2019 Reviews in Review

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Before we start handing out the awards, I thought it would be interesting to review some of the statistics from our 2019 cigars reviews.

If you’d like to see the spreadsheet that has this data on it, click here.

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And just as a reminder, our Review List can be found here. It’s a sortable and searchable spreadsheet that includes the 2,000+ reviews we’ve done at halfwheel and some of the sites that preceded it. I try to update it once per month though that doesn’t always happen.


In 2019 we published 237 reviews with an average score of 87.32.

For a normal review, i.e. the ones published Tuesday-Sunday, we try to smoke three samples per review. For redux reviews and many of our Holy Grail Week reviews, it’s only one sample.

Here’s the average score for each of those categories:

  • Regular Reviews: 87.23
  • Redux Reviews: 88.77
  • Holy Grail Week Reviews: 81.67

It was a particularly bad year for Holy Grail Week reviews, including a 72, 74 and 80.

Patrick Lagreid and I have talked about how we think it’s a lot more challenging for a cigar to receive a particularly high score if we are only smoking one sample. The data from this year would indicate it really matters what we consider to be “particularly high.”

Of the 13 cigars that scored 92 or greater, only five were redux reviews. But of the five cigars that scored 93 or greater, four were redux reviews.

BY COUNTRY

CountryCountAverage
Costa Rica585.6
Cuba2585.6
Dominican Republic6387.17
Honduras2188.9
Mexico388
Nicaragua10887.55
Undisclosed687.5
United States of America687.17

As far as trying to provide some context for these numbers, I’d certainly like to see us review a bit more Cubans. Our goal is to try to review one Cuban per week, something we were really good about during the first half of the year, but not so much during the latter half.

It’s not surprising to see that the average scores are grouped so close together.

BY BRAND

BrandAverageCount
A.C.E. Prime851
A.J. Fernandez874
AGANORSA Leaf86.254
Aging Room841
Agio882
Alec Bradley882
Altadis U.S.A.89.254
Arturo Fuente865
Bespoke851
Black Label Trading Co.881
Bugatti871
Caldwell852
Casa Cuevas852
Casa Turrent891
Cavalier Genève89.52
CLE91.52
Crowned Heads886
Crux911
Cubariqueño861
Curivari891
Dalay841
Daniel Marshall721
Dapper872
Davidoff86.833333333312
De Los Reyes87.52
Debonaire881
Drew Estate84.33333333336
Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust89.25
E.P. Carrillo891
EH Cigars871
Eladio Diaz901
Emilio831
Espinosa87.54
Esteban Carreras861
Foundation90.33333333333
Fratello88.66666666673
Garo871
General Cigar Co.89.42857142867
Gran Habano89.66666666673
Gurkha861
Habanos S.A.85.625
HVC90.254
Illusione90.25
Island Jim891
J.C. Newman87.54
Jas Sum Kral853
Joya de Nicaragua902
JRE87.33333333333
Kristoff873
La Aurora86.754
La Barba871
La Familia Robaina882
La Flor Dominicana87.66666666673
La Galera881
La Palina87.754
La Sirena881
La Sonrisa891
Lars Tetens711
Mbombay842
Meerapfel901
Miami Cigar & Co.861
MoyaRuiz861
My Father88.52
Nat Sherman861
Nomad881
OneOff891
Oscar Valladares893
Padilla872
Padrón873
PDR861
Perdomo911
Pier 28831
Plasencia921
Powstanie891
Pure Aroma891
Quesada861
Rocky Patel88.254
RoMa Craft Tobac89.85714285717
Room101881
RVGN841
Selected Tobacco87.52
Serino86.52
Southern Draw87.66666666673
Tatuaje88.333333333312
United Cigar Group771
Ventura871
Viaje88.16666666676
Villiger841
Viva La Vida871
Warped851

Congrats to CLE for having the highest average score amongst brands where we reviewed more than one cigar.

