There isn’t a busier, more exciting time at Cigar Aficionado than Top 25 season. That’s when we reassess the highest-scoring cigars of the year and come to a clear consensus before we bestow the industry’s highest accolade—Cigar of the Year.
We smoke and rate an enormous number of premium cigars and it’s absolutely critical to note that creating the Top 25 is not an arbitrary selection process. Instead, it’s a performance-based tournament of attrition where the best cigars of the year are all smoked and scrutinized once again.
Here’s how it’s done: First, we look back on the entire year of tastings, considering every cigar that rated 91 points or higher in Cigar Aficionado magazine and Cigar Insider, our twice-monthly newsletter. Brand duplications are disqualified to avoid redundancies. Once we have a list, our tasting coordinator purchases the cigars and passes them out to the tasting panel for an entirely new round of blind tastings. (The coordinator, who knows the code, is not a taster.) The cigars that consistently perform the best move on to become our Top 25.
As intense as the tastings can be, few things are more thrilling than smoking the very best the industry has to offer.