Twenty twenty-one marks a milestone year-end list for Cigar Dojo, being our 10th awards list. This began in 2012 and now leads into 2022, where we will be celebrating our 10th anniversary (more on this to come). As with recent years, we will honor 20 cigars and/or persons and brands, beginning on Jan. 10th and leading into a live SNL reveal show on Jan. 14th.
Below, you will find the schedule for our Cigar of the Year reveals, as well as our guidelines showing what cigars qualify for each list.
COTY Awards Schedule
|Top 5 Limited Edition|
Top 10 COTY List
- Regular production (no limited editions, shop exclusives, etc. — ongoing, small-batch production is accepted)
- Sold in the USA
- Released in 2021 (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 (a panel of nine for 2021), including contributing reviewers, builds their own, personal ranking of the top 10 cigars of 2021 (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.
It should be noted that this year’s list marks the first time that we have not included a price cap. We’ve found that the regular production qualifier tends to weed out most top-dollar cigars on its own. And on the occasional chance that such a cigar is eligible, we wouldn’t want to exclude it simply based on our presumptions of other hobbyists’ budgets. This rule was originally put in place to make it as easy as possible for the average cigar smoker to acquire the entire Top 10, but we now feel that being regular production is enough to accomplish our goal.
Top 5 Limited Edition List
- Cigars must have a limited-edition production for 2021
- Sold in the USA
- Released in 2021 (this can include size changes, such as a pre-existing line being introduced in a previously unreleased format for 2021)
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 core offerings for the given release year.
As with recent years’ rankings, this list is limited to five cigars.
Exceptional Awards List
- Sold in the USA
- Released in 2021
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 2021, the cigar must be priced in the $8-and-under price range.
- Luxury: this cigar personifies the luxury lifestyle, including upscale/exotic packaging and/or a general feel of opulence.
- Person: picked subjectively based on the cigar personality that worked the hardest or did the most to catch our attention throughout 2021.
- Brand: likewise 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 2021.
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 evaluated and averaged to the nearest dollar. Median prices that fall between $0 and $8.99 are considered affordable (one price symbol); prices ranging from $9 to $14.99 are considered average (two price symbols); prices $15 and above are considered expensive (three price symbols).