Choosing a Good Cigar: Beer and Cigar of the Month Club Subscription Giveaway

by Brett & Kate McKay on November 3, 2009 · 627 comments

in Manly Skills

Winston Churchill Smoking a Cigar

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Andre Naser at Club-Offers.com. To learn how to win a 3 month membership into their beer and cigar clubs, see the details below.

There was once a time when a man with a cigar in his mouth was held in high regard; a time when a young man toasted farewell to adolescence by igniting the end of a cigar that “just happened” to slip out of his father’s humidor. A time where the arrival of a man’s progeny was celebrated with cigars in the hospital’s waiting room.  A time when one could find a guillotine right alongside a man’s trusty pocketknife.

A 21-year-old Winston Churchill, on a quest to prove his manliness, ventured to the island of Cuba. It was in Cuba where Churchill began his love affair with the cigar. He described cigars as part of his “rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite; smoke cigars and drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them.” Churchill was so renowned for his cigar habit that a cigar of especially large magnitude still carries his name today: The Churchill cigar.

There can certainly be some intimidation when you first walk into a well-stocked cigar humidor. How can you possibly tell the difference between a Montecristo and an Ashton? Does it matter if this “Romeo y Julieta” came from the Dominican Republic and not Cuba? (why yes, it does). Fear not. After reading these quick tips on choosing a quality cigar, you’ll have an idea on how to pick a quality cigar. You’ll also be left wondering why you ever thought picking up a pack of Swisher Sweets from the gas station was a good idea.

Anatomy of a Cigar

Cigar

The head: This is the end you put in your mouth. It’s sealed off and will require cutting; a guillotine is preferred to reduce the chance of smashing the cigar; however, a sharp knife will do. But for the love of God, do not use your teeth!

The foot: This is the side that you light.

The filler: A nice, consistent blend of dried and fermented tobacco.

The wrapper: The outside of the cigar. It varies in color from light to dark. A lot of the cigar’s flavor comes from this outer layer.

Choosing a Cigar

Now that you know your head from your foot, we can move onto choosing a cigar.  Check out a local cigar club.  They’ll likely have a well-stocked humidor and a knowledgeable tobacconist who will guide you through the selection.  When you arrive at the cigar club, you’ll walk into a humidor full of cigars. Humidors help maintain an optimal level of moisture inside the tobacco.  If it’s too humid, the tobacco will rot. If it’s not humid enough, the cigars will dry out and lose their flavor and aroma.

If this is your first time smoking a cigar, stay away from the higher-priced ones since, at this point, you won’t be able to truly savor the distinguishing elements of an expensive cigar. Besides, price isn’t the most most important factor in choosing a cigar. There are plenty of cheaper cigars out there that hold top ratings from major cigar publications.

While price isn’t that important when selecting a cigar, cigar construction and tobacco quality are. The cigar’s construction determines how smooth and even the draw is when you smoke it.  You can test the construction of a cigar by rolling it between the thumb and index finger of your hand. As you do this, make sure the cigar’s outside doesn’t have any lumps. Also check that the body is not too soft or void of filling. You want the cigar to have a nice even consistency and fill. A rough texture or any other mark of bad construction means a less smooth draw when you inhale.  With a well constructed cigar, the ash will maintain the shape of the cigar as it is smoked.

The second important factor when buying a cigar is the tobacco’s quality.  You typically can’t determine tobacco quality simply by looking at the outside of the cigar.  So how do you know which brands use good quality tobacco? It’s mainly based on reputation. Ask the tobacconist or your friends for recommendations on cigars that use quality tobacco. It’s usually a safe bet to go with larger brands. The big cigar brands tend to use higher quality tobacco in their cigars because they usually have first dibs on the quality stuff. In your quest to find cigars that use quality tobacco, just remember to purchase one cigar at a time instead of buying boxes. You don’t want to be left with a box of crummy cigars you’ll never smoke.

Now before you go running off to your local cigar club, let me first answer a question that typically comes up from those who want to learn more about cigars.

The Cuban Debate:  Are Cuban Cigars Really Better?

Cuban Cigars

I must first preface my answer by saying this: if you live in the U.S., don’t even bother trying to buy a Cuban cigar locally.  Because of a 1962 embargo against Cuba, Cuban cigars are not allowed in the U.S. (legally, at least). But because Cuban cigars are so desirable, a large counterfeit industry has popped up in the United States.  If someone says they have some Cuban cigars for sale, steer clear. It’s probably a fake and will leave your mouth tasting like charcoal when you smoke it.

You’ll also find clever Cuban immigrants rolling cigars claiming that since they themselves are Cuban, the cigars can be sold as “Cuban cigars.”  A clever scam, but a scam nonetheless. If you really want to smoke a Cuban cigar, you’ll either have to head north to Canada or south to Mexico.

Now to answer the original question: Yes, Cuban cigars are indeed better. Cuban cigars are highly regulated by the Cuban government and are held to a very high standard.  They’re also constructed by some of the most skilled cigar rollers in the world.  The “torcedores,” as they are referred to in Spanish, have been rolling cigars their entire lives, often learning the skill from family members who passed the knowledge on from generation to generation. The skill these workers employ ensures a consistent fill for the cigar every time.  The flavor of a Cuban cigar tends to be extremely overpowering to someone not acquainted with cigars.  They are much more full and smoky compared to their Dominican counterparts that tend have a more peppery and spiced flavor.

