Ask The Readers: Your Thoughts on Seconds?

Stogie Talk30 Comments on Ask The Readers: Your Thoughts on Seconds?

Ask The Readers: Your Thoughts on Seconds?

Name Brand Seconds - 1I was talking with my father yesterday, and an interesting subject popped up. I don’t recall what exactly brought it on, but we managed to get to talking about the selection of seconds that were available from select manufacturers. Mid way through our discussion I made mention that this would make an interesting little write-up on Stogie Review, however it probably wouldn’t make me many friends in the industry.

The discussion with my father revolved around the definition of a second. By second, I mean a cigar that isn’t up to snuff and is rejected from the primary assortment. So we have these seconds, available nationwide from catalog companies, but what are they?

At first I thought that perhaps a second was a complete cigar that was made up of second rate tobacco. For instance, perhaps when the tobacco is graded it is sorted into three piles, premium, second rate, rejected and sold off as scrap. This should, in essence, make a cigar that was similar to the original but made up of inferior product.

Rocky Patel Vintage Seconds - 1

While this situation may not be ideal, it seems like a great way to use up second rate tobacco and leverage the name of the cigar it is modeled after. I would think that these seconds would be similar in taste to their premium counterpart, but may have some construction issues.

When I read up on these cigars, it would seem that this isn’t how they come to be. It seems that in some cases, the premium is rolled then some of the stock is rejected for not being up to snuff. This would also be acceptable in my mind. You are bound to find some problem sticks in the quality control portion of manufacturing.

Perdomo 2 Mistakes - 1

My concern begins to rise, however, when I see the sheer volume of available seconds. Take Rocky Patel for instance, he has Factory Selects, Seconds, and at one time had Off Color. Perdomo has a lineup of Mistakes and Remainders. The concern isn’t that they exist, but that there is an entire line of seconds available across the big catalog companies. I can’t help but wonder if their rollers continually make that many problem cigars that an entire line can be created. And if so, what is the likelihood of some of these being missed and finding their way into premium boxes? Granted, these seconds are not always available, but there sure are a lot of them listed across the web.

Rocky Patel Factory Selects - 1Available At Famous:

At Cigars International:

Rocky Patel Factory Selects - 2

The volume of the lines makes me wonder if some of the premium lines aren’t actually a byproduct of making seconds. It would be one thing if the seconds were available at a handful of cigar shops which sell a couple dozen boxes per month, but we are talking about mail order stores that do hundreds, if not thousands, of boxes per month.

Perhaps I have the wrong idea and these seconds are cigars that are ordered by these large catalog companies. It is possible that when the order comes in, apprentice rollers are put to work knowing that their product is not going to match the quality of an experienced roller.

This article came about as a bunch of “what if” scenarios. I don’t know how seconds come to be, I just get my information by reading the catalog copy. Whatever they are, or however they come to be, there are simply an amazing number of these cigars out there for the purchase.

I’ve run on and on with the inner
workings of my mind, tell me, what are
your thoughts on seconds?

Image Credit:
Cigars International Catalog – November 2009
Famous Smoke Shop Online Catalog – November 2009

enjoying cigars since 2005

30 thoughts on “Ask The Readers: Your Thoughts on Seconds?

  1. Excellent question!

    I always took the 2nds as being made but then rejected for flaws, etc after the fact or they were made from leftovers from the premium rolling. I know some of the 2nds are AWESOME smokes IF you let them sit in your humi for at least 6 months!! I never actually thought about the volume of these that are produced but you are right, it seems like a LOT of them are around! Maybe they dont use quality control until after they are rolled? OR maybe they quality control each leaf and when they are rejected they get rolled into the 2nds?

    It would be curious if someone in the industry would speak up about how this works, but I doubt that will happen.


    On the flip side, why dont ALL manufacturers do this? I have never seen a 2nds for an Illusione for example.

  2. I have a problem with these because I have ordered them in the past and I dont think I got what was advertised. I found an add at CI (not sure if it was online or their actual catalog) that called the cigars “Off Color”. They said they were exactly like the premium (Rockey Patel Edge Maduro) but were rejected because the shade of the cigar wasnt up to standards. When I received them they looked alright but I noticed they were a strange size. I am pretty sure this was not a usual size but oh well, I smoked them anyway.

