For the 2010 rendition of this concept, click here to see Brian Hewitt’s work.
Before anyone starts, I started this long before Bill Berris posted his rendition of this a few days at Cigar Snapshot. (Bill’s serves as a interesting sample of this, although there are noticeable differences beyond population size.) The concept was simple, take as many Top Cigar list as I could, run the numbers and then make a few assessments. It has been an immense amount of work and I found blogs that I didn’t even know existed. By no means will I certify the following as inclusive of every possible publication, but 41 is a good starting point.
- Any published blog or magazine that published a Top Cigars list of 2011 qualified.
- The idea was to find the best new cigar of 2011, as such, for those that published multiple lists, the list that best met new cigars was taken.
- Up to 30 entries for each list were taken and there was no minimum.
- Cigars that were explicitly labeled as honorable mentions were excluded. Budget cigar, short smokes, etc. awards were ignored. Only one list from each individual counted, although sites with multiple authors contributed up to one list per author.
- To help unify results, I condensed multiple vitolas into specific lineas. This is because there was no consistency regarding the mentioning of only lineas or vitolas between lists, and sometimes, an individual list used a mixture of both. (This makes more sense on the spreadsheet where the combined rankings were bolded.)
- Cigars were give points for each individual list: 1st place (30 points), 2nd place (29 points) . . . 30th place (1 point).
- In cases where people didn’t order their entries, I took an average and then distributed points evenly. For example, a list that gave only 9 cigars in no order would translate into nine cigars each earning 26 (an average of 5th place). For lists that ranked first place cigars, but nothing else, a hybrid method was used (1st place would get 30 points, remaining cigars would get average of 2nd through applicable stopping point).
- Total points for each linea were simply added together. This placed the purest equality on frequency and ranking given the highly diverse types of lists.
Some Interesting Numbers:
- 84% — Number of cigars on the Consensus Top 25 that debuted for the first time in 2011.
- $18.50 — List price of Padrón SI-15, the most expensive cigar on the Consensus Top 25.
- 12 — Number of cigars on the Consensus Top 25 that debuted at IPCPR in some capacity.
- 6 — Number of single store exclusives on the Consensus Top 25.
- 3 — Number of new brands that placed on the Consensus Top 25.
- 1 — Number of cigars on the Consensus Top 25 that were announced and released after IPCPR.
CONSENSUS TOP 25 FOR 2011
- Undercrown (Drew Estate | La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate | Estelí, Nicaragua)
- San Lotano Oval (A.J. Fernandez | Tabacalera Fernandez | Estelí, Nicaragua)
- E.P Carrillo NWC (E.P. Carrillo | Tabacalera La Alianza S.A. | Santiago, Dominican Republic)
- Emilio Grimalkin (Emilio Cigars | My Father Cigars S.A. | Estelí, Nicaragua)
- Casa Magna Domus Magnus (Quesada/SAG Imports | Plasencia Cigars S.A., Estelí, Nicaragua)
- Adrians CroMagnon (Adrians/Galveston Bay Tobacco LLC | n/a | Estelí, Nicaragua)
- Tatuaje La Casita Criolla (Havana Cellars | My Father Cigars S.A. | Estelí, Nicaragua)
- Tatuaje Black Label Petite Lancero (Havana Cellars | My Father Cigars S.A. | Estelí, Nicaragua)
- Four Kicks (Crowned Heads | Tabacalera La Alianza S.A. | Santiago, Dominican Republic)
- Quesada Selección España (Quesada/SAG Imports | The Quesada Factory | Licey, Dominican Republic)
- My Father Le Bijou 1922 (My Father Cigars | My Father Cigars S.A. | Estelí, Nicaragua)
- Illusione Epernay (Illusione | Fabrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. | Danlí, Honduras)
- Quesada Oktoberfest (Quesada/SAG Imports | MATASA | Santiago, Dominican Republic)
- Tatuaje Avion 2011 (Havana Cellars | My Father Cigars S.A. | Estelí, Nicaragua)
- Emilio AF1 (Emilio Cigars | Tabacalera Fernandez | Estelí, Nicaragua)
- Padrón 1964 SI-15 (PILOTO Cigars Inc. | Tabacos Cubanica S.A. | Estelí, Nicaragua)