It All Comes Down to Personal Preference

The cigar-smoking experience is very personal. Everyone has different tastes, so make sure to try a few different varieties in order to discover your cigar of choice. It’s similar to finding your favorite beer. You probably didn’t know it was your favorite until you experimented with some different variations: more hops, less wheat, maybe some orange zest. But when you finally found your favorite beer, you knew it was the one. Cigars are going to be the exact same way.

And what if you could have a variety of cigars mailed straight to your door every month? Well, with the Cigar Of the Month Club you can try new and different cigars without leaving your house. It’s like the Fruit of the Month Club, but manlier.

The Beer and Cigar of the Month Giveaway

A 3-month membership to a cigar of the month and beer of the month club is up for grabs in this giveaway. One lucky winner will be getting a monthly shipment of 12, 12-ounce microbrews from two lightly distributed domestic microbreweries with a total of 4 different varieties to try. They’ll also get five professionally chosen, hand-rolled cigars from around the world. The focus each month is on quality cigars ranging from a variety of types. More information on the exact package can be found here.

How to Enter: To enter, simply leave a comment on this post sharing your favorite cigar brand, tip, or experience.

Deadline to Enter: The deadline to enter the contest is Monday, November 9 at 11PM EST. The winner will be announced on Saturday, November 14 in the weekly roundup.

Legal:

  • Only open to residents of the United States (sorry, laws don’t let us ship alcohol and tobacco internationally)
  • Must be 21 to win.
  • Due to local laws beer can not be shipped to the following states: AK, HI, ME, and UT.
  • Adult Signature Requirements (Beer & Wine) – All beer or wine shipments are sent via Federal Express, UPS, or other local ground service carriers with an adult signature sticker required on the box. It’s best to have your shipments sent to a location where someone (21 & up) will be there to sign for it. Each carrier will make one or more delivery attempts and if unsuccessful they will leave door tags and/or phone messages indicating the attempted deliveries. Please respond to any communication from the carrier right away. After the final delivery attempt, the box is routed back to the local consolidation center closest to your shipping address and you may be given a short period to pick it up before it is sent back to our fulfillment center. We’ve intentionally packaged our shipments in a very non-descript, brown corrugated box such that most of our customers are comfortable having their shipments sent to their daytime location.
  • The memberships will be “gift memberships” which will automatically stop after the 3 months. They will be able to go online and easily continue membership on their own if they want, or let it expire without doing anything.

401 Ronald M. Berry November 3, 2009 at 8:13 pm

A good way to find out where your tastes lie is in sampler packages. You can get inexpensive ones or more expensive packages with more select cigars. Personally, my favorites are the 5 Vegas. Good with hoppier style beers like those offered from Stone Brewery.

402 Dave November 3, 2009 at 8:24 pm

Great post i enjoy a cigar on occasion but rarely due to price. It’s amazing how much cost effective / and relaxing pipe tobacco is in the long run. I will say, for me, is that cigars a great social event.

403 Kevin November 3, 2009 at 8:24 pm

The best memory I have from my bachelor party camping trip, and my favorite cigar experience, is sitting around the campfire with my best friends, eating steak, drinking port, smoking cigars, and shooting the shit.

My second favorite cigar experience is going for evening strolls through the neighborhood with my wife and a pair of cigars.

404 Dan November 3, 2009 at 8:24 pm

Still trying to pick a “favorite”. May not ever be able to.

405 Dan November 3, 2009 at 8:32 pm

Arturo Fuente, Hemingway Classics are my favorite. I’m far from a cigar connoisseur, but when I do try other brands I always return to them. I usually purchase a box of 25 which will set me back just under two hundred bucks, and sometimes they are difficult to find, but they sure are worth it. I highly recommend them.

406 daniel November 3, 2009 at 8:35 pm

not a specific experience, but sharing a cigar with friends in the backyard under heavy, yet cool air.

thanks!

407 Nathan November 3, 2009 at 8:37 pm

I love the Oliva Series G Cameroon with a nice coffee….recently was at a cigar bash where the an Ashton Heritage cigar was paired with some dark chocolate and some scotch, the chocolate and the scotch definitely enhanced the flavor of the cigar

408 Mike November 3, 2009 at 8:39 pm

Sitting around the night before my wedding with my 12 best friends smoking 12 Romeo and Julietas and drinking Johnny Walker Blue. A better farewell from bachelorhood the night could not have been.

409 Devin November 3, 2009 at 8:43 pm

I like Romeo Y Julieta’s.

410 Greg November 3, 2009 at 8:47 pm

I like Avo XO robusto. It has a creamy taste and aroma. I always like to have my cigars cut with a punch instead of a guiliteen. Try it. You might like it. Thanks for the contest!

411 Tim November 3, 2009 at 8:49 pm

I’ve actually found that my favorite cigar so far is an off-brand if you will. It is the Thompson Tusker line from Thompson Cigars. I may not have much taste in cigars, but I definitely enjoy these.

412 Brian November 3, 2009 at 8:56 pm

Cigar International’s brand CI Legend’s Copper Label is my every day smoke, while the Fuente Hemmingway Classics are a great cuban replacement for special occasions. My FIL lives in Canada and brings me the good stuff when he comes down to visit his little girl and granddaughter.

