There are made hundreds of different cigar makers producing different lines or linea across many different size formats. The choice can be bewildering. The key factors are:
What time do you have available to smoke the cigar? The size of the cigar will determine how long it smokes for. The bigger the cigar the longer it takes to smoke. Cigar size is generally quoted in terms of its length in mm and its thickness or gauge which is measured in 1/64 of an inch. A mini cigar which typically is 87mm by 20 ring gauge will take between 5 and 7 minutes to smoke whereas as a Churchill size cigar which typically measures 178mm by 50 ring gauge will take an hour and twenty minutes to smoke.
There is little difference in the taste profile of cigars within a range so you should have the same taste across the range of sizes.
So, when it comes to cigars, size really does matter. The rule of thumb is buy a cigar which can be smoked in the time you have available to enjoy it.
Don’t be tempted by the thought of putting it out and relighting the cigar it is sure to be an unpleasant experience.
What is your taste? Cigars vary differently in terms of taste and strength from fiery, full flavour spice bombs to light smooth creamy sticks. You can also buy several flavours of cigar if that appeals to your palate. If you are new to cigar smoking, try cigars from different countries to get a taste of the different characteristics and strengths of the tobaccos used.
Hand rolled or machine made? If you are looking for consistency then machine made is many peoples choice as they tend to be cheaper, more readily available and each cigar/pack will taste the same. There is a very limited choice here in terms of brands (10-20) and formats.
Hand rolled cigars are made with natural leaf so are subject to variation in terms of colour (there are 47 recognized colours of tobacco leaf produced in Cuba) and taste and this will differ from year to year no matter how good the blender is, as each harvest is different.
There are hundreds of different hand rolled cigar brands available across multiple formats so you have a much bigger choice in terms of format, smoke time and flavor.
Hand rolled cigars tend to be more expensive than similar machine-made cigars, but this largely reflects the difference in quality of the tobacco and the higher tax levy on the heavier hand rolled cigars.
Hand rolled cigars will burn slower and produce more velvety smoke than their machine-made counter parts.
The bottom line is if you enjoy a particular cigar it does not matter in the slightest if it is machine or hand made.
What is your budget? Cigars range in price from a couple of pounds all the way up to several hundred pounds for limited edition cigars. Price is not necessarily linked to quality and there are plenty of excellent cigars out there in the £8 – £20.00 price range.
What format or shape of a cigar do you want? Cigars come in many different shapes and ring gauges and some cigars are boxed pressed whilst others are round. Try the different formats as see which feels most comfortable in the hand and mouth. You will find that most ranges of cigars
Decide what your budget, taste, shape and available smoke time and you will be able to find the right cigar for you.
If you are buying a gift, try and find out what size or brand of cigar they smoke. This will be generally be the format and strength they enjoy so buy something a little better quality in the same strength and format as they will enjoy this a lot more for example if someone enjoys a mini cigar like signature there is little point in buying a Churchill sized cigar as it takes so long to smoke instead move up in quality to a Cuban or Davidoff mini or a slightly larger format like a club or purito size in a similar blend.
Commonly asked questions
Are Cuban cigars the best in the world? This is a bit like asking if French wine is the best in the world. Cuban cigars are some of the finest cigars in the world and are unique in terms of their flavor profile and history but there are also many world class cigars being made in Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. If you look at any best cigar review articles you will be surprised by how few Cuban cigars make their top10 or 20 cigars.
What’s the best way to cut a cigar? Use a cigar guillotine, punch or V cutter. Please don’t ruin a good cigar by biting the end off or using a bread knife.
How do you keep cigars in good condition? Cigars are generally stored in a humidor which is a fancy cedar line box with some form of humidifier. You can in theory store the cigars in a humidor indefinitely. The key is a good humidification system and with the developments in technology there are plenty of humidor packs which you can pop in and they will keep your cigars in a perfect condition. Naked or unwrapped cigars will not suffer any deterioration, provided they are kept away from heat, for up to 7days, cellophane wrapped cigars will keep for a similar period and tubed cigars for up to a month.