Should I Get Cigar Factory Seconds?

February 27, 2009 · Posted in Cigar 101 

UPDATE: Since writing this post nearly two years ago I have tried some factory seconds. From my experience I can tell you that there are some truly awful factory seconds out there and I have wondered whether or not there was just some “cosmetic” imperfections with these cigars. Wrappers exploding, flavors nowhere to be found and a generally negative experience ensued with most of the seconds that I have tried. Is it possible that the term “second” is just some kind of marketing ploy to try to get consumers to buy cigars that are made with tobacco that is inferior to the tobaccos used in the ready for prime time cigars?

What I can tell is that there are some good, cheap cigars out there. For example, I do like the Joya de Nicaragua Fuerte Series B because it has a lot of flavor and comes with a small price tag. According to the literature on this cigar the wrapper for the JdN Fuerte is the same as the wrapper for the Antano while the filler tobaccos (and I’m assuming the binder as well) is “slightly” different. Some of the house blends from the various online retailers are pretty good as well.

Another way to cut back on the cost of your cigars is to buy smaller cigars. Usually, smaller cigars are less expensive and, as an extra bonus, with smaller cigars your wrapper to total tobacco volume is pretty high, which means you are experiencing more of the flavors and character of the wrapper with smaller cigars. That’s a good thing because the wrapper is the highest quality leaf in a cigar and many in the industry believe that the wrapper is responsible for a disproportionate amount of the flavor found in a cigar. Maybe even think about getting some of those cigars in tins – the CAO Lx2 in a tin is pretty good.

Now back to the original post.

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I’m looking to load up my humidor and I was looking around for some good ones that are less expensive. Sure, I could do some extra homework and find a bunch of different cigars that are cheap but, I don’t know, that just seems like too much time and effort for me right now. That got me to thinking about factory seconds.

Seconds are just cigars that don’t meet the cut for some reason. They may have something wrong with the wrapper, they aren’t packed correctly, or something else. Maybe they’re misshapen – you don’t really get to know what’s wrong with them until you get them. But, to be honest, I really haven’t gotten to many factory seconds before so I don’t know what to expect.

That’s where you come in. Should I even consider buying a couple dozen factory seconds? Is their quality so poor that it’s not even worth the discounted price? Basically, what should I expect from factory seconds? I was specifically looking into getting some Rocky Patel factory seconds and, knowing that it’s a very high quality brand, I can’t imagine they would sell something, even as a second, if the quality was not there.

Even though I do want your response I did some searching about factory seconds and found this from Cigar Advisor:

    Each manufacturer has their own way of “processing” bundle cigars. Sure, you can find some real dog rockets in the bundle aisles, but like boxed “firsts”, the tobacco in bundles and second cigars has been cured and aged prior to rolling. That said, I wouldn’t doubt that many bundle cigars are not aged after rolling, as are most boxed premium handmade cigars.

So, what do you think? Should I go ahead and get some seconds?

Comments

11 Responses to “Should I Get Cigar Factory Seconds?”

  1. Travis Lindsay on February 27th, 2009 8:41 pm

    Two of my cigar buddies on Twitter (TriumphCIO and eshamus) have both said that the Rocky Patel seconds are very good. I think their recommendations might have decided the matter for me.

    By the way: Follow me on Twitter @Travis_Lindsay and I’ll be more than happy to talk cigars with you.

  2. Tommy Zman on February 28th, 2009 2:32 pm

    Seconds are basically “firsts” with imperfections. Maybe a bumpy wrapper, or a slightly loose roll, a noticeable vein, or an unevenly colored wrapper leaf.

    When the cigar roller finishes each cigar, it’s placed on a shelf in front of him. The factory inspector separats the cigars into different piles and pulls aside those with slight imperfections and those are the ones that are often tagged as seconds.

    Verdit: Buy ‘em. They are often a great value in a bundle.

    – Zman

  3. Tommy Zman on March 2nd, 2009 6:55 am

    And…I’ll let you know when I learn to spell. That 3rd grade edjumacation ain’t seem to be helpin’ none.

  4. Travis Lindsay on March 2nd, 2009 1:13 pm

    Tommy, my man, I can’t spell either! If it weren’t for spell check I would not have made it out of grade school myself. But your information about seconds is spot on. When I place my next order I’m going to get a couple bundles.

    Thanks,

    Travis

  5. Fred on June 7th, 2009 5:22 am

    In all honesty: I love my Rocky P’s. For me it is the Rocky Patel Sun Grown Junior. The taste and the draw is great and they are not that expensive. Really good to enjoy myself.

  6. collin on November 15th, 2009 2:23 pm

    ive bought 2 bundles and they have great taste, great draw they just dont look perfect. great value, get them

  7. Travis Lindsay on November 15th, 2009 5:05 pm

    Thanks Collin. :-)

  8. Natural Products Blog on August 15th, 2011 8:32 pm

    Rocky Patel Dirty Dozen…

    [...] he Rocky Patel seconds are very good. I think their recommendations might have d [...]…

  9. Samuel on May 1st, 2012 10:17 am

    Just surfed in while looking up cigar seconds. I realize this is an old post, but I figured I’d respond anyway. So far I’ve purchased 7 bundles of seconds: 4 from A. J. Fernandez, 1 from Rocky Patel, and 1 from Alec Bradley. Your addendum is completely correct, some are absolutely the pits and others are pretty decent. I’d say the edge closest towards crap than good, though. Out of the Fernandez bundles, only one was truly amazing, one was decent, and the other two were actually insufferable. I only smoked them when I ran out of good stuff. I smoked two of Rocky Patel’s seconds for one of his famous premium lines, and I had to return it. It wasn’t even worth the $2 a stick. I’m currently (at this moment) smoking an Alec Bradley second from their 90+ rated line. Eh. It’s not bad, and it’s not good–something I usually won’t say about AB’s 90+ cigars.

    Seconds is a dangerous thing. I’d only recommend it if you buy it from a place with a good return policy. Nothing worse than being stuck with a mazo of 10 to 20 duds.

  10. Samuel on May 1st, 2012 10:18 am

    btw, I realize my math was off above. I actually bought 5 AJ Fernandez seconds. And three were terrible (although I think they were the same line).

  11. Travis Lindsay on May 2nd, 2012 11:21 pm

    @Samuel: Yeah, for the most part I am going to stay away from seconds as much as possible. It just doesn’t make sense to me anymore to smoke something I don’t like for an hour (even if it costs slightly over a buck per stick). I do like AJ Fernandez cigars though…

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