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  • Writer's pictureBen Balliro

If It Costs More, It’s Better Right?

Updated: May 8, 2020

“Yes, if it costs more it means it’s a better cigar right?....WROnG!”. You’ve read this online before and heard this argument a million times on cigar reviews. But has anyone stopped to think why that is? We know what it means, but why is it the case? If a cigar has a more exclusive blend, the higher the price, the better smoke it should be. I mean think about it, if I am having my meal prepared by a trained chef, with the freshest ingredients, and the best chef’s tools money can buy, then the meal should outdo most other meals right? One reason or another with cigars, that logic fails us.

If I have access to better quality tobacco, then how come they don’t “outperform” other cigars again and again? I think you know where I’m going with this, yes I’m talking about Cigar Aficionados(tm) top 25 and Cigar of the Year. So let’s break this down from one side, then the other.

C.A. Starts by buying each of the cigars you have access to at full retail price, to simulate your buying experience. Then they remove the bands, and smoke them blind against one another, some 700 plus cigars are smoked by a panel to filter out which cigars outperformed all others, then finally land on the Cigar of the Year. This method of rating cigars seems efficient, fair, and unbiased. No question.

The other side is from the cigar blenders standpoint. The cigar makers try to either grow or purchase the best tobacco they can find, hire top notch blenders and rollers, and pay a wide range of prices for these goods and services. Now, this method stands to reason that if you have access to aged tobacco from a variety of farms, age them for “x” number of months or years, then blend them to make the cigars, the better quality tobacco and better quality blenders should make better smokes. One example of this is everyone’s favorite bourgeoise brand Davidoff. Davidoff is owned by Oettinger Davidoff AG, which is based in Basel, Switzerland and has a plethora of luxury products from high end cutters, to lighters, to cigars, to ashtrays, to you-name-it-they-can-make-it accessories. I will tell you, of the few Davidoff Cigars I’ve tried they are pretty damn good. Their Escurio Robusto is one of my favorite cigars. They use almost exclusively multinational blends of tobaccos from very remote regions of Nicaragua, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic. Their cigars usually start at around 15-20 dollars and go all the way up to 500 dollars..each.

Now we all know there is a point of diminishing return when it comes to tobacco and at some point buying a 500 dollar smoke has less to do with the tobacco and has more to do with you being affluent enough to show off to your friends. I’m sure it’s a delicious smoke, but no one can justify a 500 dollar smoke by telling me this tobacco was aged in Louis’ XIII’s sock drawer for 3 years or whatever. I’m kidding of course, but you see my point. However, their more normal line of cigars in the 30-40 dollar sticks do use some pretty Davidoff exclusive tobaccos that, compared to most, should provide a more memorable and better quality experience. By this logic it should outperform most other smokes and rate higher on C.A.’s website, but C.A. does not use price as a measure of the quality of a cigar. They are more concerned with how it smokes, the flavors, the burn, the draw and consistency of the smoke to give it proper credibility.

So why is it that the last Davidoff cigar, the Davidoff Nicaragua Robusto, scored the number 21 spot back in 2014? This particular cigar is a 16 dollar stick, which isn’t on the too high-end range of purchases, but it’s a little above average. On Davidoff’s website they say this about that cigar ,”The traditional Nicaragua Robusto enchants with its gorgeous Habana Seed Nicaragua Rosada wrapper. This superb cigar starts with white pepper notes and spices, before journeying through the peaks and valleys of Nicaragua with creamy and then sweeter notes.” Now you read that and think holy sh%$, this cigar should blow the wrappers of it’s competitors! And yet it didn’t, now why is that? It’s an unusual question because both ad hoc arguments make sense, yet they are mutually exclusive. They bother argue that price does not matter, but it should matter, yet it doesn’t. Ah! I’m getting turned around just thinking about it.

This is one of the greatest and never ending debates of cigar logic that we may never have an answer to because maybe we’re not supposed to. In my opinion it comes down to this; just because something is expensive doesn’t mean it’s better, and just because it’s cheaper doesn’t mean it is worse. Sometimes simpler is better. I think the ratings on C.A. have proven that time and time again. Also, tastes are subjective so if you are a Davidoff fanatic, then the C.A. Ratings may not sustain your bias, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth it to you personally. I would love to hear your side of the story, please write to us on our website or post a comment on our twitter @cigartipsters or Instagram.

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