Criteria for the 2021 Cigar of the Year Countdown

It’s important when doing any Cigar of the Year list to disclose the criteria used to define the list. For 2021, the following criteria is being used.


  • The cigar must have been released in a two-year window for release ending the day before the PCA trade show 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 9, 2019, through July 8, 2021
  • The cigar still must be assessed one year prior to November 1st of the current calendar year.
    • For 2021: Cigar Must Have Been Reviewed on Cigar Coop between November 1, 2020 – October 31, 2021
  • Exclusions from Eligibility
    • Shop and Chain Exclusives, including Cigar Club exclusives
    • Regional Releases within a single country
    • Event Cigars
    • Branded-Lounge Exclusive Cigars
    • TAA
    • Re-issued lines with the same blend
  • For the 2021 Countdown, a minimum score of 90 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 for the two-year window and the use of the Trade Show dates for eligibility, click here.


An 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 2021 Countdown, any cigars that met the eligibility criteria were re-smoked at least one time following the July 8th release 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 10th, 2021, and runs through January 10th, 2022. There will be no Countdown entries unveiled on December 25th, 2021, December 31st, 2021, or January 9, 2022.

The Changes for 2021

There is one small change for 2021 eligibility. The minimum score to be eligible for the Countdown is now 90 points. This was derived from the fact there were not enough 91+ rated cigars to build a Countdown list..