413 Brian November 3, 2009 at 8:57 pm

FIL= Father-In-Law

414 Patrick November 3, 2009 at 9:03 pm

I am a Padron man, I like all the cigars they offer preferably in the robusto style. I enjoy drinking coca cola with a cigar especially if its in the bottle, great companion for a cigar if alcohol isn’t around.

415 Brenden November 3, 2009 at 9:06 pm

Can’t say that I have ever enjoyed a cigar before, but I would like to get into it as a way of celebrating major events. My upcoming college graduation would be the perfect time to start. Since this is a cigar and beer club contest, why not offer up my favorite beer brand instead? When it comes to beer, I say the darker the better. Guinness Draught and Newcastle Brown Ale are my favorites, and I have discovered many very good brews at my local Trader Joe’s.

416 Galen November 3, 2009 at 9:15 pm

Romeo y Julieta number 2, a torpedo that consistently provides a smooth and even draw and solid flavor.

417 Aaron November 3, 2009 at 9:17 pm

My favorite cigar experience is sitting outside my hotel the night before I got married smoking cheap cigars with 6 of my closest friends. What a great way to celebrate.

418 peter November 3, 2009 at 9:19 pm

Smoking cigars with my mates out in detroit. Timeless.

419 Tim S. November 3, 2009 at 9:22 pm

The only time I’ve ever “smoked” a cigar was just after I turned 18. I didn’t yet have a car, so the day after my birthday, I rode my bike down the street to our neighborhood CVS and bought a small package of cigars and a lighter. Needless to say, I had no idea what I was doing, and I felt terribly ashamed. Still, I went outside, lit one end of the cigar and hopped on my bike. I’m not even sure I lit the right end. So there I am, an 18-year-old kid on a 10-speed, rolling through suburbia with a cigar hanging out of my mouth.

It was terrible. I nearly gagged and almost hit a tree. I tossed what was left of that cigar, which was half ash and half saliva at that point, and gave the other two to a younger friend of mine.

I admit I’m guilty of littering and giving contraband to a minor, but I haven’t had–let alone enjoyed–a cigar since, but I do believe everybody deserves a second chance–even cigars.

420 Brian J. November 3, 2009 at 9:29 pm

The best cigar I ever got was a macanudo that my wife (future wife at the time) gave me after I graduated from grad school — I’m still saving that one…

421 Chris November 3, 2009 at 9:36 pm

I would have to say that my favorite is Probably “la Vieja Habana” by Drew Estate as a regular smoke, or if I am in Canada, Romeo Y Julieta Churchill Cuban.

422 mp November 3, 2009 at 9:50 pm

Arturo Fuentes [Seleccion Privada No .1]
I’ve been mostly doing pipe tobacco of late for the cost benefits and so I don’t need to commit to a certain amount of uninterrupted smoking time. Also from November-April in MN(with its lovely smoking ban) there are very few places that are both warm and smoke-able.

423 Ari November 3, 2009 at 9:51 pm

I’m a punch maduro rothchild man (punched, not cut), but I discovered early on that Arturo Fuente curly heads (the cigars that used to be given away as “It’s a boy/girl” are pretty darn good for the low price (cut, can”t punch ‘em!).

424 JD Foster November 3, 2009 at 9:56 pm

There are few things more satisfying than kicking your feet up and tuning out to really enjoy a nice cigar, either alone or with the guys.

One tip my brother-in-law turned me onto is the cigar punch. The guillotine seems to be the accepted standard for cutting the head, but I find a quality punch to be more repeatable and consistent. Since with a guillotine you’re cutting on the curved part of the cigar, tiny variations in how far up the cigar you go create large variations in the diameter (and flow) of the resulting hole. A punch is the same every time.

425 John D. Urhahn November 3, 2009 at 10:03 pm

Favorite brand would be Gispert. I purchased half a box for a friend bachelor party and loved them. Give them a try.

426 Shant Boyajian November 3, 2009 at 10:07 pm

CAO Brazilia

427 Mace Watson November 3, 2009 at 10:17 pm

My favorite brand would be Acid by Drew Estaates. I especially like the Toast kind. Give any of the many flavors a try.

428 Sang November 3, 2009 at 10:25 pm

Hm I’ve only smoked a cigar when I took a few puffs of a friend’s i was with so I really don’t know much about cigars, but I’d love to learn with a 3 month membership!

429 Andrew November 3, 2009 at 10:33 pm

Two experiences: In high school, I went on several service trips to El Salvador and each time a group of us would conspire with some of the younger El Salvadorean hosts. We would trust all our money to “the buyer” who would go with our Latino counterparts to a cigar lounge housed in the lobby of a posh hotel. Equipped with wad of cash, a crumpled paper list detailing who gave how much (including requests from certain fathers back home), the buyer would return with a bag full of Cubans. The rest of the night would be spent smoking and talking on a patio tucked away behind our hotel until we turned in due to exhaustion, or, fully knowing the next day would bring back-braking work and high temperatures, a fear of exhaustion.

Secondly, I cannot think of cigars without thinking of my father. If he is in his workshop you can be sure he has a cigar lit; if its not hanging from the corner of his mouth than it is probably smoldering in the small cast iron ash tray that once belonged to his father. Occasionally, you’ll hear the quick buzz of a power saw echo up the basement stairs. Don’t be fooled: he’s probably not working on any project. When he’s in the workshop, his preferred method for snipping the end of a cigar is to use the chop saw.

