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 a better chance at tracking down each and every cigar on our Top 10 list. These cigars are typically found on 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. As with 2018, this includes a price cap of $20. New for 2019, we are now allowing line extensions to the Top 10 list, so long as the cigar has been billed as featuring a tweaked recipe from the original line’s blend. While each individual vitola within a given line commonly uses altered blends in order to deliver the same overall profile, the line extensions we accept on the Top 10 list feature more distinct, clearly defined alterations (a new leaf varietal added to the recipe, added ligero, etc.).
Below, you will find our strict guidelines for the Top 10 Cigars of the Year 2019.
Top 10 COTY List
- $20 & under (average MSRP across cigar line must be $20 or under)
- Regular production (no limited editions, shop exclusives, etc.; ongoing small-batch production is accepted)
- Sold in the USA
- Released in 2019 (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 2019 (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. Cigars that do not receive at least two votes are then discarded, ensuring that an outlier cannot enter the list simply because it receives 10 points from a single vote. 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.
Top 5 Limited Edition List
- Cigars must have a limited-edition production for 2019
- Sold in the USA
- No price restriction
- Released in 2019 (this can include size changes, such as a pre-existing line being introduced in a previously unreleased format for 2019)
Because our Top 10 list is geared towards regularly produced cigars that can be acquired by most anyone, 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.
As with our 2018 rankings, this list is limited to five cigars.
Exceptional Awards List
- Sold in the USA
- Released in 2019
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. Additionally:
- Under the Radar: top cigar that we feel is somewhat unnoticed by the average enthusiast
- Value: top cigar that is geared towards affordability—for 2019, the cigar must be priced in the $6-and-under price range
- Luxury: this cigar personifies the luxury lifestyle, including upscale/exotic packaging and a general feel of opulence
- Person: this pick is completely subjective, highlighting a single person within the industry that we felt made the biggest impact, innovation, or captured the interest of cigar enthusiasts throughout the year
- 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 2019
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)