Tobacco Asia

Volume 18, Number 5

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34 tobaccoasia By Thomas Schmid Most cigar connoisseurs and even retailers would probably insist that only a cigar entirely crafted by hand can be called a true cigar. Although this surely may be true from a certain standpoint, it does ignore the fact that the overwhelming share of cigars sold today are actually machine-rolled. Die-hard aficionados might argue that machine- made cigars can never achieve the superb quality hand- crafted cigars are famous for, but sales volumes make a point to the contrary. Modern machine- rolled cigars in many ways can now keep up with their elitist cousins, not to a small part thanks to the sophisticated machinery used in their produc- tion and also their high-quality tobaccos. Yet they are at the same time more affordable and thus appeal to a much broader consumer demographic. Asia Joins the Cigar Appreciation Club Although Europe and to a certain extent North and South America remain the heartlands of cigar culture for the time being, Asia is catching up. Tra- ditional manufacturers – many of them based out of Europe – have seen slow growth but rising de- mand from this region. It is most likely attributable to the rise of a more affluent middle class ready to discover the pleasures of a good cigar, not to men- tion the status that comes with indulging, which is of tremendous importance especially in this part of the world where image is (almost) everything. But the trend in the region seems to go towards smaller, thinner formats like cigarillos and chicos (which can be filter-tipped or not) or, if we're climb- ing up the gauge ladder, panatelas and conchitas, while larger formats, like coronas and robustos, An increasingly affluent middle class of Asian consumers are taking to cigar smoking – although for the time being more affordable machine-rolled products seem to remain the preferred choice, Thomas Schmid reports. Agio Cigars' Panter "Blue" small cigars Agio Cigars' booth at the 2014 InterTabac in Dortmund, Germany images courtesy of Royal Agio Cigars

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