The 2022 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, price, limited editions, 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 2022:
The average score for a cigar on the Cigar Coop Countdown was 90.6. The scoring range spanned between 90 and 92 points. Fractional data is used behind the scenes, but truncated for scoring purposes.
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
“Churchill” – 4
Robusto – 4
Robusto Grande – 3
Toro Grande – 2
Petit Robusto – 1
Petit Corona – 1
Belicoso – 1
Figurado – 1
Firecracker – 1
Corona Gorda – 1
Short Churchill – 1
Gordo – 1
Super Gordo – 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. Churchill is in quotes because, while the standard size is 7 x 47, all of the Churchill entries here were 50 ring gauge and above.
As expected the Toro/Toro Grande and Robusto/Robusto Grande offerings dominated the Countdown with 17 slots secured. This reflects the sizes most reviewed on Cigar Coop.
There’s something interesting about the four “Churchills” included. The four spots were all top 12 cigars, including three in the top ten, and this size occupied the #1 and #2 sizes.
Country of Origin
Nicaragua – 20
Dominican – 6
Honduras – 2
Costa Rica – 1
United States – 1
Nicaragua’s total dominance of the Countdown has been well documented throughout the Countdown process. Honduras would capture the #1 spot (Alec Bradley Fine & Rare BC-(13)4EV) and two spots overall. Both of the Honduran entries came from Alec Bradley and both were produced at the Raices Cubanas factory.
Cigar Coop had cigars originating from five countries in the top 21. We believe this is one of the widest varieties of the countries of origin on a countdown in the cigar media.
The following factories had multiple entries on the Countdown:
Tabacos de Exportación Inc. (TABADEX/Quesada)
My Father Cigars, S.A
Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L.
Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
Last year 15 different factories landed on the Countdown, this year the number was up to 20.
Six factories had multiple entries on the Countdown. There were two AJ Fernandez-owned factories (San Lotano and Tabacalera AJ Fernandez de Nicaragua) that landed multiple entries on the Countdown. While only two cigars came from Honduras, both came from the Raices Cubanas factory via Alec Bradley.
While the Dominican Republic only landed six cigars on the Countdown, four came from TABADEX, the Quesada factory. TABADEX would lead the pack in 2022.
Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust
There were 21 different companies that landed cigars on the Cigar Coop Countdown (down from 24 last year). Quesada and Espinosa Cigars each had three entries, and both would place two cigars in the top ten. Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust also placed two cigars in the top ten.
Non-Sponsored Cigar Companies – 13
Sponsored Cigar Companies – 17
There was an increase in Sponsored Cigars that landed on the Countdown. 17 of the 30 cigars came from companies that sponsor Cigar Coop, and seven of those landed on the top ten.
Samples Received = 15
No Samples Received = 15
Our goal in 2022 was to reduce our dependence on samples. This year the number of cigars where samples were provided for an initial review was 15. This was an even split for the Countdown. As we disclosed yesterday, this even split is close to our overall assessment data as a whole.
Of the top three cigars, only one had samples provided by a company. Samples were not provided for our #1 Cigar of the Year. Samples were provided for six of the top ten cigars on this year’s Countdown.
$8.00-$9.99 – 8
$10.00-$11.99 – 7
$20.00 and Over – 7
Under $6.00 – 0
$14.00-$15.99 – 0
There really was an interesting trend for pricing. There were seven cigars that were in the $20.00 and over category. There were 16 cigars that landed on the lower end of pricing (Under $12.00). The average price for a cigar in the top 30 fell in the middle – $14.30.
We are defining a limited edition as something that is released and we don’t know when it will be released again. Annual limited editions that are the same exact cigar (blend and size) are not categorized as limited editions. Annual limited editions that change blend and size are categorized as limited editions.
Limited Editions = 12
Regular/On-going Production = 18
Throughout 2022 I have been quite critical of the limited edition market. Frankly, there have been a lot of cigars making it into the market that seem to be factory overruns or leftovers – and simply have not been good.
If anything the 2022 Countdown showed we could find good limited-edition cigars. This year, a limited edition won Cigar of the Year. That’s only the fourth time that has happened (based on our definition above). Two of the three top 3 cigars were limited edition, and four landed in the Top 10.
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. Questions 4 and 5 were added for 2022.
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 on 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 for 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, we don’t want a “cigar released at the 11th hour” to sneak onto 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 in time for the upcoming countdown.
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-I prefer a list where a retailer tells me what sells the best
Before I answer this, refer to question 1. My job is to assess what I think were the best-performing cigars of 2022. It is totally subjective.
Retailer lists do give a good pulse on what consumers are purchasing, but they are not without their flaws and shortcomings. Much of what is sold can be influenced by discounts and/or what the sales teams are pushing for a particular month. In addition, many smaller retailers carry varying amounts of boutique brands. The problem is certain brands tend to have a regional presence in one place and not in other places. One should look closely at these lists and if you are looking for a more macro view of what’s selling, keep in mind a single retailer’s sales numbers may not be an accurate gauge.
5-I prefer a list where the consumers decide what is best
Again see question 1. The Cigar Coop Countdown is my assessment of what I think were the best-performing cigars of 2022. It is totally subjective.
Consumer popularity countdowns can give a pulse on what consumers are both purchasing and smoking, but also have shortcomings. These can often be manipulated by companies providing incentives to get consumers to vote for them. They often can be popularity contests and not a true indicator of what might be best. Many of the mechanisms used to collect votes are often prone to fraudulent voting.
6-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 document the process.
7-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 the reviewer should hang it up.
8-This Cigar was on the List because it was sponsored or a sample was received
Cigar Coop discloses and publishes this data. Sponsorship and samples are a part of being in cigar media. We need sponsorship to keep the lights on. We have been 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.
9-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.