For the past three years, I’ve kicked off halfwheel’s awards week with a post that is decidedly not an award. This is a post that breaks down the scores we published as part of our 2022 cigar reviews. While we don’t use this data while voting on the various awards, it is interesting to see what are personal thoughts are about which companies and/or factories had good or bad years and then compare it to the numbers from our reviews. So that’s what this post is all about, a brief breakdown of our reviews last year with some analysis about what might be different compared to previous years.

Here are links to the 2019, 2020 and 2021 versions of this article.

MORE OR LESS REVIEWS IN 2022

I began year’s version of this article by discussing that we published 47 fewer cigar reviews in 2021 compared to 2020. This past year was sort of in between, we published 242 reviews (273 in 2020, 226 in 2021). I think 250-260 reviews is probably a solid goal for 2023, but I think the 273 reviews of 2020 might be unachievable in a normal year.

We had issues during the first third or so of the year of having enough cigars to review, but once spring rolled around, that issue went away. Right now, we are about as backlogged with reviews as we’ve ever been; certainly, our inability to chip away at the backlog is a unique situation. To give you some idea, cigars that are being purchased right now are unlikely to be reviewed until late March or early April.

TOPLINE NUMBERS

Those 242 reviews produced an average score of 86.79. For comparison’s sake:

  • 2019 — 87.32
  • 2020 — 87.22
  • 2021 — 86.27
  • 2022 — 86.79

I tend to find the total review stats to be less interesting because it’s a mixed pool of data.

  • Regular Reviews — Tuesday-Sunday, we review cigars in a consistent manner. A single reviewer smokes three cigars for the review. These cigars tend to be new cigars and there’s much more detail about how the cigars performed.
  • Redux Reviews — On most Mondays, we publish something called a redux review, where a single reviewer smokes one cigar, usually an aged cigar for a review that they’ve previously published. Sometimes, that ends up being a rerelease of a cigar that they previously reviewed, but again, it’s just one cigar being smoked.
  • Holy Grail WeekThere’s also holy grail week, which takes place the first week in January and can range from a single reviewer smoking one to three cigars. Furthermore, the holy grail cigars are not normal and usually not new cigars.

Here are the average scores for those three categories of reviews

  • Regular Reviews: 87.09 (86.36 last year)
  • Redux Reviews: 86.33 (87.06)
  • Holy Grail Week Reviews: 82.33 (80)

Because of all that, I find the regular review scores to be a greater indication of how a country, factory or company performed. As such, the rest of this article is going to focus on those numbers. This is different from previous years.

90+ Scores

There were 198 regular reviews published in 2022, 50 of them scored 90 above.

  • 90 Ratings: 22
  • 91 Ratings: 19
  • 92 Ratings: 7
  • 93 Ratings: 2

It’s a lot easier for a cigar to get a higher rating if it’s part of a redux or holy grail week review, there was one 94 and two additional 93s published in 2022, all redux reviews.

What’s particularly interesting is who was responsible for the high scores.

  • Brooks: 14 91+ Regular Reviews
  • Charlie: 5 91+ Regular Reviews
  • Patrick: 9 91+ Regular Reviews

Brooks was responsible for 10 last year, I published 12 91+ scores last year and Patrick published just six. Because of the way the Top 25 works, it means that Brooks’ reviews have an outsized role.

REVIEWERS BY NUMBERS

I suppose that brings us to a breakdown of how we as reviewers did compared to one another.

  • Brooks — 87.81 Average (63 Reviews)
  • Charlie — 85.58 Average (64 Reviews)
  • Patrick — 87.78 Average (71 Reviews)

For context, last year’s numbers are as follows:

  • Brooks — 87.21 Average (66 Reviews)
  • Charlie — 84.44 Average (63 Reviews)
  • Patrick — 87.43 Average (61 Reviews)

I am surprised to see that despite Brooks’ uptick in 91+ scores, his average score dropped by more than a half point.

