It goes without saying that in the developed world, cigars and scotch are seen as an upper-class hobby; a luxury for the rich, if you will. Despite this stereotype, most of the people I know who smoke cigars and enjoy whisky are working class, smash the piggy bank to buy a bottle of Ardbeg kind of people. So why is it that this reputation remains? I suspect it’s largely due to clever marketing on behalf of the premium brands. Take Cohiba, for instance, who recently collaborated with Ferrari to produce a humidor worth nearly $1000, designed to fit seamlessly into one’s personal Ferrari. While I highly doubt Cohiba will sell many of these, what this product does do is tell Ferrari owners (or wannabe Ferrari owners) that other Ferrari owners like to smoke cigars (whether they actually do or not). As a brand, such marketing makes sense: get the rich and famous into your product and others will follow. I suppose it has worked; who knows how many young men started smoking cigars after seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger light one up in Predator.
So the question remains: is this luxury push from cigar manufacturers good for Joe Blow cigar smoker? Anything that increases interest in cigars and expands the market is surely good for all consumers. However, having high net worth individuals coming in has created a divide in the cigar world, with premium Cohibas and other brands costing upwards of 10-50 times that of other cigars. In other words, the price of cigars has become highly skewed, making it difficult for the average smoker to experience the full range of cigars on the market.
All said and done, I think the verdict is still out. As for me, as long as there continues to be manufacturers who create great cigars at a reasonable price, I’ll be happy. There are lots of great sub-$10 sticks out there that will compete with Opus X, Cohiba, etc. on flavour, construction, and general enjoyability. Take the Ferrari/Cohiba humidor. For nearly $1000, this humidor costs nearly 50 times what my travel humidor cost me, yet my stogies are always properly humidified and with me where ever I go. And most important of all, mine’s not yellow.