Cigars 101

Buying Bundle Cigars

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Part I – Bundles Defined

In this article, we’ll tell the “true Hollywood story” of bundle cigars. For the uninitiated of you curious about these un-banded cello-wrapped packages, you probably have your own ideas about what these cigars really are, where they come from, who smokes them and how they’re made, among others. Actually, if it weren’t for bundles, there may not be much of a cigar business at all. Having first appeared in the 1960s, today bundles have not only become nice profit centers for retailers but for customers seeking good alternatives to their regular cigars, they’re mighty practical and economical.

First, let’s clear up the difference between “seconds” and “bundles.” “Seconds” are “ungraded” or “unselected” cigars that didn’t meet the manufacturer’s standards as “firsts” due to minor flaws in the wrapper, the wrapper’s color or the overall construction of the cigar itself. That doesn’t mean the cigars are bad, they’re just not the “up to snuff” (you’ll pardon the expression). Because these cigars are still high enough in quality to sell, they’re packaged in bundles and sold to retailers at a reduced cost.

“Bundles” are cigars made specifically to sell as “no-name” cigars, but as mentioned above, they can also be “seconds.” Another way cigars get to be bundled is if a manufacturer has an overrun on a particular size. Bundles are sometimes identified by the country of origin, like “Nicaraguan Bundles” or “Honduran Bundles.” Sometimes, these bundles are one-time only deals or in many cases, they are regularly produced to be marketed as bundle labels complete with their own bands. Good examples of these brands are National Brand, Flor De Oliva, and La Floridita. Some retailers contract with manufacturers to create their own exclusive house brand bundles, such as Value Line cigars and Dominique. In fact, some of the best cigar makers in the business like General Cigar and Villazon make bundle cigars so, in actuality, both “firsts” and “seconds” are sold as bundles.

Since bundles are basically “unmarked,” when buying bundles or seconds it’s important that you read the description of the cigars so you know what you’re getting and don’t be afraid to ask questions. ;-/

Part 2 – Choosing a Good Bundle Some things to consider when buying bundles, even if you know they came from a highly respected cigar maker: 1) The cigars often do not match in color. 2) The taste may be inconsistent. 3) Some bundles are machine made and some are made with short filler for what’s known as a “sandwich” blend.

When it comes to “inspecting” a bundle cigar, you start with a disadvantage. Because of the way bundles are packaged, you can’t just pick one up and check it out like you would a boxed cigar. Probably the only thing you can do is inspect the package to see if the cigars have been bruised, ripped or squished. So what else CAN you do? Several things.

  • Always try to buy bundles that contain long leaf filler.
  • Check the blends. Chances are if the blend and body are similar to what you already smoke, you may also enjoy that bundle.
  • Shop by Country: If you like Honduran blends, you may want to go for an un-banded bundle labeled “Honduran Bundles.” The same would go for other no-name bundles, such as “Nicaraguan Closeouts,” “Dominican Seconds,” etc. Chances are these cigars are over-runs made in some of the best factories and are usually available in natural and Maduro wrappers.
  • Try a “private” blend such as those made specifically for the retailer or labels the merchant has purchased as an exclusive.
  • Read & Learn: Carefully read the descriptions and the customer comments about each bundle. Sometimes the copy will indicate the factory or company who produced the cigars and can often be the deciding factor in choosing a bundle. Some examples of the latter are National Brand (Baccarat), El Credito (La Gloria Cubana) and Supervisor Selection (Alec Bradley).

Not unlike finding a good premium cigar, finding a good bundle takes a certain amount of experimentation. Don’t let the price fool you, either. Price can be determined any number of reasons, from the what the retailer paid for the cigars to just wanting to move merchandise quickly. Though some bundles may be closer in price to boxed cigars, there are some really decent buys for as little as $19.95 and $24.95 a bundle. ;-/

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Gary Korb

Gary Korb

Executive Editor

Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for CigarAdvisor.com since its debut in 2008. An avid cigar smoker for over 30 years, he has worked on the marketing side of the premium cigar business as a Sr. Copywriter, blogger, and Executive Editor of Cigar Advisor. A graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, prior to his career in the cigar business, Gary worked in the music and video industry as a marketer and a publicist.

Show all Gary Korb's Articles
cigar advisor #nowsmoking cigar review video of 90 miles RA nicaragua limited edition - cover

#NowSmoking: 90 Miles R.A. Nicaragua Limited Edition

Reading Time: 4 minutes Admittedly not a regular smoker of Lanceros, Gary reviews the 90 Miles R.A. Nicaragua Limited Edition Lancero. Attributed to the late Roberto Alonso—a close friend of the Gonzalez’s—watch now to see if this cigar checks all the right boxes.

Read More
cigar advisor best glass top humidor guide - cover

Everything You Need to Know About Glass Top Humidors

Reading Time: 6 minutes Love the idea of being able to admire your cigars through the glass? That’s great, but there are a number of things you should know before you buy a glass top humidor. Learn more about the pros, cons, maintenance and more regarding glass top humidors.

Read More
cigar advisor fan mail part 51 - cover

Fan Mail: Burning Cigar Questions Answered (Part 51)

Reading Time: 2 minutes Fresh cigar questions have arrived! See our video answers to why cigars have bands, whether resting them outside the humidor is ideal before smoking, and whether infused cigars lose their flavors over time. We’ll see you inside!

Read More
cigar advisor 5 things about steve saka cover

5 Things That Made My Career: Steve Saka of Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust (Podcast)

Reading Time: 5 minutes This podcast with Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Cigars founder Steve Saka reveals the five milestones that took him to rock star status. Starting with his discovery of premium cigars in the Navy, it’s an illuminating listen with one of the cigar industry’s most idiosyncratic and admired personalities.

Read More