430 Andy November 3, 2009 at 10:49 pm

I prefer the Cohiba Toro Cigars, they are between $16-18 which might be a bit pricey (For a College Student) if you smoke often, but are nice none the less. I have been looking for a cheaper one with a similar taste, but haven’t really found any yet.

431 Nathan L November 3, 2009 at 11:01 pm

Though my cigar experience has been limited (I’ve become more of a pipe man, myself), my best cigar experience was the night before my wedding day, smoking a Romeo y Julieta on my porch with a few other good men. That was a great cigar.

432 Matthew Glass November 3, 2009 at 11:13 pm

I live in Bend, OR and have a great variety of good local microbrews, but I’m always looking for more options. Forget the majors – drink local!

433 Marnie Proffitt November 3, 2009 at 11:19 pm

Dear Brett and Kate,
My husband started receiving your “Art of Manliness” publications a year ago. He sent to them to me as well since we have 2 sons and felt your thoughts and advice were well worth sharing. Shortly after I started reading them, I asked my husband if he knew if there was a book available to purchase. I was interested in buying them for graduation gifts for my oldest son and his friends who will be graduating from high school this year. We were excited when we heard you were launching one this fall. Any part, albeit small, we can have in raising future gentlemen, would be quite rewarding.

In regards to the beer and cigar month club subscription, I was hoping I could win it for my brother-in-law who is an optometrist, and most of the time, a true gentleman. He is an avid beer and cigar lover. He has previously been involved in brewing his own beer with several guy friend and of course cigar smoking is usually par for the course at these events. Although I do not know his favorite cigar, I do know when we were in Playa del Carmen for his 40th birthday he was very excited to be purchasing what he thought was a “true Cuban cigar”. As money is tight this year for most everyone, I thought having this sent to his house for Christmas would be a great surprise and a much appreciated gift.
Thanks for your publication and your consideration.
Sincerely,
Marnie Proffitt
marnieproffitt@gmail.com

434 Zuhaib November 3, 2009 at 11:22 pm

Well first I would like to say if I win I will likely pass on the Beer of the month, i dont drink. Maybe gift it to someone

As for Cigar, a local SF Cigar shop (now closed i hear) once set me up with Avo’s #5 which I like to this day. I just find them a prefect blend of spices and smoothness. Great for someone who is not a daily smoker like I am. Only con, price but I look at that as a plus. Stops you from becoming addicted.

435 El Guapo November 3, 2009 at 11:30 pm

The first time I tried a cigar, I was so surprised. I hate cigarettes, the smell especially, but a cigar is like having a nice treat to end a day. A good cigar can be paired tor your drink like good and wine can. In my case I add a glass of port and and some good old Bossa Nova music and just let my troubles go away in a cloud of smoke.

436 Kevin J. November 3, 2009 at 11:34 pm

For a wonderful, inexpensive smoke, try a Trilogy.

437 Larry L November 3, 2009 at 11:48 pm

My favorite cigar is a Montecristo White label #1 Especial, followed by the Ashton 898, with the Partagas Black Label getting an honorable mention. I have also recently begun to appreciate the Nub line of cigars.

438 Carl Callaway November 3, 2009 at 11:58 pm

As a beginner to the cigar world (1.5 years since I started), my favorites so far are: any of the Oliva line cigars, Arturo Fuente, and Rocky Patel Juniors. But if you twist my arm to chose one, I have to go with anything Oliva.

439 Aaron November 4, 2009 at 12:01 am

“This is the best f**king cigar I have ever had!” I said.
“I got them from Clark. Hey! B, what kind of stogies are these?” Mark said.
“Those are Cubans my wife picked up on her last cruise. She brought back a ton of them. Are they good?” Brian replied.
“Not really. You know they are illegal. If you want I will take ‘em off your hands. You don’t want the wife getting in any trouble.” I said.
“Thanks. I hope it is no trouble for you.”
“Nope, no trouble at all.” I exhaled.

440 Brandon November 4, 2009 at 12:30 am

I enjoy a cigar now and then but don’t really have a favorite. Smoking was easier back in the good ‘ol days (college/single days). But now that I have a baby on the way I would really love to get a good quality box of stogies to celebrate the birth of my baby boy in January. I know the post suggests not buying a box but if I were to buy a box – any good suggestions?

441 Robert B. November 4, 2009 at 12:31 am

An Imperio Cubano Cameroon makes my life easier after a hard week…

442 KarthVader November 4, 2009 at 12:54 am

Ahhhh….nothing better than a lit cigar and a glass of scotch to relax with.

443 Sean2outerspace November 4, 2009 at 12:56 am

Although I do not smoke a lot of cigars, I prefer to smoke shorter darker cigars with an oilier wrap. In a pinch a macanudo will do as well.

444 Kevin November 4, 2009 at 1:41 am

My favorites are Oliva Serie V Torpedoes. I find that tending to a humidor is a bit like feeding pet fish.

445 Andrew Brinkerhoff November 4, 2009 at 1:57 am

A fine Cohiba at my friend’s bachelor party. I’ll also have to throw a shout-out to the fine folks at North Country Brewing in Slippery Rock, PA. If you’re ever near the intersection of I-80 and I-79, take the few-mile detour – well worth it. I can taste the Squirrel’s Nut Brown Ale right now.

