Like last year, I’m going to start off the Awards Week at halfwheel with a look back at some of the data from 2020. I guess I should also start with a disclosure: for the purposes of this article, last year is a reference to 2019.

This is only the second year I’ve published this data in an article like this, so much of this is to see how things changed particularly given the complications of 2020 forced us to adjust the schedule by which we review cigars. What’s most interesting about this data is how similar much of it is to 2019. But the next most interesting factoid is that despite us modifying our review schedule for a couple months to schedule less cigar reviews, we actually reviewed 36 more cigars in 2020 than in 2019.

The reason for this improvement is simple: we didn’t travel as much.

In order for us to produce our reviews, it takes one person smoking three samples of the same cigar. That is challenging enough as it is when you are responsible for writing two of those reviews per week and want to try to smoke cigars on a clean palate, but once you start traveling it gets much more complicated. The lack of travel after February meant that Brooks and, particularly I (Charlie) dramatically improved the consistency in which our reviews are published. Furthermore, we also typically take a few weeks off from reviewing around the annual PCA Convention & Trade Show, something that didn’t happen in 2019.


In 2020 we published 273 reviews with an average score of 87.22, which is just one-tenth of a point lower than last year.

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 usually only one sample, which oftentimes produces a different distribution of scores.

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

  • Regular Reviews: 87.01 (87.23 last year)
  • Redux Reviews: 88.41 (88.77)
  • Holy Grail Week Reviews: 86.33 (81.67)

As you can see, there’s remarkable consistency in the regular and redux review numbers compared to 2019. What’s quite different is the Holy Grail Week reviews, which isn’t surprising given the 2019 Holy Grail Week had some pretty low scores, though I imagine 2021 is probably going to be even lower than 2020 on that front.

At halfwheel, the most important score is 91. If a cigar scores 91 or greater and meets some other qualifications, it’s eligible for our Top 25. We had 53 cigars score 91 or above, though many of those were redux reviews or older cigars that would not meet those qualifications.

In 2019 there were only 13 cigars that scored 92 or greater, that number increased to 24 in 2020. What’s interesting about that is it really just a concentrated increase in cigars scoring 92 versus a widespread distribution of scores more than 91 points. For example, there were just seven cigars that scored 93 or above compared to five in 2019.

There wasn’t as stark of an increase in scores at the bottom end of the table. Only 11 cigars—roughly 4 percent—scored below 80. That’s an increase from the eight in 2019, which was roughly 3.3 percent.


Patrick retains his crown for most reviews published in a year, I retain the crown for being the toughest scorer.

  • Brooks — 87.25 Average (89 Reviews)
  • Charlie — 86.41 Average (90 Reviews)
  • Patrick — 87.98 Average (94 Reviews)

While I might be the toughest grader, I’m responsible for the highest score (97) and one of two instances of the second-highest score (94). Patrick was the only reviewer to score a cigar 93 points, he did it four times. I was also responsible for the two lowest scores—a 65 and a 66—as well as the eight out of the 10 lowest scores.

I’m not particularly thrilled with the lattermost fact as that means I had way more shittier cigar experiences than Brooks and Patrick combined.

Just to reiterate, none of us actually know what the scores are going to be until after the reviews are finished. While we certainly know whether or not the cigar will “do well” or “do poorly,” it’s not as if Patrick was trying to give 93 point ratings.

CountryNumber of Cigars ReviewedAverage Score
Costa Rica376.33
Dominican Republic6387


Out of all the various conclusions that can be drawn from this data, the most startling to me is the following: in 2019 we reviewed 129 cigars that weren’t from Nicaragua, in 2020 that number was 134. It’s a remarkably consistent number, though it means that the percentage of cigars reviewed from Nicaragua decreased slightly from 52.74 percent to 50.92 percent.

I’m a bit surprised that we reviewed more Honduran cigars in 2020 than 2019, particularly consider how coronavirus restrictions had a much greater impact in Honduras than elsewhere.

As I said last year, I’d like to review more Cuban cigars. We are trying, but it’s tough given how Habanos S.A. seems to be releasing new items these days, i.e. way less supply than demand.

