Let’s face it, the cigar industry is a crowded one; Literally hundreds upon hundreds of companies in the cigar world all vying for shelf space in shop humidors and online retailers. Everyone wants to stand out from the rest and will try seemingly anything to look unique among their competitors. Yes, I know you gotta do your best to get attention and make sales, but some tactics just really get on my nerves! Here are the three gimmicks that annoy me the most, and to be fair I included a couple that I rather like too.
#1 Giant or Full Length Cigar Bands
This particular gimmick has been getting more prevalent in recent years. It’s like everyone’s trying to one up each other on how ornate their bands can be. While I do appreciate a well designed and even an elaborate band on a cigar, the giant ones that cover the majority or even the entirety of the stick is just freaking annoying! First off, I can’t smoke the band so, the more band there is the more waste there will inherently be. You also have a greater risk of wrapper leaf damage when you get these over-the-top bands due to the extra surface area and adhesive. Lastly, I like looking at the actual wrapper of the cigar before picking it up off the shelf. Kinda hard to do that when you got this grotesque 6-inch-long decoration covering the damn thing.
#2 The term “Limited Edition”
Before anyone loses their mind, I want everyone to know that I do like quite a few “Limited Edition” cigars from many different companies. It’s just the term itself that I find stupid. “Yes, we are excited to announce a ‘Limited Edition’ cigar this year, as opposed to our ordinary ‘unlimited blends’ that you are familiar with.” I know, I know, the term is a relative one. But in all seriousness, I just find the term “limited edition” to be a little silly. I think something like “small batch”, or “special release” would be more genuine and appropriate. This might seem like I’m nitpicking with this one, and maybe I am. However, I do honestly think the industry would do well to drop the term altogether for something a little more accurate.
#3 Ridiculous Ring Gauges
To me this one is the absolute worst. I’ve made no secret about this over the years that I have reviewed cigars, I don’t usually go for ring gauges above 56. There are a few exceptional 60 ring gauge smokes that I do enjoy, but certainly nothing bigger than that has been attractive to me…EVER! These 70, 80 and yeah even 90 ring gauge cigars are beyond stupid and offer absolutely nothing in terms of superior flavor experience. It makes me cringe every time I see a new one introduced on the market, and it really shames me to know that the gordo vitola is one of top three selling sizes in the US market. The simple reason that these ludicrous sizes even exist at all is because enough people think they look cool. Okay fine, to each his own, but I have never understood the appeal of having something the size of a donkey dick jammed in my mouth.
Alright, so far this piece has been a little cranky sounding. To avoid making this article entirely negative, I will end with a couple of gimmicks that I do appreciate.
#1 Foot Bands
I know what your thinking, “hey man, you just got done ranting about waste, and you can’t smoke a foot band either!” This is all true, however a foot band is hardly as obnoxious as one that is full-length. The foot band is a much more subtle and classy way to dress up a stick that is also much easier to remove than the larger varieties (particularly if it is a foot ribbon). It also has the added benefit of protecting the exposed foot of the cigar from damage before smoking which makes it practical to boot.
#2 Wrapper Leaf Accents
I’m not talking about barber pole sticks here, though I do appreciate those when well-constructed. I mean specifically cigars that have just a few bits of wrapper leaf accentuation around the cap and/or foot. A few examples would be the Killer Bee line from Black Works Studio, or the Deseret by Apostate Cigars, or just about every cigar from Jake Wyatt. The effect is always striking and truly makes the cigars stand out in a special way. There is also a clear level of care taken to create this look too which only adds to the level of artistry in the craft. Plus, you can actually smoke this kind of decoration, so I am all for it!
What if any tactics or gimmicks do you like or hate? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please let me know in the comments below!