    This is where the problems came in. They were without a doubt not just “off Color”. They had horrible burn, horrible draw and usually needed several relights. I understand when you buy seconds they are not going to be the same but these were not advertised that way and they specifically said they burn, and taste just like the original but are off color.

    Oh well, I gave them a try and they werent expensive. I have learned my lesson.

  3. I’m glad you wrote this, Walt, because I was seriously JUST ABOUT TO BUY a bundle of RP Vintage 1992 Torpedo Seconds. I love their flavor, and I don’t mind having to relight them. The savings are so substantial that if the flavor’s the same, I can’t justify shellin out the extra clams.

    1. I have seconds of the 92 in a toro size. In my experiences, they’re fairly similar (although the wrapper is a thin mofo). It’s not quite the same as the real 92, but it’s definitely a fine alternative at like 40% of the real thing’s price.

  4. I’m glad you covered this topic as I have been wondering exactly how good/bad these seconds are compared to the full price premium versions – maybe you could do some reviews on a few of them. Some of the comments, particularly that of Wingfan13(Jon) which addressed the off-colour verions of Rocky Patel’s The Edge, were excellent. I had planned on picking some up…. not now!

    I picked up some bundled cigars from the CigarZan website to try. The flavour and aroma weren’t bad for a CDN$3.50 stick but the construction was terrible for the most part. Of the 25 cigars in the bundle, 5 were un-smokable, another 5 were perfectly constructed and the remaining 15 either had serious burn issues (tunneling or canoeing or blocked) and/or seemed to contain unfermented tobacco leaves (green in colour, and I don’t mean candela) which had an acrid taste/smell. I won’t be getting those again.

    BTW, keep up the great reviews! Thanks.

  5. I put a lot of work into the cigars I buy, I do a lot of research before I buy something, I look at it in a way that if I’m going to be spending money on a cigar I want to be sure I’m getting my moneys worth. So when it comes to buying seconds I have a tendency to look down on them because like you said there’s not much information on them. At my local shop I bought a single factory reject, I can’t remember the which number right now, and didn’t like it at all. Ever since then I am very uneasy about buying cigars that I haven’t looked into.

  6. Some seconds are awful, some are fantastic. Personally, I like the idea of just buying seconds when you know you’ll have mooching friends so you can give them something similar to the real thing at sometimes a quarter of the real thing’s price.

    If you’re tight on money, try a second. If not, try a second. The worst thing that can happen is you’re stuck with 15-25 cigars you dislike that you got for <$40. Just give them to friends…lol

  7. Interesting topic Walt. I wonder about bundles as well. I have to think that the true premiums are put in boxes. The bundles and seconds are “second rate”. Not sure what they do differently but I suspect that one is they use the less experienced rollers which is 2/3’s of the rolling force. So they crank out cigars that are not box worthy. They also probably use lower graded tobacco.

    My two cents 🙂

  8. Here are my thoughts. I haven’t tried any seconds yet, but I don’t nessesarily like the idea. To me, it is Rocky Patel’s way of making extra money with the CQ issues they might have from the massive amounts of cigars they make. They are a pretty big manufac and obviously your going to have lots of rejects when you increase volume. I’m not a huge fan of RP to begin with, so I am a bit biased. It just seems like more of a way for RP to make extra cash rather than giving the consumer a bargain for a quality product.

    @ Ray D., I don’t think the idea of giving seconds to moochers is a great idea. The only problem I have with that is that if your friends end up disliking the cigars because they weren’t very good seconds to begin with, it may make them feel like that brand isn’t very good or just give them a bad experience, and that’s not what cigars are all about. Like others have said though, some seconds are apparently good so having a bad experience isn’t always the case. Just food for thought.

