Many other cigar media sites talking about cigar company brands strength and who’s hot and who’s not. After watching Cigar-Coop’s “power rankings” show last night and the Cigar Dojo cigar draft concept, I’ll be honest I thought to myself “Who’s on my list?”. We compiled multiple lists of who we think are companies in control, who’s hot, and who’s to watch and why. This will be a three-part series. Many of these names are on the lists due to various factors including, quality of releases, product innovation, what we see people frequently smoking across social media and lounges, overall growth, shelf space taken etc. The companies listed below are in contention to have a great 2022/2023 overall both in sales, growth and on individual cigar ranking lists. We will follow up at the end of Q2 2023 to see how things have changed.
While Liana Fuente has left the company in what was a shock announcement earlier this year, the stronghold of one of the most powerful families in the business is continuing to thrive. Arturo Fuente, the brand that went from being the budget brand you bought because it was affordable to the maker of prestigious cigars coveted by millions around the world that are in some regards more recognizable than Habanos S.A.’s Cohiba brand with OpusX. In 2020, Arturo Fuente brought in Jose Blanco formerly of La Aurora, EP Carrillo and Joya de Nicaragua to oversee sales in the Eastern Hemisphere. The biggest thing I feel they have improved on in the last few years that has really helped them shine is their approachability and their marketing efforts. Most notably with Carlito and Cynthia especially, being on social media, interacting with consumers, going on more shows and podcasts and the creation of their own show the Meet the Professor show with Jose and Jeremiah Meerapfel. In addition, more collaborations with people like Manny Iriarte and the OpusX Society, Stefano Ricci, Hublot and more, Arturo Fuente continues to grow not just their cigar business but the brand name as a whole. Their cigars may be difficult to obtain at times, but the demand remains the same.
Drew Estate and their three peers who make up the “Big Four” may be absent from the Premium Cigar Association Trade Show, but they still find a way to move production and keep their buzz going. Part of this is the way they have been marketing themselves through their own events both virtually online and in person. Drew Estate’s highly successful and super popular Barn Smoker events where consumers get to visit tobacco farms in the US have been a great way to get their consumers together and introduce new products as well as attract new consumers by offering a unique event anyone might find interesting. In addition, The Freestyle Live promotion has been an interesting and fun way to get folks interested in new brands that DE is preparing to release by offering un-banded cigars and accessories to the public and then unveiling them live on social media. Their first Freestyle cigar, the Undercrown 10, went on to become our Cigar of the Year in 2021. Their latest release has been the Blackened M81 that was done in collaboration with Metallica and Blackened American Whiskey.
Don Pepin Garcia has really carved his own Statue of David when it comes to the MyFather brand. Add in what it’s done for other brands including Pete Johnson’s Tatuaje and the La Aroma de Cuba and San Cristobal lines made for Ashton and you’ll find yourself company that is very diversified and has so much to keep it afloat and busy for years to come. With it’s own brands such as Vegas Cubanas, Fonseca and Flor De Los Antillas to the MyFather and Don Pepin Garcia brands there is a humidor dominating presence in cigar shops all over and again, those are just their own brands and not the many more they produce that are also on those same shelves. If this was a buy or sell stocks situation, buy all day.
The interesting thing about Perdomo is that they are not one of the bigger brands doing a bunch of limited-edition releases or hard to find unicorns. Yet they still seem to not only continue to grow and shine bright through their regular customers, but they also get the high praise from cigar geeks alike for sticking to the basics without needing to provide a lot of flash. When Nick comes on our show or any other show, he draws some of the highest rated shows in the game. The Perdomo booth is one of the busiest booths at both TPE and PCA every year. This is because the Perdomo’s continue to stick to their motto: Quality, Tradition and Excellence. Being vertically integrated helps keep all those parameters in check as well. It is very simple when it comes to this brand: extremely high-quality cigars at an affordable price and they always seem to be on the shelf. Riding the high of yet another very successful release in the Reserve 10th Anniversary Maduro and Sun Grown cigars, Nick has a lot to look forward to as we wait for the highly anticipated 30th Anniversary that was expected this year but due to supply issues in Europe, we will see it in 2023. Perdomo claims to have built an army and judging by the mass of Perdomo cigars I see and hear about on a daily basis I would say they have built one.
Like MyFather above, Plasencia has been around for a while now making cigars for many other brands, but it wasn’t until recently that they decided to start their own. Since then, they have spawned some of the best cigars on the market today. With lines like Alma Fuerte, Alma del Campo, Alma del Fuego and more. Plasencia has shown that they can hold their own as a brand and still be the factory to lean on for so many others. In addition to all of that, they have made quite the business out of just selling the tobacco that they grow down on their farms like many other large scale companies do. Last year, their Alma Fuerte Colorado Sixto I was featured on our top ten list and is still one of my personal favorite cigars today. Another five to ten years of the growth of just their own brand alone and I’d say big things are on the horizon.
Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG/General/Forged)
STG has been releasing product after product after product. But not just the same stuff either. Many of the things they have been working on have been a wide spectrum across almost all of their brands. They also recently acquired the Room101 brand from Matt Booth. Adding that to the portfolio and assuming they keep it around and Matt continues to make that brand shine above the rest, they have positioned themselves in multiple markets. They recently announced a new brand of flavored cigars called FLVR, they have capitalized on the red-hot bourbon boom and partnered with Buffalo Trace/Sazerac to make cigars representing some of those brands including multiple Cohiba iterations that celebrate the highly coveted W.L. Weller brand. Sprinkle in the reworked version of Los Statos Deluxe, Sancho Panza, and some new blends from Diesel and Macanudo and STG is primed to have a hell of a next couple of years.
You might be asking yourself, “What about ‘X”company/brand??” This list was made based on how we interpret who is out there making moves today and how they seem to be thriving in the market as a company. In addition, as stated above it is also who is relevant, who is moving product, who are the consumers always mentioning by name etc. This list could change tomorrow if let’s say someone closed up shop or had a factory burn down. The point is it can change and there will be another list in the future where we will revisit this one to see who stays and who goes.