In college, I once proposed a hilarious—albeit deranged—sociology study. Imagine if you could take someone who didn’t know anything about American sports and put them in a place where the only access they had to the outside world was ESPN’s First Take back when Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were on it. After a year, you take said person and ask them about sports.

Their understanding of sports would be, err, interesting.

The Consensus operates somewhat like that, but for Best of cigar lists. Imagine you knew someone who didn’t smoke cigars but saw all of the Top 25/Top 10/etc. lists put out by various genres of cigar media. They’d also need an incredible memory and decent addition/subtraction skills.

Their understanding of what the best cigars of the year would be based not on their own experience, but rather, on the lists produced by various cigar media. And imagine if they took the lists at basically equal value.

That’s The Consensus, though it’s a spreadsheet, not a person.

I started this concept more than a decade ago with the goal of trying to see if there was a commonality within cigar media. I never really aimed to figure out what the best cigar of the year was—after all, I could tell you my personal favorite—but I wanted to see what the collective cigar media had to say.

As always, I will repeat some disclaimers:

  1. This is not my list, it’s based on 35 different media publications. I haven’t smoked all of the cigars that made The Consensus Top 25, so I cannot agree with this list.
  2. It’s not halfwheel’s Top 25, that list is here.
  3. It’s probably not “unbiased.” The Consensus is based on the data from other lists, who you probably think have biases. Furthermore, I am the one who curates the lists and makes decisions about the qualifications (see below.)
  4. It’s not, in my opinion, the list that proves what the best cigar of 2022 was. The Consensus is a sum of its part. If you think there are flawed things about any of the ~35 lists used, those will show up in The Consensus.
  5. This is best used as a window into the relationships between cigar companies and cigar media.

For those unfamiliar with The Consensus, it works like this.

I try to look at as many top 10/25/etc. lists published by cigar media outlets including blogs, magazines, podcasts, YouTube channels, etc.

Scoring:

  • Up to 25 entries were accepted per list. The best cigar was awarded 25 points, the second best 24 points, etc. Each publication can only award a maximum of 325 total points.
  • In the case of ties, points were split between the affected spots.
  • In lists that included “honorable mentions” alongside a Top 10 or Top 20, the “honorable mentions” were excluded. Cigars labeled as “top cigars” or equivalent were included as entries.
  • In lists that divided cigars up into sub-categories, I try to make sense of them in the easiest way possible. If an outlet publishes a “regular list” and then a “limited list” only the “regular list” was used.
  • Once all lists have been entered, the vitolas for each line nominated were combined into a singular entry.
  • Lines with multiple blends, including wrappers or publicized “tweaks,” were separated into multiple entries.
  • Publications that published multiple lists had their points of a singular entry split amongst them.
  • There’s an attempt to limit the number of cigars a singular media outlet can nominate to roughly 25. If there were ties for 25th, I allowed that. However, I generally stopped after 26. Some publications produce lists with 40 different cigars, only the top 25ish were taken.

Qualifications for a list to be considered:

  1. Any list created by a media member, published on a website, is eligible so long as that author/publication has reviewed at least one cigar in 2022.
  2. Any lists created by someone who works for a cigar company or is a cigar retailer are excluded. I allowed for lists created by employees of cigar stores but excluded the lists that were clearly produced by cigar retailers.  This is sort of an honor system as I don’t verify where people are not employed, but it excludes some lists.
  3. Honorable mentions were largely excluded unless the list was largely made up of honorable mentions.
  4. No user-voted/driven lists were used.
  5. The publication must meaningfully exist on a platform other than just Facebook or Instagram.
  6. Lists must be published by Jan. 20, 2023 11:59 p.m.

A total of 471 cigars were nominated by 35 media outlets; the results are as follows.

1. Mi Querida Black SakaKhan

Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust.

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Nicaragua American Cigars S.A.
  • Wrapper: U.S.A. (Connecticut Broadleaf)
  • Binder: Mexico (San Andrés Negro)
  • Filler: Dominican Republic, Honduras & Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $15.95
  • Release Date: August 2022

Limited to 35,000 total cigars.

2. Olmec Maduro

Foundation Cigar Co.

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Estelí & Jalapa)
  • MSRP: $12.50-16
  • Release Date: September 2022

Regular Production

3. Muestra de Saka The Bewitched

Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano)
  • Binder: Mexico (Cultivo Tonto San Andrés Negro)
  • Filler: Nicaragua & U.S.A.
  • MSRP: $19.75
  • Release Date: June 2022

Regular Production

4. Knuckle Sandwich Habano

Knuckle Sandwich Cigars

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: San Lotano Factory
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $11.50-13.50
  • Release Date: February 2022

Limited to 63,000 cigars.

