We just started the process of updating our website and that has led to a discussion or two. One of the more intriguing questions has been, what is a boutique cigar? We get asked if we are a "boutique shop" or if we carry many "boutique brands", and we have no ready answer! This is probably due to the lack of a clear designation for "boutique cigar" brands.
This isn't just a matter of terminology - as boutique and premium are not synonymous. Premium cigars do not have to be boutique cigars, nor do boutique cigars need to be premium cigars! Premium cigars are usually defined as hand rolled using long-filler tobacco. Bailey's deals in premium cigars! We make an effort to NOT focus on one type or style of cigar. We do favor cigars from family owned companies that are not expensive.
Our go to for vocabulary, Tobacconist Universit (TU), says this about boutique: "This term refers to smaller cigar, pipe, and tobacco companies with limited production. In general, boutique companies are more artisan-oriented." Where artisan typically means handcrafted using traditional methods. There is a Boutique Cigar Association (affiliated with PCA and CRA), which defines boutique cigar manufacturers as those who produce "under one million cigars annually". Bailey's does not currently carry any cigars made by members of the BCA, but we are a member of CRA.
We think that Tony Gomez of La Flor Dominicana got it right in a 2022 interview with Tobacco Business. He described LFD as a boutique-style company, where the emphasis is on how cigars are produced and not how many are produced. If you've heard us talk about our trips to ProCigar or have been waiting for an Andalusian Bull, you get what he means!
You'll find that most premium cigar manufacturers, regardless of size, treat cigar manufacturing as an artisan process. There is also an emphais on family, with many premium cigar companies still family owned or run. You might not agree with the way we categorize different manufacturers, and that's ok! Here at Bailey's we rreally try to avoid hard and fast labels. Terminology is more a place to begin a conversation - preferably while smoking a premium cigar!