Cigar Aficionado

Bargain Cigars

What do you consider a bargain-priced cigar? A $5 smoke? One retailing for $4? Less than $4? Or maybe it’s simply a cigar that gives you a great smoking experience for less than you would expect.

Every year at Cigar Insider, we survey cigar shops from around the country to get an idea of the buying habits of the premium cigar smoker. This year price was a major concern. “People are buying cheaper cigars,” said Craig Cass, who owns four Tinderbox stores in (and around) Charlotte, North Carolina. “The $10 guy,” he said, “is now at $8.” Others agreed.

Everyone seems to be making do with a little less in their pockets today, so finding some bang for your buck in your neighborhood walk-in humidor is extremely welcome. Looking over the new cigars from the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers trade show, various cigar companies have come out with cheaper smokes this year, no doubt in response to the ailing economy.

One of those cheaper smokes is Brioso, from General Cigar Co. This new Dominican brand is made from a mix of Honduran, Connecticut, Dominican, Nicaraguan and Mexican tobaccos. It comes in four sizes, ranging in price from $2.99 (yes, a sub $3 cigar!) to $3.75. The brand is handmade from long-filler tobacco. How do they keep the price so low? No box. The cigar, which hits the market in October, will come in a display tray, and refills will be shipped in bundles. No box, lower price.

Brick House, a new J.C. Newman Cigar Co. brand, is made in Nicaragua from all Nicaraguan tobaccos. It comes in four sizes and sells for $4.75 to $5.75 per cigar. “We are in a recession, and post SCHIP,” said Eric Newman, president of the Tampa, Florida company. “I want to offer the marketplace a very flavorful cigar with a lot of spice, between $4.75 and $5.75. Everybody can’t afford a Diamond Crown.”

Altadis U.S.A. Inc. has a new bundle brand called Casa de Garcia, which comes in four sizes, all of which retail for $1.50 each. Philip Wynne has a Miami-made cigar called Poor Boy, selling for $5 to $6.50—quite a bargain for something rolled on U.S. shores.

Other companies have released bargain smokes by mixing long filler with short filler, a cigar known colloquially as a Cuban sandwich. Topper Cigar Co. has the new Silverdale, retailing from $2.50 to $3.85, made in Nicaragua, with three sizes. Tabacos Baez Serie SF (the SF stands for “short filler”) is a three-size line with prices just under $3. You can read more about all these new smokes in Cigar Insider.

Some companies have long given bang for the buck. Regular Padróns are typically available for around $3 or $4 each. Oliva Cigar Co. built its reputation on bargain-priced cigars, and the company always makes our Best Buy list when we do our Top 25 each year. Our reigning Cigar of the Year is a $5.25 smoke, the Casa Magna Colorado Robusto. And it’s hard to find a better value than the old fashioned Punch Rothschild.

Are you looking for bargains more than before? And what’s your idea of a value-priced smoke?

"David,A favorite bargain cigar of mine is the J.C. Newman offered brand El Baton line. I believe Cigar Aficionado gave a 91 rating to these smokes in an April 2009 issue of Cigar Insider.,2344,2737,00.html I can find these smokes in the Boston area for $7.00 to $9.00 dollars each. They are a great combination of maximum flavor for minimal price. Keep up the good work!" —September 3, 2009 09:21 AM
"I have mixed feelings on the bargain cigars. For the most part, I'd rather smoke less while still smoking my favorite cigars. However, if I really want to get some bargain cigars, I go with the factory "seconds" that some companies offer. I find that the seconds still have the great flavor, but, might not look quite as nice--I'll trade looks for flavor any day of the week!" —August 28, 2009 17:03 PM
" For me personally, a bargain cigar is not based so much on price but how much enjoyment I get from the smoke. If a cigar can make me forget about the stresses of everyday life for an hour or so, then it's worth every penny. Some days it might be a $5 cigar, other days it might be a $25 cigar. Brian does bring up a good point though. If I had to choose between smoking less often but enjoying it more or smoking more often, but getting less enjoyment, I'd have to go with the former. Life's too short to spend good money on lousy drink and bad cigars. IMHO, the best bang for the buck out there are Olivas. I can get them for around $7-$8 each and they have a flavor profile that some high-end sticks should have, but don't. " —August 29, 2009 05:15 AM
"Nelson, good additions to the list. Cusano has a solid reputation as a producer of fine, inexpensive smokes." —August 28, 2009 14:34 PM
"J.C. Newman's Factory Thowout line is an excellent inexpensive grass cutting/golf cigar, under $2.Our reigning Cigar of the Year is a sub-$4 smoke, the Casa Magna Colorado Robusto? Where can you find these at that price? MSRP was $5.25 before SCHIP." —August 28, 2009 14:32 PM
"David,A couple of other good ones are Cusano M1, MC, P1, and CC. Primo del Rey by Altadis is another great bargain cigar. All retail in the 3.75-4.50 range. Very good smokes for the price.Nelson" —August 28, 2009 14:15 PM
"David,Flor De Oliva and Quorom are two more very inexpensive smokes and La Vieja by Drew Estate are another. " —August 28, 2009 17:45 PM
"Tim, my mistake on the SRP of Casa Magna--you are right, it is $5.25. Correction made." —August 28, 2009 14:35 PM