This past year very easily could have been the weakest field of new companies in recent memory. Looking over the 20-plus eligible entires the halfwheel staff reviewed, none have their own factory,1 many are people already in the industry and a lot of them—thanks to issues that plagued the entire industry—have experienced a series of delays. There were still good cigars, good ideas and solid execution, but there is some general disappointment regarding this field, particularly compared to those of 2011 and 2012.
For this award, each of halfwheel’s staff members ranked their respective top five entries. Companies must have debuted on the retail market—anywhere in the world—between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2013. Entries were judged based on the quality of cigars, market penetration, barriers and execution.
NEW BRAND OF THE YEAR: LECCIA TOBACCO CO.
With Leccia Black, the U.S. premium market was offered its first glance at fire-cured tobacco, something that others would show off later in the year and at the very least, can be described as a growing trend of the year. His other line, White, offers a slightly more affordable entry point—under seven dollars in one size—than most of his contemporaries, always a welcome change.
Like many others on the list, Leccia’s year was not perfect. There’s a sampler that has been delayed due allegedly due to packaging issues, meaning that Leccia has not expanded any of his lines since its initial debut.
1Matilde Cigars, who does have its own factory, was not eligible because its cigars did not appear in the market in 2013.