- Room 101 LTD Namakubi (Room 101 Cigars | Tabacos Rancho Jamastran | El Paraiso, Honduras)
- Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Limited Edition 2011 (My Father Cigars | My Father Cigars S.A. | Estelí, Nicaragua)
- E.P Carrillo Edición Limitada 2011 “Dark Rituals” (E.P. Carrillo | Tabacalera La Alianza S.A. | Santiago, Dominican Republic)
- La Flor Dominicana Colorado Oscuro (La Flor Dominicana | Tabacalera La Flor S.A. | Tamboril, Dominican Republic)
- My Father El Hijo (My Father Cigars | My Father Cigars S.A. | Estelí, Nicaragua)
- Viaje Exclusivo Tower Cigars 45th (Viaje Cigars | Fabrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. | Danlí, Honduras)
- Tatuaje Fausto (Havana Cellars| My Father Cigars S.A. | Estelí, Nicaragua)
- Tatuaje The Wolfman (Havana Cellars| My Father Cigars S.A. | Estelí, Nicaragua)
- Man O’ War Armada (Cigars International | Tabacalera Fernandez | Estelí, Nicaragua)
CONSENSUS BRAND OF THE YEAR: TATUAJE
Pete Johnson had a lot of releases this year, and most of them were well received. However, there wasn’t a real frontrunner or consensus agreement among Tatuaje fans over what the best Tatuaje of the year was. As such, Pete Johnson won brand of the year quite handily using the same math that created the Consensus Top 10, despite not having a single cigar in the Consensus Top 5. Pete had five cigars in the Consensus Top 25: La Casita Criolla (7), Tatuaje Black Label Petite Lancero (8), Avion 2011 (14), Fausto (23) and the The Wolfman (24); besting My Father Cigars and Quesada/SAG Imports, who tied for second with three cigars each in the Consensus Top 25. To give you an idea of how not close this was, when you remove Habanos S.A., who lost to Pete by a gigantic margin in second, Pete had a nearly identical score to the next two non-Cuban brands (Quesada/SAG Imports and E.P. Carrillo) combined. He also had a higher score than the bottom 29 brands put together, which included the likes of Altadis, CAO, Camacho, Gran Habano, J.C. Newman, Joya de Nicaragua, La Aurora, PDR and 21 other brands.
CONSENSUS FACTORY OF THE YEAR: MY FATHER CIGARS S.A.
This was also not close. Nine of the Consensus Top 25 were from the Jaime García owned factory. Enough said. I highly doubt anyone would have thought that Gary Griffith’s Grimalkin would be the highest ranking cigar out of the Estelí based factory. Too bad Gary can’t confirm this is actually made at My Father Cigars S.A.
CONSENSUS COUNTRY OF THE YEAR: NICARAGUA
Or should I say, Estelí. This wasn’t close. There were seven Nicaraguan cigars in the Consensus Top 10 and sixteen in the Consensus Top 25. I’m not sure if Nicaragua’s dominance is this disproportionate, but Nicaragua is winning. Remember, this is also the same country that saw the highest growth rate of any major cigar producing country.
- Good News Bloggers, Bad News La Aurora — For the bloggers who felt the need to defend themselves against attacks of favoritism towards La Aurora due to their generosity, and their media trip, congrats. The largest shock of all of this is that of roughly 40 different Top 2011 lists that created over 200 different cigars mentioned, there was only a single vote cast for any La Aurora product. It wasn’t for a lack of effort of getting the brand in front of bloggers, in addition to the media trip in March, La Aurora and Miami Cigar & Co. routinely send out samples to a large group of media members. (As such, it’s no surprise that there’s a somewhat disproportionate amount of La Aurora product reviewed on the blogosphere.) It wasn’t for a lack of new product, La Aurora debuted a revamped La Aurora, a new La Aurora Corojo, extensions to Guillermo León by La Aurora and 1495, the Gran 107, a new line of Preferidos and the León Jimenes Prestige. There was also a tiny release of La Aurora 107 Maduro given to Cigar King late in the year and the Draper’s 124th, which combined the La Aurora 107 and Guillermo León by La Aurora blends. Unlike 2010 where La Aurora was able to truly reinvent much of the notions about its brands in the form of La Aurora 107 and Guillermo León by La Aurora, it seems as if that progress and momentum is noticeably gone. Factory delays with the 107 Maduro and Puro Vintage haven’t helped, but the numbers don’t lie.
