Numbers don't lie ...
As every year, the Cigar Journal (CJ) and Cigar Aficionado (CA) magazines, which are closely followed by most cigar aficionados, listed their top 25 cigars for 2016. Again, I looked again, but this year, there is no cigar this year that is on either of their lists. In the comparisons of the last 2014 and 2015, the same cigar would appear in both lists, albeit sporadically, but this year, even if it is the same brand, there is no cigar of the same brand as vitola.
Also this year, the two lists were dominated by Nicaraguan cigars and tobacco. I said in 2014, when I made the first comparison, Nicaraguan tobacco is somehow not where it deserves because of the country's own problems, but it is slowly but firmly moving towards that place. Indeed, this year, on both lists, Nicaragua ranks first with 52% (CJ) and 48% (CA) in terms of cigar origin.
Ecuador is ahead of the wraps this year, not surprisingly, but by increasing the ratio, 41% (CJ) and 20% (CA). But on the CA list, Ecuador shares its throne with Mexico. Mexico came to me with a somewhat surprising choice at this point. Again, on both lists, Ecuador is followed by Nicaragua. While not that much on the CJ list, on the CA list, the USA is preferred in the same percentage - 16% - as Nicaragua in the wrap sheet.
The most diversity is in the vine leaves. Especially in CJ-list cigars, tobacco from 9 countries was used, some of which were blended. There are Brazil and Indonesia on the CJ list that are not on the CA list. Results do not differ much for Nicaragua from the past two years. In the bond and filling blends, Nicaragua is again at the top of both lists. Whereas 40% (CJ), 45% (CA) in bond leaves, these rates are 50% (Cj) and 61% (CA) in fill leaves. One point that especially draws my attention is that Nicaraguan tobacco is increasingly being used in addition to Dominican Republic tobacco, which is used in the blend of most of the same cigars.
So how are things for Cuban cigars? In comparison, the percentage of Cuban cigars, both in the past years and this year, has not changed too much. When we look at both the origin and naturally used tobacco rates, it does not exceed 10-15%. This is, of course, not because Cuban cigars are lagging behind. Yes, it is true that they are still a little behind in the continuity of quality, although it has decreased compared to the past, but in my opinion, these ratios are an indication that "if Cuba is good", both in perception and in terms of taste. While the Cuban cigars have a special place for most cigar aficionados, including me, it should be kept in mind that the new world cigars are really good too.
On a brand basis, for the first time in three years, Davidoff has been featured on a list with two cigars. The Yamasa series, which I have not had the opportunity to try yet, and the Escurio series that I have smoked with pleasure, are in the 2nd and 11th place on the CJ list. There is a cigar on the CA list that I would highly recommend. Rocky Patel Sun Grown, a cigar I smoked for CJ last year for my taste, is one of the best maduros I've ever smoked.
For size comparisons, the ring thicknesses of cigars in both lists are predominantly 52 and 54. The numbers are 6 and 4 in CJ, and 7 and 6 in CA. Considering that Cigar Aficionado is an American publication and that the preferred cigars in America are getting thicker, I guessed that maybe this is why the CA list will contain more cigars with a ring thickness of 56 and above. When we look at their size, at least 5 inches of cigars are in demand. In fact, with 11 cigars around 6 inches on the CJ list, there are more (8) cigars on the CA list.
Of course, it is obvious that these lists do not always reflect consumer preferences, at least considering the size. As I said, the demand for ring thicknesses of 54 and above is increasing in America and generally in the world. It is possible to notice this also in new products of accessory manufacturers. For example, each new guillotine or punch allows cutting thicker cigars.
As I wrote in other comparisons, although it is a good reference as a choice, there is no rule that cigars on these lists will necessarily fit your taste buds, just because they are at the top. So maybe we can see it as a more useful resource to see where the market is going.
In the meantime, you can share your ideas about the list in the comments section below.
Enjoyable smoking ...