The Consensus Top 25 Cigars 2019

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The Consensus is back and with more lists than last year.

In 2018, there were 28 lists contributed 397 cigars. This year, those numbers increased to 514 cigars from 47 lists from 39 publications. It’s a good sign in a lot of ways, particularly for The Consensus.

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However, The Consensus has less of a consensus than in year’s past. The margin of victory is fairly typical, but the percentage of points won by the winner is far less than before.


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. Those include magazines, blogs, 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” or other similar phrasing, they were excluded. Cigars labeled as “top cigars” or equivalent were included as entries.
  • 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.

Qualifications for a list to be considered:

  1. Any list created by a media member, published on a media website, is eligible so long as that author/publication has reviewed at least one cigar in 2019.
  2. Any lists published by a publication that is owned by someone whose primary form of employment is in the cigar business—not including as cigar media—ownership or otherwise, were excluded.
  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. Lists must be published by Jan. 17, 2020 11:59 p.m.

A total of 515 cigars were nominated between 47 lists; the results are as follows.


1. Plasencia Alma del Fuego

Plasencia 1865

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Plasencia Cigars S.A.
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua (Jalapa)
  • Binder: Nicaragua (Ometepe & Undisclosed)
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Ometepe & Undisclosed)
  • MSRP: $15-17
  • Release Date: July 2019

Regular Production

2. Sin Compromiso

Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés Negro “Cultivo Tonto”)
  • Binder: Ecuador (Habano)
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $15.95-18.45
  • Release Date: September 2018

Regular Production

This is the second year in a row Sin Compromiso has made The Consensus.

3. Viva La Vida

Artesano del Tabaco

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $10.50-14.50
  • Release Date: March 2019

Regular Production.

4. Southern Draw Kudzu Lustrum

Southern Draw Cigars

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua (Criollo 98)
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $11.89
  • Release Date: July 2019

Limited to 2,500 bundles of 10 cigars.

5. Mi Querida Triqui Traca

Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Nicaragua American Cigars S.A.
  • Wrapper: U.S.A. (Connecticut Broadleaf No. 1 Dark Corona)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua and Dominican Republic
  • MSRP: $10.75-11.75
  • Release Date: September 2019

Limited Edition

6. Joya de Nicaragua Cinco Décadas

Joya de Nicaragua

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: n/a
  • Binder: n/a
  • Filler: n/a
  • MSRP: $18.99-19.99
  • Release Date: August 2018

Regular Production

This is the second year in a row Joya de Nicaragua Cinco Décadas has made The Consensus.

7. Joya de Nicaragua Antaño CT

Joya de Nicaragua

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Connecticut)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $8-9.90
  • Release Date: July 2019

Regular Production

8. Laranja Reserva Escuro

Espinosa Premium Cigars

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: San Lotano Factory
  • Wrapper: Brazil (Mata Fina)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $10-11
  • Release Date: April 2019

Regular Production

9. Le Carême

Crowned Heads

  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Tabacalera La Alianza S.A.
  • Wrapper: U.S.A. (Connecticut Broadleaf)
  • Binder: Ecuador (Sumatra)
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $6.95-8.95
  • Release Date: June 2016

Regular Production

10. Herrera Estelí Norteño

Drew Estate

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate
  • Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Binder: Honduras
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Esteli & Jalapa)
  • MSRP: $10-12
  • Release Date: 2014

Regular Production

This is the second year Herrera Estelí Norteño has appeared on The Consensus.

11. The Tabernacle Havana Seed CT #142

Foundation Cigar Co.

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: U.S.A. (Connecticut Havana Seed CT #142)
  • Binder: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Filler: Honduras & Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $9-12
  • Release Date: December 2018

Regular Production

This is the second consecutive year The Tabernacle Havana Seed CT #142 has appeared on The Consensus.