446 Chris November 4, 2009 at 2:30 am

It’s a shame that it is getting harder and harder to smoke cigars outside of the home nowadays. I understand that in CA, you cannot even smoke them on golf courses. Finding a good bar where one can have a drink or two and a fine cigar with buddies is very difficult. The experience, however, always puts my mind right.

That said, Don “Pepin” Garcia is a fine cigar maker. I particularly like his black label and the Tatuajes from Miami. The best box I have ever had, however, was a box of short churchill Romeos from Cuba. It was a gift, and hard to come by. They are both expensive, and *ahem*, sort of frowned upon. Selfishly if nothing else, I hope the embargo with Cuba ends while I can still enjoy it.

447 Ryan Newman November 4, 2009 at 2:53 am

I just had a Churchill Romeo + Julieta ( Cuban ). Fantastic.

There is a Romeo and Julieta that has a long cone rolled tip, what kind is that called?

I remember driving with my two buddies ( and fellow jazz band members) to Cincinnati from Dayton, Ohio while we were in high school. We smoked cigars ( when you could still smoke inside ) and listen to big band music all night.

Fantastic!

448 Mike B November 4, 2009 at 3:09 am

Arturo Fuente with a bottle of Newcastle, poured into a chilled glass. On a summer night. With friends. And maybe some Jack Johnson playing.

449 Matthew Litsey November 4, 2009 at 3:11 am

Call me cheap if you must, but after a long day, kicking back on the balcony of my apartment with a Backwoods cigar and a glass of Evan Williams watching the sun go down is absolute heaven.

450 Tom Palan November 4, 2009 at 3:14 am

My first and fondest memory of cigars was at a friend’s house. After a great steak dinner, we made drinks and sat around talking and smoking cigars until the wee hours of the morning. They were cheap vanilla cigars, but I loved the experience nonetheless. Good times!

451 Keith November 4, 2009 at 4:09 am

Well, my first experience with a cigar is when I turned 18 (Not too long ago) I decided I’d do something that’ll offically make me feel like a man. So I went to a cigar shop that was near my house, Was quite the experience. I walked in to see a bunch of older men sitting on huge leather couches watching a hunting show and discussing previous hunts while having their cigars in hand. The Aroma was also very manly smelling and I felt hair grow on my chest just from going in. After taking in the main room’s smell and looks I continued into the Humidor room and there in the middle of the floor is a giant bear-like Dog. Seemed like it was a nice dog..but anyway, thats getting off topic….So I started to look around and was kind of overwhelmed/Intimidated by all the choices and the fact a lot of them weren’t wrapped in plastic or anything…So after looking around I grabbed a La Aurora…Was in a glass tube (Was less indimidating to me) So I took it to the woods and sat under a tree by the creek and smoked it..Honestly the first few puffs tasted pretty crappy but after i got into it I noticed how relaxing it was, Since then I’ve smoked maybe 1 or 2 a month..Met quite a few people just from sitting in a city park smoking an A.Feunte, and became the most classy person at a halloween party with my LJ300 church hill. Oh by the way, so far out of all the cigar’s i’ve had, The LJ300 is my favorite, Very nice flavoring…Definitly worth a try.

452 Kel W. November 4, 2009 at 4:50 am

On our last night of college together my best friend and I smoked two cigars he had been saving since high school. These were the last two that he had brought back from Cuba. I’ve had cigars before, including a Cuban, but this cigar was different. He smoked an H. Upmann Vintage Cameroon and I had the H. Upmann Coronas Mejor. Although I was, and still am, relatively new to cigar smoking, I instantly could tell I was smoking quality tobacco. The wrapping was excellently done and made all the difference. It had nice even draws and the ash held together for a long time. The Cuban I had previously was poorly wrapped and ruined the experience for me. My friend started to get a bit jealous of mine as the wrapper on his began to unfurl, but I knew I was finally smoking a quality cigar with the most pleasant tasting and smelling tobacco. It wasn’t until I had the privilege to enjoy a quality cigar that I realized how special smoking could be and the enormous difference the type of cigar makes. Every once in a while I still take out the case and take a whiff of that amazing smell and it never fails to lift my spirits.

453 Mike November 4, 2009 at 5:46 am

I much prefer Romeo Y Juliets because they are pretty decent cigars but VERY reasonably priced. I buy them from a local shop in San Diego and they have the shops logo on them. I can get the nicer ones for aabout 3 dollars a piece. Thats pretty fair!

454 Rich Skultety November 4, 2009 at 6:40 am

I like Acid Toast and Java brand. Acids have a nice savory flavor and the Java’s have hints of chocolate. I love to enjoy one when I am BBQing. The smell of tobacco and meat smoke is heavenly

455 Tripp Purks November 4, 2009 at 8:18 am

I love the Rocky Patel line of cigars. In my opinion, these cigars are the best value on the market right now. Start with The Edge, the are made and work your way through various types that RP offers. I recently sampled a robusto from the 2009 Autumn Collection. It was a rich, smooth, and very memorable smoke.

