2021 was my first year in the cannabis industry. Before that, I was an avid smoker and cannabis enthusiast. But after spending the last year diving deep into the world of designer, exotic and connoisseur-grade flower, I’ve gained a real understanding of what makes for high-quality bud. I tried over 150 samples of flower from all over North America, and compiled this list of my 10 favorite strains. I graded them by appearance, resin development, scent, flavor, smoothness and ash quality rather than THC or terpene percentage. Here are my top 10 favorite smokes of 2021!
10) DurbanThai x Cindy 99
By Brothers’ Grimm Seeds, grown by @RDofDC
I don’t smoke a whole lot of energizing Jack or Skunk anymore, but it has a special place in my heart after I spent most of my first big smoking year constantly holding Jack Herer in my stash. Red Dragon of DC swooped in with a half zip of this and it allllll got smoked. This stuff was seriously resinous, fresh, zesty and powerful. The seeds were sourced directly from Brothers Grimm in the Netherlands through Humboldt Seed Co, and the expression is textbook Dutch Sativa. This strain is perfect for all the Jack and Skunk lovers up and down the East Coast.
9) Buttermilk Biscuits (Gelatti x Pancakes)
By In-House Genetics
Bloomingdale Organics has been putting out some serious fire from their relatively small grow. Out of the 10 or so strains of theirs I’ve tried, the Buttermilk Biscuits (Gelatti x Pancakes) is the one that checks off the most boxes for me. The smoke was great, the effect was potent, pleasant, and relaxing, and the flavor was gassy with a little bit of sweetness on the back end. As a lover of new-school OGs and Cookies crosses, this polyhybrid has the perfect expression of sweetness and gas for my liking. If you’re looking for the ultimate expression of a Cookies Fam in-cross, this strain and cultivar is perfect for you.
8) Wedding Pie (Grape Pie x Triangle Mintz)
By Seymour Terps, grown by mcaso of Maine Craft Extractions
We speak a lot about California being the weed Mecca of the United States, partly because it’s the equivalent of five regional markets in state. However, all the way in the opposite corner of the country, there’s something special in the Maine soil, and DC vendors are finally starting to notice. At first, I thought the fermented white grape scent of this Wedding Pie was a little bit of under-ripeness, but after some bag curing and reference testing, I’ve come to realize that this is one of the most faithful and mature expressions of a qualitative trait in cannabis that I experienced all year. There’s nothing missing from this bud: it’s got unique flavor, excellent potency and great smoothness. There is one vendor in the area that’s currently carrying this batch, so If you’re looking for some properly resinous bud that won’t break the bank, this is for you.
7) Silver Coast Chem (Notsodog’s Headband/OD x Chem D)
By CSI Humboldt, cultivated by District Homegrown
Out of all the fire District Homegrown pulled down this year, Silver Coast Chem is the most special. We mentioned District Homegrown in our growers roundup, where I claimed that his Pupil Tang would win first place in an eye appeal competition, and I stand by this. Out of 12 beans, DH was able to scrounge up a few cuts that most home growers would be proud to call keepers. Of the five selections, a couple had more onion scents and others were a little more fuel-y, with one that kind of ran the whole gamut. The eye appeal was on point, the smoke was smooth and the effect was supremely relaxing and distinctly Chem.
6) Biscotti Gushers (Biscotti x Gushers)
By GasStation 415, from Tenth Planet DC
Out of all of the Cali hype packs I tried last year, this is the one that most surpassed my expectations. This strain is the flagship GasStation 415 strain because of its vice-grip potency, bursting candy flavor and exceptional smoothness. Tenth Planet recommended this strain to me for months and after I finally tried it, it became the strain that started my obsessions with Biscotti and Gushers. It’s something I highly recommend anyone near a GasStation rep get when it comes back around. Similar to Buttermilk Biscuits, this strain is kind of the ultimate NorCal expression with an expected fruity sweet scent and flavor, tight trim and excellent freshness. Highly recommended for folks looking for expert-level evening smokes.
