This week during one of our meetings, we brought up the topic of cigars. After discussing for a while about luxury cigars, the conversation moved to cheap cigars like Phillies and Luvins, which people can buy for anything between Rs. 20 to Rs. 100. We tried a few ourselves, and we have to say, that after a round or two of whiskey, they taste amazing. 

These cigars are machine made, whereas luxury cigars are handmade. Their tobacco is not sorted properly, they don’t pass through as many hands and they don’t have as many layers and flavours. Yet, they are great value for money. 

The sad part is looking for them in Mumbai is very hard. Most paan tapris (where we buy cigarettes from) don’t sell them. It’s only those big pan shops which sell a wide range of pans in aluminium foils that store them. In Lower Parel, where this writer’s office is based, we couldn’t find a single tapri which had cigars. And we must have tried at around 6-7 places. 

In Nerul, where this writer lives, we found one. But the story that the seller had to tell was a sad one. “Some days, we don’t sell any cigars. Some days, we sell a pack. There are no regular cigar customers, just a few people who buy it for experimenting,” says Ram Prasad, the 52-year-old shop owner from Rajasthan. 

“I love smoking cigars from time to time, since they last long and you get so many different flavours. Maybe they are healthier as well, since you are not supposed to inhale the smoke,” says Manish Jain, a SYBMS student. 

If you are looking to smoke something better, then try getting your hands on a Cuban cigar. “Lots of things go into making Cuban cigars, both in cultivation and in the manufacturing. To tell you the truth, it is very hard work, especially growing quality tobacco. It requires a lot of operations. The cultivation and choosing the right leaves for the cigars are really an art. And then making cigars is really beautiful. It also very much relates to the history of Cuba and to the struggle of independence for Cuba. Many of the people who migrated to Cuba later worked in the cigar factories, and they were very active in the struggle for independence during colonial times,” Fidel Castro said in an interview with Cigar Aficionado magazine. 

But mind you, they are extremely expensive (you can buy them online, so it’s not that elusive) and a single cigar can cost you Rs. 1000 (minimum). But then again, like single malt whiskey, if you find a way to appreciate their beauty, it’s worth it.