The case of the double-bunched binder

As expected, the cigars were beautiful, well-packed and very flavorful. However, they were not burning well. They would go out shortly after lighting or would begin tunneling on me. I’ve smoked a lot of this particular company’s cigars over the years and have never had any problems. At first I thought it was that the Maduro wrappers were too thick. (I had encountered a similar problem with some Maduros many years ago.) By the fourth stick, which also tunneled, I was getting a little frustrated. Maybe the cigars were too moist?

Not long after that, in June at the Cigar Expo, I was speaking to one of the manufacturer’s top reps and mentioned the problem to him. His eyes widened in surprise and I told him I’d send him the factory info from the bottom of the box to see if anything could be traced. He also offered me a replacement box, but I told him I’d like to see if my too much moisture theory was correct first. In any event, I let the cigars settle a couple of more months before smoking another.

Several months later I brought a couple of the cigars in to work and put them in my office humidor which tends to stay at around 65% RH year-round. After a few days, to ensure that the cigars were in no way overly moist, I took them out and let them sit out on my desk overnight. Now, perfectly supple, the next day I lit the first one up and CURSES, the cigar tunneled on me. After the second cigar tunneled I took a picture of the bad burn (shown above) and sent it to the rep I had spoken to at the Expo. His reply was most interesting, and he taught me something about premium cigars I never knew, which is why I’m passing this story on to you.

It wasn’t the wrapper leaf, nor was it the moisture content of the cigar that was causing the problem. It was something he called “double bunching” of the binder.

In case you didn’t know, the binder is used primarily for combustion. And because the binder leaf burns more readily than the filler and wrapper, its purpose is to help all of the tobaccos burn at approximately the same rate. If the cigar is properly rolled, all the leaves will “fall into line” when lit and you’ll get a nice clean ash. It’s an extremely rare occurrence, but what happens sometimes in the factory is, during the bunching process somehow the binder gets doubled back, causing it to be too thick. Because there is now more combustible tobacco in the mix, it causes this acute tunneling.

After diagnosing this, the rep insisted on sending me a replacement box, and so far all of the cigars from it have burned perfectly.

The moral of the story is, if you have cigars that are tunneling, it may not necessarily be your storage conditions or the quality of the tobaccos. It might just be that somehow the binder got doubled-up at the factory by a buncher who may have been either a little inexperienced or in too much of a hurry.  (_[GK]__{{{~

Gary Korb

Gary Korb

Executive Editor at

Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for since its debut in 2008. An avid cigar smoker for over 30 years, during the past 12 years he has worked on the marketing side of the premium cigar business as a Sr. Copywriter, blogger, and cigar reviewer. 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.

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