12. The American

J.C. Newman

  • Country of Origin: U.S.A.
  • Factory: El Reloj
  • Wrapper: U.S.A. (Florida Sun Grown)
  • Binder: U.S.A. (Connecticut Broadleaf)
  • Filler: U.S.A. (Connecticut & Pennsylvania)
  • MSRP: $16-21
  • Release Date: May 2019

Regular Production

13. Illusione Epernay 10th Anniversary d’Aosta

Illusione

  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos Cubanas S. de R.L.
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $12
  • Release Date: October 2019

Limited Production

14. Sobremesa Brûlée

Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A.,
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Connecticut)
  • Binder: Mexico (Matacapan negro de Temporal)
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Condega C-SG, Pueblo Nuevo Criollo, Estelí C-98 & Estelí Hybrid Ligero)
  • MSRP: $12.45-13.95
  • Release Date: August 2019

Regular Production

15. Crux Epicure Short Salomone

Crux Cigars

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Plasencia Cigars S.A
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Connecticut)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $12.99
  • Release Date: April 1, 2019

Limited to 500 boxes of 10 cigars.

T-16. Aging Room Quattro Nicaragua

Aging Room

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $10.65-11
  • Release Date: July 2018

Regular Production

T-16. My Father La Promesa

My Father Cigars, Inc.

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano Oscuro)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $7.80-10
  • Release Date: July 2019

Regular Production

T-16. Southern Draw Rose of Sharon Desert Rose

Southern Draw

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A
  • Wrapper: Ecuador
  • Binder: Nicaragua (Condega Habano)
  • Filler: Dominican Republic (Piloto Cubano) & Honduras (Corojo 99)
  • MSRP: $11.99
  • Release Date: January 2018

Regular Production

T-16. THE WISE MAN MADURO

Foundation Cigar Co.

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A.
  • Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés Maduro
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $9.90-16
  • Release Date: 2017

Regular Production

This is the second consecutive year The Wise Man Maduro has appeared on The Consensus.

20. La Coalición

Crowned Heads

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate
  • Wrapper: U.S.A. (Connecticut Broadleaf)
  • Binder: Sumatran
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $10.95-14.95
  • Release Date: November 2019

Regular Production

21. Las Calaveras Edición Limitada 2019

Crowned Heads

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano Oscuro)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $10.50-12.95
  • Release Date: June 2018

Limited to 129,900 total cigars.

22. Perez-Carrillo La Historia

E.P. Carrillo

  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Tabacalera La Alianza S.A.
  • Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Binder: Ecuador (Sumatra)
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $7.25-8.25
  • Release Date: July 2014

Regular Production

23. Neanderthal

RoMa Craft Tobac

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos NicaSueño S.A.
  • Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Binder: U.S.A. (Connecticut Broadleaf)
  • Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua & U.S.A. (Pennsylvania)
  • MSRP: $6.25-13.35
  • Release Date: May 2015

Regular Production

This is the third year Neanderthal has appeared in The Consensus Top 25.

24. Davidoff Winston Churchill LE2019 The Traveller

Davidoff

  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Cigars Davidoff
  • Wrapper: Dominican Republic
  • Binder: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Filler: Dominican Republic (Criollo Seco, Piloto Mejorado Seco and San Vicente Mejorado Viso) & Nicaragua (Estelí Viso and Semilla Viso)
  • MSRP: $29.90
  • Release Date: January 2019

Limited to 8,000 boxes of 10 cigars.

25. Ramón Allones AJ Fernandez

General Cigar Co./A.J. Fernandez

  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano Oscuro)
  • Binder: Nicaragua (Corojo 99)
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Corojo 99 Jalapa, Criollo 98 Condega, Hybrid Estelí & Pueblo Nuevo)
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • MSRP: $12-15
  • Release Date: June 2018

Regular Production

This is the second consecutive year Ramón Allones by AJ Fernandez has appeared in The Consensus Top 25.


Country of the Year — Nicaragua

Nicaragua’s dominance on The Consensus continues into 2019, actually increasing its percentage of victory by over 3 percent, largely thanks to declines of the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.

