Cigars for a Budding Aficionado – The Journey from Cigar Newbie to Cigar Nut
I am a Budding Aficionado!
That’s great to hear! You’ve made it past the Part 1: The Honeymoon Phase and you’ve begun to really enjoy cigars. You have smoked your fair share and you’re beginning to learn what you like and dislike. Now you want to learn more about all the different types of cigars out there.
You know about all the different sizes now you want to learn about the different tobaccos and how they work together to help form the whole cigar. This is where cigars really start to become fun and even more addicting! Once you hit this phase it’s hard to turn back. So if you’re ready, here are my suggestions for the budding aficionado.
Begin to Build Up in Strength
Just like the muscles in your body, your palate has to build up in strength to be able to handle these “stronger” cigars. Now that you know you can handle some of the lighter bodied cigars it’s time to start dipping your toes into some of these fuller bodied smokes.
When you hear about the “strength of the cigar” sometimes this refers to the overall nicotine content, and sometimes in refers to the “strength of flavor”. To help keep this simple I am going to simply discuss the “strength of flavor” for this article.
Along the way you’ll hear about maduro wrappers. Somewhere in your journey you’ll try one and you’ll probably fall in love with them. It’s easy to, because they are a very complex and flavorful wrapper that is applied to quite a few cigars. Maduro wrappers tend to pack quite a punch of flavor with them. That’s partly because they are cured / fermented longer than other leaves. This in turn tends to make them stronger and generally smoother in flavor compared to leaves that aren’t cured as long.
So if the leaves are smoother why shouldn’t you smoke them as an entry level cigar? … Well because to be honest, you probably wouldn’t be able to appreciate them. Again this is a treasure map, not an absolute guide. So feel free to take your own course just be warned that it can get treacherous!
Begin Building Up in Size
As I said earlier, I started off buying big cigars because I wanted more bang for my buck. Looking back I think this is a terrible idea. I know we always want to ‘test our merit’ and see how big of a cigar we can handle, but it just doesn’t make sense. However, now that you’re a budding aficionado, I think it’s time you can start jumping into some of these bigger vitolas.
Try out a Double Toro or a Churchill and see how you like it. Understand that these larger smokes are going to take longer to finish. So make sure you schedule enough time to finish them. Some people absolutely love the larger vitolas. I know if I’m smoking with a group I always get a bigger stick because I’m going to be talking and listening a lot and I tend to really “chief” my cigars in that environment.
However, when I’m smoking for reviews for this site I tend to smoke much smaller sizes. So pick the right size for the right occasion.
Begin to get some color in your humidor
Once you start dipping into some of these dark “stronger flavored” tobaccos you’ll notice that your humidor begins to look a little different. You’ll have cigars of varying degrees of darkness. You’ll see semi dark brown all the way to almost black colored wrappers in your humidor.
This is a great thing and shows you all the different cigars that are available out there. Just as a precaution, be careful, there are some cigar manufacturers out there that will ‘paint’ their wrappers to give them a darker look than what they actually are. This is essentially faking the curing process.
The curing process takes a lot of time and patience to get right and some manufacturers don’t want to hassle with that. So make sure when you’re looking at dark cigars make sure to check that the wrappers are a constant color and make sure they don’t look fake. When in doubt ask your tobacconist and they should be able to help you.
Begin to spend some money
Once you start diving into some of these darker “stronger flavored” smokes, you’re going to realize that the price tag continues to go up. There is a reason for that. As I said above the process takes longer to cure these wrappers. So you’re going to have to pay for that time and effort.
Don’t be shocked if you find cigars in the $10-15 range. This is fairly typical depending on where you live. I know here in Tennessee we have a relatively low tax rate so our prices are very fair. However in other sections of the U.S. these prices can be twice as much.
Also, always be weary of extremely high prices, do some research before dropping $20 on a stick. There are tons of cigar blogs out there. I have a great list on the sidebar, check my site and those sites listed to see who has reviewed a particular cigar that you’re looking at. See if they think it’s worth the money!
These are a few great ways to get you to the next level of smoking premium cigars and experiencing the upper echelon of quality smokes.
Here are a few of my suggestions for some cigars for the budding aficionado:
All of these cigars have common characteristics first off, I gave them all 10/10 ratings. They are full-bodied cigars, full of flavor and full of strength. They also range from that $10-15 price range that we talked about. I think these three are a great place to expand your horizons a little bit. Check those out and let me know what you think. If you haven’t had them before I think you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise!