Updated: Aug 22
How do you know if you will enjoy cigars, it’s really simple. If you like the flavour of smoked foods, think smoked salmon, ham, bacon etc then there is every chance you will like a cigar. Forget choking on acrid cigarette smoke behind the bike sheds! Cigars aren’t inhaled, it’s all about the flavour in the mouth. Traditionally cigars are known to go well with rums and whiskeys - and they still do. But with the huge diversity of cigars and flavour profiles from new world cigars, you can just as well enjoy a cigar with a G&T, IPA beer or red and white wines or a coffee.
Cigars can be you time, the one time in a day you switch off, sit, sip a drink and watch the world go by. Cigars can also be social time where you sit with others, sip a drink and put the world to rights or dance the night away. Cigars aren’t addictive, they’re a pleasure, time to be treasured, a moment of sanity in a crazy world. Cigars don’t discriminate, they don’t care where you’re from, they don’t care what you earn, they don’t care if you’re black, white Cuban or Asian. All they need is a little fire, a little care and treating gently.
Cigars fall into 2 main categories, Cuban cigars, which are still the most famous cigars and new world cigars (ironically both are technically in the New World!). Today we’re giving you a crash course in cigars, next blog we will guide you through the wonderful array of cigar smoking accessories, what you need and what you don’t need!
Cuban cigars, as a consequence of the political leaning in Cuba, and historically the incredible quality of tobaccos grown there are ‘Puros’, a puro is a pure cigar consisting of tobacco from a single country. New world cigars are produced mainly in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras and the Philippines. We are now increasingly seeing cigars (and tobaccos) from Mexico, Costa Rica and Brazil coming on to the market though. With the lack of restrictions in new world cigar producing countries they are free to not only produce puro cigars, but blend tobaccos from all over the world. It provides the opportunity to make cigars with a limitless range of flavour profiles. It is this, along with a relentless focus on quality and product innovation which has peaked interest in a whole new generation of cigar smokers in the U.K.
Cigars then fall into 3 further categories (there is a 4th which is machine made which we will discuss another day). Hand rolled long filler, mixed filler and short filler. Premium cigars are hand rolled long filler, that is to say the cigar is rolled from entire sections of tobacco leaf. Short filler cigars are at the cheap end of the market and in the main rely on the scraps of tobacco left from making long filler cigars. Mixed filler (you guessed right!) are a mix of both and are moderately priced. If you are new to smoking cigars, buy the best you can, it will help you appreciate the quality, craftsmanship and flavours of a cigar. Hand rolled, Long filler is where it’s at, the vast majority of new world cigars available in the UK fall into that category!
A cigar has 3 component parts, the filler, which is the ‘core’ of the cigar, the binder, which holds the filler together and finally the wrapper which is the outside of the cigar. All 3 play a different role in how a cigar tastes and will be the subject of another blog in the future.
So what are the most common mistakes people new to smoking cigars make, and what cigars would be a great starting point? The biggest mistake most people new to cigars make is to go too big! Yes, size does matter! When you try a new whisky you try a small measure to see if you like it, then maybe a double and finally maybe a bottle. The same goes for cigars. Most cigars from the same company come in a range of sizes (vitolas), try the smaller ones first - they’re cheaper. If you like it try bigger ones. Eventually you will find the sizes you like. This will also help you learn the kind of flavours you like, just like different grapes, different tobaccos give different flavours. Smoking too quickly is the next biggest mistake, cigars are best smoked slowly, if they get too hot they can turn acrid. About a puff a minute is right, take your time, savour it. So, start small and take it slow.
Between our boutique and international new word cigars we have a number of cigars that are great choices for those just starting out. The 3 options below are a great example!
Thank you for reading, stay smokey, stay safe. Pete