  1. Nicaragua (66.63 percent)
  2. Dominican Republic (19.05)
  3. Honduras (7.88)
  4. USA (2.37)
  5. Cuba (2.12)
  6. Costa Rica (1.4)
  7. Mexico (.09)
  8. Canary Islands (.03)

Factory of the Year —Fábrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A.

Joya de Nicaragua repeats as the factory of the year. The factory put three cigars in the top 10 and was one of two—along with A.J. Fernández—to have four cigars total on the list. Of note, the top four factories are the same four as 2018, albeit in a different order.

  1. Fábrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A. (10.13 percent)
  2. Tabacalera AJ Fernández Cigars de Nicaragua S.A. (8.7)
  3. My Father Cigars S.A. (6.93)
  4. Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (6.83)
  5. La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate (6.15)
  6. Plasencia Cigar S.A. (5.85)
  7. Tabacalera La Alianza S.A. (3.8)
  8. La Zona (3.1)
  9. NACSA (2.72)
  10. General Cigar Dominicana (2.55)

Company of the Year — Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust

For the third year in a row, Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust is the top company on The Consensus.

Here are Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust’s rankings on The Consensus:

  • 2015: No. 2.
  • 2016: No.2, No. 3.
  • 2017: No. 3.
  • 2018: No. 2.
  • 2019: No. 2, No. 5

Score one for consistency. Saka’s Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust has found a way to get oh so close to winning The Consensus, but never won. This year wasn’t as close as some years—Sin Compromiso would have needed to finish in the top 10 on at least one more lists to knock off the Alma del Fuego—but it keeps the trend going.

One thing working against Dunbarton is the number of cigars the brand releases in a given year. I’d also argue that was key to Plasencia’s success: one new release, one good new release.

That being said, Sin Compromiso finishing second in back-to-back years is the most impressive thing I’ve seen on The Consensus. Full stop.

  1. Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust (5.23 percent)
  2. Drew Estate (5.01)
  3. General Cigar Co. (4.61)
  4. Tatuaje (3.72)
  5. Crowned Heads (3.7)
  6. Joya de Nicaragua (3.35)
  7. Plasencia 1865 (2.86)
  8. Davidoff of Geneva USA (2.76)
  9. Southern Draw (2.73)
  10. Foundation Cigar Co. (2.56)

2019 Was Less Clear of a “Consensus”

Here’s one rather interesting development:

  • 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

That gets more interesting if you look at the bottom of the list:

  • 2018: 25th place received 48.25 points
  • 2019: 25th place received 63 points

In what might be even more clear to my point is the ratio between #1 and #25.

  • 2018: #1 scored 5.3x #25
  • 2019: #1 scored 2.34x #25

All of those numbers will likely mean a lot more to someone with a degree in statistics, not a B+ in an entry-level college course. But, they do lead to an obvious answer, this year was less of a consensus than last year.

To give you some idea, to match what the 2018 winner did by percentage, the Alma del Fuego would have needed to score 300.5 points, almost double what it actually achieved.

The grouping was much tighter and the average score much higher. For example, last year’s #10 would have finished outside the top 20 in 2019.

On General Cigar Co.

The first thing that stood out to me was General Cigar Co.’s finish of 3rd on the top company list. It’s impressive in and of itself, but General didn’t place a cigar in the top 25, the top 30 or even the top 35. The closest it got was Diesel Whiskey Row Sherry Cask, tied for 36th.

I’m not entirely sure what to make of it beyond the obvious: General had much more even success. CAO remains the top point-getter, but Cohiba wasn’t that far behind. It makes sense given that 2019 seemed like it was more about Cohiba than anything else for GCC.

The Class System

When I was compiling the list, someone asked me whether most lists are just made up of new cigars. As I answered, I realized that there was largely a class system, or at least a class divide that explains the behavior.