On the flip side, I am not surprised to learn that my average remains the lowest. That’s how it’s been for the site’s history, that’s how it felt in 2022 and the numbers bear it out pretty easily:

  • I was the only to publish a regular review with a score lower than 80: one 70, one 71, one 72, two 76s.
  • Of the 11 lowest score, I was responsible for 10 of them. Patrick published one 80.
  • Of the 36 sub-85 point reviews, Brooks published eight, I published 22 and Patrick published six.

Patrick was responsible for the highest score (94), though it was a redux. Brooks was responsible for the lowest score (58), though that was a holy grail week review of a 40-year-old cigar.

As a reminder, none of us actually know what the scores will be as we are reviewing the cigars. Those numbers aren’t calculated until the reviews are turned in and right before they are published.

CountryCountAverage
Costa Rica585.40
Cuba191.00
Dominican Republic5687.70
Honduras2587.04
Italy186.00
Mexico186.00
Nicaragua10086.92
U.S.A.388.00
Undisclosed684.83

By Country

There are three things that stand out to me:

  • Our lack of Cuban reviews (12 fewer in 2022) basically just transferred into reviewing Nicaraguan cigars (12 more in 2022.)
  • The average score of Dominican cigars increased from 85.65 to 87.7, a noticeable uptick.
  • The average score of Nicaraguan cigars is basically the same (.17 higher in 2022) as it was last year.

As for the sharp decline in Cuban cigars, this is a result of three things:

  1. There are fewer Cuban cigars available to purchase. This seems especially true for most new Cuban cigars. I would love to review Cohiba 55, Ramón Allones Noellas, Ramón Allones Private Stock, etc. Trying to find retailers that have inventory of these cigars is a disaster. I understand that most Cuban cigars remain in high demand, but I don’t think that when Habanos S.A. releases a new cigar the company is shipping distributors (and therefore retailers) anywhere near the number of cigars it previously did.
  2. I also think there are fewer new Cuban cigar releases. Allegedly, there are three 2022 Edición Limitada releases—H. Upmann Magnum Finite, Ramón Allones Absolutos, Trinidad Cabildos—but Habanos S.A. hasn’t publicly said anything about those. There were three Edición Limitadas for the 2021 program, I believe the aforementioned Cohiba 55 Aniversario is the only one to be released. The always wonderful CubanCigarWebsite lists just four total cigars as part of the 2021 and 2022 Edición Regional programs. Now, that’s not a complete list and I’m sure it will be expanded as more cigars ship, but that’s the point here: there just aren’t as many new Cuban cigars available.
  3. I’d rather review a new non-Cuban cigar than a seven-year-old Edición Regional. During the early days of the pandemic, we reviewed a lot more older Edición Regional cigars than we previously did, but both because of a dramatic increase in price and also because of the usefulness of the review, I’ve focused more on reviewing new cigars than reviewing an old Cuban just for the sake of an old Cuban.

That said, this has certainly become a weakness again and I suspect we will review many more Cuban cigars in 2023 than the lone full review of 2022.

