Boutique Cigar? Premium Cigar? What Does It All Mean?

Cigar nomenclature can be vague at best and confusing at its worst. You’ve probably heard quite a few names used to describe a cigar like boutique or premium and we’re going to break that down here for you and also give you a little insight into the cigar industry.

In the US cigar market, there isn’t really an official definition for what a cigar is. This not only causes regulatory confusion but can also cause confusion among consumers because you can find everything from a filtered, flavored tobacco product to a Cohiba labeled as a cigar. You may have noticed a few years back the disappearance of clove cigarettes and the emergence of clove filtered cigars, this move was made to avoid the ban on flavored tobacco products being labeled as cigarettes. There also aren’t any standardized sizes in the US market, so if it seems every brand has a different size robusto, it’s because they do; this is in stark contrast to the Cuban cigar industry where the government has standard, regulated factory sizes.

With that in mind, let’s tackle some of these names for cigars.

Premium Cigar – A premium cigar is any cigar that has a 100% long life tobacco filler, binder, and wrapper and is rolled by hand, usually. There are some exceptions, like Drew Estate’s Acid line which is infused with a proprietary, botanical blend and some mixed/short filler (we’ll discuss this term later) cigars. There are some resources out there that may set a price point to define a premium cigar but price points can be misleading and unfair as certain sizes, made the same way as their larger counterparts, can fall below a set price point.

Boutique Cigar – A boutique cigar is always a premium cigar but after that it gets murky. Tatuaje and Illusione were considered boutique brands but after wild success many might say they’re no longer “boutique”. La Gloria Cubana and CAO could be considered boutique cigars before the term was really coined but back in the day, they were just cigars. Unfortunately there is no clear answer to what a boutique cigar is and perhaps the best answer would be any cigar that is not widely known or is not blended for mass appeal.

Short and Mixed Filler Cigars – Short filler cigars come in all shapes and sizes but are generally regarded as lower quality cigars as they use chopped tobacco leaf in the filler instead of long leaf tobacco. Mixed filler or “Cuban Sandwich” cigars fall somewhere in between as there is a leaf of tobacco rolled with the chopped, short filler tobacco. Signs you’re smoking a Short or Mixed Filler cigar: Bits of tobacco falling into your mouth, a bad burn, or bad construction. It’s important to note there are good quality cigars that are short or mixed filler, but for the best quality smoke a cigar with long filler tobacco.

Machine Made Cigar – Machine made cigars are the most abundant and popular cigars on the market and are often found anywhere that sells tobacco products. Often times you’ll hear them referred to as gas station cigars as many of them have no place in proper humidors, the exception here being premium cigarillos you may find by big names in the premium cigar industry. Machine made cigars are often a short filler and a wrapper made from tobacco paper, tobacco paper being homogenized tobacco leaves. Machine made cigars are often considered low quality.

If you have any more questions, please do not hesitate to contact us or stop in the store and ask any of our friendly staff.

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