guys.

9. Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 Dark Corojo

Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 kicks the ass of most who smoke it, so the company decided to release Dark Corojo, a slightly sweetier, chocolatier version. Don’t be mistaken though—this cigar is still a powerhouse, as the “Fuerte Doble” label would suggest. The smokes are absolutely delicious with notes of dark dried fruit and cocoa, but it’s definitely a good idea to smoke this one after a substantial meal, and make sure you’re sitting down.

8. Macanudo Crü Royale

Macanudo is generally known for their mild-bodied smokes—the Crü Royale isn’t exactly an ass-kicker but it’s definitely stronger than most of their previous blends. This is due to the Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, which provides a little bit more pepper and leather. The filler is also atypical for Macanudo; along with Dominican tobacco, they also blended in fillers from Brazil and Nicaragua for extra chocolaty richness. For a detailed flavor profile, check out Zac’s review.

7. Alec Bradley New York

New York tobacconists took a major hit this year as the state tax on tobacco went up to 75%. To bring some smokers back to New York shops, Alan Rubin came out with the Alec Bradley New York line, a medium-to-full-bodied cigar with a beautiful Criollo ’98 wrapper. The cigars are only sold through New York vendors, like us, and feature New York-themed names like Empire Toro and Gotham Torpedo. I guess now I can’t say that nothing good came of the tax hike—check out my review for tasting info!

6. E.P. Carrillo Core Line

Ernesto Perez-Carrillo is a genius in the cigar world; during his nine-year tenure with La Gloria Cubana, he helped to blend the world-renowned Serie R, Artesanos de Tabaqueros, and Artesanos de Miami. His namesake brand debuted in 2009, and the “core line,” as they refer to it on their website, is their first full-production line, and was introduced earlier this year. The Edición Inaugural 2009 received a 91 rating from Cigar Aficionado; the core line hasn’t been rated yet, but we can only assume it’ll be up there in the 90s. The cigars are sweet and earthy with some pepper and cedar notes; definitely one to try out if you enjoyed any of Perez-Carrillo’s previous blends with LGC.

5. Rocky Patel 15th Anniversary

Rocky Patel 15th Anniversary, as the name would suggest, celebrates 15 years of brilliant cigar blending from Rocky Patel. These are some of the nicest looking stogies we’ve ever seen—underneath the gunmetal double band is an Ecuadorian Sumatra-seed wrapper and filler that is exclusively grown on one of Rocky Patel’s farms in Esteli, Nicaragua. The result is a spicy, woody smoke with plenty of chocolate character. Cigar Aficionado liked it just about as much as we did, giving it a rating of 91 percent.

4. La Flor Dominicana Airbender

If there’s a company whose name is synonymous with ridiculously strong cigars, it’s La Flor Dominicana. Their Airbender line will not only test your ability to walk a straight line after smoking, but also features one of the most complex flavor profiles you can find. The oily Habano wrapper and Dominican binder and filler create notes of cedar, leather, coffee, and a ton of peppery spice.

3. Cain F

Cain is another powerhouse line. They upped the ante with the Cain F line, which is stronger than anything they’ve ever produced. I’m personally a fan of cigars that put hair on your chest, and this is one of the best examples we’ve ever seen. The filler in this cigar is 82 percent ligero—25 percent Esteli, 27 percent Condega, and 30 percent Jalapa—and the cigars are available in either a Nicaraguan Habano or Mexican Maduro wrapper for a varying level of sweetness and spice. For argument’s sake, we prefer the Habano because its caramel and pepper notes complement the intensity of the ligero filler.

2. Tatuaje L’esprit de la Verité

Tatuaje spares no expense to make a great stogie—L’esprit de la Verite, meaning “the spirit of the truth” in French, is no exception. All of the tobacco used in these cigars is Habano Criollo, and was grown on a single farm in Esteli, Nicaragua. It’s also relatively young—the tobacco is fermented, but is not aged in pylons as per the typical process. This gives the cigars an extra peppery taste, along with notes of wood and coffee. Stogie Guys gave these an impressive rating of four and a half out of five stogies—we’d give them five out of five, but hey, that’s just our opinion.

1. Alec Bradley Star Insignia

Alright, so putting our own cigar at the number one slot is a little predictable, but we truly love this smoke. Almost everybody at BestCigarPrices has smoked one, and they’ve all loved it, too. It took about two years to put together the blend for Alec Bradley Star Insignia, and it was well worth the wait. These stogies feature notes of cedar, pepper, coffee, and dry cocoa; the box pressed construction gives them a great draw and disperses the flavors really well. If you haven’t tried these cigars yet, do yourself a favor and get some for the New Year.

So this concludes our Top 10 of 2010. If you feel that we left anything out, feel free to leave a comment below—if it were up to me, this would be a top 30 at least, but this post is already epic enough. We put together a sampler with the 10 cigars above so you don’t have to buy a box of each to try out our best picks—check it out here!