The rest of the honorable mentions are:

  • Foundation (90.33)
  • HVC (90.25), Illusione (90.2)
  • Joya de Nicaragua (90)
  • RoMa Craft Tobac (89.86)
  • Gran Habano (89.67)
  • Cavalier Genève (89.5)

We really tried to make an effort to have our reviews be more representative of the size of companies. There are some areas where brands were disproportionally represented, the 12 Tatuaje reviews stand out, but looking over the numbers, I like this a lot more than 2018.

BY FACTORY

FactoryAverageCount
AgroIndustrial Nicaraguense de Tabacos S.A.871
Caldwell Cigar Factory811
Carlos Baliño871
Casa Turrent871
Charles Fairmorn873
Cigars Davidoff88.14285714297
De Los Reyes87.66666666673
El Aladino91.52
El Paraiso91.52
El Reloj881
El Rey de los Habanos901
El Titan de Bronze86.254
Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A.896
Fabrica de Tabacos NicaSueño S.A.89.758
Fabrica Oveja Negra85.52
Flor de Copan S.A.891
G.R. Tabacaleras Unidas89.66666666673
General Cigar Dominicana922
InterCigar S.A.841
J. Fuego Cigar Co. de Nicaragua812
J.C. Newman PENSA872
Kelner Boutique Factory871
La Aurora Cigar Factory87.66666666676
La Corona Factory87.65
La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate83.85
La Sonrisa Cigars S.A.891
La Zona Cigar Factory86.65
Las Lomas Factory87.33333333333
My Father Cigars S.A.87.687516
NACSA88.254
Nueva Matacapan de Tabacos S.A. de C.V.88.52
O.K. Cigars87.754
Oscar Valladares Tobacco & Co.893
PDR Cigars862
Plasencia Cigars S.A.853
Quesada Cigars862
Raíces Cubanas91.52
Royal Agio Cigars Factory891
San Judas Tadeo89.52
San Lotano Factory862
Segovia Cigars S.A.891
STG Danlí892
STG Estelí891
Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia86.33333333336
Tabacalera AJ Fernandez8813
Tabacalera Altagracía841
Tabacalera Carreras861
Tabacalera Cinqo Estrellas871
Tabacalera de Aragon S.A.853
Tabacalera de Garcia911
Tabacalera de García881
Tabacalera La Alianza S.A.88.33333333336
Tabacalera La Flor S.A.87.66666666673
Tabacalera Las Lavas S.R.L.852
Tabacalera Magia Cubana771
Tabacalera Padilla881
Tabacalera Palma85.754
Tabacalera Perdomo S.A.902
Tabacalera Pichardo872
Tabacalera William Ventura883
Tabacos Cubanica S.A.873
Tabacos de Costa Rica85.65
Tabacos Rancho Jamastran741
TABSA88.62516
TAVICUSA87.66666666673
Undisclosed86.06451612931

The factory data is perhaps the most surprising, I don’t think I would have guessed any of the names that are represented amongst the top four on this list.

  • General Cigar Dominicana (92)
  • El Aladino (91.5)
  • El Paraiso (91.5)
  • Raíces Cubanas (91.5)
  • Tabacalera Perdomo S.A. (90)
  • Fabrica de Tabacos NicaSueño S.A. (89.75)

Once again, the full data can be found here.


For those wondering, here’s the awards week schedule:

  • Jan. 14, 2020 (Tuesday) — Factory of the Year
  • Jan. 15, 2020 (Wednesday) — Company of the Year
  • Jan. 16, 2020 (Thursday) 12 p.m. CDT — Packaging Awards
  • Jan. 17, 2020 (Friday) 12 p.m. CDT — Top 25 Cigars + Post Show
  • Jan. 20, 2020 (Monday) 12 p.m. CDT — The Consensus Top 25 Cigars
Overall Score

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Charlie Minato
About the author

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.

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