Choosing a cigar can be as easy or as complicated as you want it to be. Some people know they like cigar XYZ and they have no reason to deviate from that choice. But there are enough different cigars out there that you could smoke a different one every week and never run out in your lifetime. And variety, as they say, is the spice of life so why not try out something different?
Having a tobacconist you trust is crucial to knowing what to try next. They can listen to what you are looking for and make recommendations based on your likes and dislikes. When you have an ongoing relationship with a shop in your area, they will even be able to make recommendations when you walk in the door based on their knowledge of your preferences.
But when you are getting started it’s important to try new things and keep notes. If you try a particular wrapper or blend and you know you love it, you can use that as a springboard to find other similar cigars. This also works if you find something you don’t particularly like so you know what to avoid in the future. Keeping a cigar notebook is a great way to keep it all straight – there’s nothing worse than remembering you loved a cigar you had a few weeks ago but you can’t remember why or even what it was.
Depending on who you ask, the wrapper of a cigar can be responsible for anywhere from 50-90% of the overall flavor of a cigar. To be sure the wrapper is usually a pretty good indication of what you are going to be getting, but there are sometimes curveballs thrown into certain blends to give a light wrapper cigar the spiciness of a maduro. While you can sometimes judge what kind of cigar you are getting by the wrapper, it’s not always the case. The most common wrappers are:
- Maduro wrapper leaf is fermented longer and has spicy, coffee, or chocolate notes
- San Andres wrapper has a dark color and a savory flavor profile
- Habano wrapper leaf is slightly lighter in color than maduro and typically tastes very spicy
- Corojo wrappers are medium in color but tend to be very spicy
- Connecticut broadleaf wrappers have a flavor profile that is sweet and toasted
- Connecticut wrappers are typically the lightest you’ll find and they taste of cedar and spice
There are other wrapper types that are starting to show up more frequently. A candela wrapper always shows up for St. Patrick’s Day because of its bright green hue, though there are other cigars such as Drew Estate’s Kentucky Fire Cured Swamp Thang that make use of it year round. Oscuro wrappers are another type of dark wrapper that are starting to show up more often, like in the My Father Le Bijou 1922.
It might surprise you to discover that the ring gauge of a cigar has a lot to do with the flavor profile. Maintaining consistency along a line is tricky, but it gets really tricky the larger the ring gauge. Generally speaking, you’re going to have an easier time finding a cigar that tastes consistent throughout with a smaller ring gauge.
This is something you will have to rely on your tobacconist for, as it is not always readily known or apparent. But the tobacco inside the wrapper can have as much influence on the flavor profile as the wrapper.
Country of Origin
Certain countries and regions have characteristics that are apparent in a cigar’s blending and construction. Many people will only smoke cigars from Nicaragua, for example, because of the quality in construction and flavor of the blends. It’s worthwhile to keep notes on where your cigars are from, because you might surprise yourself to discover you like one country or region’s cigars over another.
Choosing a cigar to smoke can be as simple or as complicated as you would like it to be. Get to know your local tobacconist and don’t forget to take notes!
Photos Courtesy of Paulbr75/Pixabay and Maggie Kimberl