If you’re new to cigar smoking, then walking into a giant humidor filled with cigars of all shapes and sizes at your local lounge can be intimidating. Maybe, you’re out with a group of experienced cigar smokers. You need to make a solid choice of stogie for a drink with friends, but as a new cigar smoker, you don’t know where to start. For beginner and experienced cigar enthusiasts, the choices are endless. Learning what makes a good cigar is the first place to start.
We’re not talking about a cigar being “good” on flavor or strength, here. That’s a personal preference learned with time and your best bet is to ask your long-time buddy for a recommendation. We’re talking about quality. Below are a few tips to help the new cigar smoker choose a well-constructed stogie.
Visually Inspect Your Cigar
This is the first, and easiest, step in selecting a solid cigar. When you’re trying to determine a constructed cigar, you first need to look at its wrapper. The wrapper of the cigar is the outside tobacco leaf that holds all the tobacco inside together. It should be free of blemishes like spots, or mold, and have a slightly oily texture to it. Choose a good cigar that’s maintained in a controlled, humidified setting. A controlled setting maintains the cigar’s intended character. It also prevents cracking from being too dry or mold from excessive humidity.
Feel the Cigar
Once you’ve taken a good look at the cigar, make sure you feel it. Roll it between your fingers, and you’ll be able to tell a lot about how it will smoke. A well-made cigar will be firm, without feeling brittle. A brittle cigar is a telltale sign of a dried-out stick or one that’s been through too many changes in humidity. It will smoke fast and feel airy on the draw. The cigar shouldn’t feel “spongy,” either. A squishy cigar is one that’s absorbed too much humidity. It will be tough to draw and give you a hard time staying lit. As a reference, a well-kept cigar should be about the same firmness as a finger – firm, with a little give.
Smoke the Cigar
Okay, at this point, if the cigar looks and feels good, it’s time to commit. Light your cigar. (If you need tips on proper cigar lighting, check out this article). Then, start smoking it. A good cigar should burn evenly throughout the duration of the smoke. The different tobaccos mixed within will produce the great taste quality cigars are known for. If the cigar starts to burn uneven, the flavor will distort and might turn harsh. Finally, the cigar should have a pleasant aroma to it – you seasoned cigar smokers know what I’m talking about.
Still not interested in picking up a random cigar at your local shop? Need to do some research on the best cigars out there? There are many resources out there, but one of our favorites is Cigar Aficionado’s Ratings & Reviews. Every year, they rate the top new cigars out on the market and communicate their results to the people. With a 90+ rating cigar pick, you can’t go wrong.