5. Sin Compromiso Paladin de Saka

Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés Negro “Cultivo Tonto”)
  • Binder: Ecuador (Habano)
  • Filler: Nicaragua & U.S.A. (Pennsylvania)
  • MSRP: $29.75
  • Release Date: December 2021

Production numbers not disclosed.

This is the second consecutive year Sin Compromiso Paladin de Saka has made The Consensus.

6. Oliva Serie V

Oliva Cigar Co.

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera Oliva de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano Sun Grown)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $5.60-13.74
  • Release Date: June 2007

Regular Production

7. Olmec Claro

Foundation Cigar Co.

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Estelí & Jalapa)
  • MSRP: $12.50-16
  • Release Date: September 2022

Regular Production

8. Liga Privada H99

Drew Estate

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: La Gran Fábrica Drew Estate
  • Wrapper: U.S.A. (Connecticut River Valley)
  • Binder: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Filler: Honduras & Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $16.50-17.50
  • Release Date: 2018

Regular Production

This is the second consecutive year that the Liga Privada H99 has made The Consensus.

9. Illusione Allegria

Illusione

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Agricola Ganadera Norteña S.A.
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $9.80-12.35
  • Release Date: July 2022

Regular Production

10. Plasencia Cosecha 149

Plasencia 1865

  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: Tabacos de Oriente
  • Wrapper: Honduras (Olancho San Agustín)
  • Binder: Honduras (Jamastran Valley)
  • Filler: Honduras (Jamastran Valley, Olancho San Agustín & Talanga)
  • MSRP: $12-14.50
  • Release Date: November 2021

Regular Production

11. 20 Acre Farm

Drew Estate

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: La Gran Fábrica Drew Estate
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Shade Grown Connecticut)
  • Binder: Honduras (Habano)
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Estelí & Jalapa) & U.S.A. (Florida Sun Grown)
  • MSRP: $12.40-15.40
  • Release Date: December 2021

Regular Production

12. New World Dorado

AJ Fernandez

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: San Lotano Factory
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua (Habano Sun Grown)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $11-12.80
  • Release Date: September 2022

Regular Production

13. Room101 Namakubi Ranfla (2021)

Room101 (Since this cigar was released, Room101’s cigar brand was acquired by General Cigar Co.)

  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Tabacalera William Ventura
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano)
  • Binder: Honduras
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Honduras
  • MSRP: $25
  • Release Date: November 2021

Limited to 11,020 total cigars.

14. Sixty by Rocky Patel

Rocky Patel Premium Cigars, Inc.

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera Villa Cuba S.A.
  • Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $16-18
  • Release Date: September 2021

Regular Production

This is the second consecutive year that the Sixty by Rocky Patel has made The Consensus.

15. Guardian of the Farm Cerberus

AGANORSA Leaf

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Agricola Ganadera Norteña S.A.
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua (Corojo 2012)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $9.50-10.50
  • Release Date: February 2022

Regular Production

16. Alfonso Extra Añejo

Selected Tobacco S.A.

  • Country of Origin: Costa Rica
  • Factory: Tabacos de Costa Rica
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Connecticut)
  • Binder: Ecuador (Connecticut)
  • Filler: Nicaragua & Peru
  • MSRP: $29.99-49.99
  • Release Date: 2021

Regular Production

17. Plasencia Year of the Tiger

Plasencia 1865

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Plasencia Cigars S.A.
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $40
  • Release Date: Aug. 13, 2020

Limited to 50,000 total cigars.

18. Ferio Tego Generoso

Ferio Tego

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Plasencia Cigars S.A.
  • Wrapper: Honduras
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $22
  • Release Date: October 2021

Regular Production

T-19. 1502 Aniversario 10

Global Premium Cigars

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano)
  • Binder: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $14
  • Release Date: July 2022

Regular Production

T-19. Davidoff Winston Churchill Limited Edition 2022

Davidoff

  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Cigars Davidoff
  • Wrapper: Ecuador
  • Binder: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Filler: Dominican Republic (Pilot Mejorado Viso, San Vicente Mejorado Seco, Viso) & Nicaragua (Condega, Estelí)
  • MSRP: $34
  • Release Date: Feb. 3, 2022

Limited edition, production numbers undisclosed.

21 Alec Bradley Double Broadleaf

Alec Bradley

  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: Tabacos de Oriente
  • Wrapper: Honduras (Connecticut-Seed Broadleaf)
  • Binder: Honduras (Connecticut-Seed Broadleaf) & Nicaragua (Broadleaf)
  • Filler: Honduras & Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $9.85-12.75
  • Release Date: September 2022

Regular Production

T-22. Diamond Crown Black Diamond (2022)

J.C. Newman

  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia
  • Wrapper: U.S.A. (Connecticut Havana)
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Dominican Republic
  • MSRP: $18-21
  • Release Date: August 2022

Regular Production

T-22. Le Pâtissier

Crowned Heads

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera Pichardo
  • Wrapper: U.S.A. (Connecticut Broadleaf)
  • Binder: Nicaragua (Jalapa)
  • Filler: Costa Rica & Nicaragua (Ometepe and Pueblo Nuevo)
  • MSRP: $10.50-12
  • Release Date: December 2021

Regular Production

T-22. Tatuaje T110 Tuxtla

Tatuaje Cigars, Inc.

