Noob to Aficionado: Choosing Your Cigar
Cigars have an undeniable appeal and to many of us they form a key part of the quintessential gentleman’s image. If you’re new to cigars, however, it can be overwhelming to try and figure out where to start. If you’re tempted to pick up one of those sticks you see at the gas station by the checkout counter, stop now—that is not the best way to get into cigars. Taking a little time to select the right beginner’s cigar will pay off in the long run. Many new smokers have been turned off from cigars simply because they failed to start out with the right stick.
Where to Buy Your First Cigar
If you can, purchase your first cigar at a brick & mortar tobacconist. While there are advantages and disadvantages to buying at a B&M (it might cost a little more than shopping online), you do get the priceless benefit of being able to speak with the owner. It can be helpful to get some advice from someone with experience who can help you choose your first cigar and give you some tips on smoking it. While this is our top recommendation, if you don’t have access to a traditional tobacconist, we recommend shopping online for a sampler (a pack of five different cigars for example) so that you don’t break the bank on a box of cigars which you may or may not ultimately like. Why shouldn’t you purchase a cigar at a convenience store or gas station? These cigars usually aren’t stored in humidors, which means they aren’t of the highest quality. If your first cigar hasn’t been stored properly, it probably won’t be all that enjoyable and you may make the mistake of thinking that cigars aren’t that great.
What to Buy
The next obvious question is of course what you should get. To start with, you need to learn the basics. Most cigars are straight cigars (parejos) or fancy cigars (figurados). They come in different sizes which are quoted by length and ring gauge: it’s the diameter, expressed in .
A cigar’s flavors come from the tobacco leaves used in the wrapper, binder and filler. The filler consists of the innermost leaves, surrounded by the binder, and the wrapper is the leaf enclosing the whole.
We recommend you start out with a milder cigar in a standard size like a robusto so you don’t overwhelm yourself (many new smokers are surprised at how strong cigars can be). There are plenty of good sticks in the $3-10 range which would be ideal for a new cigar smoker to try out. A few examples are Arturo Fuente Flor Fina 8-5-8 (a great cigar from one of the most famous manufacturers), Avo Domaine (a more expensive cigar which looks as good as it smokes) or, if you have access to Cubans, a Por Larranaga Petit Corona. These are all mild/medium yet flavorful cigars which won’t cost you an arm and a leg. The great thing about visiting a brick & mortar tobacconist is that you can get personalized suggestions according to the kind of flavor profile which interests you.
Well, now that you know how to buy your first cigar, you’re probably ready to smoke it—or, not quite, because you still don’t know what you’re doing! So stay tuned for the next installment in our series: Noob to Aficionado: Smoking Your Cigar.
About the Cigar Inspector
Denis has been blogging about cigars on CigarInspector.com since 2007, right after he started enjoying this pastime. Over the years, the blog has become a multi-author platform with over 500 cigars reviewed by aficionados from all over the world.