After you have taken the time to decide whether or not taking up cigar smoking is right for you, you are ready to choose your first cigar(s) and start a wonderful new hobby. This guide will go over how to choose the right cigar, based on length, color, brand, ring gauge, budget and a host of other ideas. Then it will look at how you could go about buying your first cigars and some recommendations I have on where you should buy. If you already know how to choose one or you want to start looking while you read this page, check out this link to my favorite and most trusted online cigar vendor. Their prices are fair and your support of them also helps this blog. Thank you.
Have you Ever Smoked a Cigar Before? Find out What Kind Might be the Right Fit for You
The first question is, have you ever smoked a cigar before? Most people admit to having tried a cigar but have likely not had a real cigar. In most circles, Swisher Sweets and gas station smokes are not considered real cigars. They are machine made, mass produced and are little different than cigarettes. There is a group of people that enjoy smoking them. To each their own. What you are interested in are fine, handmade cigars. These are designed with quality in mind and are truly handmade in every respect.
If you have tried a gas station cigar, what was it like? What do you remember of the taste? Was it harsh or sweet? Was it small or large?
There’s a non-scientific approach I use when introducing people to cigars for the first time and helping them choose the right one for them. It tends to be that bigger guys (bigger waist size, more body mass – which can easily be seen by the size of your wrist) are more appropriate for heavier flavored (maduro) and bigger cigars. Smaller guys though (often tall, skinny, athletic, etc.) tend to enjoy lighter, smaller and skinnier cigars. Of course that is not always true and it is a myth that the darker the cigar is the heavier the flavor profile.
Choosing a Cigar – Mild versus Strong Stoogies
A better way to look at it might be to split up cigars into two groups: those with subtle flavor profiles and those with complex flavor profiles. My recommendation would be to start with a subtle flavor profile and work your way up to more complex flavor profiles. If you start the reverse direction you may find that it is too much for you to handle. By too much to handle I mean, you may get sick, dizzy and get a headache. To prehistoric peoples, tobacco was a sacrament and religious practice that had that type of affect on its users. Complex cigars are meant for experienced smokers.
What kind of cigars have subtle flavor profiles, also known as light cigars? A lot of the more popular brands that are available (at some of the same gas stations)
widely and affordable have offerings that have more subtle and light flavor profiles. Two great brands that I can think of are Cohiba and Macanudo. Both are great brands suitable for a beginning smoker. They are often of a lighter wrapper, thinner ring gauge and shorter smoke. Their flavor profiles are just a bit spicy, but calm. You won’t be blown away but you will be relaxed. If you are looking for a nice light cigar that is really innovative and made of precision quality I recommend Olivia.
If you have already had a variety of gas station cigars, feel comfortable with a 45 minute or longer smoke and can handle a cigar with zero sweetness you may want to consider a more complex flavor profile. A nice start would be a Rocky Patel Vintage ’92, a CAO Italia or Gurkha cigars. Gurkha is one of those companies that has a lot of good cigars and a lot of just plain boring examples, but most are of complex flavor profiles and worth checking out. I recommend a sampler so that you are not committed to whatever a box holds.
How to Buy Your First Cigar – Best Prices and Bang for your Buck
If you really want me to do all the work for you, you don’t have to read any further. Just follow the links here for what I recommend at the best prices:
Cigar Sampler and humidor combo!
Solid Lighter that will last forever – it is guaranteed for life
Solid Cutter that will last you forever – you send it in for free sharpening!
Since you are smart and decided to buy those three things you will have saved yourself about $150 on the spot and probably an additional $50 a year if you were to keep buying cheap lighters and cutters.
You may be interested in purchasing a cigar online from Famous Smoke or JR Cigar. Although quite popular, Thompson Cigars is one I have not had much luck with. They do have some pretty cheap prices, are great for humidors and machine made cigars but the rest hasn’t been my favorite. Nevertheless all three of these usually have really good shipping deals, awesome samples and tons of freebies.
If you don’t decide to go with the recommendations I made and you still want to save some money, instead of getting a humidor combo deal, consider getting just a sampler. I will show you how to create your very own humidor at home. Just keep in mind it won’t be as effective and it will not look nearly as cool. But if you want to save money that’s great!
So why go for the sampler instead of individual cigars or boxes? Samplers are a rather new concept in the world of cigars and really didn’t take off until the success of online cigar shops. Samplers often have 5-10 cigars that follow a theme. The theme could be lighter cigars, heavier cigars, cigars of a particular country or company, cigars that are overstock, cigars that are flavored or infused, etc. Their beauty lies in their ability to let you taste a number of cigars at a discount. If you don’t like one you have 4 more to try. In that respect they are better than a box, which is often over $150+ and you end up stuck with. If you love your box great but, if it’s not for you then you are in the hole $150+ and have a bunch of cigars you don’t want to smoke.
The reason you should buy a cigar sampler instead of individual cigars is that you will save money. Often the samplers are made up of overstock or when a box is damaged, the cigars themselves are perfectly fine. Matching them up with similar smokes allows the store to sell them quicker. And really what makes samplers the smarter buy is that they are curated just for you. You don’t have to worry about making a selection. The guys that have been smoking cigars for years can do it for you. Many samplers also come with freebies like cutters, lighters and ashtrays so keep an eye on that.
The Case for the B & M
Finally, I don’t want to forget the B&M, your local brick and mortar cigar store. B & M cigar shops were once common on just about each block in North America. However after cigars became less fashionable and tobacco laws became more strict they have decreased dramatically. Now, with the costs of having a physical store, with staff and sitting inventory, with utilities it has become very rare to see B & M cigar stores.
If you have one in your area I highly recommend you go in there for your first purchase and for many more in between. You will often pay more but you will get an incredible service unmatched online. Many times the store will be filled with cigar experts, casual smokers and new smokers like yourself. The store owner and staff will have a passion for tobacco that you won’t find elsewhere. They will be able to guide you to a great cigar just for you. Often, whatever cigar(s) you buy you can smoke in the shop. The experts will often be more than happy to show you how it works and help you enjoy your new hobby. And more than likely, you will have made some new friends and found a new favorite hangout. Most of them are decorated very elegantly, with bars and entertainment televisions and newspapers.
When you’re in the market for the least expensive tobacco pipes it’s not too hard to get caught up in a search for the cheapest price possible. Too tell the truth , this way is not always to most recommended way. There are times when it’s you are better off spending a little more up front in order to get a much better value in your pipe.