The 2020 Cigar of the Year Countdown is now in the annuls of history. With the Countdown completed, it is time to look at some of the numbers. In this article we look at two items:
- Feedback that we commonly received on the Countdown over the past month.
- A breakdown of the cigars on the Countdown by Vitola, Country of Origin, Factory, Company, what cigars were sampled, and what cigars landed where samples were received.
The following is our list of the Top 30 Cigars for 2020:
Each year, almost every list yields the same set of comments from a cigar of the year list. I imagine future years will see the same answers to the questions – with some tweaks.
1-Cigar of the Year Lists are too subjective
The simple answer is they should be. My list is curated by an individual, and thus should be analyzed as such. The idea here is to provide my audience with “my take” of the best cigars of the year. The Cigar Coop is a subjective list. I’d like to think it’s a pretty good representation, but there are other types of lists that use a different style.
If I wasn’t being subjective, I probably am not doing my job correctly.
2-Cigar of the Year Lists aren’t fair
With a consistent set of criteria and a solid sample set, Cigar Coop attempts to make a list fair to the best of our abilities.
Whether a list is subjective or uses another style, the most important thing is to be fair. There are no quotas to the Cigar Coop list. The Cigar Coop Countdown does not limit to one brand per slot and Cigar Coop reviews a wide selection of companies. Cigar Coop’s philosophy is that a cigar must be reviewed by Cigar Coop (after all, Cigar Coop is a review site) in order to make the list. From that set of reviews, the cigars from the Countdown are selected. I’m hopeful that Countdown cigars reflect that wide selection of companies.
As we also documented many times, the idea is we don’t want a “cigar released at the 11th hour” to sneak on the list. Much of the changes in terms of release date and review date eligibility is meant to reflect this. We use a two-year window, and cigars are going to sometimes not get reviewed in time. We don’t manipulate the order reviewed and in some cases, the cigar simply doesn’t get reviewed on time.
3-I don’t read or pay attention to Cigar of the Year Lists
If I had a dollar for every time that is said, I would be retiring pretty soon.
Our metrics, whether in visitors, page views, or social media comments tell us otherwise. Cigar of the Year season is very important on Cigar Coop. I always say if someone is taking the time to comment that he/she “doesn’t read or pay attention to lists,” they just help fuel that metric.
4-Why did Cigar XYZ place on this list?
We do a 30-day countdown that gives each cigar an opportunity to have a day in the spotlight. I’d like to think our write-up gives insights into why the cigar is on the list. The Cigar Coop Countdown criteria documents the process.
5-Why didn’t Cigar XYZ or Company ABC place on this list?
Easily the most common question we get from manufacturers and consumers every year. The answer is simple – the cigar didn’t meet the criteria or the cigar wasn’t good enough? If it met the criteria, then it wasn’t good enough.
This sounds like a cold response, but I think many cigar reviewers get hung up in providing explanations on this. A lot of work is put into the Cigar Coop list. Everyone is not going to be happy. Everyone is not going to get a trophy. Some will want a bigger trophy. It’s reality. The day a cigar reviewer tries to make everyone happy is the day we as reviewers should hang it up.
6-This Cigar was on the List because it was sponsored or a sample was received
We’ll review the data below, but the answer is “yes.” Sponsorship and samples are a part of being in cigar media. We need sponsorship to keep the lights on. This year we were very transparent and worked to keep things fair. You as the audience will be the ultimate judge if they feel the cigar was worthy to be on the list or in a particular spot.
The following is a breakdown of the Top 30 Cigars in various categories. In a lot of ways, more than anything, this is more important as a self-check on what we are doing.
Toro – 7
Robusto – 5
Toro Grande – 4
Corona Gorda -3
Perfecto – 3
Robusto Grande – 2
Belicoso – 1
Churchill – 1
Corona – 1
Double Corona – 1
Petite Corona – 1
Super Gordo – 1
Notes: Toro Grande and Robusto Grande are Toro and Robusto cigars with a 54 – 56 ring gauge. Toro and Robusto go between 50 and 52 ring gauges. Box-pressed offerings were combined with parejo offerings.
As expected the Toro/Toro Grande and Robusto/Robusto Grande offerings dominated the Countdown with 18 slots secured. This reflects the sizes most reviewed on Cigar Coop.
There were zero lanceros, zero lonsdales, and zero gordo (6 x 60) offerings on the Cigar of the Year Countdown. There were only 4 figurados on the list (three perfectos and one belicoso).
Country of Origin
Nicaragua – 18
Dominican – 8
Honduras – 3
USA – 1
Nicaragua dominated the number of reviews done in 2020 on Cigar Coop with 85 reviews, so it was no surprise that they landed 18 cigars on the Countdown. The one outlier was the one cigar produced in the U.S. That cigar turned out to be The American Toro by J.C. Newman – the cigar that would win our 2020 Cigar of the Year.
The following factories had multiple entries on the Countdown:
Tabacalera AJ Fernandez de Nicaragua S.A.
General Cigar Dominicana
La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate
There were 23 different factories that landed cigars on the Cigar Coop Countdown. Only five of those factories had multiple entries. Tabacalera AJ Fernandez and Tabacalera Fernandez, both Nicaraguan factories, each landed three cigars on the Countdown.
There were four companies that had two cigars each on the Countdown. Perdomo had two cigars in the top eleven.
General Cigar Company
Southern Draw Cigars
There were 26 different companies that landed cigars on the Cigar Coop Countdown. This keeps to our philosophy to review a wide selection of companies throughout the year.
Non-Sponsored Cigar Companies – 16
Sponsored Cigar Companies – 14
As mentioned sponsorship does not play any role in scoring or end of year ranking. As we reported back in November, non-sponsored cigars had a higher average than sponsored cigars.
In terms of the 2020 Countdown, non-sponsored cigar companies secured 16 spots, just notching out Sponsored Cigar Companies. There were only three sponsors in the top ten, and those companies secured three of the top four spots. Keep in mind we have over 20 sponsors and we take a sponsor on when we believe in its product portfolio. As always, Cigar Coop stands behind all of its rankings and invites you to be the ultimate arbiter.
Samples Received = 16
No Samples Received = 14
As mentioned above, samples do not play any role in scoring or end of year ranking. As we reported back in November, purchased cigars had a higher average than cigars where samples were received.
In terms of the 2020 Countdown, cigars where samples were received secured 16 spots, just notching out purchased cigars. There were only four cigars in the top ten where samples were received. The top three cigars for 2020 were all purchased. As always, Cigar Coop stands behind all of its rankings and invites you to be the ultimate arbiter.