What is a boutique cigar? Different from a premium cigar, this article explains what a boutique cigar is and where to get them.

The cigar world is full of variety. There is a multitude of delectable smokes just waiting to tickle every cigarist’s palate.  Among the ranks of the thousands of brands of cigars, you’ll find everything from the low-budget gas station cigars to the highest-quality premium smokes. You will also find high-end imported expensive edition sticks. All of which tend to be well-known names within the cigar industry.  

Then, there are special, lesser-known brands. These are known as “boutique cigars”. Many people wonder what they are, why they’re so expensive, and in turn, lean towards a more ‘familiar’ cigar. However, you may have just missed something very special!  As many insiders and experienced cigarists know, boutique cigars are often the cigar industry’s true gems and best kept secrets.

Are Boutique Cigars Better?

People often wonder if boutique cigars are “better” or “worse” than the more commonly known brands.  The answer is actually a lot more complicated than that.  Like craft beer, boutique cigars are highly individualized, some being better than the premium offering, and some, not so much.  Some of these ‘unfamiliar’ brands may command top dollar, while others may come bundled in less expensive packages. 

Typically, boutique brands use tobaccos that are only available in limited quantities.  This is often because, despite the fantastic quality and character of the tobaccos, they can’t be used in a bigger production. After all, there simply isn’t enough available for mass distribution. 

How Are Boutique Cigars Made?

Boutique cigars are made with meticulous care and thoughtful consideration.  Boutique cigar companies are usually the result of knowledgeable family-owned businesses that have been involved in cigar making and tobacco growing for generations.  These craftsmen are often a direct throwback to premium cigars of old Cuba or even a marriage between modern-day blends and processes with the rich history and traditions of this art.

Boutique cigars are also often created with a variety of tobaccos in order to achieve a truly unique flavor. They are wrapped by hand ensuring quality control so that your cigar will burn evenly to maximize flavor.  An enormous amount of devotion goes into the making of every single boutique stick. Each cigar is often manually crafted with the utmost care and attention guaranteeing that every tobacco bale is utilized at its greatest potential. This results in a slower, more calculated rate of production, as perfection is mandatory for these brands to compete with the more widely distributed ones.

Difference Between Boutique Cigars & Premium Cigars

The big question is, “What exactly is the difference between Boutique Cigars and other Premium Cigars?”  Well, both types can offer high-quality smoke. However, the main determinant of boutique cigars is the low production numbers of these smokes. Many aficionados define these specialty cigars as smokes produced at an annual production rate of less than a million sticks. Here are some other differences:

  1. Variety. Boutique cigars allow cigar enthusiasts the opportunity to try a wider variety of smokes made of high-quality tobacco. They are produced using a production process that aligns with the boutique industry’s high-quality control standards. These cigars are produced to provide a more personalized approach and will allow you to enjoy a cigar shared by a relatively small number of cigar fans as opposed to the larger mass-produced brands.

  2. Price.  Because of the personalized attention and stringent standards, boutique cigars may tend to be more expensive.  This is not always the case, and a cigarist can easily find boutique bundles at affordable prices that are often cheaper than the premium sticks. However, the extra work put into production can reflect in the price tag.  There is a higher cost of doing business for smaller operations.  The price difference is more than worth the additional quality and unique experience to those that love and appreciate the boutique variety.

  3. Size/Shape. Unlike premium cigars, a box of boutique cigars may not be as uniform as mass-produced smokes. Each cigar is an individual experience.  It is hand-rolled and enveloped in special care for your smoking pleasure.  Cigars are artisan products, and this factor also adds a personal touch that results in greater uniqueness between each stick. Despite a lack of uniformity, you can be sure that these high-quality smokes will ensure a superb smoking experience.  

  4. Name Recognition.  Advertising for boutique cigars is virtually non-existent. These companies choose to invest in higher-grade tobaccos and more experienced torcedors (expert cigar rollers) rather than spending heavily on advertising costs.  These two crucial ingredients are required for top-shelf perfection. Advertising isn’t. Word of mouth travels, so the best boutique brands produce exquisite products that earn them a small but loyal following. It is not uncommon for a cigarist to only be introduced to a boutique cigar through a fellow BOL or by seeing an unfamiliar band wrapped around a nub in an ashtray.  Established cigar brands have a ready-made loyal customer base, whereas boutique brands must battle with hundreds of other brands for a walk-in customer’s attention.

Yes, premium brands are more widely known. But boutique cigars are the ones that maintain the cultural standard of the craft.  It is the boutique craftsman that makes cigars for the love of the cigar culture. Profits do not tend to be their highest motivation.  

While some smokers will only smoke certain well-known brands, a growing number of smokers are exploring their options. Enjoying the process of finding truly unique cigars that come in limited editions is highly recommended.