Why are cigars so expensive?
A great deal of time, labour and skill go into the making of a cigar, all of which are reflected in its final cost. The process of making a cigar, from the time the tobacco is planted until the time it is rolled into a finished cigar, can take more than three years and can involve several hundred people.
At each stage of its development (growing, harvesting, curing, fermentation) tobacco is carefully and constantly monitored by highly skilled experts to ensure consistency and quality in its taste, texture and appearance. Throughout the process each leaf is constantly assessed, graded and sorted on the basis of its colour, size and burning characteristics. In the case of wrapper tobacco, the leaf must also be flawless in appearance; less than 10% of all tobacco is ultimately accepted for use as wrapper.
Finally, the tobacco is aged for up to three years or more to attain additional depth and complexity of flavour and then passed on to a master blender who combines several types of tobacco in varying amounts to achieve a specific strength and flavour.
The tobacco is then entrusted to the hands of a master cigar maker (a‘torcedore’), a very skilled craftsman who must be able to combine the filler, binder and wrapper tobaccos in such a way that the cigar looks smooth and even in appearance while meeting construction standards that will enable it to burn properly. Too much filler tobacco will obstruct the flow of air (meaning the cigar will constantly go out) and may cause the wrapper to split, while too little tobacco will result in soft spots, an uneven appearance and a harsh, unpleasant taste (too much air passing through the cigar will cause it to burn more quickly, destroying the delicate flavours).
Finally, the finished cigars are again sorted by colour (so that all cigars in a box look similar), and are given more aging to allow the flavours of the different tobaccos used in their construction to ‘blend’ into each other while developing more smoothness and complexity.
Once this is done, the cigars are packaged for final sale, finished with cigar bands and packed into cedar boxes that often feature expensive lithographic artwork. Then and only then are the finished cigars shipped by plane or ship to a regional distributor, who must then keep them in a specially humidified room to ensure that they retain their flavour and smoking characteristics.
As you can see, there are many steps involved in the creation of a cigar. It is a long and labour-intensive process that relies on the skill, dedication and craftsmanship of many highly-trained people, an each step contributes to the final cost of a cigar.