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Stogie Commentary: Is it Worth the Price?

9 Feb 2011

Write a review about an expensive cigar and one question will be inevitably asked, almost without fail: Is it worth the price?

That’s a fair question, and one that I often ask myself. After all, cigars cost money, and buying one stick usually means less left over to spend on others. And yet, in my reviews, you won’t find the answer to that question. It’s not that it doesn’t occur to me; it’s just that I don’t think my personal answer would (or should) be helpful to readers.

First, each person’s financial situation unique. A college student is going to be far less likely to buy an $20 cigar than a millionaire. Meanwhile, some collectors are perfectly willing to shell out thousands of dollars for a box of vintage Cubans. Personally, when I first started smoking cigars in college, $5 seemed like an awful lot to spend. Now I consider that to be a pretty inexpensive sum to pay for a smoke. (And if I won the lottery tomorrow, I may suddenly think that $30 or $40 isn’t all that much for a cigar.)

But the means to pay for a cigar isn’t the only aspect that impacts whether a cigar is “worth the price.” One’s palate and preferences can have just as large an impact.

Many but not all cigar smokers find that their palates become more refined over time, and what they value in a cigar’s flavor changes. I appreciate complexity and subtlety much more now than back when I first started smoking. Practically speaking, that means I’m more willing to shell out a few extra bucks now for a more complex smoke than I would have been a few years ago.

In other words, what people value in cigars is as varied as their financial situations. This isn’t to say that some cigars aren’t worth the price. Sure, there are still some cigars that I wouldn’t recommend for anyone; but these days, with higher quality the norm, such cigars are fewer and farther between.

Which brings us back to cigar reviews: If you read a cigar review thinking it will tell you whether or not a cigar is worth buying, I think you’ll be disappointed. The truth is, only you can know if a cigar is “worth the price.” But by reading a detailed review written by a reviewer you trust, you’ll have a better chance of finding those cigar that are best for you.

Patrick S

photo credit: Flickr

6 Responses to “Stogie Commentary: Is it Worth the Price?”

  1. JP Ligero Wednesday, February 9, 2011 at 8:25 am #

    Is it worth it? I think one of the main points that most cigar smokers fail to comprehend is that cigars are merely a commodity item. They always have been, and they will always be just that. Fact is, they cost very little to make from seedling to shelf. Tobacco grows like a weed. Third world country laborers do all the work from planting, harvesting, hanging, bailing, sorting, rolling, and packaging. I hate to shock people, but these hard working people are very poorly paid for the hard tasks they perform. This however is what we call the global economy. Like you stated, only the smoker can decide if a cigar is worth the price they paid. Me, I'm lucky, I understand completely how very little it costs to make a cigar. That being said, I must say that no cigar on the planet from any region is worth more than 3 to 5 bucks to me. 5 bucks is a huge reach too. I was not put on this earth to make tobacconist's rich through the purchase of 12 to 20 cigars. That's a fool's game to me. I am here to make me rich(er) and by being wise on how I spend my money, I've done well at it. In the end though, it matters not to me what anyone smokes. It's all about smoking what you like. Fact is though, no cigar in the sum of its parts is worth more than a few dollars. The truth hurts! JP Ligero, cigar veteran and expert. The opinions expressed in this response are solely mine and have nothing to do with any cigar affiliated business or organization.

  2. Tim Wednesday, February 9, 2011 at 9:44 am #


    The intrinsic value of something doesn’t vary based on a person’s means. For example, a very expensive cigar that unravels, or burns very quickly and unevenly is clearly “not worth it” regardless of the ability to pay. It may be less clear cut if we’re talking about individual preferences regarding flavor, but taken in context of other available commodities i.e. other cigars, one can establish value. If two cigars have similar flavor profiles and you enjoy them equally, the less expensive cigar clearly has more value.

    I agree however that a well written review probably shouldn’t include the author’s determination of if something is “worth it.” If you clearly review the flavor profiles, construction, burn, etc. it will be up to the reader to determine that on their own.

    I enjoy reading your columns.

  3. Patrick S Wednesday, February 9, 2011 at 10:58 am #

    JP Ligero-

    I don't disagree with you that the cost of materials is not all that much, but it is a mistake to think that materials alone should determine the value of a cigar.

    Cigar prices (like the price of everything else) is determined by supply and demand. That demand is driven by consumers and their preferences.

    It doesn't matter if a cigar's materials cost 60 cents and the labor costs 40 cents. What matters is that enough people are willing to voluntarily exchange their $5 bill for that cigar. After all, the value of that cigar to me isn't based on how much it costs to make, but how much it costs me to obtain.

  4. Todd Wednesday, February 9, 2011 at 11:30 am #


    How does a cigar have an intrinsic value?

    To those who absolutely hate cigars, there is no amount of money that they would pay for a cigar. For others, even if the cheapest cigar in the world cost $100, they would buy them by the box.

    It's all relative to how much people like cigars versus whatever else they need or want to spend their money on (and how much $ they have to meet those various preferences).

  5. BB Wednesday, February 9, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    Nice article. As long as your reviews are consistent in both estimated price and # of smokes given, I'll be checking in every day.

    JP L. – you're mostly correct, in my opinion. (like my opinion is going to be "more" correct!) Adam Smith is correct, it's all supply and demand & that invisible hand. Marketing is what makes these prices so high. I've yet to try an Opus X, and not sure I ever will. ($30?!?) I believe it's brilliant marketing that has gotten them to this price. I can't imagine an Opus being 3X better than say Rocky's Decade. Could it be better? Sure. But I doubt the input costs are 3X as much. It's all personal preference on how people spend their coin…but I agree that $3-5 is a good number.

    Regarding the labor aspect, I'm sure this cigar business is a good one to be employed in. Half of it is simply farming just like a lot of people do here in the USA. I'm sure in those countries the rollers are making a respectable wage. Don't forget, the USA is extremely wealthy compared to the rest of the world.

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