    1. I’m a college student. I can’t afford to give the same stick I’m smoking to 3-4 friends every time friends come over for a cigar. I understand the gentleman nature of cigars and all of that, but I’m not going to be taken advantage of every time people want a cigar. I’m not opposed to giving the ‘name brand’ version of a stick to friends (and I do do that), but as I said, college student. Having an $8+ stick every few days is taxing enough. If it turns into $40+ every time friends want a stogie, I’ll never pay off my loans. As for the ‘just give it to friends’ part, it was a joke. I don’t like giving out things I dislike because my friends might not like it, either. But, if I think it’s something they might like, I’ll more than gladly let them try it. If they dislike it, they dislike it. If not, I now know I have sticks that are relatively inexpensive that they like for when mass groups of friends come over.

  9. Ray D- I think most gentleman cigar smokers behave differently. Treating guests and friends to new things or things that they would otherwise not have access to is part and parcel of hospitality.

    1. I don’t think I’m behaving in an ungentlemanly nature. I treat friends and/or guests to things that they may like and don’t have access to. Of my close group of friends, none are serious cigar smokers. For the most part, they just enjoy the company of sharing a stogie with a buddy (and I feel the same as well). Do I buy shit just to give them a cigar? No. Am I going to go out and buy 4-5 Illusione/Tatuaje/whatever so that they can have the same stick as I am having? Not on a college student’s budget. I was joking with the ‘just give it to a friend’ part, but I might as well give them one to see if they do indeed like it. Not everyone has the same taste in cigars, and if I happen to have a bundle of whatevers that are cheap that my friends like and I dislike, I’ll be glad to let them enjoy them. If I wanted to, I’d figure out exactly how much each stick was and expect compensation immediately. But I don’t.

      What it really comes down to is that the herfing is the main attraction, not the cigar. I won’t not give friends a fantastic stick – I just can’t afford to do it every time they want a smoke, and if they dislike that, they’re just frankly going to have to supply their own.

  10. not to be rude, but why would I buy seconds of any of those cigars when the firsts are not that good to begin with……..

  11. When I first got into cigars years ago I would buy seconds because I could smoke the same cigar as the firsts at a huge discount. Back then, the seconds were mistakes in that there were cosmetic differences or they were cut the wrong length, etc. I found that the cigars were right on in terms of taste and very seldom did I find one that was not smokable. The tobacco used was the same as in the banded and boxed cigars, but these seconds were unbanded and came in bundles (although a few were actually boxed, albeit in a different less extravagant box). Needless to say, I was satisfied with the cigars. As time went on the seconds I smoked caught on in popularity and the prices went up. Now it seems that seconds, like some that Walt listed above, are just called seconds for the purpose of marketing and really arent the same. I dont have a problem smoking an unbanded cigar and saving money if it is in fact the same as the original. I remember when El Credito in Miami made a cigar with the clippings and tobacco that they swept up at the end of the day. Of course, they were short filler cigars. Ive smoked Cuban cigars like this and they were pretty damned good. Ultimately, I have no problem smoking these cigars. I just wish it was easy to determine which are truly the same cigars and not just cigars called seconds and another line from a manufacturer.

  12. I have bundles of RP Fusion, OWRM and Edge Mad sitting in my humidors. They have all been in there at least 9 mos and they are just now getting to be like the first runs as far as flavor and performance. I have tried them all every few months, and they were certainly close, but lacked much of the original character until now. I got them all super cheap on cbid, looking for a good deal (way too many people bid the crap out of them). No they are not the best smokes in the world but I enjoy them all at different times especially for an every day smoke. They are good for giveaways to new smokers too – decent flavors, nothing more than medium strength. That seems to be the norm for lines offered in 2nds of any kind. They all seem to be very popular, mass produced middle of the road smokes. Nothing great, nothing bad.

  13. As aways it’s a buyer beware. I have had some seconds where only one out of twenty-five was bad. I have had others where the cigar self destructs in sixty seconds so you better enjoy the whole minute of cigar heaven. I stick with the major players so far as seconds go and I know it’s always a gamble but sometimes you get some very good everyday cigars for a pretty low price.