- The Rise of the New Brands — There’s a bit of a surprise here. If you had to order these brands to guess where they would stand, Huber et al. would not be third on most people’s list. Still, the numbers don’t lie, at least in this case. No doubt all three are darling children of the blogosphere, although Crowned Heads has gotten plenty of love from CA, but in a year when tons of cigars were introduced to the market, in order to succeed, you had to do more than tweet. As to whether it would have made it onto the Top 25? Four Kicks didn’t score above 91 in Cigar Insider, so it seems unlikely that even if it had met the date requirements for Cigar Aficionado’s Top 25 it would have made it, given that, Cigar Aficionado claims all cigars on its Top 25 scored 92 or higher in Cigar Aficionado, but that’s just speculation. While you might say they are overrepresented on this list, I think it remains clear, all three are here to stay.
- Pete, Pepín and the Persistent Popularity — While there was a lot of focus on things other than the cigars, the reality is, the cigars speak for themselves. Jaime García’s My Father Cigars S.A., as mentioned above, dominated this list. Without a doubt Pete Johnson’s brands continue to attract the praise, but there was a bit of diversity in the Top lists: Mi Amor garnered #2 by CA, My Father Cigars had only two fewer mentions as Havana Cellars on the Consensus Top 25 and according to this list, Gary Griffith’s soon-to-be-renamed Grimalkin actually was the highest ranking. I think in a year when many thought Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr.’s La Alianaza and the Danlí-based Raíces Cubanas would begin to chip away at the My Father Cigars S.A. dominance on lists like these, the Garcías and their partners absolutely dominated the rankings.
What Does This Say About Cigar Aficionado?
It says what anyone who understands the process for the list already knows, CA’s list is not the best new cigars of the year and oftentimes looks out of touch. Only the Illusione Epernay appeared on both CA’s Top 25 and the Consensus Top 25. There is no absolute science for coming up with the Top list, but CA’s process makes it very clear: their Top 25 isn’t to find the Top 25 new cigars of the year. While some years, like perhaps last year with the BHK, they get it right, other years, like 2011, it seems clear they get it wrong in terms of truly naming a cigar that best represented the specific year. I think if one looks at Cigar Journal’s list alongside CA’s and the Consensus Top 25, the large disconnect between print and online media is utterly apparent. CA’s list is relevant because it has translated into sales on a consistent basis, not because anyone actually would say that 2011 was the year of the Alec Bradley Prensado.
In case anyone is wondering how some of the CA darlings did:
- Alec Bradley Prensado (CA #1, Consensus #36)
- La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor (CA #2, Consensus #37)
- Warlock (CA #9, Consensus #49)
Barry Stein, formerly of acigarsmoker.com, and
Brian Hewitt of Stogie Review (on his new cigars list) (Edit) Jerry Cruz of Stogie Review both managed to place seven of the Consensus Top 10 cigars in some form on their lists. With little exception, the most anyone could list and place correctly compared to the Consensus list was one. On the contrary, outside of the solely Cuban blogs, no one managed to list fewer cigars on the Consensus Top 25 than CA did, although a few of the bloggers with much shorter lists only managed to share one in common as well.
HALFWHEEL & THE CONSENSUS TOP 25
2. San Lotano Oval
3. E.P. Carrillo NWC
5. Casa Magna Domus Magnus
7. Tatuaje La Casita Criolla
8. Tatuaje Black Label Petite Lancero
9. Four Kicks
10. Quesada Selección España (Corona | Short Robusto)
11. My Father Le Bijou 1922 (Corona Gorda | Petit Robusto | Torpedo Box Press)
12. Illusione Epernay
13. Quesada Oktoberfest
14. Tatuaje Avion 2011
16. Padrón 1964 SI-15 (Maduro | Natural)
17. Room 101 LTD Namakubi
19. Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Limited Edition 2011
20. La Flor Dominicana Colorado Oscuro
21. My Father El Hijo
22. Viaje Exclusivo Tower Cigars 45th
23. Tatuaje Fausto
There is at least one blogger who still has yet to finish publishing their list, and surely I missed a list here and there, but I think in regards to finding a consensus, that’s pretty well established. — el niño diablo.
You can download the data in Excel form here. The full list of lists used with URLs is available here.