Read these 26 General Cigar Information Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Cigar tips and hundreds of other topics.
A true sign of a well-made cigar is the way it burns, or it's ash. This is a sign that the cigars are well contructed and that the tobacco is properly cured (fermented). Whether they are rare cigars, discount cigars or some that you bought at cheap prices, the best cigars burn evenly and the ash does not flake or fall off until it is 2 – 3 inches long.
Uneven burning cigars could be a sign that the cigar has too much humidity. If that is the case in your cigars, dry them out before smoking them. Just let them sit outside the humidor for 1 day. If that does not work, then the tobacco in the cigar was not properly fermented or the cigar was not well constructed.
Remember, the whiter the ash the better fertilized and cured the wrapper leaf was. It takes time and effort to properly grow and cure tobacco leaves, and the white ash is the reward.
My advice to the beginner would be to condsider what type of experience you are looking for. Cigars come in different tastes, shapes and sizes. Personally I would suggest that the novice choose a mild to medium bodied cigar, but each individual can have a different experience and opinion about the same cigar. The most sensible step to take would be to try different cigars within the mild to medium-bodied category. Speak with experienced cigar smokers, tell them what you are looking for and then weigh your options. You can also buy sampler packs with different cigars and determine for yourself the one that is best for you. What is one cigar smoker's favorite may not be for you. With so many different cigar options available, it is best to experiment with cigars from different countries. Each cigar also has it's own blend of tobacco so it will taste different, even though it may be from the same country. Make sure that you use the appropriate cigar cutters when cutting their tip and store them in humidors and not in the box they came in. You will eventually find your preferred cigar. - KIKI
Cigars come in various shapes and sizes. They are categorized by their length and ring gauge (diameter). Although each cigar manufacturer's product may differ, below are some of the most common names and sizes.
• Panatela 5 x 38
• Perfecto 5 x 44
• Petit Corona 4 ½ - 5 x 40-42
• Robusto 5 x 48 - 52
• Corona 5 ½ x 42
• Toro 7 x 47 - 52
• Belicoso 5 ½ x 52
• Torpedo 6 x 50
• Pyramid 6 x 52
• Lonsdale 6 ½ x 42
• Churchill 7 x 47 - 52
• Double Corona 7 ½ x 49
There are many premium cigar brands around the World. Cigars are a $30 billion a year industry. Hundreds of producers exist in the cigar making business. Some of the well-known brands include:
* H. Upmann
* Cuban Crafters
Thompson Cigar, founded in 1915, is the oldest U.S. mail order cigar company. They also have their own private label cigars. Other cigar companies have gained a reputation for customer service, discount cigar prices and reliability. There are many different to choose from so buy cigars from those that offer refunds if you are unhappy with the product. It is rare in the industry but those that offer cigars that are good enough to guarantee are worthy of your business.
The second part of the tobacco manufacturing process is called fermentation. Fermentation of the leaves is done under conditions intended to help the leaf die slowly. It's essential that temperature and humidity be controlled to guarantee that the leaf continues to ferment properly, without rotting or decomposing. Proper fermentation of the leaf brings out the desired flavor, burning, and aroma synonymous and revered by cigar smokers.
The best way to buy cigars is to first try out different cigars and decide the ones you like best. You can buy single cigars at local cigar shops. It is hard to find internet merchants that sell one cigar at a time. They normally sell them by the box. This is probably due to the shipping costs. One alternative is to buy cigar sampler packs online. The samplers are usually at special low prices as online cigar stores know that most smokers prefer to try out different cigars before settling on buying a box. Once you have determined the cigar that is right for you, it's time to buy them by the box. Buying cigars by the box is substantially cheaper than buying single cigars. Buying them cheap requires some research and usually online stores offer the best prices.
There are hundreds of websites that offer cigars. Many have outstanding prices and hard to find cigars. If you are going to order online I suggest that you buy from merchants that are ethical and offer money-back guarantees. This ensures that their merchandise is up to standards and that you will receive exactly what you ordered. Also visit cigar related chat rooms and online communities to see if you can get feedback from individuals who may have used those merchants in the past.
Before ordering online, check the store's shipping and return policy. Make sure that if you are not satisfied you have recourse. Since cigars are a moist tobacco product, they tend to dry out during shipping. You can rehabilitate them simply by putting them in your humidor for a few days after receiving them. If that does not work, most established merchants will exchange your cigars if they arrive damaged.
