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Cigar 101

When to Smoke a Mild, Medium or Strong Cigar

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Holt's Staff

For some, a special occasion is a prerequisite for enjoying a cigar – at least when you’re just starting out. Once you’re into cigars, the only true requirement for enjoying one is having enough time to kill to kick back and smoke. What many discover, however, is that different cigars are better suited for different circumstances or times of the day than others. This especially comes into play when we consider the strength of our favorite cigars. Here are a handful of handy tips to take into account when you’re wondering when to smoke a mild, medium, or full-bodied cigar.

Best Time to Smoke a Mild Cigar

Early in the Day

No one really wants to start off the day getting woozy from a spicy, high-octane cigar. Although, there are a few lumberjacks out there who can’t get going without an ultra-strong smoke like Cain in the morning, for most mortals it’s best to choose a mellow cigar early in the day. The classic Ashton line, Arturo Fuente Chateau Fuente in a Natural wrapper leaf, Montecristo, and Macanudo are all creamy, mild cigars you can enjoy early in the day. Easygoing flavors of nuts, cedar, and coffee beans characterize a number of the best mild cigars. You won’t overwhelm your palate and you can easily appreciate a milder cigar with a cup of coffee or espresso as you get your day underway.

On the Golf Course

Because it’s a safe assumption you’re outside with the sun beating down on your visor during a round of golf, the best cigars to smoke on the course are also in the milder spectrum. You don’t want to smoke a cigar that’s too overpowering while you’re exerting yourself physically. It’s easier to keep your equilibrium with a less intense cigar. If you prefer a bit more richness, Ashton Cabinet is an excellent premium aged Dominican cigar or consider San Cristobal Elegancia for a touch of Nicaraguan spice. Both are wildly popular smokes for the course.

When It’s Your First Cigar

Hands down, the most critical time to smoke a mild cigar is when it’s your first cigar. No one learns to drive in an 18-wheeler. Start off mild when you’re learning how to smoke. Choose a blend with a lighter Connecticut Shade or Connecticut-seed wrapper leaf, like the ones mentioned above. Ashton, Arturo Fuente, and Macanudo represent some of the highest-quality and most common first cigars you can buy.

Doing Yard Work

While price is a critical component of any yard ‘gar (think cheap, you don’t want to drop a $30 Padron behind the lawn mower), strength also bears consideration. There are a ton of tasty utility smokes you can enjoy while you’re raking the leaves. Milder inexpensive cigars that won’t exhaust your tolerance for tobacco while you’re performing some physical labor are ideal. Peruse the bestselling bundles from Rocky Patel Renaissance, Don Lino, Argyle, Bella Cuba, and Rocky Patel Mulligans.

Best Time to Smoke a Medium-Bodied Cigar

Backyard Barbecue

Truth be told, there really isn’t a bad time to smoke a medium-bodied cigar. Because they appeal to all kinds of cigar lovers, medium-bodied cigars are perfect for a number of occasions, especially get-togethers where groups are involved. Backyard barbecues make for a great excuse to break out a box of smokes. You’re already outside so there’s no argument from the Mrs. about stinking up the house. Plus, if you’re manning the grill, there’s nothing like a fine cigar while you’re slaving over some hot charcoals.

Award-winning blends like the 94-rated Ashton Heritage, 96-rated Flor de las Antillas, 93-rated La Aroma de Cuba, and 94-rated Arturo Fuente Hemingway fall in a rich, balanced, and medium-bodied spectrum. Easily impress any guests or hungry buddies who ask for a handout without wondering if they can or can’t handle what you’re smoking.

On Poker Night

Another gathering where a medium-bodied cigar is a great fit is poker night. You’ve got the crew sequestered in the man cave, plenty of beer, and a fresh deck of cards. Stick with a cigar that’s right in the middle. Ten out of ten cigar-bumming poker pals give medium-bodied gems like San Cristobal Revelation and Oliva Serie V Melanio a big thumbs-up. A medium-bodied smoke is also a safe bet when you're watching a big game on the flat screen with your pals.

Best Time to Smoke a Strong Cigar

After Dinner

After dinner is the single best time of day to smoke a cigar, period. A) You’ve got a full belly, which is always recommended when firing up. B) It’s a natural segue to sip on a sumptuous after-dinner libation. Bourbon, scotch, rum, cognac and more complete any after-dinner cigar like magic. C) After dinner is simply the best time to unwind and reminisce with friends while you smoke.

While you certainly don’t have to smoke the strong stuff, following a good meal is definitely the most ideal moment to indulge in a full-bodied blend. Stronger cigars possess a higher nicotine content and can go to your head more readily as a result, especially on an empty stomach. Having a full meal on board greatly reduces the chance of getting lightheaded. Expect to be impressed by a number of exquisite full-bodied smokes like San Cristobal Ovation, My Father Le Bijou 1922, Ashton VSG, Padron Family Reserve, and Fuente Fuente Opus X after an epicurean meal at your favorite steakhouse.

Behind the Wheel (On a Long Road Trip)

Cigars are excellent companions on the highway. There’s no need to be in a rush while you’ve got a premium handmade going. Plus, once you hit the gas and you’ve got a stretch of open road ahead, a good cigar is the perfect catalyst for pondering your thoughts. Instead of pounding a six-pack of energy drinks, light up a premium cigar. You’re prone to stay focused with rich and peppery Nicaraguan smokes like La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor Reserva, Oliva Serie V, or San Cristobal. We also know more than a few big rig truckers who swear by the potent profile of Cain when they’re making a long haul. Pick up a bigger shape if your plan to pound the pavement overnight, son.

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