The 2021 Cigar of the Year Countdown is now in the annals of history. With the Countdown completed, it is time to look at some of the numbers. In this article we look at two items:
- A breakdown of the cigars on the Countdown by vitola, country of origin, factory, company, what cigars were sponsored, and which cigars on the Countdown had samples received.
- Feedback that we commonly received on the Countdown over the past month.
The following is our list of the Top 30 Cigars for 2021:
The following is a breakdown of the Top 30 Cigars in various categories. In a lot of ways, this is beneficial as a self-check on what we are doing.
Toro – 8
Robusto – 5
Toro Grande – 3
Corona Gorda -2
Perfecto – 2
Churchill – 1
Corona – 1
Double Corona – 1
Lancero – 1
Lonsdale – 1
Petit Robusto – 1 (Firecracker)
Presidente – 1
Robusto Grande – 1
Short Churchill – 1
Short Robusto – 1
Notes: Toro and Robusto sizes are listed between 50 and 52 ring gauges, but Toro Grande and Robusto Grande are Toro and Robusto cigars with a 54 – 56 ring gauge. 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.
One of the interesting facts is that while Toros dominated the list, there was no Toro ranked above #8 this year.
Country of Origin
Nicaragua – 22
Dominican – 3
Honduras – 3
Costa Rica – 1
Unknown – 1
Nicaragua’s total dominance of the Countdown has been well documented throughout the Countdown process. The Rocky Patel Winter Collection Robusto captured #1 and comes from Nicaragua. While Nicaragua usually produces a lot of cigars that land on the Countdown, this is the first time Nicaragua has captured the #1 spot in five years.
The following factories had multiple entries on the Countdown:
Fábrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, S.A
La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate
Tabacalera AJ Fernandez de Nicaragua S.A.
Tabacalera Villa Cuba S.A. (TAVICUSA)
Fabrica de Puros Aladino at Las Lomas Jamastran
Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA)
Last year 23 different factories landed on the Countdown, this year the number was down to 15.
Six factories accounted for three cigars each totaling 18 cigars on the Countdown. There were two AJ Fernandez-owned factories (San Lotano and Tabacalera AJ Fernandez de Nicaragua) that landed three cigars each on the Countdown.
The only non-Nicaraguan factory to have multiple entries on the Countdown was Julio Eiroa’s Fabrica de Puros Aladino at Las Lomas Jamastran.
Perdomo Cigars (one in collaboration w/ United Cigar)
Espinosa Cigars (one in collaboration w/ General Cigar)
Joya de Nicaragua
Rocky Patel Premium Cigars
Southern Draw Cigars
There were 24 different companies that landed cigars on the Cigar Coop Countdown (down from 26 last year). This likely results from our practice of reviewing a wide selection of companies throughout the year. Collaboration cigars where both companies actively promoted the cigar were attributed to each company.
Non-Sponsored Cigar Companies – 15
Sponsored Cigar Companies – 15
The number of sponsored and non-sponsored cigars on the Countdown was 15 each. Last year, non-sponsored cigars secured 16 spots.
The #1 Cigar of the Year, the Rocky Patel Winter Collection Robusto is not a cigar from a sponsor. Six of the top ten cigars on the Countdown came from non-sponsored companies.
Samples Received = 18
No Samples Received = 12
In terms of the 2021 Countdown, cigars where samples were received secured 18 spots. This is up from 16 last year. This is somewhat consistent with a trend that Cigar Coop had a higher reliance on samples throughout the year.
Cigar samples are a part of the media landscape. Cigar Coop samples used are only procured directly from the manufacturer or brand through formal marketing channels (and not a rep handing Cigar Coop a cigar). It is worth noting for the final Countdown ranking, the cigars used were all purchased and smoked again.
There were no samples provided to Cigar Coop for the #1 Cigar of the Year, the Rocky Patel Winter Collection Robusto. Four of the top six cigars in 2021 did not have samples provided to Cigar Coop.
Each year, almost every list yields the same set of comments from a cigar of the year list. Most of these questions we posted last year.
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 Countdown is a subjective list of what I consider to be the best 30 cigars released in the given time frame.
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. 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
While we hear that often, 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 on 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 posted the data above. 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 you feel the cigar was worthy to be on the list or in a particular spot.
7-The Countdown IS NOT #teaserfree
I contend that Cigar Coop has a true #teaserfree Countdown!
Before you throw stones here and say a daily countdown is not teaser free, I suggest the following questions be reviewed:
- Does Cigar Coop force you to click our article to find out about the Cigar on the Countdown?
- Does Cigar Coop force you to watch a long video to find out about the cigar?
- Does Cigar Coop “tease” or “drop hints” of the next cigar on the Countdown to be unveiled?
The answer to all of these questions is “No”, so I hope that puts things in perspective. While the idea of a countdown could be considered a “teaser,” it is the best way to give each cigar in the Countdown a place in history as opposed to being buried in a single list. You can consider that a teaser if you want to, but I don’t.