Question of the Day: Cigar Price Points

Cigar smokers aren’t stupid; if they can get decent smokes at a decent price, they’ll opt for those over decent smokes at an inflated price. But the question is, what’s elevated? What’s decent?

At a recent trip to The Corona, for which Tony said he’d buy the cigars, I was sorely tempted to acquire a fancy Davidoff in a huge wooden tube for a whopping $45. I’ve bought a $45 stick before; at the Casa Fuente store in Las Vegas, I did grab a delicious, creamy Fuente Fuente Opus X and savored every dollar’s worth.

But hang around the humidor long enough, and you see that frequent smokers are often value smokers. They’ll favor the $6 cigars over the $20 cigars, saving the latter for special events. Some sophisticated cigar smokers even say that they think that above $10, you’re paying for the band instead of the tobacco.

Fair enough.

So the VLO question of the day: What’s the optimal price point for a “daily smoke,” and what’s the maximum you’d pay for a retail cigar for a special occasion?

4 thoughts on “Question of the Day: Cigar Price Points

  1. AccessVegas Reply

    For me, location (where I’m going to enjoy the stick) is a key factor. 90% of the cigars I enjoy are smoked at home — I have a TV on my back patio — or at a casino. And given that I enjoy about 10 per week, I really can’t afford a $500 a month cigar budget. So, I stock up when the online stores have deals. Plenty of great hand-rolled long filler cigars are available for as little as $50-60 per 20 (Argenese, Cuba Libre, Gran Habano, etc). More importantly, they don’t suck. They are a good smoke. The quality of the tobacco across the board in hand-rolled cigars is good. Note: Give them a few months in your humidor. I’ve found that less expensive cigars tend to need a little age to smooth them out.

    Having said that, I’m a big fan of patronizing my local cigar shops because I don’t want them to go out of business. In many cities, they are one of the last places you can enjoy a cigar. And even here in “The Vegas”, they are a great place to kick back and have conversation with like-minded people. So when I do hit a brick and mortar, I know that I’m paying for the rent and the lights and the free coffee and everything else. Just like you pay more at a nice restaurant than at Denny’s.

    To help them out, I’ll buy the stick I’m going to smoke and then buy a few more to take home (even though I have upwards of 500 sticks at home right now). I’ll usually buy in the $6-10 range as these are well known brand name sticks, or some that I’m trying for the first time. Plus, the stores are usually staffed by someone who is knowledgeable and who can point you to what is new or give you the back-story on a particular brand or blend.

    I’ll occasionally drop $20+ on a stick that has a lot of buzz or that I know is a really nice splurge. I have a La Verite 2008 aging for a special occasion. Davidoff Milleniums are divine and worth it, but only when you really have the time to sit and concentrate on enjoying them.

    The truth of the matter is that as long as it is a premium cigar, the price bears little relationship to the enjoyment factor anymore. Even Cigar Aficionado frequently has $15 cigars getting the same ratings as $6 sticks. The most important thing is to experiment to find the brands you like in the price range you find comfortable.

    • j9gillik Reply

      Excellent points, especially about the bundled long-rolled sticks. Aging absolutely helps, and too many smokers overlook factory remainders that may have no other defect than a water spot or two on the wrapper that denied it the premium band.

      With 500 in your humidor — how large is it? Custom made? Sounds heavenly.

      I tend to buy the $10-$15 sticks more than anything. Probably because I’m a fan of long, large-ring cigars. I’ve occasionally dipped into the $6-$8 bucket but not as often as I probably should.

      • AccessVegas Reply

         I actually have two 400 count humidors and four 125 count humidors. BUT… humidors never hold as many sticks as advertised. And, I’m just about to consolidate so I don’t run them all half-empty.

        I went on a buying rage before the S-CHIP tax kicked in. Between that and the economy being in the tank at the time, I was paying about 40-50 cents on the dollar (sometimes less) for box purchases. Just as an example, I nailed three boxes of La Gloria Cubana 7×45’s for $45 a box back then. (I still have two of the boxes and they are aging nicely). I paid $80 for a box of Rocky Patel Decade Lanceros (which I haven’t even started smoking yet).

        Experimenting with the less expensive sticks is just that: Some won’t be for you, but if you find some you really enjoy, you’ll be investing less for your pleasure. Once again, though, let me emphasize: I save the decent-but-cheaper sticks I buy online for at home where I’m reading or watching Netflix or out at a casino playing video poker. Activities where I’m not 100% concentrating on the cigar. I don’t mind spending the extra few bucks when I’m in a cigar shop just really lounging and able to focus on the smoke.

        • j9gillik Reply

          Wow, that’s some serious cigar storage power. I have a lovely cedar-lined mahogany box that is rated to hold 50 (but 40 would probably max it out) – I’d love to hold more but the only place for it is a damp room in the basement (120-year-old house) with inconsistent temperatures and too-high humidity. There’s a fellow named Cigar Bob who’s a regular at my local smoke shop (Grand River Cigar) – during the recent Xicar event he brought in a photo album of his home humidor. Looks like it’s a 12×12 room with custom humidification systems, ample storage shelves and such. Clearly a labor of love.

          Those are excellent rates for the boxes you picked up. One day, I hope to buy a box of cigars and not pay retail + 20 percent (or so it feels … picked up a box a few weeks ago of Partagas 1845s for $250 … I love the cigar but the price point is what it is).

          I like your attitude about when/where to invest the extra few dollars for quality. Only thing I’d add is that if I were buying from the tobacconist’s humidor to smoke right away, I’d pay special attention to what you’re pairing it with. Mixing cigars and spirits seems simple (“I like X and I like Y therefore I will like X+Y”) but I think that as one’s palate matures, other combinations become more interesting. I still really can’t smoke with coffee, and I find that smoother Scotches work best with medium-bodied sticks whereas a nice glass of tawny port nicely contrasts a bolder maduro. Then again, the enjoyment is in the experimentation.

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