CompanyCountAverage Score
ADV & McKay Cigars Co.286.50
AGANORSA Leaf290.50
AJ Fernandez189.00
Alec Bradley687.67
Alex Spencer Reserve180.00
All Saints289.00
Altadis U.S.A.286.50
Artista184.00
Arturo Fuente290.50
Asylum284.50
Black Label Trading Co.584.00
Caldwell488.75
Casa 1910283.00
Casa Cuevas188.00
Casa de Sueños188.00
Casdagli170.00
Cavalier Genève286.50
Chogüí183.00
CLE288.50
Crowned Heads586.40
Curivari181.00
Dapper185.00
Davidoff of Geneva USA689.00
Drew Estate588.20
Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust489.75
E.P. Carrillo388.33
El Septimo185.00
Espinosa Premium Cigars487.25
Esteban Carreras190.00
Favilli189.00
Ferio Tego188.00
Foundation Cigar Co.288.50
Freud288.50
General Cigar Co.1184.09
German Engineered Cigars188.00
Global Premium Cigars191.00
Gran Habano188.00
Gurkha181.00
Habanos S.A.191.00
HVC288.00
Illusione388.67
Isabela183.00
J.C. Newman290.00
Joya de Nicaragua284.50
JRE Tobacco Co.290.00
Kristoff188.00
La Aurora389.00
La Flor Dominicana289.50
La Galera389.33
La Palina287.50
La Sirena190.00
Lampert487.00
Lost&Found287.50
Luciano Cigars383.67
Maya Selva283.00
Miami Cigar & Co.287.00
Micallef287.00
My Father291.00
Oliva685.83
Oscar Valladres Tobacco & Co.287.00
Ozgener Family Cigars189.00
Padrón386.67
Patina286.50
Patoro187.00
Plasencia 1865289.00
Ponce189.00
Powstanie287.50
Quesada387.33
Rocky Patel386.67
Rojas284.00
RoMa Craft Tobac690.00
Room101290.00
Selected Tobacco292.00
Serino183.00
Tatuaje886.75
Toscano186.00
United Cigars288.50
Viaje585.60
Villiger Cigars North America385.67
Vintage Cigar Distributors of New England187.00
War Witch185.00
Warped288.00
West Tampa Tobacco Co.287.00

By Company

Congrats to Selected Tobacco for leading the way for a company that we reviewed multiple cigars for in 2022.

There were a total of seven companies that averaged a 90+ without rounding; there was just one (RoMa Craft Tobac) that managed to achieve that mark after we reviewed more than two cigars. Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust averaged 89.75 from the four reviews we did of its cigars.

Excluding companies that we only reviewed one cigar:

  • Selected Tobacco — 92
  • My Father — 91
  • AGANORSA Leaf — 90.5
  • Arturo Fuente — 90.5
  • J.C. Newman — 90
  • JRE Tobacco Co. — 90
  • RoMa Craft Tobac — 90
  • Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust — 89.75
  • La Flor Dominicana — 89.5
Factory# of ReviewsAverage Score
El Maestro191.00
TABACALERA LA iSLA291.00
Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia390.67
Tabacos de Costa Rica390.67
Casa Fernández Miami190.00
Tabacalera Carreras190.00
Tabacalera Magia Cubana190.00
Cigars Davidoff389.67
Fábrica de Puros Aladino at Las Lomas Jamastran389.67
Tabacalera La Flor S.A.289.50
Fábrica de Tabacos NicaSueño S.A.889.38
Tabacalera Palma389.33
Casa Favilli189.00
Diadema Cigars de Honduras S.A.189.00
El Reloj189.00
La Aurora Cigar Factory389.00
MJ Frias Cigar SRL189.00
TAVICUSA488.75
STG Danlí288.50
NACSA588.40
Tabacalera AJ Fernandez588.40
Raíces Cubanas488.25
La Gran Fábrica Drew Estate588.20
Charles Fairmorn Factory188.00
Fábrica de Tabacos HVC S.A. de Reinier Lorenzo288.00
G.R. Tabacaleras Unidas S.A.188.00
InterCigar S.A.188.00
Kelner Boutique Factory288.00
La Zona Cigar Factory288.00
O.K. Cigars288.00
STG Estelí188.00
Tabacalera Las Lavas S.R.L188.00
Tabacalera Diaz Cabrera188.00
My Father Cigars S.A.1287.83
San Lotano Factory487.75
Tabacalera La Alianza S.A.487.75
Agricola Ganadera Norteña S.A.887.63
Tabacalera William Ventura787.57
Tabacos de Exportación487.50
De Los Reyes287.50
AgroIndustrial Nicaraguense de Tabacos S.A.187.00
Garmendia Cigars Co.287.00
J. Fuego Cigar Co. de Nicaragua187.00
Micallef Cigars S.A.287.00
Oscar Valladares Tobacco & Co.287.00
Tabacos Cubanica S.A.386.67
The CLE Factory486.50
Fábrica Centroamericana de Tabaco S.A.286.50
Plasencia Cigars S.A.586.20
Fábrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A.486.00
Manifatture Sigaro Toscano S.p.A.186.00
TABOLISA586.00
Tabacos de Oriente486.00
Villiger de Nicaragua186.00
Undisclosed1285.50
El Septimo185.00
El Titan de Bronze185.00
Tabacalera Pichardo784.71
General Cigar Dominicana584.20
Fábrica Oveja Negra584.00
Julián Sued & Compañía184.00
Rojas Cigar Factory284.00
Tabacalera El Artista184.00
El Paraiso183.00
La Corona Factory183.00
Manufactura Rivas183.00
ABAM Cigars S.R.L.182.00
PDR Cigars181.00
Tabacalera San Jeronimo180.00
American Caribbean Cigars S.A.171.00
IGM Cigars170.00

