The award for the best cigar factory in 2019 was nearly unanimous.

Unlike our other awards this year, it was very close or even tough to figure out if someone should win it, one factory is on a roll unlike anyone else.

2019 FACTORY OF THE YEAR — Fábrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A.

First. First. First. Third.

That’s how we ranked Joya de Nicaragua’s Estelí-based operation in comparison to the other eight factories that were considered.

If you had to rank factories based on the quality of new cigars over the last two years, it’s tough to see how anyone could best Joya. It’s not just the products they make for themselves; the cigars the factory is producing for clients like Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust and Fratello add to an overall portfolio of new cigars that is about as good as anyone at this moment in time.

Joya de Nicaragua not only took the top spot on both halfwheel’s Top 25 last year, but also The Consensus 2018. Most remarkably, those honors went to two different cigars. In addition to the top spots, the factory managed to place a total of four cigars on The Consensus, including the second cigar on that list. It also had the #9 cigar on halfwheel’s list.

There is also a strong case to be made that the line-up of cigars it’s making now is better than it was this time last year.

What’s perhaps most remarkable about Joya’s accomplishments is that the factory doesn’t own many tobacco fields. It’s doing this all with tobacco that anyone could buy, meaning that anyone could make these cigars, so long as they had the same approach to blending and production that Joya does.

Honorable Mentions: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A., El Aladino and Plasencia Cigars S.A.

Update — Joya de Nicaragua actually owns what it describes as a “small farm” in Jalapa.

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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.