A.J. Fernandez85.673
ACE Prime841
AGANORSA Leaf87.754
Alec Bradley88.54
All Saints911
Altadis U.S.A.88.138
Arturo Fuente843
Big Sky841
Black Label Trading Co.86.333
Casa Turrent871
Cavalier Genève89.254
Cigar Culture881
Crowned Heads88.147
Daniel Marshall871
Davidoff of Geneva USA89.0616
De Los Reyes891
Drew Estate87.836
Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust89.577
E.P. Carrillo87.45
El Artista891
El Septimo651
Esteban Carreras861
General Cigar Co.86.8211
Habanos S.A.84.4122
Hiram & Solmon851
Island Jim901
J.C. Newman88.52
Jake Wyatt80.52
Jas Sum Kral841
Joya de Nicaragua91.336
La Aurora893
La Familia Robaina841
La Flor Dominicana905
Lars Tetens841
Miami Cigar & Co.901
Mombacho Cigars S.A.87.52
My Father86.85
Nat Sherman International892
Oscar Valladares882
Paul Garmirian891
Paul Stulac801
Platinum Nova841
Rocky Patel88.676
RoMa Craft Tobac89.638
Southern Draw891
Tabacalera S.L.U.862

BY Company

If you’ve been paying attention to halfwheel’s annual awards for the last few years, it should come as no surprise that Joya de Nicaragua manages to take the top spot in terms of companies where we reviewed at least two cigars.

Congrats to Joya, Foundation, Illusione and RoMa Craft Tobac for making the top eight again, the consistency is impressive.

  1. Joya de Nicaragua (91.33)
  2. Illusione (90.67)
  3. Foundation (90.33)
  4. ADVentura & McKay (90), La Flor Dominicana (90)
Casa Favilli87.52
Casa Fernandez Miami901
Casa Turrent871
Charles Fairmorn88.52
Cigars Davidoff906
De Los Reyes89.45
Diadema Cigars de Honduras S.A.88.45
El Rey de los Habanos87.673
El Septimo651
El Titan de Bronze87.673
Fabrica de Puros Aladino at Las Lomas Jamastran88.333
Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A.89.0714
Fabrica de Tabacos NicaSueño S.A.89.610
Fabrica Oveja Negra87.857
Flor de Copan S.A.921
General Cigar Dominicana843
J. Fuego Cigar Co. de Nicaragua841
J.C. Newman PENSA891
Kelner Boutique Factory841
La Aurora Cigar Factory875
La Corona841
La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate87.58
La Zona Cigar Factory885
Manifatture Sigaro Toscano S.p.A.861
Micallef Cigars S.A.831
My Father Cigars S.A.87.815
O.K. Cigars88.676
Oscar Valladares Tobacco & Co.882
Plasencia Cigars S.A.86.888
Quesada Cigars803
Raíces Cubanas852
San Judas Tadeo89.254
San Lotano Factory871
Southern Classic Cigars811
STG Danlí87.333
STG Estelí86.52
Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia85.45
Tabacalera AJ Fernandez87.6715
Tabacalera Carreras861
Tabacalera de Aragon S.A.841
Tabacalera de García862
Tabacalera El Artista891
Tabacalera El Puente881
Tabacalera Flor de San Luis S.A.892
Tabacalera GTO Dominicana821
Tabacalera JVM80.52
Tabacalera La Alianza S.A.87.58
Tabacalera La Flor S.A.89.56
Tabacalera La Perla801
Tabacalera Palma791
Tabacalera Perdomo S.A.85.333
Tabacalera Pichardo88.673
Tabacalera William Ventura88.754
Tabacos Cubanica S.A.872
Tabacos de Costa Rica911
Tabacos de la Cordillera731
Tabacos de Oriente882
Tacasa S.A.841
The CLE Factory901
Villiger do Brasil881


Cigars Davidoff, the Dominican factory that makes Davidoff but not AVO, takes the top spot at 90 with six cigars reviewed. Like last year, some of the names on the top five might be surpising. Perhaps more notable is that Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A. didn’t make the top five, missing out by .16 points.

  1. Cigars Davidoff (90)
  2. Fabrica de Tabacos NicaSueño S.A. (89.6)
  3. Tabacalera La Flor S.A. (89.5)
  4. De Los Reyes (89.4)
  5. San Judas Tadeo (89.25)

You can download the full data here.

Overall Score

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Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I have written about the cigar industry for more than a decade, covering everything from product launches to regulation to M&A. In addition, I handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff here at halfwheel. I enjoy playing tennis, watching boxing, falling asleep to the Le Mans 24, wearing sweatshirts year-round and eating gyros. echte liebe.