Cuban Cigar Market Analysis

Have you ever bought a box of cubans that was great, only to buy another box later that was not? Doesn’t it seem like buying Cubans can be hit or miss? And why is this lack of consistency acceptable to us as consumers?

The question here is: Are their different grades of Cuban Cigars?

Obviously Cuban Cigars can be real or fake, but for the purposes of this discussion let’s leave fake Cubans out of it. It is assumed that any serious cigar smoker can detect a fake Cuban anyway, and so it really doesn’t apply.

Officially, Cuban Cigars distributed by Habanos S.A. are all of the highest quality. So why then are some boxes spectacular, and other boxes just ok?

Like Truffles (the mushrooms, not the chocolates) their is a magical quality to Cuban Cigars that can make them truly spectacular. But at times it seems as though the magic is missing. And really that’s just an acceptable part of the Cuban Cigar business.

You can justify these magic lacking Cubans through terms of inadequate aging or improper storage. You can also justify it by the fact that storing great Cubans together makes them all become greater, and so the ability of the tobacco to merge and mingle with other nearby leaves could be the answer to why some boxes are great and some are just ok.

But why don’t we see this problem with other great cigars produced in Nicaragua, Honduras or the Dominican Republic? Could it be that the great world wide demand for Cubans has led to a hush hush Cuban Tobacco Industry that imports much of it’s tobacco from neighboring countries and calls them Pure Cuban Cigars? That’s one rumor. And it would explain how one box of 100% Pure Cubans could taste so magical, while another box of say 30% Pure Cubans might not taste as great.

I have also found that while all my sources for obtaining Cuban Cigars provide me with real authentic Cuban Cigars, some sources consistently provide a higher percentage of magical Cubans. Could it be that some suppliers get the first take of the highest quality product, while others get the rest?

With all products planted and harvested in large amounts, their are going to be good years and bad years. A bad harvest could be due to a hurricane or a flood, but none the less a bad crop is the result.

Cigars are produced, released, rated, marketed and sold. This is the business. This leads to the first release of a cigar to be the best, to get the highest rating. Let’s say a cigar gets a 93 point rating when first released in 2003. You buy one, and smoke it, and love it. A few years later, let’s say in 2005, it may be a 91 point cigar, but the store shelf still advertises it’s 93 point rating. You buy one, and smoke it, and it’s just ok. This is just how the marketing of cigars works. It should also be noted that manufactures may try their absolute best to maintain the high ratings quality, but it may just not be possible for the aforementioned reasons.

I believe this marketing strategy to be true. And I believe that by analyzing the life-cycle of a given cigar over several years, this will likely show. It is even more apparent in cigars that garner extremely high ratings when first released, as the market need naturally increases, and so any business in an attempt to maximize profits will increase supply while slightly sacrificing quality. This is the natural evolution of a cigar over several years in the marketplace.

What about “Factory Seconds”, cigars with slight blemishes or rolling issues, that were deemed not good enough to be sold as high quality products. I have seen factory seconds from Padron sold through Famous Cigars online. I have also seen factory seconds of Rocky Patel Decades sold through Thompson Cigars online (which I plan to buy soon). These are sold at a fraction of the price, with no band, but should offer close to the same smoking experience. Again, from a production standpoint, all manufacturing industries, even those with machine made products achieving levels of Six-Sigma (99.996%) Accuracy admit to a small number (3.4) of defects per million products produced.

So the cigar industry does have a marketplace for these slightly inferior cigars. And this factory second marketplace includes cigars from all the cigar regions including Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominican Republic, etc…but I have never seen a Factory Second from Cuba? I wonder where the Cuban Factory Seconds go? Are they mixed in with the regular production? Are they smoked by factory workers? Are they given to certain, less preferable, online retailers?

Of course, with cigars being handmade organic products, their is some acceptable level of variation from cigar to cigar, box to box, year to year. But their is no clear answer for consumers as to how this process works, and ultimately, and unfortunately, it can at times leave a Cuban Cigar Lover with the short end of the stick. No pun intended.

Article written by Bernie.