Cigar Buying Guides

2019 CA Report: The 2019 Cigar Journal Trophy Awards Cigars

Reading Time: 9 minutes

And the Winner Is. . .The 2019 Cigar Journal Trophy Award Cigars

In addition to the holidays, the awards season is approaching, including when the premium cigar literati announce their picks of the year. Among the most enviable awards in the cigar industry is the Trophy Award, bestowed by Cigar Journal magazine. But the Journal only hands out the award; the nominating and voting is done by cigar consumers, and now the tallies are in. 

How the Cigar Journal Annual Trophy Awards Are Determined

When the Cigar Journal Trophy awards were first handed-out in 1998, it was up to the Cigar Journal jury to vote on the winners in each category. But in 2013, the magazine opened-up nominations and voting to their readers; in other words, cigar smokers like you.

2019 Cigar Journal Trophy Awards Cigars - awards dinner at Intertabac 2019 Dortmund Germany

As the editors of Cigar Journal put it: To determine the shortlists, our readers were asked to nominate their top-candidates in the categories Best Brand, Best Cigar, Best Value, Best Accessory, and Best Lounge and then to determine the winner from the top five. We are particularly pleased that the public awards are enjoying unwavering growth and popularity with cigar smokers from all over the world.

Although Trophy Awards are also given to Cuban cigars, we’ve only listed the awards given to cigars made in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras and the U.S. in their respective “Best” categories.  See if you agree with your cigar smoking peers, and if any of your favorite cigars made the cut.


Best Brand, Dominican Republic 2019: Arturo Fuente

2019 Cigar Journal Trophy Awards Cigars  - Best Brand Dominican Republic Arturo Fuente Don Carlos cigars at Famous Smoke Shop

It’s no surprise that Arturo Fuente Cigars made “Best Brand” from the Dominican Republic. The family-owned company has consistently delivered quality cigars at affordable prices for generations since 1912 in Tampa Florida’s Ybor City. In 1980, production moved to the Dominican Republic where they began growing their own tobaccos on their private estate, Chateau de la Fuente. But it was the Cigar Boom 90s when the late Carlos Fuente and his son, Carlito, introduced the company’s most famous blend – the Fuente Fuente OpusX cigars selection. These full-bodied Dominican puros took cigar smokers and the industry by storm, and are as prized as the finest Cuban cigars.

2019 Cigar Journal Trophy Awards Cigars - Arturo Fuente cigars at Famous Smoke Shop
Cigar Journal – Inter Tabac 2019

Today, Arturo Fuente continues to produce such other popular selections as the Chateau Fuente, Hemingway Cigars, Flor Fina 8-5-8, Don Carlos cigars, and much more. We dare you to find a cigar smoker who hasn’t had at least one Arturo Fuente cigar in their cigar-smoking lifetime.


Best Cigar, Dominican Republic 2019: Davidoff Winston Churchill The Late Hour Churchill

Size: 7″ x 48
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Marron Oscuro
Binder: Mexican San Andrés Negro
Filler: Dominican Piloto Seco, San Vicente Mejorado & Olor Visus, plus Nicaraguan Estelí & Condega Visus

2019 Cigar Journal Trophy Awards Cigars  - Best Cigar Dominican Republic Davidoff Winston Churchill The Late Hour cigars at Famous Smoke Shop

In addition to his achievements as a statesman, there’s no denying that Sir Winston Churchill pretty much symbolized the ultimate cigar smoker. This dark, Ecuadorian Habano-wrapped, The Late Hour sequel to the mainline Davidoff Winston Churchill selection, took the line to an entirely new dimension in flavor and complexity. Best served with a long-aged single malt Scotch – as Sir Winston preferred – the smoke rounds out to an uber-creamy, full-flavored banquet teeming with notes of coffee bean, sweet spice, oak, caramel, and much more.

2019 Cigar Journal Trophy Awards Cigars - Davidoff cigars at Famous Smoke Shop
Cigar Journal – Inter Tabac 2019

Whatever time of day you choose to kick-back with a cigar that’s beyond opulent, the Davidoff Winston Churchill The Late Hour Churchill is well-worthy of this year’s “Best Dominican Cigar” Trophy Award, and a must-smoke for every Davidoff devotee.


Best Value, Dominican Republic 2019: E.P. Carrillo Encore

2019 Cigar Journal Trophy Awards Cigars  - Best Value Dominican Republic EP Carrillo Encore cigars at Famous Smoke Shop

As if the E.P. Carrillo Encore Majestic wasn’t already enjoying the rewards of being Aficionado’s 2018’s #1 Cigar of the Year, including landing in’s Top 25 New Cigars of 2018, the entire Encore line was crowned “Best Dominican Value.” Averaging at around $12+ cigar, you may not think that’s a value; but then, you probably haven’t smoked an Encore cigar. Ironically, although it’s made in the Dominican Republic, the blend is all-Nicaraguan.