If you are thinking of buying cuban cigars online keep in mind that U.S. Law prohibits the sale or import of Cuban made products. There are some stores that will ship authentic Cuban Cigars to the states and guarantee shipment, but you are buying them with the risk of know that you are violating U.S. law and are subject to severe criminal penalties.
If you live in a high tobacco tax state, buying online will save you money and is usually the best option for cigar smokers.
When the New World was discovered by Columbus, so was tobacco. It was called Cohiba by the natives in Cuba. Premium Cigars and cigar smoking evolved quickly. The popularity of tobacco and cigar smoking soon raced through America and Europe.
As early as the 16th century, Cuban cigars became leaders in the world of the cigar when peasants began growing the crop. The popularity of the cigar has spread over the centuries, and in the early 1900's nearly 80% of all men smoked cigars in the United States.
A cigar's wrapper determines much of the cigar's character and flavor. Often times, the wrapper's color and texture is used to describe the cigar as a whole. Below is a list of the wrapper colors, from lightest to darkest:
• "Double Claro" is very light and slightly greenish, is achieved by picking leaves before they mature and drying them quickly.
• "Claro" is light tan and sometimes with a hint of yellow, which is created through shade-grown tobacco.
• "Natural" wrapper is light brown to brown and is most often sun-grown.
• "Colorado Claro " is medium brown in color and usually associated with tobacco grown in the Dominican Republic or in Cuba
• "Colorado" is reddish-brown and also know as "Rosado"
• "Colorado Maduro" is dark brown in color and linked to tobacco grown in Honduras or Cuba
• "Maduro" is a dark brown to very dark brown wrapper and,
• "Oscuro" is the darkest color, black and oily in appearance and texture. Oscuro is usually grown in Cuba, Nicaragua, Brazil or Mexico.
Picking the right cigar brands is not as important as picking the RIGHT cigar. There are hundreds of cigar brands to choose from. While some might be more popular than others, this is usually due to advertising and longevity in the marketplace.
There are many brands on the market and selecting by brand can get downright confusing. First decide the cigar that you enjoy the most. Most cigar makers tend to have similar blends of tobacco in all their cigars under that brand.
An example is the Don Kiki cigar. This is one of the cigar brands that I have been making for over 10 years. While there are:
* Don Kiki Green Label (mild)
* Don Kiki Red Label (Medium bodied)
* Don Kiki Brown Label (Full bodied)
* Don Kiki White Label (vintage and extremely aged cigars)
most have very similar characteristics. All the Green Labels have the same blend. The Red Labels have a different blend then the Green Label...and so on.
When you like a cigar, odds are that the cigar maker or the cigar company has other blends with similar characteristics. Once you discover the cigar that you truly enjoy the most, then you will easily find the brand that you can call your favorite. - KIKI
Because of the trade issues between Cuba and the U.S., cigar makers took their seeds to other places to produce premium cigars. There are various regions around the world that grow quality cigars. The Dominican Republic and Nicaragua make nearly half of all the quality cigars sold in the U.S.
Other producers of cigars are:
* The Connecticut Valley
The regions all produce tobacco that is suitable for premium cigars and tobacco from different regions have their own distinct flavors.
Your first premium cigar should be a mild one, with a tan or light-brown wrapper and medium-sized. Expect to pay at least $5 and maybe even more than $10 for the single cigar, because you want your first experience to be a good one. You can look online or in magazines for cigar recommendations or ask the smoke shop attendant for one. If no one is around to give you a recommendation, stay with name brands like Macanudo, Cohiba or Montecristo. You'll want to make sure you have a lighter and a cutter, too. But a sharp knife will work if you don't want to invest in a cutter right away. Most important is to have some fun with it. Enjoy the cigar in a place where you can smoke it with pleasure and taste the premium tobacco for the first time.
It is difficult to become familiar with the particulars of a certain type of cigar. You must smoke a box to truly get a feel for a brand. Tastes vary. Food, environment, occasion, wine, and liquor all vary the experience. Not only do the external factors play a role, so does your mood.
Historically, the quality of the tobacco in the Cuban cigars is what sets them apart from other cigars.
Their leaf reins supreme.
The crop that is raised in the Vuelta Abajo section in the western part of the country is where some of the world's finest tobacco is grown. And the torcedores who roll the cigars are masters. Their trade has been passed down for generations.
Due to scarce resources in Cuba, such as fertilizers, the quality of these cigars has dropped substantially during the past few years. The mystique and historical reputation of these cigars still continues to make them popular.