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
  • Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $10
  • Release Date: June 2022

Limited to 100,000 total cigars.

Image via Luciano Cigars

25. Mas Igneus

Luciano Cigars

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera Pichardo
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Corojo 98)
  • Binder: Brazil
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $11.95-13.45
  • Release Date: August 2022

Regular Production

*Prices are likely MSRPs upon a cigar’s introduction.


Country of the Year — Nicaragua

There’s not much to talk about here as the numbers are pretty close to last year. Nicaragua has won this award every year that The Consensus has taken place. The top nine cigars on this list are all made in Nicaragua.

  1. Nicaragua (62.15 percent)
  2. Dominican Republic (19.69)
  3. Honduras (9.75)
  4. Cuba (2.78)
  5. Costa Rica (2.25)
  6. U.S.A. (1.29)
  7. Mexico (.28)
  8. Bahamas (.25)
  9. China (.22)
  10. Canary Islands (.14)

Factory of the Year — Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.

Not only did Abdel Fernández’s main factory—Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.—take the top spot in convincing fashion but his second factory—San Lotano—finished in fourth. Five of the lines—Olmec Maduro (#2), Knuckle Sandwich Habano (#4), Olmec Claro (#7), New World Dorado (#12), 1502 Aniverario 10 (#19)—placed inside the Top 25, and tied for 26th was another, Knuckle Sandwich Maduro. This is the second time that this factory has won the award.

Here’s another fun stat: nine out of the top 10 factories are based in Estelí, Nicaragua—shout out to Arturo Fuente for being the lone exception—and 13 out of the top 15 factories are Nicaraguan. The first Honduran factory clocks in at #17, one spot behind the first Costa Rican factory.

  1. Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A. (8.834 percent)
  2. Fábrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A. (5.97 percent)
  3. My Father Cigars S.A. (5.58 percent)
  4. San Lotano (5.21 percent)
  5. Agricola Ganadera Norteña S.A. (4.44 percent)
  6. Tabacalera Pichardo (4.07 percent)
  7. Nicaragua American Cigars S.A. (3.9 percent)
  8. Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia (3.78 percent)
  9. La Gran Fábrica Drew Estate (3.67 percent)
  10. Plasencia Cigars S.A. (3.77 percent)

Company of the Year — Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust

After a one-year hiatus last year—when it finished second—Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust is again back at the front of The Consensus. Since 2017, Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust has won this award every year except last year. This year was a shellacking. It not only garnered 8.24 percent of the vote—far and away its largest share to date—but its next closet competitor was more than 3.3 points away, the largest margin Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust has had.

A point to mention for General Cigar Co. at #2. Last year, General bought Room101’s cigar brand, and I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t get the Room101 label’s points for The Consensus. 

  1. Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust (8.24 percent)
  2. General Cigar Co. (4.87 percent)
  3. Foundation (4.12 percent)
  4. Drew Estate (3.67 percent)
  5. Arturo Fuente (3.09 percent)
  6. Tatuaje (3.05 percent)
  7. Davidoff (2.8 percent)
  8. Habanos S.A. (2.78 percent)
  9. AGANORSA Leaf (2.63 percent)
  10. Knuckle Sandwich Cigars (2.54 percent)

A Brief Comparison of Data

I have looked at a few different data comparisons for the last few years, I will continue that practice this year.

This looks at how many points the #1 cigar on The Consensus got and what that represents in terms of points.

  • 2018: #1 received 255.25 out of 7,448.75 points, 3.43 percent of total points awarded
  • 2019: #1 received 147.5 out of 8,760.5 points, 1.68 percent of total points awarded
  • 2020: #1 received 230 out of 9,343 points, 2.46 percent of total points awarded
  • 2021: #1 received 323.5 out of 10,184.9 points, 3.18 percent of total points awarded
  • 2022: #1 received 214.03 out of 9,058.21 points, 2.36 percent of total points awarded

This is the same metrics, but for the #25 cigar.

  • 2018: 25th place received 48.25 points (.64 percent)
  • 2019: 25th place received 63 points (.72 percent)
  • 2020: 25th place received 61 points (.65 percent)
  • 2021: 25th (T-24) place received 69 points (.68 percent)
  • 2022: 25th place received 62 points (.68 percent)

I’ve long been a fan of this metric, which evaluates how much greater of a share the #1 cigar got compared to the #25.