2019 Cigar Journal Trophy Awards Cigars - EP Carrillo cigars at Famous Smoke Shop
Cigar Journal – Inter Tabac 2019

The tobaccos are aged two years in palm bark tercios, which squeeze out every last drop of flavor, and the result is staggering.  More full-flavored than full-bodied, the smoke offers yards of complexity underscored by flavors of coffee, sweet spice, oak, cinnamon, and more. Ernesto could have easily priced Encore closer to $15 or even $20 a cigar, but he kept the price reasonable. Smoke one and you’ll understand where Cigar Journal went right.


Best Brand, Nicaragua 2019: Perdomo Habano Barrel Aged

2019 Cigar Journal Trophy Awards Cigars  - Best Brand Nicaragua Perdomo Habano Barrel Aged cigars at Famous Smoke Shop

It’s almost impossible to think of Nicaraguan cigars and not have Perdomo come to mind. As for the Perdomo Habano Bourbon Barrel Aged selection taking “Best Brand” Nicaragua, Nick Perdomo and his team have created a modern classic in Maduro. Connecticut, and Sun Grown selections, which have received Cigar Journal ratings of 90, 92, and 93 respectively. Moreover, the Sun Grown Epicure shown here came in at #5 in Cigar Journal’s Top 25 Cigars of 2018.

2019 Cigar Journal Trophy Awards Cigars - Perdomo cigars at Famous Smoke Shop
Cigar Journal – Inter Tabac 2019

All of Perdomo’s tobaccos are grown on the family’s Nicaraguan estate farms in Estelí, Condega, and Jalapa to ensure the ultimate quality control from seedling right down to the finished product. For the Habano series, the tobaccos are aged a minimum of six years before they even touch the bourbon barrels. Each blend gets from eight to 14 months of additional barrel aging to ensure that every Perdomo Habano cigar offers a silky smooth smoke, the perfect balance of flavors, and a luscious aroma.


Best Cigar, Nicaragua 2019: My Father La Opulencia Toro

Size: 6″ x 54, box-pressed
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés Rosado Oscuro
Binders: Nicaraguan Corojo & Criollo
Filler: Nicaragua

2019 Cigar Journal Trophy Awards Cigars  - Best Cigar Nicaragua My Father La Opulencia cigars at Famous Smoke Shop

With all of the great Nicaraguan cigars on the market, this “Best Nicaraguan Cigar” vote had to be one of the toughest. La Opulencia, which means “The Opulent” in Spanish, was a former Cuban brand which the Garcia family brought back to life with a combination of prime, estate-grown Nicaraguan tobaccos box-pressed inside a dark Mexican San Andrés Rosado Oscuro wrapper.

2019 Cigar Journal Trophy Awards Cigars - My Father cigars at Famous Smoke Shop
Cigar Journal – Inter Tabac 2019

Described as “the point where the profile of Le Bijou 1922 crosses paths with the original My Father cigar,” the result is a cigar that is truly best described as “opulent.” The dense, creamy smoke offers a full-flavored, complex delight with notes of earth, cocoa, rich oakiness, even a dash of chocolate, as the flavors ebb and flow to perfectly-balanced effect. It comes on a little stronger in the final act, yet never becomes too potent, or loses its mojo.


Best Value, Nicaragua 2019: A.J. Fernandez New World Cameroon

2019 Cigar Journal Trophy Awards Cigars  - Best Value Nicaragua AJ Fernandez New World Cameroon Selection cigars at Famous Smoke Shop

When a cigar has this kind of quality for well under $10 a cigar, you can understand how the A.J. Fernandez New World Cameroon grabbed the Nicaraguan “Best Value” Trophy. Cameroon wrappers are not exactly at the top of the list for a lot of cigar smokers, but when it’s done right, it can be amazing and lend a very Cubanesque character to a blend. It’s also a first for A.J., who loves experimenting with different tobaccos.

2019 Cigar Journal Trophy Awards Cigars - AJ Fernandez cigars at Famous Smoke Shop
Cigar Journal – Inter Tabac 2019

Created with the help of his father, Ismael, and box-pressed, the smoke is smooth, creamy, and medium to medium-plus in body & strength. The flavors run a gamut of earthiness, to sweet spice, cedar, and just the right amount of peppery snap. I did a review of the A.J. New World Cameroon Short Robusto, and recently tried the Doble Robusto shown here, which was even more stunning than its little brother. For the money, if you want to try a Cameroon cigar that aims to please, the New World Cameroon hits the bullseye with every pull.


Best Brand, Honduras 2019: Plasencia Cosecha 146

2019 Cigar Journal Trophy Awards Cigars  - Best Brand Honduras Plasencia Cosecha 146 cigars at Famous Smoke Shop

I’m so happy to see the Plasencia family getting a well-deserved Trophy Award for “Best Brand Honduras.” With farms in Honduras and Nicaragua, and one of the largest supplies of tobacco in the industry, they’ve made cigars for many other brands for years. Now, with their name brand selections, they have raised the bar for excellence.