The wrapped up bunches of leaves that make up the inside of the cigar is known as the filler. The filler is what creates the cigars unique flavor when combined with other fillers of various strengths. Generally speaking, the more oils that exist in the tobacco leaf make a stronger (less dry) filler.
- Seco: Light-flavored
- Volado: Medium flavored
- Ligero: Strong flavored
The only difference between a big cigar, like a Churchill, and a small cigarillo of the same tobacco filler and wrapper is the size, and therefore offers more tobacco and a potentially longer smoking experience. Other than that, there is no difference in taste or smokability between big and small cigars of the same brand and wrapper. It's really a matter of personal preference.
A good cigar has been kept in a humidor at about 70 degrees fahrenheit and 70 percent humidity. It should be somewhat moist and pliable: squeeze it gently to see if it has any flexibility. Look for uniform color and no odd discolorations or cracks. The wrapper should be tight and not frayed. The best single cigars often come from boxes that have been open and left in the humidor for a few weeks, where they can properly age. If the cigar doesn't look or smell fresh, don't buy it.
Large-gauge cigars have a fuller body and stronger flavor because they have a greater capacity for the filler. Cigar fillers can be either long or short, and the difference is obvious. Long filler uses whole leaves and is rated as a better quality, while short filler, also called "mixed," uses chopped up leaves as well as stems and flakes, and other bits, from other fillers in the cigar.
According to the American Cancer Society, cigars can be dangerous to your health. Cigar smokers have up to 10 times the rate of oral cancers as those who do not smoke cigars. The ACS also says that smoking less than three cigars a day brings the risk way down and that those who smoke more than three cigars a day are at much greater risk for developing cancer. Like any tobacco products, cigars are for adults who can make adult choices about health risks.
Cigar clipping is as personal as the brand of cigars you choose. Some like to cut the top off the cigar, others simply punch a hole in the tip and start smoking. To start, you'll probably use a knife or guillotine cutter, but try to cut evenly and don't take off too much. After getting used to smoking premium cigars, you might want to try a cigar punch instead, which takes off less of the cigar.
Once the tobacco leaves have aged properly through the curing and fermetation process, they are sorted for use as filler or wrapper. How the leaves are used - either as filler or wrapper - depends upon their appearance and overall quality. While in transition, the leaves are carefully maintained and consistently moistened. The leaf will continue to be aged, inspected, dried, reinspected, and processed again repeatedly through the aging cycle. Each manufacturer seeks something different in the leaf, and when the leaf has reached its maturity according to the manufacturer's specifications, it will be used to make the cigar.
The careful process of harvesting tobacco leaves is done with a combination of heat and shade that reduces the sugar and water level content in the leaves, without causing the large leaves to rot. This first part of the harvesting process is called curing and takes between 25 and 45 days. Curing varies dramatically depending on the various climates where tobacco leaves are grown. Some manufacturers can manipulate the curing process depending on the type of tobacco used, and the desired color of the leaf.
We live in a value seeking world. Quality cigars are not cheap. Discount cigars do exist from many sources including mail order business and bulk tobacco shops.
You can buy your favorite brands through the mail, online and at stores in quantity, which comes with price breaks. An investment in a humidor makes these wise buys worth the money.
At first, when you buy single cigars, you'll want to visit a local smoke shop for recommendations and experimentation. If you graduate to buying samplers or boxes of cigars, you can try mail-order catalogs or online web sites. But make sure you know what you're buying if you decide to go mail order or online. Stick with familiar brands and reputable dealers until you're very familiar with the process.
Not all cigars are at a premium price. There are cheap cigars available. Many peoples' first experience is with a cheaper brand of cigar. These cigars are produced quicker by machines and use lesser quality tobaccos. But, these cigars can be enjoyable too.
There are times for quality and there are times for quantity. Nearly 20% of the cigars in the industry are made with machines rather than rolled, which is the handmade way that has been practiced for hundreds of years.
Cuba is the most recognized cigar producer in the World. This small Caribbean island country has been a leader in cigars for nearly five hundred years. When you think of cigars, you think of Cuban Cigars.
There are nearly 40 brands and around 500 varieties of cigars produced in this country. The most popular of which is Cohiba. Since 1963 Cuban grown tobacco is not used in cigars sold in the United States. They are illegal as a result of an embargo against that country.
If the tobacco seed from Cuba is grown in other Countries, the cigars are perfectly legal in the United States. Sometimes these cigars even taste and burn better than those from Cuba. That is due to the lack of fertilizers and raw materials in Cuba.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|