Since Cigar Dojo‘s first-ever Cigars of the Year list, debuting in 2012, we’ve catered the selections towards what we like to call “Joe 6-Pack” smoker. This was originally accomplished by limiting the picks to cigars in the $10 price range. Eventually, additional restrictions were put in place, requiring all cigars to be regularly produced and widely distributed. This allows the everyday craft enthusiast the ability to print off our list and simply check cigars off at a local brick and mortar. These cigars are easily found on one of the many major online retailers as well, allowing most anyone the ability to experience the Top 10.
Over the years, we’ve gradually adjusted our guidelines to reflect the changing market. For 2018, the most notable change is the increased price cap of $20. Below, you will find our strict guidelines for the Top 10 Cigars of the Year 2018.
Top 10 COTY List
- $20 & under (average MSRP across cigar line must be $20 or under)
- Regular production (no limited editions, shop exclusives, etc.)
- Sold in the USA (needs to be available, having a wide enough distribution in the U.S. to allow “Joe 6-Pack” smoker a chance at acquiring the cigars)
- Released in 2018 (this is, perhaps, the most important factor—without this distinction, a year-end list may as well be called “Top Cigars We Happened to be into this Year”…)
To assemble this list, each member of the Cigar Dojo staff, including contributing reviewers, builds their own, personal ranking of the top 10 cigars of 2018 (using the guidelines listed above). Cigars are then given points, with the no. 1 cigar receiving 10 points, the no. 2 cigar receiving 9 points, etc. After the points are tallied, the top 20 cigars are then tweaked by Cigar Dojo’s founding members, Eric and Jordan Guttormson, ensuring all picks are consistent with the culture Cigar Dojo has worked to cultivate since 2012. This safeguards against the occasional oddball cigar making it onto the list, simply because it received a singular, 10-point pick.
Top 5 Limited Edition List
- Cigars must have a limited-edition production for 2018
- Sold in the USA
- No price restriction
- Released in 2018 (for limited edition cigars, this can include size changes; such as a pre-existing line being introduced in a previously unreleased format for 2018)
Because our Top 10 list is geared towards regularly produced cigars for the everyday smoker, this can leave some of the most fun releases of the year (e.g. limited edition cigars) unnoticed. Limited edition cigars will often incorporate rare tobaccos that, while having the potential to showcase some of the most unique smoking experiences available, are intrinsically difficult to obtain. We feel that these cigars deserve to be recognized, but should not be lumped into the standard collection of newly released brands for the given release year.
New for 2018, we’ve expanded this list to include five cigars.
Exceptional Awards List
- Sold in the USA
- Released in 2018
The Exceptional Awards list is unique, highlighting a wide range of cigar styles, including our picks for the top-ranked “luxury cigar,” “value cigar,” “under-the-radar cigar,” and more. Because of this, each award contains slightly different guidelines, with each category collectively meeting the two guidelines listed above:
- Under the Radar: top cigar that we feel is somewhat unnoticed by the average enthusiast
- Value: top cigar that is geared towards affordability—for 2018, the cigar must be priced in the $6-and-under price range
- Luxury: this cigar personifies the luxury lifestyle, including upscale/exotic packaging and price points at $35 and above
- Factory: all factories that release three or more prominent cigars in 2018 are eligible—these cigars are then ranked in a similar process to the Top 10 list, adding the points of each cigar to accumulate the factories with the highest number of points (the top 5 of which are then used to select the winner, based on which of these seemed to stand out the most for the year, in our opinion)
- Brand: This pick is completely subjective, with Cigar Dojo staff members voting on the cigar brand that they felt saw the biggest gains, made influential changes, and generally captured the attention of the cigar world throughout 2018
All 20 Cigar of the Year winners are given a plaque, showing off the cigar, along with a few stats to give a quick impression of each blend. The guidelines behind these stats are as follows:
- Country: the country where the cigar is rolled
- Body: our subjective conclusion of the cigar’s body on a scale of 1–5
- Price: the median price (MSRP) across a cigar’s entire line is determined—median prices that fall between $0 and $7.99 are considered affordable (one price symbol)—prices ranging from $8 to $14.99 are considered average (two price symbols)—cigars with prices $15 and above are considered expensive (three price symbols)