2019 Cigar Journal Trophy Awards Cigars - Plasencia cigars at Famous Smoke Shop
Cigar Journal – Inter Tabac 2019

The Plasencia Cosecha 146 line is named for the family’s 146th harvest. Beyond that, it was one of those rare crops that cured and aged with phenomenal results. With an all-Honduran blend, except for the Nicaraguan binder, these Habano-wrapped cigars offer a medium-bodied smoke that offers a virtual buffet of flavors including earthiness, pepper, and a citrusy tang with accents of cocoa and herbs. Individually, the cigars run a buck or two above $10, but we’re talkin’ top-grade through-and-through here. The Plasencia Cosecha 146 is not only a must-smoke for aficionados, they’re also an especially elegant treat for newer cigar smokers.


Best Cigar, Honduras 2019: Eiroa The First 20 Years Toro

Size: 6″ x 54, box-pressed
Strength: Medium to Full
Wrapper/Binder/Filler: Honduran Corojo & Criollo

2019 Cigar Journal Trophy Awards Cigars  - Best Cigar Honduras Eiroa the First 20 Years cigars at Famous Smoke Shop

Here’s another brand out of Honduras that I was happy to see get “Best Cigar Honduras,” because I’ve always had a thing for Honduran tobacco, and nobody does it better than Christian Eiroa, the prince of “Authentic Corojo” seed.

2019 Cigar Journal Trophy Awards Cigars - Christian Eiroa CLE cigars at Famous Smoke Shop
Cigar Journal – Inter Tabac 2019

This selection was made in honor of Christian’s 20th year in the cigar business. Box-pressed in Corojo and Maduro versions, the First 20 Years Toro is a puro offering an ultra-creamy medium to full-bodied cigar. The smoke teems with well-balanced notes of earth, leather, espresso, dark chocolate, some nutty nuances, and baking spices. If your mouth isn’t watering by now, it will once you get your hands on this skillfully handcrafted tribute to Christian’s family. In another interesting example, the leather ribbon on the box is an acknowledgement to his grandfather who kept his cigars at the foot of his bed in a leather-bound trunk.


Best Value, Honduras 2019: Villa Zamorano

2019 Cigar Journal Trophy Awards Cigars - Maya Selva Villa Zamorano cigars

Made by Maya Selva, who was recently featured in a Tobacco Business cover story, the Villa Zamorano selection is named for Honduras’s Valle del Zamorano, and as a tribute to Ms. Selva’s Honduran ancestors. The cigars are handcrafted with Honduran and Nicaraguan fillers, Honduran binder, and rolled in Indonesian Sumatra wrappers. The medium-bodied smoke reveals notes of roasted coffee, cedar, and hazelnuts with an attractive aroma.


Best Cigar, United States 2019: Tatuaje 15th Anniversary Habano Rosado Belicoso Fino

Size: 5½” x 52
Strength: Medium-Full
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Rosado Oscuro
Binder/Filler: Nicaragua

2019 Cigar Journal Trophy Awards Cigars  - Best Cigar United States Tatuaje 15th Anniversary Habano Rosado cigars at Famous Smoke Shop

Hooray for the U.S.A! Handcrafted El Rey de los Habanos in Miami, Florida, USA, the Tatuaje 15th Anniversary selection was created to commemorate the company’s 15 years in the business. The 15th Anniversary is made in two shapes and two wrapper shades: a blondish Ecuador Habano Rosado Claro wrapper (shown here), and a dark Ecuador Habano Rosado Oscuro wrapper. The core boasts fillers grown on the Garcia family’s estate farms in Nicaragua. (Tatuaje Cigars founder, Pete Johnson, originally made the blends in 2004 for the Grand Havana Room in Los Angeles.)

2019 Cigar Journal Trophy Awards Cigars - Pete Johnson Tatuaje cigars at Famous Smoke Shop
Cigar Journal – Inter Tabac 2019

Johnson’s concept was to blend the cigars “in the style of the flavorful, yet medium-bodied Cuban cigars using select Nicaraguan tobaccos and classic Cuban blending.” The smoke is rich, creamy, and complex offering a myriad of flavors that include floral notes, earth, leather, sweet spice, pepper, oak, cocoa, almonds, and espresso. You can tell that Pete put his all into this Belicoso Fino, which is well deserving of its 2019 Trophy.


If you enjoyed reading this article, or smoked any of the cigars in the list, please share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

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Stan Walker
4 years ago

Interesting list for sure. Don Carlos is the only one I have smoked off the list. One of my absolute favorites. Have seen reviews on most of the others and look forward to finding some of them to try.
Also like how these awards for basically voted for by regular folks, so good job Cigar Journal for that.
Thanks for the article.

Chris Ludlow
4 years ago
Reply to  Stan Walker

Smoked my share of EP’s encore majestic with some in the humidor along with other Carrillos. I concur with all the results.

Bet Your Ash
4 years ago

Love me a good Arturo Fuente Double Chateau

Gary Korb

Gary Korb

Executive Editor

Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for since its debut in 2008. An avid cigar smoker for over 30 years, he has worked on the marketing side of the premium cigar business as a Sr. Copywriter, blogger, and Executive Editor of Cigar Advisor. A graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, prior to his career in the cigar business, Gary worked in the music and video industry as a marketer and a publicist.

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