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Cigar Journal’s Top 25 Cigars of 2020: #25 To #20

Today we are revealing the six cigars ranking from positions 25 to 20.

#25 | Kristoff Shade Grown Robusto

blankGlen Case has been smoking cigars since his teens and spent about 18 years in the financial industry. In 2004 he started Kristoff Cigars which has been a successful cigar brand since then. “Quality, consistency, availability” is their motto. In 2019, Kristoff announced the Kristoff Shade Grown. It uses a Connecticut-seed wrapper from Honduras over a Dominican binder and fillers from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. The line is offered in three sizes: Robusto, Churchill and Matador.

Tasting notes: 


This pretty cigar with a pigtail and closed foot offers ample earthy aromas over a subtle sweetness as well as a gentle peppery spice. Tangy, vegetal, tart and piquant notes, a light acidity and wood aromas develop in the creamy smoke.

Owner: Kristoff Exclusive Cigars, Inc.

Factory: Charles Fairmorn S.A.

Origin: Dom. Rep.

Wrapper: Honduras

Binder: Dom. Rep.

Filler: Nicaragua, Dom. Rep.

Strength: 6 (of 10)

Size: 140 x 21.4 | 5 1/2 x 54

Released: 2019

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#24 | Alec Bradley Project 40 06.52

blankOfficially, this cigar is called Project 40 06.52, which indicates the size of the cigar – a Toro.

It is the first of Alec Bradley’s Experimental Series. Alan Rubin, founder of Alec Bradley, says: “Project 40 is a generally accepted concept in multiple industries with the end goal to find how a service or product can have a positive impact on the mind and body. Since cigars bring people together, cause for relaxation and create positive experiences, I asked myself why this concept should not be applied to premium cigars.”

Tasting notes:

The cigar offers pronounced woody, nutty, coffee and cacao aromas with a sweet fruity impact to malt candy and a subtle salty note. Primary flavor notes of leathery, nutty flavors. The cigar is decidedly creamy.

Owner: Alec Bradley Cigar Corp.
Factory: J. Fuego Cigar Co. de Nicaragua
Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaragua
Binder: Brazil
Filler: Nicaragua
Strength: 6 (of 10)
Size: 152 x 20.6 | 6 x 52
Released: 2019

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#23 | Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder Brimstone

blankOwned and operated by a family of veterans out of Texas, Southern Draw Cigars has grown fast in the past years. The Brimstone is an extension to the Jacobs Ladder line, introduced at the IPCPR 2019. The company describes the original Jacobs Ladder as double ligero, meaning that it uses two different types of ligero. For Brimstone, they use three types of ligero. 150,000 cigars annually are being produced.

Tasting notes:

In the thick, oily smoke there are tart-spicy notes underscored with sweetness. Nuts, fruity notes, coffee, and chocolate create an interesting sweet-sour play. Towards the end, the cigar becomes more peppery and even spicier.

Owner: Southern Draw Cigars
Factory: Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: USA Broadleaf
Binder: USA Broadleaf
Filler: Nicaragua, Dom. Rep.
Strength: 8 (of 10)
Size: 152 x 22.2 | 6 x 56
Released: 2019

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#22 | Oscar Valladares Wild Hunter Oscuro Toro

blankThe camouflage design hints at the name of Oscar Valladares’ newest cigar line: Wild Hunter. The Honduran puro that gets its inspiration from heading out into the woods comes in a Natural or an Oscuro wrapper from the Copán region. The binder and filler of both cigars are from Oscar’s own farm, La Entrada and El Paraiso. Both cigars are offered in a 6 x 52 toro vitola.

Tasting notes:

Aromas of earth, cedar and oak are accompanied by herbal spice and later a sweetish chocolaty/toffee note. Occasionally it is slightly salty, delicately bitter (almonds) and sweetish. A complex cigar.

Owner: Oscar Valladares Tobacco & Co.
Factory: Oscar Valladares Tobacco & Co.
Origin: Honduras
Wrapper: Honduras Oscuro
Binder: Honduras
Filler: Honduras
Strength: 8 (of 10)
Size: 152 x 20.6 | 6 x 52
Released: 2019

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#21 | Undercrown ShadyXX

blankThe ShadyXX is a collaboration between Drew Estate and Shady Records, a music label founded by hip hop artist Eminem and Paul Rosenberg, who is a cigar lover. The box-pressed Belicoso was created to celebrate the 20thanniversary of the record label in 2019. Fortunately, this cigar made a comeback in 2020. Like all Undercrown cigars, ShadyXX is rolled at the Drew Estate cigar factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

Tasting notes: 


A flawless box-pressed Belicoso, whose sweetish Maduro wrapper provides a subtle counterpoint to the sumptuous spiciness of the cigar. It develops tangy, finely acidic notes, leather aromas and even a fine sweetness in a creamy smoke.

Owner: Drew Estate, LLC
Factory: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate
Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Mexico San Andrés
Binder: USA Connecticut
Filler: Brazil, Nicaragua
Strength: 7 (of 10)

Size: 127 x 19.8 | 5 x 50

Released: 2019

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#20 | Joya de Nicaragua Cinço Décadas Fundador

blankIn 2018, Joya de Nicaragua celebrated its 50th anniversary with a new line of cigars, Cinço Décadas. A year later, the company added the Fundador to this line, a soft-pressed toro that pays tribute to the founders of the Nicaragua Cigar Company, as Joya de Nicaragua was originally called: Juan Francisco Bermejo, and Simón Camacho. Currently, the line consists of four vitolas: El General, Diadema, El Doctor and Fundador.

Tasting notes: 


At the beginning, this cigar offers floral aromas, the freshness of menthol and chili spice alongside nutty aromas and a nougat sweetness. Mid-way through, it becomes more tart, underscored by cacao sweetness and fruity nuances. The finale is chocolatey.

Owner: Joya de Nicaragua S.A.
Factory: Joya de Nicaragua S.A.

Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Strength: 8 (of 10)

Size: 152 x 21.4 | 6 x 54

Released: 2019

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