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Cigar 101

How to Recommend a Cigar to Others

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

There’s nothing better than getting a good cigar recommendation. Trying a new cigar that exceeds your expectations is like hearing a new song you can’t stop listening to. You can’t wait to smoke it again.  Go out and buy a few more or a box and add your favorite new cigar to your collection. Who turned you on to such a great-tasting blend?

The folks who work at the best premium cigar shops excel at making cigar recommendations that please their clientele. They use tasting notes to describe different cigars and they know what questions to ask their customers. Whether you’re looking for a recommendation for yourself, or you want to suggest the best cigars for your pals, we’ve outlined some essential questions every connoisseur should consider.

Have You Had Dinner?

When I’m recommending a cigar, one of the first things I ask is, “have you eaten?” Whether you’re smoking on a full or empty stomach influences the strength of the cigars I’ll suggest. A potent and peppery My Father Le Bijou 1922 is definitely best smoked after a recent meal. Mellow and creamy cigars like the original Montecristo or Macanudo Cafe aren’t as intense. You can smoke them if it’s early in the day or before you’ve had a big meal. Milder cigars pair well with coffee in the morning or during a round of golf while the sun is beating down on your face.

What Are You Drinking?

Are you planning to sit down and sip on a stiff scotch with your cigar or are you cracking open an iced cold beer? Maybe you’re craving a cup of coffee or glass of port. Some cigars are better suited to pair with dark spirits versus light spirits, IPA versus stout, bourbon versus scotch, and so on. A neat pour of Lagavulin scotch complements the leathery, earthy profile of Ashton VSG. Rich and creamy notes of white pepper in Perdomo 10th Anniversary taste excellent with a crisp, cold glass of Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra. Matching your cigar with your drink is a great way to maximize your satisfaction.

Even if you’re not planning to drink a cold beer or cocktail with your cigar, knowing what kinds of spirits you favor is a window into your taste buds. Someone who prefers a peaty scotch is more likely to enjoy a powerful Nicaraguan smoke.                                                                             

Do You Enjoy Spicy Foods?

Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to suck on a jalapeno. Many cigars are characterized by how much spice they possess. A lot of mild cigars like Arturo Fuente Chateau Series and Montecristo deliver just a touch of spice, mostly in the background. Other cigars, like Cain, Rocky Patel The Edge, Oliva Serie V, and La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero, pulse with palate-searing pepper from the first puff to the last. If you have an aversion to zesty foods, I’m going to steer you towards cigars that leave a creamier taste on your palate, like Ashton Cabinet, which is still very rich and complex, but it does not harbor a sharp or overbearing spice.   

How Much Time Do You Have to Smoke?

How much time you have on your hands helps us narrow down what shape to select. If you’ve got an hour to kill or your afternoon is totally open, smoke a Churchill or Double Corona. If you like fatter formats, slow-burning cigars with bigger ring gauges are fair game too. When you’ve only got fifteen minutes to spare for smoking, it’s best to stick with a Petite Corona. Trying to suck down a Gordo while your significant other is tapping on her watch is no way to enjoy a premium cigar.

Different sizes and shapes offer variations in intensity. If you’re in the mood for more kick, small full-bodied shapes such as Ashton VSG Tres Mystique (4.375 x 44) and Padron 1926 Series No. 35 (4 x 48) deliver more intensity right out of the gates. You can smoke thicker, longer shapes like Arturo Fuente Chateau Series Royal Salute (7.625 x 54) and Ashton Churchill (7.5 x 52) for a longer time before the flavor intensifies.

Do You Have a Budget?

An obvious consideration for cigar lovers looking for new cigars is the price. While price is not an indication of quality, it can sometimes allude to rarity or age of a particular blend. A good cigar recommendation will take into account how much money a customer wants to spend. No matter how good a cigar tastes, if you spent more than you wanted, it won’t float to the top of your list the next time you’re craving a cigar. You’re more likely to remember your credit card bill.

Fortunately, you can easily find an impressive cigar regardless of your budget. There are no shortage of affordable bundles or boxes on clearance to peruse. Take a peek in the blowout bin before you shell out top dollar for a name brand.

If money is no object, though, indulge your passion for the finest life has to offer and hunt down a Fuente Fuente Opus X to go with your glass of Louis XIII after a tiring day at the spa.

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