Now, my seasoned aficionados understand the difference between cigars made from long- vs short-filler tobacco, and are very discerning with their cigar choices by virtue of this knowledge. However, my "not-so-seasoned" aficionados and "cigar newbies", this is for you - as you will need to understand the difference as you continue to refine your palates, become more discriminatory in your smoking choices, and immerse yourself deeper into this cigar culture.
Think about how long it takes for you to smoke a premium stick - 45 minutes, 1 hour, 1 1/2 hours, sometimes 2... The various flavors of the smoke become deposited throughout the cigar as the smoke travels from the foot to the cap; therefore, the longer you smoke, the complexity of the flavor profile changes as the smoke progresses. So, why does this occur? Because most premium cigars are made of long filler tobacco; the slow and consistent burn of long fillers is what manifests the built-up flavors you encounter throughout the smoke.
Again, most premium cigars are composed of long-filler tobacco, bound by the binder and subsequently wrapper with the wrapper leaf. Long-filler tobacco are whole tobacco leaves that run the entire length of the cigar. They vary in length and may also dictate cigar length accordingly. Long-filler cigars are of a higher quality than short-filler cigars; they burn for a longer period of time and tend to smoke much cooler and smoother.
Contrary to using whole leaves, short-filler cigars are made from is chopped tobacco - trimmings, choppings, and other tobacco plant and leaf parts - which is then rolled into cigars. Machine-made cigars are primarily made from short-filler tobacco and generally burn faster and somewhat hotter than a premium, long-filler cigar. The faster burn and hotter smoke is a result of more air present between the pieces of tobacco, which may also produce harsh, burnt tobacco flavor, unlike the complex flavors that long-filler cigars produce. Naturally, machine-made, short-filler cigars cost less to manufacture compared with hand-made, long-filler cigars, and there lies the difference in quality.
Of course there is one outlier in regards to all of this - Drew Estate has completely trashed all of the aforementioned when they released the Liga Privada Unico Serie Papa Fritas. O--M--G!!! Papas Fritas is a 4.5" x 44 cigar packaged in a beautiful tin of 4 cigars - an inexpensive, hand-made, short-filler cigar composed of trimmings and clippings from the tobacco of the premium Liga Privada No. 9 and T52 cigars. Not only is the flavor profile of this full-bodied, full-strength smoke incredible, but it is well-constructed and burns hella-slow - completely tosses everything I just said about short-filler cigars out of the window!
Mixed (Medium) Filler
Cigars made from mixed-filler tobacco are made of short-filler tobacco rolled inside of long-filler leaves, then wrapped with the binder and wrapper. These cigars are common referred to as a "sandwich" or a "Cuban sandwich", but are still a step down in terms of quality compared with long-filler cigars.
Soooo...the bottom line is long-filler cigars burn slower, more evenly, provide more complex flavors, and provide a better smoke.