  14. I can only say that I have purchased and smoked RP Vintage 90 seconds, and they are a pretty good smoke for the money. In my opinion they are so close to the “Boxed Version” that the difference is, at times, impossible to determine.

    I have also ordered and smoked Perdomo seconds with the same experience.

    Interesting Topic Walt. Thank you.

    1. Yeah, the RP seconds IMO are fairly similar to the real thing. I have some 92s that are damn close to tasting like the real thing. Still, I think it’s akin to the Edge Sumatra/Renaissance type of thing. They’re very similar/close, but it’s just not the same thing.

  15. I’m my expierence, which is somewhat limited because I’ve only been smoking and collecting for a little over a year now, the seconds can be fine smokes. Especially. if , like Knight Rider and some of you other know, you put them down to rest for a bit first. As I read some of your comments it got me thinking a bit and my thought is I don’t think seconds come from just one place, but maybe a combination of scenarios. First of all it makes sense to me that, just like other industries (food, clothing) anything that isn’t up to snuff in the regular product gets discounted and sold off at a discount, just like if you were to go shopping at an big outlet mall selling Ralph Lauren shits with an offset buttion hole. This would keep down on overhead costs, materials, and bring in a small profit for the company. It also got me thinking about a job I had a few years ago. I was living in South Dakota and was much like a Schwans Man. I would travel around South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Iowa selling choice beef, poultry, pork, and sefood. After working for the employer for a few months I asked where the beef we sold came from and it turned. It turned out that it was from a local packing plant that had what was basically a school for butchers. People would come to this packing plant to be trained on how to process the meat for grocery stores, meat lockers, butcher shops, restaurants, even hotels and cruise ships and a number of any other industries that employed their own in-house beef processor. The products theses students would train on was very good beef, however they cuts would look a little funny once in a while. Then I came to the realization that the packing plant at sometime began to package this product and sell it…and why not. I would think it would be very wasteful to not. Plus the cost of housing and running a school like this would have to incurr some hefty expenses and there should be a way to offset those costs. Why would the tobacco industry be much different now-a-days. I have read that very old-school makers such as the Fuenta’s actually grind up the premiums they manufacter and add them to the cigerette blends they have a hand in producing. And to the best of my recollection I have never seen a Fuente second cigar. In my opinion, though, other companies that came along right before, during, or right after the boom may use a different quality control, and or training technique, much like the outlet stores or meat school I spoke of earlier.
    Now, does the question arise, are we as cigar consumers, getting our moneys worth and should the producers we trust to our beloved passion be putting out the “second?” I guess I don’t see the problem as long as the information is there before hand that lets me know what exactly I’m buying. If the producer is manufacturing seconds and selling them as “seconds”, or “off color” or by any other name that is okay by me and they can produce as many as they want as far as I’m concerned. Just make sure that is the way tht product is advertised and sold. For me, in the end it comes down to just two things, whether I enjoy it or not and, and if I feel like I got my money’s worth. If both of these happen, then my world is a better place.

  16. Great topic, I have purchased the JR alternative line several times and find them to be a good humi filler. I know what I’m buying isnt a 1st rate smoke, however it is enjoyable as a daily smoke. At the $1.50 – $2.00 range, it’s affordable. 2 – 3 times a week I will smoke whatever I like, any cigar in the box, the rest of the time I try to stay within this price range.

  17. From a marketer’s perspective – seconds are a stupid idea for a company trying to build a brand reputation.

    It basically steals share from your lead item and provides that to a lower cost item. It tells conusmers that they mark up their product considerably over its value. The seconds have a lower profit margin because it looks different but tastes the same. Then why would a consumer keep buying the overpriced item. Now they will switch to a product that tastes the same which is all they care about, and you will get less $ per stick which hurts the manufacturer line.

    As a brand – you want to connote that you are not taking advantage of the consumer on price, that you are not taking to high of a margin. You also don’t want to put out a low quality product as it may turn new triers away from your brand with a sub par experience.

    I think its a CI or retailer invention, but any brand worry about growing should think twice. Sorry for you consumers that like it from price standpoint, I get that, but its bad for the category to trade down like that.