5) Orangutan Titties (Zkittlez x Grease Monkey)
By Exotic Genetix, cultivated by Paccbwoi202
If I’m being honest, I like the flavor of the Lemon Drip more than the Orangutan, but the Orangutan is truly the whole package. It’s bursting with flavor, it is properly potent and relaxing, and is probably the smoothest strain I’ve tried from Paccbwoi’s garden. Unlike a lot of Zkittlez crosses, the Orangutan has pretty excellent eye appeal, and it really hits the relaxation spot for me, but my favorite part of this sample was the flavor, which is the perfect mix between gassy dough and grapefruit rind. This strain is very much on the 2021 Zkittlez wave and I enjoyed it on many occasions.
4) Black Runtz (Black Gushers x Fidel’s Runtz S1)
By Zaws, sold as Darth Vader by DC Source
This strain was one of the first notable examples I saw coming down the pipeline before it arrived on the East Coast, and I’m under the impression I received the best single nug out of the whole nine-unit yield. The first time I smoked this strain after a 3 week T-break led to one of the most face-melting smoking experiences of the whole year that I affectionately referred to as “force choking my brain.” Even after recalibrating my tolerance, the potency of this strain held up as well as its sugary-berry fruity flavor and incredibly fresh and smooth smoking experience. While this wasn’t the best Runtz I tried last year, it’s in the top tier and is something I recommended to lots of folks. Out of all the DC Source menu options I tried, this one was the biggest jaw dropper in my book because of the intactness of its trichome heads, potency and unique appearance.
3) Headbanger (Biker Kush x Karma’s Sour Diesel Bx2)
By Karma Genetics from Nocturnal Farms, curated by Dorsia
Before this year, I wasn’t so hot on the Sour Diesel hype, but Headbanger completely changed that for me. This strain was the opposite of everything I thought I hated about Sour. It came kicking with some of the loudest and most refined industrial Kush scents of the year and had one of the most enjoyable cerebral/focus effects I’ve had to date. One of my biggest gripes about Sour Diesel was that the burnout after the session was unsustainable just to experience pretty niche flavors, but something about Karma’s breed brings the best of the flavor without the undesirable effects. Because of the volatile compounds associated with the Sour lineage, this strain is best enjoyed especially fresh, but either way it’s some seriously special Sour that I highly recommend.
2) Blue Zushi Nobu Run (Zkittlez x Kush Mints)
By The Ten Co from ATSMD
At the time of my first smoke, I thought this strain was good, but the further removed I am from the experience the more I realize this strain was truly the best of the best from the West in 2021. Despite not having the best eye appeal, this strain had the strongest potency even in small joints or Volcano packs. While the origin of its parents is highly disputed, Ten Co as a brand truly lives up to the hype with this strain. The scent is loud, like a blueberry Skittle, grapefruit rinds, and two notes of gas. If you have the option to try only one hype strain from Cali, this (or the newer Wazabi with the same cross) is the one to get. It checks every box and then some, and it’s affordable enough for the person that regularly picks up $60-80 eighths (compared to some of the low-scale options that run as much as $1800/oz). It’s no surprise why the Ten Co brand exploded last year, and I’m excited to see how they hold up in 2022.
1) Delta Diamonds (GB6Trix x Hylife)
By Always Be Flowering Genetics in collab with GrowLoKey, hunted and cultivated by Goyaad Pak
For anyone who pays attention to my stash, Goyaad in my number 1 spot won’t be surprising. And after careful consideration, I decided to put their Delta Diamonds in the slot. Out of all the samples I tried from Goyaad, the Delta is the one I keep coming back to as the most fire of all. It had the most unique scent and flavor profile, which I can only describe as being like the moment you crack open a Nutter Butter. It’s one of the most resinous samples I’ve ever seen. It ended up being the smoothest smoke of everything I tried last year, and the flavor in a joint shines through the entire time. I haven’t even mentioned the truly devastating potency that breaks through the most seasoned of tolerances. Goyaad has been hunting this strain for years now because they just love popping beans, and after smoking a proper sample of it, I can see why. The potency is remarkable, the chlorine and sweet fuel flavors are exactly what I’m looking for and there’s no sample I’ve tried that makes me feel so refreshed after my session. I can’t recommend this sample enough.
Honorable Mention: DJ Short’s Breeders’ Choice #1 (Floral Line x Floral F13)
This was one of the most unique flower experiences of last year. I also had to include this on my list because it answers the question, “What if we smoked ‘70s strains today?.” This chocolate Thai Floral Line leaning pheno was grown to perfection by a local grower who goes by “St. Nugolas” on the local Discord server, and it held up as one of the smoothest smokes and greatest flavors of 2021.