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When browsing a cigar shop you may run into several ‘unfamiliar’ brands, some perhaps commanding top dollar. More often than not you’ll wonder what it is, why it’s so expensive, and in turn, lean towards a more ‘familiar’ cigar. But you may have just missed something very special! Like micro-brews or single malts, boutique cigar brands are often the cigar industry’s true gems and best-kept secrets.
There are several reasons why these cigars are unfamiliar to the average customer. For one, the tobaccos utilized are available in such tiny quantities. So, despite the fantastic quality and character of the tobaccos they can’t be used on bigger production brands because there simply isn’t enough for mass distribution. Plus, with boutique brands, each cigar is often manually crafted with the utmost care and attention guaranteeing that each tobacco bale is utilized at its greatest potential. This results in a slower, more calculated rate of production, as perfection is mandatory for these brands to compete with the more widely distributed names.
Secondly, advertising for many boutique brands is often virtually non-existent. Rather than spending heavily on magazine glamour ads in a cigar-related or lifestyle magazine, these companies choose to invest in higher-grade tobaccos and more experienced torcedors – two crucial ingredients required for top-shelf perfection. As a result, one is often only introduced to a boutique cigar through word of mouth or by seeing the band wrapped around a nub in an ashtray.
Many of the industry’s leading boutique brands focus primarily on just a handful of cigar lines, introducing a new line only every 1-2 years, if not longer. For years, companies like Gurkha, Padilla, CAO, 5 Vegas, Rocky Patel, etc. have made it a point to perfect their trademark cigar lines and maintain their sometimes “cult-like” followings. This special attention helps earn the enthusiast’s trust. Additionally, this better prepares the maker when creating a new line of cigars, since the groundwork for production and standards, not to mention credibility with consumers, has already been established.
Lastly, boutique cigar companies are usually the product of knowledgeable family-owned businesses that have been involved in cigar making and tobacco growing for generations, often a direct throwback to premium cigars of old Cuba, or even a marriage between modern-day blends and processes with the rich history and traditions of this art.