Since the inception of Cigar Coop in 2010, December 1st has marked the start of our annual Cigar of the Year Countdown – basically a month long retrospective counting down the 30 best cigars for the year. It’s December 1st 2016, and today you will not see the Countdown starting.  This year, the Countdown is being delayed until December 9th.

Why the Change?

What has happened is quite simple. As a part of the Countdown, each of the cigars in contention to make the Top 30 are re-smoked. That process usually starts around Halloween, but the start was delayed as well. Much of the reason is the influx of new cigars hitting the market due to inception of the FDA Regulations on premium cigars. It was important to complete the re-smoking process, thus the reason for the delay.

The start date delay isn’t intended to be a permanent change. The goal will be for 2017 to restore the Countdown to its normal December 1st start date. However, there are some addition changes coming.

Looking Ahead to 2017

In order to qualify for the countdown, the cigar must have been released during the cigar year window which is the Day after Thanksgiving the prior calendar year, to Thanksgiving on the current calendar year. The cigar also must have been assessed on Cigar Coop in order to qualify. Because of the influx of new product, there was too much product that did not make it on to Cigar Coop this year. Starting next year (2017), we will look at a two year window for cigars to qualify. This means that on the 2017 Countdown, cigars released between the day after Thanksgiving 2015 to Thanksgiving 2017 will be eligible. If a cigar line ranked on the 2016 countdown, it will not qualify for the 2017 Countdown unless a new vitola was unveiled during the 2017 year.

The two year window will also solve a problem where cigars released late in the year were at a considerable disadvantage to cigars making the list earlier in the year. We have found smoking a cigar off the truck is not a best practice, and as a result many late year releases would fall short of making the list and would not be eligible the following year.

Because of the implementation of a two year window starting in 2017, the Best Aged Cigar list is being retired. That was something that was meant to look at how prior year’s cigars were smoking. It makes less sense to keep that list going. The list will not be done for 2016.

Beyond 2017

Plans are for the two year window format to continue going forward as well. However, if the amount of new product hitting the market decrease as expected,  we may look at taking restrictions off release year, and simply going to the best cigar smoked that year – i.e “Cigar Aficionado” style. In general, while the Cigar Aficionado approach has been criticized, I believe it allows for vintage years and aging considerations to be taken into account – therefore, I believe it has merit. A decision on whether this approach happens won’t be made until sometime late in 2017.

For 2016, this means the Cigar of the Year will not be unveiled on December 31st, 2016, but sometime in early January, 2017.

Prior to the start of the Countdown, we will publish the full criteria for the 2016 Cigar of the Year Countdown. It was a very competitive year for this year’s countdown, so stay tuned for December 9th for the start.