On the strictest end of the spectrum, i.e. the lists that contain the highest percentage of new cigars, are the established blogs. halfwheel, Cigar Coop, Developing Palates and others produce lists that are the most rigid in terms of not naming new cigars.

On the complete opposite end tends to be newer YouTube channels. One of the reasons why General finished as well as it did is because one YouTuber named three CAO Flavours cigars to his top 10. Another YouTube channel had CAO Brazilia as its top cigar, a list that also included Rocky Patel Vintage 1992. All of those are perfectly fine, but none of them are remotely new cigars.

And somewhere in the middle are the magazines. All of them seem to have a hybrid approach, though increasingly more skewed to new products.

I’m not sure what all of this means, but it’s definitely a thing. I can easily explain the YouTube part of it, so many of those channels are personal blogs and so a lot of the lists are: here’s the X number of best cigars I smoked this year. I would imagine the percentage of YouTubers scoring cigars is lower than any other medium and that produces more of those lists.

I don’t want to speak for the other established blogs, but at halfwheel our approach is to get people to read the website. That means writing about things people want to click on—plus park smoking bans in random towns across America—and that leads to a focus on new cigars.

I don’t know if the magazines don’t care about whether people click on their reviews, but many of them don’t even have a way to do it online. The approach to also reviewing based on vitola, used by Cigar Aficionado and others, also might produce some of the skewed results, but I’m not sure I’m ready to publish that thesis yet.

What’s the Statistical Probability of Magazines Placing 25 Different Cigars from 25 Different Companies?

  • Cigars & Spirits: 20 cigars ranked, 20 different companies represented
  • Cigar Aficionado: 25 cigars ranked, 24 different companies represented
  • Cigar Journal: 25 cigars ranked, 24 different companies represented
  • Cigar Snob: 25 cigars ranked, 25 different companies represented

Cigar Aficionado placed two cigars from Habanos S.A. on its list, a common occurrence for Habanos S.A. and Cigar Aficionado’s list.

Cigar Journal had the San Lotano Dominicano, a cigar made by Tabacalera Palma but sold by A.J. Fernández, and another A.J. Fernández product on its list.

Otherwise, these four magazines all managed to end up with lists where no manufacturer placed more than one cigar on its list. They aren’t alone, but most Top 25 lists have fewer than 25 brands represented.

I would imagine the statistics would suggest that it would be very challenging to produce a list with 25 cigars from 25 different brands. And I would be willing to bet a lot of money that the math would indicate that this is nearly impossible to do this in back-to-back years.

And yet, that’s the result these magazines publish each and every year.

I don’t know if the magazines are deliberately only allowing one entry per company because they haven’t told me. And that’s the problem.

I can disagree with the practice of making a list where every brand only gets one cigar, but where it becomes problematic is when the publications don’t disclose it. And I couldn’t find any disclosures on any of their lists posted on their websites.

It’s one thing if you want to try to keep as many people happy as possible, err let as many brands shine as possible. But it’s another thing when you aren’t telling your readers that a manufacturer could only place one cigar on that particular list. It also means that the #25 on one of these lists might be the 50th best cigar that the publication smoked this year, but because of the practice of placing only one cigar per brand, 50 is the new 25.

Many people think that some lists are bought and paid for by advertisers. I can only speak to what we do at halfwheel, which is not that. But after doing this exercise nine times, I can tell you I’ve become more sensitive to what’s not making a list versus what is. And what I find suspect isn’t #1, it’s usually everything after that.

My perspective of a list of best restaurants, or best cars, or best wide receivers would change dramatically if I learned that each restauranteur/auto manufacturer/football team could only place one entry on a Top 25 list. I suspect yours would to and that’s probably why it’s not being disclosed. But it should be.


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

For links to the 47 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. 21, 2020) — One of the scores for the Plasencia Alma Fuerte was counted towards the Alma del Fuego. It has no effect on the outcome of The Consensus, but it does affect some of the commentary, which has been updated.

0 Overall Score

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About the author

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.
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