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With the average premium cigar coming in at around $10, consumers are getting a great value. But there are cheaper cigars than these—and if you’re not necessarily a cigar aficionado but just fancy the idea of splashing around in the pool with a less expensive stogie between your teeth, this probably appeals to you.
While it’s entirely possible to create a premium-quality cigar at a lower price (such as Brandless), it’s also a lot more challenging to do so. The focus of most manufacturers is to put out top-quality cigars that will win over customers. However, given the time and capital the manufacturer invests into aging the tobacco, they want to be sure they eliminate as much waste as possible. Just like boxed wine, cheap cigars serve a purpose. They just wouldn’t be our first recommendation to someone seeking a quality smoking experience.
Anytime you see advertisements for discount cigars, bundles, and samplers, there are a few reasons why they’re so cheap:
Bundled instead of boxed: Cigar boxes are expensive to manufacture and sometimes add as much as $1 in cost to each cigar. Not only is there more material cost in these boxes, but there’s also labor and transportation cost to factor in. As you might imagine, it’s much cheaper and faster for cigars to be packaged and shipped in cellophane bundles. But there’s an increased risk in the damage that can come to these cigars. You also miss out on the added benefit of having the cigars packaged inside of high-quality cedar box that brings its own inimitable aroma.
Seconds: In today’s highly competitive environment, cigar manufactures are super tight on quality control. This means cigars can get rejected for a variety of reasons. Most of the reasons are visual in nature, like when a cigar has a shape that doesn’t meet the manufacturer’s standards, when there’s exterior damage to the wrapper, or other visual imperfections like water spots that might have been missed during the sorting process. Sometimes during the color sorting process, cigars are set aside when they don’t quite match. But it’s not always about their appearance. Sometimes, seconds fail to meet draw testing or weight standards.
Use of short filler/Cuban sandwich: Long filler requires the use of the solid-leaf tobacco. Short filler makes use of the scraps that are left over from the rolling of premium long-filler cigars. Some cigars use both long and short filler in what’s called a “Cuban sandwich.” In Cuban sandwiches, the long filler helps with burn, texture, and taste, while the short filler drastically drives down the price point (see our last blog post here, where we talked about how cheap short filler is used). Ultimately, these cigars won’t have as consistent of burn. Sometimes they’ll also lack the flavor transitions that take place in a premium all-long-filler cigar.
Binder as wrapper: Some retailers will place extremely large POs for these cheap cigars. In order to fulfill these POs, sometimes manufactures will use a binder leaf to wrap the cigar instead of wrapper, especially on short-filler cigars. While these cigars serve a purpose in the marketplace, they’ll be missing the visual beauty and taste that wrapper leaf provides.
There’s always a time and place for cigars of all price points. That said, we believe that informed customers are the best customers. So the next time you’re considering buying some budget cigars, make sure you understand what you’re getting. Sometimes, these cheaper cigars are added to a sampler in order to drive the price point down, and what might seem like a great deal might not be as great as you think. It’s never a bad idea to spend a couple of minutes of research to ensure your money is well spent. We recommend working with a trusted tobacconist who’ll always guide you to the right cigar for your needs.