Have ever visited a friend with an impressive cigar collection? They probably have been aging cigars from their favorite brands for several years, waiting for a special occasion.
Even better, they may also have a beautifully-crafted humidor where they store their prized cigars and boast an extensive knowledge of which cigars are best suited for a particular drink or flavor preference.
But if you are a beginner who wants to form your own collection, where should you start? Here, we’ll look at some of the entry-level cigars you should consider. And, as you become more experienced, this article will provide recommendations on the high-quality brands for which you’ll soon become a regular buyer.
Step 1: Invest in cigars with a mild flavor
Generally, the strength of cigars is described as its ‘body’. A light-bodied cigar will likely be quite mild, but it isn’t to say that there won’t be some intriguing flavors and aromas that add complexity to the smoke. Meanwhile, a more full-bodied variety is likely to boast a strong flavor and have quite an intense effect on the senses.
Your collection should have a broad mix of light, medium and full-bodied cigars. Some of the best mild-flavored cigars to begin with are:
- Guantanamera. Of course, the last thing you want is a flavorless cigar. This rather new and fledgling brand derives from Cuba, and offers quite a gentle aroma and flavor. It could almost be described as a blank canvas for a cigar collection, with further purchases adding spicy, hearty flavors, and complex characteristics.
- San Luis Rey. Moving up a notch, and San Luis Rey (formerly known as Zamora y Guerra) offers a slightly stronger flavor, along with a distinctive hint of spice. It’s a smooth smoke and perfect if you want to introduce a friend or family member to cigars for the first time. Watch out for the overtones of chocolate, liquorice and espresso along the way.
Step 2: Consider the gauge
The gauge of your cigar will also have a considerable impact on fullness in flavor. By and large, they are classified in terms of thin, medium and thick gauges, with several sub-types within each category. A normal rule of thumb is that the larger the diameter of your cigar, the longer it will take to smoke. They will also have a more substantial filling of tobacco leaves, adding further complexity to the flavor. Here are three recommended cigars to add to your collection, one per gauge:
- Thin gauge: Cohiba. Well-known for their Laguito cigars, some of their most popular makes, such as Coronas Especiales, are suitable for smoking throughout the day.
- Medium gauge: Romeo y Julieta. With quite a substantial strength, their Cazadores cigars have a distinctive, rich flavor that’s a firm favorite for many aficionados.
- Thick gauge: Diplomaticos No. 2. A great piramide cigar that’s a rather rare find, making it a decent addition to a collection that’s sure to impress any visiting connoisseur.
Step 3: Choose cigars that are aged
Finally, it’s worthwhile to choose cigars that are aged, as this allows them to mature and for flavors to concetrate. Many experts recommend that between 6 and 10 years is more than sufficient for a cigar to reach its peak. Of course, there is also the matter of investing in a dependable humidor that will prevent the tobacco from drying out. Here are three brands that were allowed to age before they hit the retail market:
- Partagás Cigars. Their Serie D Especial cigars are a limited edition from 2010, and boast dark chocolate and coffee flavors that move around the palate. Given that this brand began in 1827, it’s fair to say they are a manufacturer who knows a thing or two about cigar rolling.
- Hoyo de Monterrey. It may be considerably smaller than other cigars on the market, but the distinctive aftertaste of their limited edition Regalos from 2007 are worth a mention. This brand has gained a strong reputation in the cigar-loving community.
- Trinidad Short Robusto. Finally, this is a great addition to your humidor for several years, only to bring out on a special occasion. This limited edition bundle from 2010 smokes quite quickly, but offers a clean finish.
Smoking cigars is more than just a way to relax after a busy day at work – it’s a passion and a hobby to explore. The journey of discovering rare brands, each cigar’s texture and aroma, and learning about the history and preparation technique of a manufacturer is thrilling. No two cigars are the same, and the different particular tobacco leaves can be compared with the characteristics certain grapes bring to wine.