As I have been getting more and more into my random rants and tangents, I have tried taking a step back from reviewing a cigar for content and really think about the ‘life’ of a cigar, from conception to destruction. On a car ride home from work one night, I quickly became absorbed with a Cuban cigar and my own thoughts – what places make the cigar, who rolls them, who distributes the cigars and lastly who sells them. Well, during this first half my cigar mind tunnel, my thoughts started swirling more and more across the ‘who sells them’ question, this being the main fodder for this post.
Yes, we all know that tobacconists sell cigars, I’m not that naive, but in all reality it is the manufacturers who are selling the cigars and the tobacconists who ‘resell’ the packaged product to the consumer. So then naturally my next series of questions and thoughts goes to what drives the production companies to make a specific type of cigar? Again, I’m trying to take a step back and imagine all this in a perfect scenario (I know there never is but today, we get to dream) where the company is sitting down at the drawing board trying to decide where their first or their next blend will go.
I have heard more than once that a certain cigar has been ‘blended specifically for a veteran smoker’ or ‘perfect for the beginning smoker’ and yes, I can see where body and how potent the cigar can be a determining factor for a new or seasoned smoker, but this still does not answer my question. Sometimes they base it around a specific wrapper but I feel that approach, although becoming more common, is not the normal procedure. Anniversary or special occasion cigars, sure they are to celebrate something but isn’t every cigar that is produced made for the same reason? (sure seems like it) – I once came across a review site that had spoken of a cigar to be released on the market and that it was specially blended to ‘appeal to the European pallet’ – ah hah! Now we are getting somewhere – demographics.
Without beating around the bush much longer, I wonder (purely speculation) if manufacturers consider region and demographics when it comes to producing cigars. We already know that Cuban cigars have had region specific released cigars for years, and usually, the blend is tweaked a little to appeal to a more niche group. Sticking with the Cuban cigars thought, I also wonder if they tailor to a more mild to medium body and strength opposed to what many of us Americans in the cigar world consider the ass kicker, a super dark and full body cigar to be the mecca of all. This got me started on the large amount of hype and publicity revolving around the newer full body, higher dose of nicotine that manufacturers seem to be producing, again only my opinion, for the American market specifically.
Could it be based on the age of the smoker as well? Perhaps the majority of American smokers (not all so don’t jump my ass) are middle aged or older, their taste buds and experiences much different from that of their younger counterparts who seem to be increasing in number, not only in America but across the world. I have a friend of mine who is in the Marine Corps in Okinawa, Japan and he has told me that most the cigars he finds are Cuban and that are ‘real light in color’, so I assume they are the mild to medium smokes I described earlier. I have another friend in Australia who said mostly the same, that they usually have cigars that are of Cuban or ‘heavy cigars that are popular in the states’ – now that throws me for a spin. We have tried for how many years to get the ‘good shit’ from Cuba and those who have them on a regular basis are smoking cigars from the Dominican, Nicaraguan and Honduras because we like them! Guess the grass is always greener . . .
If all that is true, then the majority of cigars being produced from non-Cuban locations are directing their efforts towards America rather than the rest of the world, where as Habanos SA is targeting every country and region except Americans (that whole embargo thing kinda gets in the way). This does not only rest on the blends but the sizes of the cigars as well – think about most of the great Cuban cigars, I’d say usually 50 ring or smaller (length is all over the board) while most cigars that I hear fellow Americans talking about are on the opposite side of the spectrum, 50 ring gauge or larger to be deemed a ‘real smoke’.
I’m sure I may have had one two many drinks or maybe too much free time, but to me this is a very valid question that, to be honest, I do not have an answer for. I have had the privilege to have some of the finer details of the business described to me by someone who experiences it on a daily basis. He taught me to the point where I almost thought I was understanding everything but he reinforced to me that I know nothing. ‘David, if we were going to have this conversation we’d be talking for days’ – So that is where I will leave it, what are your thoughts, what do you think drives the manufacturers to produce what they do and mainly, are there efforts causing you to unload a few extra pieces of paper from your wallet?