The Prime Time Awards are voted on by each of the three members of the Prime Time Podcasts. The awards look at the impact on the cigar industry. Today, we unveil our choice for 2019 Small/Medium Factory of the Year. This award factors things such as innovation, continued quality, and impact to the industry.


Fabrica Oveja Negra, the factory co-owned by James and Angela Brown, has captured the 2019 Small/Medium Factory of the Year Award.

Back in 2014, the Browns started their first cigar brand, Black Label Trading Company – a brand focused on small batch production and artesian cigars. It didn’t take long for them to realize they needed to take control of their own production. Thus in 2015, they opened up Fabrica Oveja Negra (which translates to “Black Sheep”). Shortly after opening the factory, Black Label Trading Company launched a second brand called Black Works Studio – another brand focused on small batch production and artesian cigars. Concurrently, the factory became a destination where other companies would contract their production. By 2017, the Browns would have to move to a larger operation to keep with a growing demand.

Fast forward and 2019 was a big year for the Browns. Black Label Trading Company would merge its operations with Scott Zucca’s Emilio Cigars. Zucca been working with Fabrica Oveja Negra for some of its production, and Zucca’s Boutiques Unified distribution arm was already handling distribution for both Black Label Trading Company and Black Works Studio. Following the merger, Emilio would move more of its production into Fabrica Oveja Negra and James Brown worked on refreshing the brands in the portfolio. At the same time, Benjamin Holt, a territory manager who had been working with Boutiques Unified, announced he was acquiring the Dissident Cigars brand. Holt would begin working with James Brown to refresh the Dissident portfolio and handle that brand’s production. The four brands: Black Label Trading Company, Black Works Studio, Emilio, and Dissident now were all pretty much working with Fabrica Oveja Negra for production, and were now all distributing under the umbrella Oveja Negra Brands.

The undertaking of shifting Emilio and Dissident to Fabrica Oveja Negra while maintaining excellent quality for the Black Label Trading Company, Black Works Studio, and other contract brands resulted in a big year for Fabrica Oveja Negra. As a result, it was enough to put this factory over the top and land Fabrica Oveja Negra top honors for 2019 Small/Medium Factory of the Year.

Honorable Mentions: Las Lomas, Tabacalera William Ventura

The full vote results appear here.

Previous Winners (Previously Awarded as Small Factory of the Year)

2014 Fabrica de Tobacos Nica Sueño S.A. (Estelí, Nicaragua)
2015 La Zona S.A. (Estelí, Nicaragua)
2016 La Zona S.A.(Estelí, Nicaragua)
2017 La Zona S.A. (Estelí, Nicaragua)
2018 Tabacalera La Alianza S.A. (Santiago, Dominican Republic)
2019 Fabrica Oveja Negra (Estelí, Nicaragua)