The Difference Between Machine-Made and Handmade Cigars

Find out which variety is the best choice for your budget

A woman hand-rolling cigars
A professional cigar roller demonstrates her craft at the Gonzalez y Martinez Cigar Factory in Ybor City.

Gary Manelski

The most basic method of categorizing cigars is by the method in which they are made. Cigars are either rolled by hand or manufactured by machines. The novice smoker may be tempted to start by trying those machine made brands sold in convenience stores, such as Dutch Masters or El Producto because they are easy to get and inexpensive.

However, the aspiring connoisseur should consider spending a little more and moving up to hand rolled cigars, which are sold online or at a local tobacconist.

Hand Rolled Cigars Are Made With Pure Tobacco

The reconstituted tobaccos used in machine-made cigars are not pure 100 percent tobacco, but may contain paper, preservatives, and various chemicals.

On the other hand, a hand made cigar consists of the filler, the binder to hold the filler, and the outer wrapper, which are all 100 percent tobacco leaves and not any other substance. Most of the tobacco in hand rolled cigars is imported from other countries, such as the Dominican Republic.

For the most part, such tobacco has a much better flavor than what is used in the machine made cigars, although scraps from the cuttings of long filler handmade cigars are sometimes used in machine made cigars.

Long filler tobaccos are usually used in premium cigars that are totally made by hand, but it is noted that some "handmade" cigars are only partially made by hand, because the wrapper was hand rolled over a binder containing short and mixed filler that was bunched and bound by machines.

Not All Hand Rolled Cigars Are Expensive

Although hand rolled cigars are more expensive than those mass produced by machines, there are many inexpensive hand rolled cigars with prices of around a dollar each. Cigar specialty shops often have some individual cigar varieties for sale cheaply, such as discontinued stock.

It is also possible to purchase boxes or bundles of inexpensive hand rolled cigars online. Even the premium cigar maker Arturo Fuente offers low-price cigars that taste great, such as the Curly Head cigars. Curly Heads are mild and rustic, and can appeal to those who prefer a classic and traditional taste. When purchased by the box, the cost is less than $2.50 per stick at some cigar retailers.

​Of course, for special occasions, it's worth indulging in a box of premium cigars. The flavor and scent cannot be beat. They are well worth the extra investment when compared to lesser brands and machine-made cigars.

Daily Smokers vs Connoisseurs

Individual cigar smokers have their own unique tastes, and have their own individual financial constraints. Those who enjoy smoking several cigars per day may need an "everyday" cigar that is inexpensive. Therefore, the taste and cost of machine made cigars can be very attractive to some smokers. However, to the aspiring or experienced connoisseurs, the ones who enjoy an occasional cigar as a special treat, the hand rolled cigar is worth every penny.