  • 2018: #1 scored 5.3x #25
  • 2019: #1 scored 2.34x #25
  • 2020: #1 scored 3.77x #25
  • 2021: #1 scored 4.69x #25
  • 2022: #1 scored 3.45x #25

This looks at the same metric but comparing the #1 and #2 shares.

  • 2018: #1 scored 1.09x #2
  • 2019: #1 scored 1.12x #2
  • 2020: #1 scored 1.12x #2
  • 2021: #1 scored 2.22x #2
  • 2022: #1 scored 1.18 #2

If anything, this really reinforces that the 2021 winner—Undercrown 10—really captured itself as a consensus in a manner that hasn’t been true for the other four years.

FEWER LISTS

By every metric (number of lists, number of publications, number of points awarded), this is the second smallest pool of data that The Consensus has drawn from in the last five years. In short, there were fewer lists. A lot fewer.

In direct comparison to 2021, here’s the shrinkage:

  • 35 Lists (45 Last Year)
  • 9058.21 Points Awarded (10,184.9 Last Year)

There are a lot of variables that make declaring a proper rate of decline somewhat difficult, but it is a noticeable drop in the number of lists being used.

The largest cause of this is certainly YouTube’s 2022 policy changes with regard to channels that videos about tobacco products. Following a series of strikes—YouTube’s way of saying “you did something wrong”—content creators like Cigar Obsession and others voluntarily and involuntarily have found themselves no longer publishing on YouTube. While Bryan Glynn was never one for Top 10 cigar lists—and as such, I don’t believe has ever been part of The Consensus—YouTube has been the main source of growth regarding The Consensus’ pool of data.

That came to a crashing halt in 2022. While there are still many cigar-related YouTube channels, there are a lot fewer. Furthermore, there are a number of YouTubers who seemingly stopped publishing at some point in 2022. That churn is normal, but it was clearly accelerated this year.

Other reasons why there are fewer lists:

  • Not publishing a list. (Developing Palates, Cigar Vixen)
  • Not publishing a publicly-available list. (Some of the YouTubers have gone to private Facebook groups for their content, that’s not something that will get considered for The Consensus)
  • Cigar media people becoming retailers of some sort.

Guy Fieri, Welcome to The Consensus

Knuckle Sandwich Cigars, the company behind the Knuckle Sandwich Cigars from Guy Fieri—yes, that Guy Fieri—and Erik Espinosa placed one and nearly two—the Maduro missed #25 by a point—of the three blends it launched in 2022 on The Consensus. It not only gained more points than the Espinosa portfolio, Knuckle Sandwich—the brand—got more points than Crowned Heads, Oliva, My Father, Padrón, Rocky Patel and many others.

This I did not see coming.

Obviously, Guy Fieri is an incredibly popular TV personality. Espinosa ensured he was at the PCA Convention & Trade Show, which I’m guessing helped. Furthermore, unlike the other major celebrity collaboration of 2022—Drew Estate’s M81 Blackened, in collaboration with members of Metallica—the Knuckle Sandwich cigars came out in the first half of the year, which increases the likelihood of inclusion.

For those wondering, the points came from all over the place: multiple magazines, lots of bloggers—Blind Man’s Puff had three Knuckle Sandwich cigars on its list—and plenty of YouTubers.

#1s

I removed the category from the spreadsheet that tracked whether a cigar was new, though not before I did most of that work. This was becoming overly complicated for several reasons—did the SakaKhan come out in 2021 or 2022—and I’m not sure what value it had.

It’s been replaced by a category that I think is far more interesting. How many lists does this cigar appear as the #1 on?

Because some publications will have two different lists—usually multiple people’s lists are presented, meaning there are two #1s, two #2s, etc.—this could get rather complicated. Furthermore, I was more curious about the undisputed status, so that’s what I measured.

Congrats to the following blends that managed to get a #1 multiple times:

  • Mi Querida Black SakaKhan (3)
  • Alfonso Extra Añejo (2)
  • Muestra de Saka The Bewitched (2)
  • Olmec Maduro (2)

To download the Excel spreadsheet with all votes, click here.

For links to the 35 lists used, click here.

To view previous versions of The Consensus:

Brian Hewitt of Stogie Review performed a similar concept in 2010, which you can read here.

Update (Jan. 25, 2023) — I realized that on the spreadsheet that I mistakenly listed the Plasencia Cosecha 149 as being made at Plasencia Cigars S.A. and not Tabacos de Oriente. This dropped Plasencia Cigars S.A. from sixth to 10th on the factory rankings and also affected the margins for Honduras and Nicaragua on the country rankings.

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.