Two Cigar Tips:

1. Try using a punch inste

456 Tripp Purks November 4, 2009 at 8:24 am

I love Rocky Patel cigars. In my opinion, these cigars are the best value on the market right now. Start with “The Edge” (basic model, made in different sizes and levels of boldness) and work your way through various types that RP offers. I recently sampled a robusto from the 2009 Autumn Collection. It was a rich, smooth, and very memorable smoke.

Two Cigar Tips:

1. Try using a punch instead of a guillotine cutter. It often makes for a smoother draw, and reduces the chances of getting loose tobacco in your mouth.

2. Keep a cigar journal so you can track your journey. It helps to remember what you like and don’t like in a cigar as your palette develops. Here is a link to get you started: http://nicetightash.com/cigar-journal/

457 Daniel Overvoll November 4, 2009 at 8:25 am

I like the Arturo Fuentes here in the US. When I travel, if there is a Davidoff shop or other outlet for good Cubans then the Churchills. The Davidoff shop on Tverskaya avenue in Moscow has a great selection and a place to sit and smoke overlooking the boulevard.

As for Microbrews, I always try the local and my taste run toward red ales. You can get “beer” anytime, but discovering new brews is an adventure – and man was created for adventure!

458 Travis K November 4, 2009 at 9:06 am

My favs are Monte Cristo Jumbo’s. There’s nothing like smoking one down at the lake by a camp fire.

459 Patrick November 4, 2009 at 9:11 am

The best cigar experiences I have had have been with my older brother, who used to work at a tobacconist, and my dad. Two stand out: after my sister got married, I bought some Don Diego Playboys and we sat out on the deck after a long day of hard work and celebration. Her marriage didn’t last but my love for the Playboy is still there. The second: just sitting in the garage with a “Yellow Band” (embargoed) Cohiba and a glass of Hennessy. They both got sick off of the big smoky stogies. I held my own. It was on that day I felt like a man.

460 Todd Weaver November 4, 2009 at 9:27 am

I prefer Honduran cigars: Punch Gran Puro, El Rey del Mundo, and Hoyo de Monterey are my favorites. When I’m in the mood for a mild smoke, I like Nat Sherman Host. But as the poster says, don’t smoke what other people like – smoke what you like!

I have a couple of tips:

1) The trend today is toward bigger and stronger cigars, and these are the cigars that tend to get all the “buzz” in cigar publications and forums. It’s as if men try to prove how tough they are by smoking enormous, stomach-churningly-strong cigars. However, those proficient at the art of manliness know that preferring a smaller, milder cigar does not make you less of a man, especially if you are just starting out. Don’t follow the crowd; choose a cigar that you like best!

2) When you find a cigar you like, it is almost always more economical (if you plan to smoke regularly) to buy a box from a tobacconist or an online retailer like JR Cigars. You can buy inexpensive, small humidification devices to put in the box itself, or you can buy – or even make – a humidor to keep the cigars from drying out.

Happy smoking!

461 Lawrence M November 4, 2009 at 9:36 am

My regular go-to brand is Fuente. I mean they are best known for the wonderfully flavorful Opus X, but for smaller occasions, I love the Fuente Hemingway Short Story. It’s just enough cigar for me, affordable, and very tasty. When I’m out of the States and I can find a Bolivar, that’s the smoothest Cuban I’ve had.

462 Nathan G. November 4, 2009 at 10:25 am

My favorite cigar series is the Ashton VSG line. They are top notch, and if you want a good cigar, try them! Also I discovered Hoyo De Monterey Exalibur Maduro’s last year and they are a fabulous $6 cigar.

If you are interested in enjoying a good beer with your cigar then you should look into homebrewing. Really!

463 Pat Newbold November 4, 2009 at 10:27 am

I have been a consumer of Thomson cigars along with another firefighter friend. We have been splitting a box every other month for about ten years, but we are finding the price getting higher and higher but the quality slipping. Nothing like getting a box of dried out cigars to ruin my day. Nothing better than sitting down with a fresh cigar and a dark ale to calm my frazzled nerves and soothe out the rest of the night. Give me a dark maduro and a dark ale and you are my friend forever!!

464 Jimmy November 4, 2009 at 10:41 am

I was intriduced to cigars via Drew Estates. I still love Drew Estates (even though I catch a lot of flack from purists), especially the Ambrosia line. I’ve tried a few other cigars that I have not liked as much. I am generally leary of blowing $6-8 to try a cigar, so I have not experimented much (but I’d like to). I am very fortunate to have a local smoke shop with a large humidor, pool tables, and an awesome man’s den with leather sofas and chairs, fish tanks and a flat screen. Smoking a fat cigar in the man’s den, shooting the shit and watching the game is the whole experience!!

465 Ryan S. November 4, 2009 at 10:43 am

I’m a fan of the Punch Elites. Nice flavor and draw for a good price.

466 Mark November 4, 2009 at 10:58 am

Acid Blonde is my favorite so far. I have enjoyed several different cigars, but this is my choice. They have a sweeter taste, last a long time, and finish well. An excellent cigar overall.

467 Jeff November 4, 2009 at 11:41 am

My favorite cigar ever was the Cuban I had in Augsburg, Germany. It was a smooth smoke to the very end and it was quite affordable compared to average cigars in America.

468 Aaron November 4, 2009 at 11:45 am

I tend to always smoke a different cigar. The main exception to this is that in the past I smoked a lot of Rocky Patel Vintage. Not so much now. Most of what I’ve been smoking lately is from the Camacho line or Romeo y Julieta. Excellent smoking. Also, if any of you cigar aficionados are in the Chattanooga area, I recommend you check out Burn’s. Their website is http://www.cbcburns.com/.

