Buying Bundle Cigars
What are cigar bundles?
Let’s begin the education process by making sure we do not mix up the cigar terms of “bundles” and “seconds“. Seconds are cigars that come from the manufacturer after they do not pass the inspection process for one of many reasons (you can read more about that here).
Bundles are cigars that are created with the intention of selling in smaller groups to the consumer at a discounted rate than the normal “premium” cigars. Bundles can maintain a lower cost for many reasons such as a lack of a big name manufacturer, fancy bands, lower grade tobacco, and sometimes they are made with leftover filler, also known as sandwich, tobacco.
For novice smokers, and even some with a more advanced palate, bundled cigars are a cheap alternative to the “premium” single sticks that carry a higher price tag. As the components (binder, filler, wrapper) are grown in the same area and are even produced in the same factory as the “premiums“.
This is especially more true today as the cigar business has become very competitive. Now many bundles are produced and distributed with cigars that would be considered “seconds“. Additionally many large retailers and distributors will specifically create a bundle with a big name manufacturers under the agreement of a large quantity and that the creator be kept anonymous.
So why not always buy bundles or generic cigars?
The primary reason is that while the bundle can be of equal quality it does not mean it necessarily will be. The “premium” cigar market must maintain brand quality and go through additional steps that would increase the cost. Some of these steps include a draw test, ensure there are no soft spots, closer inspection of the wrapper, call for better rollers, and many other reasons.
Additionally the products being used (wrapper, filler, binder) might be similar but will not contain the quality used in the “premium” lines. This is a major factor that someone with even a slightly trained palate, or experience smoking many different kinds of cigars, will notice right away. Finally, consistency from one cigar to another (if you so like/hate them) can vary greatly, again due to many factors.
Are you still ready to try some bundled cigars?
The first step you should take is to find a local retailer who carries various brands of “bundled” cigars. Most, for economic purposes, are willing to sell individual cigars for the sake of finding your perfect cheap(er) cigar. Try to experiment with “bundled” cigars that contain long filler tobacco as these are usually created with higher quality tobacco. Additionally, it’s safe to say that regions tend to produce most of the same qualities and taste characteristics of the higher priced cigars. So read the package to see where they are created and what components were used as it has the potential of tasting much like your favorite “premium“. Finally, you should seek out “bundles” that are created for private distribution or that are not afraid to list the parent company name (like the Ashton Benchmade or G.A.R.). At worst these tend to be seconds that did not pass inspection for some minor reason.
Have patience through this entire process. Finding a good “bundle” cigar can be just as time consuming as finding your favorite “premium“.
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