  18. Keith, I agree and disagree with what you are saying. You brought up some good points, but seconds (whether in cigars, textiles or any other product) have always been a way to sell products that would have otherwise been thrown away. I think we need to differentiate between true seconds and those items labeled and sold as seconds that are really just another line. A true second (i.e., a mistake or a blemished product) is not a stupid idea because the company is selling something that they otherwise would have thrown away. If, however, the company is selling an inferior product or replica of the more expensive model they stand a chance to blow their reputation as Keith was saying. This is why a clear definition of a second must be understood.

  19. scarhead – I agree, I may not have hit on this point in my post.
    I get not having the cost of a dump – but in my mind, as a marketer, I would not call the seconds or dump product as seconds of my main brand. I would create a line extension with a new name. I could allude that it has similar taste profiles as the main line, but would not tarnish my profit generator.
    So you bring up a good point..

  20. Unfortunately, for a lot of brands, it’s not about quality tobacco or quality product, it’s about sales and moving product.

    What are ‘seconds’ really? I think most of the time we’re buying seconds when we think we’re buying firsts. So many big brands that market the sh*t out of their sticks, the cigars aren’t even that good and we pay $7 a pop for a trendy label. Look at all the big name brands that get blown out half price on some of CI’s deals. Why do you think they can do that? Because there’s tons of product and it needs to get moved. How premium can a stick be if there’s so much of it that there are tons of ‘seconds’ and so much stock that online sellers are doing 40% off sales?

  21. Hi Walt and SR Faithful,
    I read this write-up with great interest and thought I’d offer my thoughts on what a second is, exactly. Before doing so, a disclaimer: I’m a writer and marketer for Famous Smoke Shop.

    Since this post references several different varieties of “non-firsts,” here are some definitions as I understand them. Bear in mind that there are considerable shades of gray in the way manufacturers use these terms:

    Firsts: A premium, longfiller cigar manufactured with the intent of being branded, brought to market, and sold.

    Selects: Firsts that have been pulled from the production line for cosmetic reasons, i.e. off-color wrappers, water spots, frog eyes, or other blemishes. Ideally, they smoke and taste just like the genuine article.

    Seconds: Cigars that have been removed from the production line due to more serious factors, i.e. inconsistency in strength, construction, or flavor profile.

    Overruns: Firsts in every way but the packaging. Occasionally, a factory will create more cigars than it can sell, and the surplus is housed at the factory until someone agrees to buy it. Typically bought at a discount, these often become house brands.

    Orphans: Cigars made to incorrect specifications (either blend or size), or which were ordered but never delivered (retailer went out of business, returned shipment, etc.).

    As much as manufacturers love tobacco, it’s important to remember that they are running a business. Inventory that languishes in their warehouses is costing them money that they could instead be using on sourcing materials, labor, packaging/branding/marketing, infrastructure, and administrative costs. Whether sold as seconds, selects, overruns, remainders, orphans…whatever…these victims of quality control help keep manufacturers’ bottom line healthy, which in turn allows them to make the firsts we all know and love.

    Some manufacturers refuse to release seconds or selects, or to co-brand overruns, because they fear it will damage their brand. Others (including yours truly) are of the opposite mindset. Hope this helps!

  22. Damn i wish i would have read this before placing a 40$ order for some RP factory selects. Oh well, at least they are petit coronas if they suck its not like a whole churchill. I have smoked some real dogturds from Famous house brands for the same price. RP is the man isnt he?

  23. Ive bought
    a few of “2nds, overruns, and cheap sticks during my two year experience with cigars. Yes some of the these that are most likely to happen is consistency issues. But now im thinking that these overruns/2nds are not just inconsistant, but its the fillers they use from leftovers from the company. Ive disected two out of the three 2nds I’ve purchased and it was nothing but scraps and what you could barely call short fillers.. DO NOT buy those Easy Five cigars! Even on the packaging they say longfiller.. but was just crumbs like what could quite possibly be floor sweepings.. i will not give up finding a premium “longfiller” cigar and if anyone knows of some please let me know. Hope this helped some of you.

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