The 2023 Cigar of the Year Countdown is now in the annals of history, so it’s time for our post-game report. 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.
The following is our list of the Top 30 Cigars for 2023:
The 2023 Cigar of the Year Post-Game Report
The following is a breakdown of the Top 30 Cigars in various categories. In many ways, this is beneficial as a self-check on what we are doing.
- 90 Point Scores -22
- 91 Point Scores – 5
- 92 Point Scores -3
The average score for a cigar on the Cigar Coop Countdown was 90.37 in 2023. This is down from 90.60 in 2022. The scoring range spanned between 90 and 92 points. Fractional data is used behind the scenes but truncated for scoring purposes.
Over the past few years, Cigar Coop – The Magazine’s scoring criteria have been the same, but the goal was to execute in a way that ensures a 90-point score is a “Standard of Excellence.” I believe we have reached that goal. I also think the cigar set reviewed in 2023 wasn’t as strong as previous years. Ultimately, this led to the drop in scoring to cigars in the top ten.
- Toro – 8
- Toro Grande – 5
- Robusto – 4
- Robusto Grande – 4
- Short Churchill – 2
- Double Corona – 2
- Gordo – 2
- Perfecto – 1
- Corona – 1
- Corona Gorda – 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 21 slots secured. This reflects the sizes most reviewed on Cigar Coop.
No torpedo or belicoso vitolas landed on the 2023 Countdown.
Country of Origin
- Nicaragua – 17
- Dominican Republic – 9
- Costa Rica- 2
- Honduras – 1
- Undisclosed – 1
Nicaragua’s total dominance of the Countdown has been well documented throughout the process. The 17 spots Nicaragua had in 2023 were slightly down from 2022 when it had 20 spots on the Countdown. On the other hand, the Dominican Republic had nine spots on the 2023 Countdown, up from six in 2022.
The following factories had multiple entries on the Countdown:
- San Lotano
- Fábrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, SA
- General Cigar Dominicana
- My Father Cigars S.A.
- Plasencia S.A.
- Tabacos de Costa Rica
Variety of production was evident on this list. In 2023, 21 different factories landed on the Countdown. This is up from 20 in 2022 and 15 in 2023.
Last year, 15 different factories landed on the Countdown; this year, the number was up to 20.
Seven factories had multiple entries on the Countdown. The San Lotano factory led the way with three entries.
One cigar had an undisclosed factory (Meerapfel Richard Double Robusto). This was not included in the 21-count of factories.
The following companies had multiple entries on the Countdown:
- Espinosa Cigars
- Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust
- E.P. Carrillo
- Scandinavian Tobacco Group
- Selected Tobacco
Twenty-four companies landed cigars on the Cigar Coop Countdown (up from 21 last year). For the second year in a row, Espinosa led the way with three entries on the Countdown.
Non-Sponsored Cigar Companies – 15
Sponsored Cigar Companies – 15
For 2023, cigars from companies that are sponsors versus cigars from companies that are not sponsored were dead even at 15. Perhaps most interesting is that none of the top five cigars were from sponsors.
Samples Received = 13
No Samples Received = 17
Our goal continues to rely less on samples and reduce our dependence on samples. This year, the number of cigars where samples were provided for an initial review was 13. This is down from 15.
Nine of our top ten cigars did not have samples provided by companies. None of our top five had samples from companies.
The average price of a cigar on the Countdown was $19.31. This is a massive increase from $14.30 on last year’s Countdown
- $8.00-$9.99 – 4
- $10.00-$11.99 – 5
- $12.00-$13.99 – 6
- $14.00-$15.99 – 2
- $16.00-$17.99 – 1
- $18.00-$19.99 – 3
- $20.00-$24.99 -3
- $25.00-$34.99 – 3
- Over $35.00 -3
We covered the price spike in our value ratings. Last year, there were no cigars over $30.00. This year, we featured four cigars over $30.00, including an $86.00 cigar (the most expensive to land on a Countdown) and a $45.00 cigar. The number of cigars under $10.00 went down from eight last year to four this year. Combine this with general price increases, and explaining the $5.00 jump is straightforward.
This year saw nine cigars priced over $20.00 land on the Countdown. Perhaps the most interesting fact is our 2023 Cigar of the Year was way under the average price point, coming in at $13.00.
We are defining a limited edition as one where we don’t know when it will be rereleased. Annual limited editions with 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 – 9
Limited Production – 6
Regular/Ongoing Production = 15
This year, a distinction was made between Limited Edition and Limited Production. Limited Editions were defined as true one-and-done releases (at least that we know about). Limited productions are produced on a less frequent basis. Regular production are cigars mostly available for order by retailers.
It’s not an exact science, but Regular Production got half of the cigars on the Countdown.
2023 Cigar of the Year Post-Game Report FAQ
Each year, almost every list yields the same set of comments from a cigar of the year list. Most of these we posted last year.
1-Most of the cigars on the Coop List are 2022 Releases
We have two key deadlines. A cigar must have been released before the 2023 Trade Show and must have been reviewed before October 31st. The idea is for “Johnny Come Lately” releases to NOT make the 2023 list. Generally, this system ensures that any cigar on the Countdown has been in the market for at least 100 days. This guarantees we have a minimum level of consistency regarding how long the cigar has been in the market.
I’ve heard the argument that Academy Awards do not go to old movies, but this is an argument one cannot apply to cigars. Cigars change over time due to aging, vintages change, and even, at times, factories change. All of these things affect a cigar.
2-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 year’s best cigars. The Cigar Coop Countdown is a subjective list of what I consider to be the best 30 cigars released in the given time frame.
3-You take Cigar of the Year too seriously
4-Cigar of the Year lists aren’t fair
With consistent 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 is not limited 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 on the Countdown are selected. I’m hopeful that Countdown cigars reflect that wide selection of companies.
We use a two-year window, and cigars will sometimes not get reviewed by the deadline. We don’t manipulate the order reviewed; in some cases, the cigar simply doesn’t get reviewed in time for the countdown.
5-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 essential 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.
6-I prefer a list where a retailer tells me what sells the best
Before I respond to this, refer to question 2. My job is to assess what I think were the best-performing cigars of the year. It is totally subjective.
Retailer lists give a good pulse on what consumers are purchasing, but they are not without 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 that certain brands tend to have a regional presence in one place and nowhere else. 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.
7-I prefer a list where the consumers decide what is best
Again, see question 2. 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 purchasing and smoking, but they 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 an accurate indicator of what might be best. Many of the mechanisms used to collect votes are often prone to fraudulent voting.
8-Why did Cigar XYZ place where it did on your list?
We do a 30-day countdown that allows each cigar 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.
9-Why didn’t Cigar XYZ or Company ABC place on your 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 requirements, then it wasn’t good enough.
This sounds like a cold response, but I think many cigar reviewers get hung up on explaining 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.
10-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. As the audience, you will be the ultimate judge if you feel the cigar was worthy to be on the list or in a particular spot. Look at our data above, then make your own assessment on this topic.
We will also be publishing a full list later this week with all sponsor and sample data for all cigars reviewed over the past year.
11-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 what’s 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 cigar on the Countdown next to be unveiled?
The answer to 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 the Countdown a place in history instead of being buried in a single list. You can consider that a teaser if you want to, but I don’t.