Have you secretly admired the culture surrounding cigars but have been hesitant to join the fraternity because you don’t know where to start? Are you the guy who envisions himself sunken in an oversized leather chair sipping on a single malt and puffing on a premium cigar all while engrossed in a heated conversation with a few local brothers of the leaf (BOTL)? If so, you have come to the right place.
First of all, you have to understand your palate. Are you sensitive to ingredients in prepared foods? If so, then you have a refined palate and will be able to savor the many flavors present in premium hand rolled cigars.
Second, you need to determine a profile. What is a profile? Simple, it is the flavor, body and strength of a cigar. If you are just starting out you definitely want to start with a mild cigar and work your way up from there. A simple Google search of “good mild cigars for beginners” will do the trick. However, I recommend the 1502 Emerald, Romeo and Juliet Reserva, Macanudo, Perla del Mar, Nomad CT Fuerte or most other Connecticut wrapped cigars. Read cigar reviews online and email reviewers for some more recommendations.
Do not fear your local brick-and-mortar (B&M) cigar shop. The owners and resident tobacconists are often extremely helpful and sensitive to the needs of “newbies”. Especially since you can be a future regular once you are hooked and gain his or her trust. Shop owners are very patient and willing to help, but they do need to know a little background in order to point you in the right direction. If you have had a cigar before, tell him or her the brand and what you liked and/or did not like about the experience. If you are hesitant about the shop and its patrons do some research and read online reviews about the shop.
Nothing beats a good ol’ fashion smoke. Despite all the assistance, advice, and recommendations from others, no one is a better determinant than you. You know what you like and do not like so puff away and take note of what your palate tells you.
There are a lot of determinants that go into creating a ‘good’ cigar. While smoking, take note of the flavors, strength and construction. Did you like the way it tasted? Did the strength over power you and make you light headed or was it a comfortable and relaxing experience? The cigar smoking experience is not supposed to be uncomfortable or unpleasant. Truth-be-told, it should be the complete opposite. The construction of a cigar can be determined by the burn, ash and the draw-the straighter the burn, the better the construction. And, do not be afraid to let the ash grow to an inch or two. Do not be that guy who ashes his cigar like it is a cigarette. A tight ash with a little size to it increases the flavors and helps keep the char line even. Do not be afraid to pair your cigar with a dark coffee or your favorite libation to further enhance the enjoyment.
These are just a few simple tips that will help you feel more comfortable when walking into a cigar lounge. Never be afraid to ask questions because cigar smokers love to talk about their passion. The more involved you are in the cigar community the more you will love the experience. The culture is unlike anything else in the world and the fellowship that evolves is memorable and exciting. If you don’t take anything else from this article, just remember that the best cigar in the world is the one that you enjoy. Don’t ‘like’ a cigar because someone else does. You be the judge and enjoy whatever it is that tickles your fancy.