Ask the average person the difference between a machine-pressed cigar and a quality premium cigar. The only answer you’ll likely get is the price. Sure, the price does differ, but the cost is not the only thing that makes a cigar a premium cigar. A one-dollar stick has a different taste because everything about it is different. Those who live the cigar lifestyle know these differences. There are differences in the process, the materials, the packaging, and the flavor. However, you may not know why the top cigars are all premium cigars.
The Mechanics of It All
We all know that the process of hand-rolling premium cigars gives them their quality. The reason for this comes down to the process. Factory or machine-pressed cigars result in lower quality due to mass production. It’s impossible to ensure that every machine-made cigar in a batch of thousands will have the same consistent quality. Even if the materials are superb, large batches are prone to errors, and quality assurance is non-existent.
The very nature of a hand-rolled cigar makes it of higher quality. A human being rolls and wraps each cigar before finishing it. Hand-rolling adds a built-in method of quality assurance. Any roller worth their salt will ensure that each cigar is as good as it can be.
The Materials Make the Difference
Most cigar enthusiasts know that premium cigars also use better tobacco leaves. The truth is, everything about the tobacco in premium cigars is better. For one, the leaves run the entire length of the cigar, which distributes the flavor throughout the cigar from the first drag to the last. Beyond the size of the leaves, they are all harvested and sourced from the same relative place.
Cuban cigars are good international cigars because of the unique flavor of Cuban-grown tobacco. However, tobacco is a delicate plant that takes work to grow. Therefore, each region that produces quality cigars grows its own tobacco; This includes niche products such as limited-run artisanal cigars and miniatures like cigarillos and jr cigars.
Machine-pressed cigars often use mass-produced, low-quality filler tobacco. The tobacco gets chopped and made into the filler. Unfortunately, this also usually includes stalks and other scraps to fill the cigars. These parts of the tobacco plant can lead to a bitter, undesirable taste. Cutting, of course, saves money and keeps the cigars less expensive by volume.
You will not find a machine-pressed cigar created from higher-grade tobacco. The cost of raising the crop often presents a barrier to this. Certain varieties are challenging to tend to or are only grown in small batches by local farms. The cost and resources to mass-produce these would be astronomical and not worth the effort for a stick that only costs a buck or two.
The Wrappings of Premium Cigars
Part of the handmade process involves wrapping and oiling the cigar. Premium cigars that are hand wrapped are wrapped tight and even from end to end. The wrapping is usually oiled to keep it smooth and to give it a little gloss. The purposes of this process are twofold. One, it provides the cigar with a distinct look. You can always tell a hand-rolled premium cigar by the wrapping. A premium cigar will look glossier and professionally wrapped. The second purpose is for the cigar to burn even when smoked. Eliminating these plant materials ensures smooth and clean smoke all the way through. The wrapper is also all-natural in a premium cigar which is a benefit over machine-pressed cigars and cigarettes.
Machine-pressed cigars are not glossy. Therefore, their wrapping also needs to be tight and smooth. You can tell this immediately by the dull appearance of the cigar. In addition, the tobacco of a loosely wrapped cigar does not hold together well, which leads to a poorer smoke. Worse yet, the wrappers in many machine-pressed cigars are not all-natural due to the cost of materials. Sourcing filler tobacco is easy enough, but putting tobacco in the wrapping to mass-produce cigars is tricky and inefficient.
Let It Age a Bit
Much like a fine wine or a vintage car, age factors into the quality of a cigar. Many premium tobaccos age to achieve a particularly rich or full flavor. A good premium cigar will taste better over time, so long as you store it at the right temperature and humidity in a good humidor.
Unlike cigarette tobacco, which decays over time due to chemicals and other fillers, cigar tobacco can and does age well if stored correctly; This is different for mass-production cigars. Tobacco for these cigars doesn’t age. Instead, it is picked, bagged, and chopped. Then, it becomes the cigar filler. The flavor profile takes two things into account: tobacco variety and growing location. Yet, the other part of the profile is the aging process. Not allowing the tobacco to age in machine-pressed cigars leaves a mellower flavor.
Premium Cigars for a Reason
The difference between factory-made and authentic premium cigars may only sometimes be evident. Still, for cigar lovers, the difference is noticeable. From start to finish, premium cigars are simply the best cigars. Everything is superior in a premium cigar, whether it’s the production, materials, or wrapping.