By Factory

The relatively new TABACALERA LA iSLA leads the way for factories that we reviewed multiple cigars with an average score of 91 between its two reviews. There are a number of factories that we reviewed more than two cigars from that had very high average scores, Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia and Tabacos de Costa Rica each averaged 90.67 from three reviews.

Excluding factories that we only reviewed one cigar:

  • TABACALERA LA iSLA — 91
  • Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia — 90.67
  • Tabacos de Costa Rica — 90.67
  • Cigars Davidoff — 89.67
  • Fábrica de Puros Aladino at Las Lomas Jamastran — 89.67
  • Tabacalera La Flor S.A. — 89.5

Advertisers versus non-Advertisers

In the spirit of Cigar Coop, here’s a breakdown of how reviews from advertisers performed versus reviews of cigars from non-advertisers.

The following companies were advertisers with halfwheel in 2022:

  • AJ Fernandez
  • Alec Bradley
  • Altadis U.S.A.
  • Arturo Fuente
  • Atlantic Cigar Co.
  • Boveda
  • Cavalier Genève
  • Cigar.com
  • Cigar Hustler
  • Cigar Oasis
  • Corona Cigar Co.
  • Davidoff of Geneva USA
  • Drew Estate
  • Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust
  • Famous Smoke Shop
  • General Cigar Co.
  • Gotham Cigars
  • Integra
  • J.C. Newman
  • Joya de Nicaragua
  • JR Cigar
  • LM Cigars
  • Miami Cigar & Co.
  • Oliva Cigar Co.
  • Plasencia 1865
  • Rocky Patel
  • Smoking Pipes
  • STOGIES World Class Cigars
  • Toscano
  • Villiger Cigars North America

From those companies, we reviewed 70 cigars that averaged 87.27.

That leaves 128 cigars that were reviewed from companies that did not advertise. The average score was lower at 86.98.

The average numbers are remarkably close. If you think that advertising helps to increase the scores of reviews, I wouldn’t let some numbers get in the way of a good story.

All of the regular reviews published in 2022 were done so based on cigars that halfwheel purchased. In mid-2021, we decided to no longer use free samples for reviews and we actively discourage companies from sending them to halfwheel. I will acknowledge that some of our redux reviews could presumably use cigars that were sent to us by cigar companies. It’s not something we keep track of enough to really know the full chain of custody about all the cigars in our possession, especially loose singles in humidors.


For those wondering about awards week, here is the schedule:

  • Jan. 16, 2023 (Monday) — Numbers Review + New Company of the Year
  • Jan. 17, 2023 (Tuesday) — Factory of the Year
  • Jan. 18, 2023 (Wednesday) — Company of the Year
  • Jan. 19, 2023 (Thursday) 12 p.m. CST — Packaging Awards
  • Jan. 20, 2023 (Friday) 12 p.m. CST — Top 25 Cigars
  • Jan. 23, 2023 (Monday) 12 p.m. CST — The Consensus Top 25 Cigars

You can download the full data here.

Overall Score

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Charlie Minato

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.