Criteria for the 2020 Cigar of the Year Countdown

The importance of doing any Cigar of the Year list is the criteria used to define the list. For 2020, the following criteria is being used.


  • The cigar must have been released in a two-year window for release ending the day before PCA of the current calendar year. While there was not a PCA Trade Show, the planned date was still used. Cigars are not limited to a new line, but new vitolas for existing lines are eligible.
    • For 2020: July 10, 2018, through July 9, 2020
  • The cigar still must be assessed one year prior to November 1st of the current calendar year.
    • For 2020: Cigar Must Have Been Reviewed on Cigar Coop between November 1, 2019 – October 31, 2020
  • Exclusions from Eligibility
    • Shop and Chain Exclusives, including Cigar Club exclusives
    • Regional Releases
    • Event Cigars
    • Branded-Lounge Exclusive Cigars
    • TAA
    • Re-issued lines with the same blend
  • For the 2020 Countdown, a minimum score of 91 must have been achieved for consideration for the Countdown
  • All decisions on whether a cigar qualifies for the list or not are final and not open to change once the list begins publishing.

For reasons on the two year window and the use of the Trade Show dates for eligibility, click here.


For 2020, a great emphasis was put on merit as the most important category, but the other categories played a minor role. Candidate cigars for the Countdown were all re-smoked and ranked quantitatively.

  • Merit – How well the cigar performed. This was weighted at 90% this year, higher than previous years.
  • Impact – Did it have market penetration?  Was it well received by those who smoked it?
  • Distribution of the Cigar – was it available nationally or readily available from the U.S.

Process and Schedule


For the 2020 Countdown, any cigars that met the eligibility criteria were re-smoked at least one time following the July 9th deadline. The “Value” rating is not factored into the ranking. The performance of the re-smoke combined with the performance of the cigar from the original assessment cycles are both factored in. An initial ranking is done prior to the re-smoke. Following the re-smoke, the cigar’s position on the ranking is adjusted and a final ranking is done. While there is a heavier focus on merit, the impact and distribution factors were also considered for the final ranking.

The top thirty cigars coming out of the ranking process will make the Countdown.


The Countdown begins December 4th, 2020, and runs through January 4th, 2021. There will be no Countdown entries unveiled on December 25th, 2020, December 31st, 2020, and January 3, 2021.

The Changes for 2020

Other than an increase in the merit component, there were no major eligibility and process changes. One change in terms of format is we will now track countdown placements by company instead of by brand. We also are now disclosing sponsors and samples received for cigars that make the countdown.

History of the Countdown

For a history of the Countdown, see our feature story from our 10 Year Anniversary Series:

Ten Years of Cigar Coop: Part 9 – American Top 40: The Countdown