It is admittedly tough to get excited about New Year’s Day while watching whatever was the first half of the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense. For our non-American viewers. Yes, even on New Year’s Day, football is still king. But today is not just another NFL Sunday, it’s New Year’s Day and also the 11th anniversary of this cigar blog.

On Jan. 1, 2012, we launched halfwheel combining two existing cigar blogs—SmokingStogie and TheCigarFeed—into one singular blog that aimed to be more than the sum of its parts. Over the years, I’ve shared various tidbits of information about how and why Brooks and I decided to do what we did. Presently, I can’t really think of any new unique details to share at this moment but I do think there are two things worth reiterating at pretty much every moment:

First, we didn’t have any grand plans of how we’d still be running halfwheel a year later, let alone a decade later. It’s been a very pleasant outcome, but it was not planned.

Second, we are very thankful for people like you who continue to read the website. This cigar blog has made it this long because people read it and keep reading it. Without you, it wouldn’t be here. While I could always do more to acknowledge our readers, I want you to know that we at halfwheel are very protective of you as a reader. That means not lying to you and not lying about you.

For me, this past year flew by in a manner that I still haven’t really grasped. It feels like not that long ago that Brooks and I were smoking our celebratory 10th anniversary cigars. From what I recall, he smoked a Romeo y Julieta Churchills Reserva and I smoked a preproduction OpusX that was gifted to me by Sean Knutsen of Boveda. See, not that long ago.

With all this talk of Brooks, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Patrick Lagreid, the third partner at halfwheel. Patrick’s 2022 was as impressive as any year he’s had at halfwheel; highlights include that he published both the most-read and second-most-read article of 2022. We don’t give trophies for that, but we do give out one trophy per year and a handful of other awards, which will take place later this month:

  • 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

Like we’ve done before, the final three (Packaging/Top 25/The Consensus) will all be done via live broadcasts on our Facebook and YouTube pages.

That leads to a conversation about what we will be doing between now and then.

Hopefully today, a belated 10 Questions for 2022 Graded editorial will be published, followed by a belated 10 Questions for 2023 article tomorrow.

Also happening for the next week is a longstanding halfwheel tradition called “holy grail week.” It dates back to the site’s very first day and it’s a tradition we’ve continued every year since then. We try to find special cigars to review, one’s people would save for a special occasion. It’s becoming an increasingly more difficult task to continue to find those cigars, but I feel like we have a good roster of cigars this year.

Regular reviews will resume on Jan. 8, 2023 and will continue until the start of our awards week.

Every year I ask people who read this article two things. One is to join us in our holy grail week celebration by digging deep in your humidor and kicking off the new year with a special occasion cigar. The second is to go back and read the very first post that was ever published. To this day, that post remains the most insightful about how halfwheel came to be and why it continues to be.

And literally, as I finished the above sentence: touchdown, A.J. Brown. 

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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 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.