469 Brad King November 4, 2009 at 11:49 am

I have always really enjoyed the Romeo y Julieta Reserve Maduros in any size. They are modestly priced and have a smooth, even draw. However, living in Texas, I get across the border as much as possible to get my hands on some Cohibas. I love them.

470 Adam Marple November 4, 2009 at 11:54 am

My favorite cigar unfortunately doesn’t exist anymore. It was La Hoya Cubana. It was a relatively cheap (around $4) unassuming ( simple yellow band) cigar that took Cigar Afficianado by storm in the late 90′s-early 2000′s. I believe it scored consistently 96 on their charts. How I wish, WISH, I had gotten a box while I could. I left the country for a bit, and when I got back it was gone. I don’t know what happened, but it just disappeared.

And I agree that the punch or even “cat’s eye” is the better than a guillotine. I like the smaller holes because it seems to give a more concentrated draw and helps with consistency.

I did by a dozen or so Opus X Millenium series in ’99. And I’m saving them for a very special occasion (birth of my child, child’s graduation?) But that’s a long way away.

471 Philip Barber November 4, 2009 at 11:59 am

I’m no expert, but for me, cigar smoking is all about sense memory. I only smoke a cigar on pleasant occasions, so that whenever I smell cigar tobacco burning, all those times come wafting back to me.

472 Ricky JOnes November 4, 2009 at 12:01 pm

yes Cubans are on average a better cigar, not saying a good Dominican doesn’t match up one for one with a good Cuban, but on average Cubans are better.

473 Matt F November 4, 2009 at 12:22 pm

I love the Cognac dipped Al Capone Cigarillos. Do they count as cigars? I think they do.

474 Brad November 4, 2009 at 12:33 pm

I enjoy almost any of CAO’s offerings, especially Eileen’s Dream and Bella Madagascar. those seem to match up well with a nice spiked coffee drink on the porch on Fall evenings

475 cp November 4, 2009 at 12:53 pm

I’m into this wonderful cigar world just shy of three years now. For beginners may I suggest mild Dominican like Macanudo. Diamond Crown Maduro #4 is my favorite right now.Recently tried Arturo Fuente, very nice.

For the record–I wanna win this contest.

476 Tim J November 4, 2009 at 12:59 pm

My favorite as of late is La Aurora Preferidos, particularly the Cameroon wrappers. As you try different samplers and brands, make a mental note on the wrapper and fillers leaves. Better yet, keep a cigar journal of you likes and dislikes. Don’t forget that many cigars mellow and develop with age.

477 Walking Man November 4, 2009 at 1:22 pm

At the end of a long lacrosse season, we coaches smoked a celebratory cigar. Quite good.

478 Jesse J. Saxon November 4, 2009 at 1:32 pm

Funny that Ashton was mentioned here; Ashton happens to be my favorite cigar. Since most cities now have a smoking ban in most (if not all) public areas, Pittsburgh is no exception, I admit I have cut back on smoking cigars as much as I used to. However, I do still enjoy a cigar on a few occasions a month; typically Sundays.

Locally I have a fantastic store that doubles as a beer distro. and a cigar shop. The place is chalked full of top-knotch selections in both areas with a very knowledgeable staff. As a man myself I can understand how asking someone for help in such regions can feel a bit un-manly; but it was really a good expierence. The employee pointed out all of the issues this articule talked about in choosing a cigar and even set me up with an import beer to complement each other. Now initally I thought he was looking for a sucker and a sell, but I’m happy to report that was not the case as both the cigar and reccomended beer were amazing and now opened new doors for me in both worlds. If you live in, or around, the South Hills of Pittsburgh, Rt.19 Beer & Cigar is definatly worth checking out.

479 Erik G November 4, 2009 at 1:50 pm

I agree with this article – a higher priced cigar doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s better. I’ve had friends new to smoking try to impress me by snagging the darkest, most expensive one they can find (against my advice). Needless to say, most weren’t prepared for it and ended up stuck wherever they were sitting.

I’m a fan of medium flavored cigars – AVO is great (hit and miss sometimes, though), and I’ve just recently discovered Rocky Patel, which has immediately risen to my top three
.

480 Robert Luckey November 4, 2009 at 1:51 pm

My first cigar was with friends at the harbor the day I graduated from high school. That was a great night.

481 Thomas More November 4, 2009 at 1:52 pm

I like Davidoff cigars, generally. My favorite cigar thus far has been a Cuban Romeo y Julieta, which I smoked when my first child was born.

482 Mathias November 4, 2009 at 2:11 pm

Personally a fan of Macanudo robust cigars. My two older brothers and I live in three different states, and every time the three of us get together, it’s over a Macanudo.

483 Crystal November 4, 2009 at 2:15 pm

I’m newer to cigars than I am to beer. Was introduced to the practice by a Dutch friend who learned to smoke from his dad.

I still miss the late winter afternoons, sharing cigars and beers, sharing watery sunlight that felt like summer after the frozen twilight of of the winter we spent together in Sweden.

Tip: Enjoy with friends, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to try something new!

I’ve got a pack of (you’ll shudder) cigarellos called cafe creme. They’re not exactly my favorites.

