A cigar is just a cigar, right? Though this may be the case for someone who is unfamiliar with cigars, everyone from beginners to more seasoned cigar smokers know that a cigar is defined by how it is made. In short, there is something to be said for the difference in taste and experience between a cigar that is hand rolled and one that is machine rolled. However, how can one be sure that one is better than the other? Through a simple comparison and contrast between the two, a clear winner always comes forward.
Machine Made Cigars: Why They Just Don’t Cut It
Machine made cigars are certainly lacking when compared to handmade cigars. For one thing, when machines are involved these cigars are typically being mass produced for sale, and made with subpar ingredients such as the scraps of homogenized tobacco as well as paper, preservatives, and even some chemicals. Such factors negatively affect the taste, feel, draw, and construction of the cigar, making an inferior product in comparison to one that has had the time and care handmade cigars usually possess. For another thing, machine made cigars can often be bought in bulk at a lower price. Though this may seem like a positive aspect of buying machine-made cigars, it is the opposite. The slightly higher price of handmade cigars is due to their elevated level of quality. By the same token, the lower price of machine made cigars accounts for their poorer quality.
Machine rolled cigars have been made since the 1950s, which can add a layer of confusion to the comparison. Since this style of cigar rolling has been going on for so long, when sold, many machine-made cigars are described as hand-made cigars. It is not until after they have been purchased and used that the customer can tell that something is not quite right. Even a novice cigar smoker can tell that a machine made cigar has a very different taste and quality from those hand rolled by an experienced artisan.
Handmade Cigars: An Art Form
A hand-rolled cigar can refer to one that is entirely made by hand, or one that is machine-bunched and hand finished. Bunching simply relates to preparing the filler leaf to be inserted into the final binder leaf. When a cigar is finished, a worker will apply the wrapper in the same way they would for an entirely handmade product. Though this certainly counts as a handmade cigar, it is not the same as the one that has been completely created and finished by an artisan.
When you take humanity out of production, a certain something is lost in the final product. Many would say this is the heart of the product, and this can translate to the care, time, and energy put into something handmade. Unlike machine rolled cigars, a true hand rolled cigar is made with pure 100% tobacco that is often imported from other countries such as the Dominican Republic. This tobacco typically has a better flavor and feel than that of the tobacco found in machine-made cigars, making for a much better smoking experience.
Though it is true that handmade cigars are often much more expensive than machine rolled ones, it is important to acknowledge that not all hand rolled cigars are expensive. In fact, local tobacconists such as Cigar Standard may have “grab bags” or even bins in which single cigars can be purchased for a few bucks. Cigar Standard also offers some great brands where the highest quality handmade cigars can be found. Larger amounts of cigars, such as boxes or bundles of artisan’s hand rolled cigars can also be found elsewhere online. If you do a little digging, it’s not impossible to find a great, premium hand rolled cigar for a great price.
Some smokers and connoisseurs have also taken to hand-rolling their cigars. You can order tobacco, leaves, binders, and other pertinent ingredients and accessories online from actual cigar shops such as Cigar Standard and other suppliers to make your very own hand rolled cigars for a fraction of the price. It is important to note that you should be very careful when hand rolling your sticks, however. Always check the quality of the tobacco and ingredients you are receiving before smoking them, as using and inhaling shoddy ingredients can lead to illness.
Make Your Choice
It’s easy to see that one form of a cigar is certainly better than the other. Hand rolled cigars just have a certain something extra that speaks to novices and aficionados alike. When it comes to your cigar of choice, try out some different products and see what sits well with you. After all, a great cigar is hard to find!