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Stogie Tips: Fill ’er Up

19 Mar 2009



If you go looking for cigar bargains in these tough economic times, you will undoubtedly come across some sticks labeled “short filler,” “mixed filler,” “sandwich,” or “Cuban sandwich.” You may have to hunt for the description, though. While manufacturers love to tout “long filler,” they often aren’t nearly as eager to proclaim any of the other terms.

Short FillerHere‘s what the terms generally mean:

Long filler involves leaves that are folded or rolled to create the inner part of the cigar, which comprises the majority of the stick. This is where specific leaf sections and different leaves are combined to create the blender’s desired taste. I’ve never heard of a premium, hand-rolled cigar that is anything other than long filler.

Short filler is the opposite. Small pieces of tobacco, and occasionally chopped stems, are secured inside the binder leaf. These pieces may be leftovers trimmed from leaves used in long filler cigars, or simply poorer grade tobacco chopped specifically for short filler.

Mixed filler is a combination of the two, though the longer part of the mix is often not true long filler but simply larger pieces that haven’t been fully chopped. And to make it more confusing, the term “sandwich” is sometimes used interchangeably with mixed filler.

Cuban sandwich, or sandwich cigars, are a mixture, often said to have the short filler rolled inside the longer filler leaves. Another variation is to use the longer leaves at the head so there’s less likelihood bits of tobacco will come off on the smoker’s tongue or lips.

Obviously, the poorer quality and inconsistency of the tobacco as well as the simplicity of construction means cheaper prices for any of these styles. However, that doesn’t automatically make them bad. I enjoy Pepin Garcia’s Benchmade, others swear by Arturo Fuente Curly Heads, Drew Estate’s La Vieja Habana, or the Tatauje Series P. Still others tell of finding bargains among the no-names.

Here are a few of my suggestions to help explore these lower-cost cigars:

1) Don’t buy bundles or boxes of anything without smoking it first. Period. Some of these cigars aren’t just bad, they’re horrible. Unless the seller is going to pay you to take them, there’s no bargain in an unsmokeable smoke.

2) Increase your odds of success by purchasing at a B&M. When you smoke one you like, buy more then and there. It’s likely they were rolled at the same time, using most, if not all, the same tobacco. Order online or wait to purchase and you could get a radically different taste.

3) Remember that short and mixed filler cigars from well-known manufacturers usually cost a little more because they’re much more likely to be well-constructed and consistent.

4)  Smoke these cigars even slower than usual. The draw is often loose, and the tobacco can burn ruinously hot. And don’t expect to nub many of them.

-George E

photo credit: CigarPass.com

Drew Estate

8 Responses to “Stogie Tips: Fill ’er Up”

  1. dmjones Thursday, March 19, 2009 at 3:00 am #

    You do have to be careful buying bargain cigars. Below the Curly-Heads, Fuente sells another stick whose name I can't remember. Locally, Curly-heads sell for about $2.25/stick and these others are about $1.50/stick. The manager at the local shop took a knife to the cheaper one in front of me and pulled out the binder–tobacco-colored paper. Just to dispel any doubt, he lit it up and it smelled like…burning paper. I couldn't understand why anyone would willingly subject themselves to that when they can avoid it by paying an extra $.75 per stick, but apparently some people just can't tell the difference.

  2. jake Thursday, March 19, 2009 at 5:38 pm #

    I have smoked a couple curly heads and I have to say, they were among my least favorite cigars. The draw felt weak, the flavor was almost totally absent, and harly any smoe was produced.

    On the other hand, I absolutely love La Vieja Habanas, they are among my favorites.

  3. George E. Friday, March 20, 2009 at 4:09 am #

    Anybody else out there have some short/mixed filler recommendations?

  4. Matt Friday, March 20, 2009 at 4:16 am #

    The Tatuaje P and Ashton Benchmade seem to be the consensus best in this category. I was recently surprised when given a La Vieja Habana Corojo to smoke blind. It was a very nice smoke. Didn't even realize it was a mixed filler cigar. Didn't taste anything like a corojo, but still it was a good smoke.

  5. Las Vegas Guy Saturday, March 21, 2009 at 12:24 am #

    I have over 700 sticks among many humidors. Most are premium sticks by the names we all know and love (Pepin, Rocky Patel, CAO, you get the picture).

    However, my "what the hell" cigar has been a Rosa Cuba for quite some time now. About $1.25 a stick (if that by the bundle). Yes… you have to smoke it just a little bit slower.

    And yes… the wrappers are not consistent looking. Consistent tasting? Yes. But not consistent looking.

    Having said that, this isn't a stick I smoke to look at. It is a stick I smoke while watching sports or a movie. Just a basic "to unwind" stick. And at the price… I'm happy.

  6. George E. Saturday, March 21, 2009 at 3:54 am #

    LVG – Thanks for the tip. I've never tried Rosa Cuba but plan to now. A Google search turned up lots of sellers and low prices, even 5-pack offerings.

  7. Tyler Friday, January 25, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    La Rosa Cuba's are excellent cheap cigars…not as good as Quorum cigars by J.C. Newman but still good. The Vargas size is slightly better than the Governors size.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Quick Smoke: Maroma Robusto - Saturday, March 28, 2009

    […] filler, it’s one of the lumpiest cigars I’ve ever held. For the first half inch or so, this “Cuban sandwich” was an OK mild cigar. But before the halfway point it had turned so sour it was unsmokable. […]