Below are our criteria for the 2023 Cigar of the Year Countdown. This year, the requirements have remained the same, but one change has been that sampler and bonus cigars are no longer eligible. Process-wise, re-smokes are now being done throughout the year to ensure more consistency in aging throughout the process of building the list.

Criteria for the 2023 Cigar of the Year Countdown


  • 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. Cigars are not limited to a new line, but new vitolas for existing lines are eligible.
    • For 2023: July 8, 2021, through July 7, 2023.
  • The cigar must still be assessed one year before November 1 of the current calendar year.
    • For 2023: Cigar Must Have Been Reviewed on Cigar Coop between November 1, 2022 – October 31, 2023.
  • Exclusions from Eligibility
    • Shop, Chain, Website Exclusives
    • Cigar Club Exclusives not available to B&M
    • Regional Releases within a single country
    • Event Cigars
    • Branded-Lounge Exclusive Cigars
    • TAA
    • Re-issued lines with the same blend
    • Cigars sold only in samplers or bonus cigars. A sampler is defined as an offering that includes more than two blends. For those with two blends, the blend must comprise a minimum of 50% of the unit.
  • For the 2023 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 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 is the primary consideration. Factors such as Impact (Did it have market penetration? Was it well received by those who smoked it?) and Distribution (Distribution of the Cigar – was it available nationally or readily available from the U.S.) may also factor into the final ranking, but play a smaller role.

Process and Schedule


For the 2023 Countdown, any cigars that met the eligibility criteria were re-smoked at least one additional time following the publication of the cigar’s review. 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 ta heavier focus ison merit, the impact and distribution factors were also considered for the final ranking.

This year, re-smokes took place 30 to 45 days following the publication of the original assessment.

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


The Countdown begins December 8, 2023, and runs through January 8, 2024 There will be no Countdown entries unveiled on December 25, 2023, December 31, 2023, or January 7, 2024.