How To Choose A Cigar
For the first-time smoker, beyond trying to figure our what accessories you need, choosing a cigar can be an intimidating thing. Theirs is such a huge range of cigar types and flavours to choose from, and no shortage of very strong opinions on what the absolute best are.
We’ve put together this blog on how to choose a cigar to get you started on your journey to becoming a fully fledged aficionado.
Before we get into the detail of how you should choose a cigar, we thought it worth putting together a quick refresher course on what the different components of a cigar are.
Filler: This is the mix of fermented and dried tobacco leaves that lend the cigar most of its flavour and aroma. The provenance of the tobacco leaves is a very important part of what makes a great-smoking cigar. They’re generally folded by hand in quality cigars, with great attention paid to how ‘tight’ or ‘loose’ the leaves are packed. Too tight and it’s too difficult to smoke, too loose and it will smoke too fast and too hot.
Binder: The binder leaf is a sun-saturated leaf that surrounds the filler leaves, providing a surface for the wrapper to bind to.
Wrapper: This is the outside layer, protecting the filler from the elements. The wrapper is also very important to the flavour and aroma of the cigar and is expensive to produce. The wrapper is made from specially-grown tobacco leaves.
The foot: This is the side that you light.
The head: This is sealed when you purchase a cigar, and needs cutting before you put it in your mouth to smoke the cigar.
How To Choose A Cigar To Buy
Now you roughly know your way around a cigar, it’s time to talk about what you need to consider when buying one. The first thing to say is you are best off going to a good tobacconist or cigar shop. They’ll have a broad selection of well-looked-after cigars, and they will likely be able to provide you with helpful advice.
We wouldn’t advise you go for the expensive cigars to start with. They tend to have very rich, complex flavour profiles and for a beginner that can either be overwhelming or wasted. You can find some excellent cigars further down the price range that are far more suitable for a beginner.
It tends to be best practice for a beginner to choose a smaller cigar to start with, with a smaller ring gauge. Larger ring gauges tend to be stronger flavoured, take longer to light and smoke more slowly. They also tend to be more expensive, and are flavoured for more experienced smokers. A smaller, lighter cigar will give you a better idea of the flavour without being overwhelming.
When starting it, it’s usually a safer bet to go with one of the larger brands. They’ll use high quality tobacco in general, and the quality from batch-to-batch is relatively consistent. Don’t, however, buy a big box from one brand – get a selection of individual cigars so you have a chance to experiment and find out what you like.
You should also pay attention to the colour of the wrapper. It’s a strong indicator of the cigar’s flavour – darker wrappers tend to mean full-bodied, sweet cigars. So if you’re starting out it’s generally advised you choose something lighter.
If you’re going to choose a cigar by reviews or rating, generally it’s better to choose by written reviews. Overall ratings don’t give you a good impression of the flavour profiles – an unusual, strong-flavoured cigar may be thought of as the best in the world by a select few, and be given a 9/10, but be completely unpalatable to you! Written reviews will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the cigar in detail so you can make an informed choice.
Finally, when looking at an individual cigar, you should take note of a few things to ensure it’s in good condition. Squeeze the cigar gently; it should have a bit of give, but not be too soft. Gently feel up and down the wrapper to ensure it is smoothly packed, with no lumps or weak points. There should be no major discolourations, cracks or loose areas on the cigar, and no damage to the ends. Obviously there should be no mold on the cigar (it’s whitish an appearance to make sure to check for that), and no green blotches. You should also inspect it for tiny holes in the wrapper – these can be the sign of an insect infestation!
We hope these tips have been helpful. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. Happy smoking!