The term “boutique cigar” is heard quite often and while we think we know what it means, it is a bit of a vague term. Typically we think of a small company producing a limited production cigar or line of cigars utilizing some unique tobaccos and blends. In many cases we find a boutique cigar company being a dream of a true cigar lover looking to create what they believe is just an outstanding smoke that they wish to share with the world. We can find many similarities between boutique cigars and craft beers… both are offshoots of the mainstream industries they are in and both believing that their product is a vast improvement over the big brands!
But what does that term “boutique cigar” really mean? Industry standards say that it is a production run of less than one million cigars across their entire cigar portfolio. However many boutique cigars are produced by massive cigar companies such as AJ Fernandez but under contract to a small developing company. Many small companies begin as boutique but eventually became mass produced. I tend to look at boutique as cigars produced by a person or group that is passionate about cigars, passionate about quality, and in many cases working with small batches of tobacco that limits their production of cigars. They may make many one-off labels based upon tobacco availability and in limited production runs. The cigars may be very difficult to find due to limited production. But they are many times worth the search for the quality and passion that went into their production.
Many boutique cigars are not often found in retail shops due to their limited production and unfortunately their limited audience. Many cigar customers still stick to the familiar mainstream brands and are reluctant to venture into new territory. Fortunately, this trend is beginning to change and more and more new and younger cigar smokers are looking for new styles, new sizes, new blends, and new flavors. Again, this is definitely mirroring the craft beer business as more and more consumers look to venture into new territory.
In our ABC humidors we are trying some boutique brands. Nomad is one label we have already brought in to select stores along with PDR and there are several more under consideration. While we have traditionally been known for carrying mainstream labels, our continued growth in cigar sales and our slowly becoming a destination store for many cigar smokers brings us to looking to expanding our offerings. There are so many absolutely fabulous boutique cigars out there that our guests need to try!
Handcrafted, a labor of love by folks passionate about what they are doing, and creating experiences is what both industries are all about. Next time you visit our stores look for that craft brew and find that cigar that you are unfamiliar with… you will be pleasantly surprised and expanding your experiences!
Steve Mungeer, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits Category Manager: Premium Cigars and Craft Beer, Certified Retail Tobacconist
Follow me on Twitter @abccigarmungo