"Why does this cigar cost so much?"
This is a question I get asked by a lot of new smokers and if you are one of them looking to get into the cigar hobby, this may be insightful for you.
So why does a cigar cost as much as is does or really why do some cigars cost more or less than others? This is a subject up for discussion and I'm sure many cigar manufacturers will give you a more informed answer but at this point in time, I need to ramble about something, right?
It all begins with an idea. From the smallest of cigar makers to the largest, many cigars go through a process of creation like pieces of art. My good friend Jose Blanco does a wonderful seminar on this and what i'm saying is shortened parody of what this master does on the daily. With the order of operations aside, you need to have the tobacco, of course. Cigar makers will take months or even a year+ deciding on what tobacco to use and what they want or what they think the consumer might want. It's an intense sampling process mixing together tons of different strains of tobacco for the "right" flavor and strength. The cigar blender has a vision that they want to complete and this one is particularly time consuming. Once the blender has the tobacco he/she wants to use in a cigar, they need to grow more of it. From seed to harvest, you are looking at around 6-8 months for a solid supply. In addition, you have lost crops due to damage or insects. You also have the different primings of tobacco like the crown and ligero which produce far less than lower primings and in turn, cost more. Daily, there are loads of men and women that are constantly checking on the growth, the quality of the leaves and the consistency of it all!
Lets say all the tobacco is harvested. Well there are plenty more steps to follow. They need to ferment, get bunched, sorted, aged for even longer. Again, you have so many people working on each process and there are sometimes, different crews that handle each step. We haven't even gotten to the cigar yet! Now, the tobacco is all ready to hit the buncheros and rolleros (forgive me if my spelling is atrocious). BUT WAIT! Now all of those tobacco leaves need to be tested for quality, consistency and look again! The blender usually has a hand in each step making sure things flow as well as countless other hands lending a helpful eye or an extra pair of hands. Ok! All of the leaves of tobacco is ready, sorted by wrapper, binder and filler as well as some lost due to damage. Now traditionally when a cigar is rolled, it's done by pairs. One person is bunching filler while the other rolls the wrapper and you have loads of smoke-able cigars. Seems simple, right?
Well depending on the vitola (shape and size) of the cigar, you have different rollers working on creating those cigars within their skill set. One roller may be the best at rolling a lancero. Another may be the best at rolling belicosos. That means it's going to take more time to have enough of those cigars ready to sell! Time, time, time. So we have all the cigars rolled. Now all of those cigars need to rest in a cool, humidified room and bundled together to marry and ensure consistency for another length of time. Again, with every step, we have the blender and others smoking the completed cigars making sure that it is smoking well, it's humidified to taste and watching over rollers. There are a ton of people involved every step of the way and all of those people need to be paid, all of the tobacco needs to be paid for and boxes need to be made, artists paid for their work on the beautiful boxes, marketing, promotional items, samples, events and everyone involved with the company but at the end of the day, what is the largest cost?
If you guessed Time, you would be right! From seed to cigar, you have at the very minimum, a year. A year of not making money on a creation, a year of spending money on every process. Time is the great equalizer along with the 200 to 300 hands that work on each cigar. So for all of the time spent by the blenders, growers, box makers, artists, rollers and everyone in-between, we salute you! And that, my friends, in short is why cigars cost as much as they do!