It is generally agreed upon that handmade cigars are better than machine made cigars, but ask why, and most people would not be able to tell you. Let us explain the difference.
Most cigars are created when the wrapper is applied by hand to a bunch (combined, blended filler leaves) with a manual or motor-driven machine. Often these cigars are referred to as “machine bunched; handmade”. Machine made cigars are made entirely by machine using short filler or scrap filler tobacco. The wrapper is natural, but the binder is created from homogenized tobacco.
Pure, 100% handmade cigars are produced without the use of any machines, and are created by a premium cigar roller.
Most handmade cigars have long fillers made of leaves of tobacco which run the whole length of the cigar. While long filler cigars are almost always handmade, not all premium handmade cigars are long filler cigars. Recently some manufacturers have created medium filler cigars, and some handmade cigars, such as the Oba Oba!, contain mixed fillers — offering the quality of a handmade cigar at a considerable discount.
Machine made cigars, however, have short fillers made from leaves, stems, and other scraps of tobacco chopped up by a machine. Short fillers burn faster and become hotter, making the drawing and burning quality significantly inferior. You can tell if a cigar has short filler because it will not be able to achieve a sizable ash.
The binder holds the filler together. Handmade cigars use tough, coarse tobacco leaves to keep the filler together. Machine made cigars use ground up tobacco bits that are held together by natural glue.
Handmade cigar rollers take fine, silky, elastic wrapper tobacco and stretch it around the molded cigar body. This stretching and smoothing process makes the cigar look and feel attractive. Machine made cigars’ wrappers are typically flat and somewhat dull.