How does Cigar Aficionado make the annual Top 25?

Cigar Aficionado magazine was a pioneer in the rating of cigars, in the tobacco business.[1]

Brief history

They started their reviews as soon as the publication of the magazine began in 1992 and, in the fall of that same year, they presented their first tasting, conceived with the purpose of providing consumers with information that would help them choose their cigars in that wide and complex market.

In 1995, with an unprecedented boom in the premium cigars market, they decided to expand the coverage of Cigar Aficionado with a newsletter called Cigar Insider, which began circulation in January 1996. The newsletter rates entire brands and offers information on the entire line of cigars size by size, while the magazine rates the cigars themselves.

With the intention of being totally reliable, from the first moment they decided that the tastings would be blind, and it has continued to be so for 29 consecutive years that they have been doing them. This form allows to ensure the impartiality of the process, discarding any prejudice or favoritism that the taster may have with a particular cigar or brand.

The process in general

Cigars are evaluated on their merits without regard to brand, country of origin, type of leaves from which they are made, or prices, ensuring that the best cigars are selected in as objective a process as possible.

Every day throughout the year, both the magazine and newsletter editors smoke, in their offices, the cigars that the tasting coordinator buys from retail stores. The rings on the cigars are replaced with a simple numbering band and a code is created for their identification, before they are handed over to the tasting panel, currently made up of five members.

Cigars are rated in four categories: appearance, smoking characteristics, taste, and overall impression. Each category is scored with points and the final score is the sum of the points assigned in each category, with a maximum score of 100. If there are large variations in the initial round of scoring (beyond 15 to 20%), the cigars are tasted again.

The Top 25

The Top 25 is a contest between the highest rated cigars in the year, from both Cigar Aficionado and Cigar Insider. The basis for the first round are the cigars that scored at least 90 points during the tastings. From there, and after a second and a third round, the number of cigars is reduced until reaching the selection of the winning cigar and the remaining 24.

Although the winner is almost always the cigar with the highest score, the panel reserves the right to award it to a finalist with other factors that may weigh in his favor, such as, for example, if he shows a subjective quality, if he it is new on the market, if it has an attractive price or if there is something about it that differentiates it from the others.

It is interesting to mention that each annual ranking is a clear reflection of trends and the prevailing tastes and interests of smokers at any given time.

[1] This post was made with information from Cigar Aficionado 


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