484 Curtis November 4, 2009 at 2:36 pm

So far my favorite has been Romeo Y Julieta Medallas De Oro Vintage Maduro.

485 Tony November 4, 2009 at 2:55 pm

I grew up in Miami from a family of Cuban immigrants. My grandfather grew up on tobacco farms and appreciated cigars and cigarettes (to his own detriment). He often took my brother and I to El Credito cigar to pick up some of his favorite cigars on a regular basis. After picking them up, he would take us home and tell us stories of the homeland. I remember sitting on the front porch watching my grandfather smoke and drink his Cuban coffee as he told us how things were or just sit there listening to WQBA. These memories have always stayed fresh in my mind and at special events I always make the trip to El Credito and pick-up a couple of La Gloria Cubana’s for the wedding and birth of my sons. Cigars invoke great images in my mind of my grandfather and his essence of true-manliness.

As for beers, I have now gotten to making my own brews. The process is fun and the end result is always satisfying. I think a true man should do this at least once in his life.

Cheers!

486 Mike November 4, 2009 at 2:55 pm

Good post. I’ll be sure to check out that CotM club!

My favorite aspect of cigar smoking is that, for the most part, it’s an activity in which only men participate. When I smoke a cigar, it’s either with my father, or with “the guys”. For me, the enjoyment doesn’t come from the tobacco so much as it’s a great way to enforce father/son bonding, or friendship respectively. I don’t know if you have a post about this on your blog, but men have a problem women don’t have: in order to express affection for each other, we must find acceptable masculine ways to do so. Sometimes a good cigar and some sipping tequila is the equivalent of a bear hug.

487 Brett Fassbind November 4, 2009 at 2:57 pm

So this article got the better of me and I had to go out today and buy a cigar. I bought a nice A. Fuente short and drove up to the water tower here in town, stood against the side of my truck and spent the better part of an hour thoroughly enjoying it. I do have to say that I think I still prefer a good pipe I am very impressed by the robustness of flavor.

488 Tom November 4, 2009 at 3:19 pm

There is nothing better than lighting up a cigar on the first tee

489 KK November 4, 2009 at 3:27 pm

Good article. I personally enjoy a Monticristo #2 when i want to splurge. Macanudo’s for ‘everyday’ situations. Also I have found I cant go wrong with a JR “knockoff” smoke.

490 Tim M November 4, 2009 at 3:40 pm

I am also a fan of using a cigar punch. And while I am a great fan of beer, to me there’s nothing better than a cigar with a good dark liquor or wine.

491 armod November 4, 2009 at 3:58 pm

my favourite to this day is the cuban cohiba siglo VI but after moving to the US I need to find myself a new favourite.

492 Drew Crabb November 4, 2009 at 4:12 pm

It was funny to me to see Romeo y Julieta mentioned right off the bat….one of the few cigars I smoke on a regular basis! In addition, a small tobacco shop near me called “Hill and Hill” has their own line of Dominican’s that are phenomenal.

493 Greg T November 4, 2009 at 4:22 pm

My tip for someone knew to cigars would be to look for seconds. Some shoppes will sell cigars that are visually imperfect or were not rolled up to standards. You may not have a band to collect, but you do end up with a great sense of the flavor and strength of a particular stick while spending as little as $3-$4, as opposed to the full retail price.

494 Jim November 4, 2009 at 4:31 pm

Great cigar experience – during a quiet dinner for two before my gal was heading off to Paris with her parents, our table was basically crowded out by the large party of a downtown business association. Aware of their overbearing presence, they invited us to join them instead of moving. For the next 4 hours we enjoyed the hospitality of the restaurant owner, his wine and beverage purchaser, the owner of the billiards room, and the gentleman who owned the cigar shop around the corner who carried his stash in an old ammo box. While you can’t sell or trade Cuban cigars, I /believe/ you can bring them in for personal use (I brought a couple back to the US from the EU), and this shop owner was glad to share his few Cuban cigars with the few who accepted his offer.

495 Adam K November 4, 2009 at 4:34 pm

Acid Blonde’s or CAO’s are two of my favorites, I began smoking in college because of my roommate at the time, at his wedding I presented him with an engraved humidor filled with his favorite variety (a chip-in from the groomsman).

496 Jeff November 4, 2009 at 4:40 pm

My two go-tos H. Upmann Vintage Cameroon or the Rocky Patel Decade

497 Jacob November 4, 2009 at 4:43 pm

I love a good cigar after a long day. Have relaxed many a night away playing pitch, sipping a beer and enjoying a good cigar.

Favorites:
Rocky Patel Vintage 90 or 92 (the bigger the ring the better)
Graycliff 1666 (A fantastic cigar that produces a huge cloud of smoke and taste great)

Tips:
*I am from a small town and while the local smoke shop does have a decent size walk in humidor the selection is not good. They are also ridiculously overpriced. I quickly found that buying a humidor for my self for about $75 and stocking it with things I like was the way to go. Ordering from websites like http://www.cigarsinternational.com, http://www.cigarmonster.com, and http://www.JRcigars.com . I have had great luck getting anything I want. If you watch the sales you can get great smokes for around $2 each.

*Always use either a wooden cigar or a butane torch lighter. Start by toasting the end of the cigar without drawing just to blacken the foot. Then apply the flame and take a couple good draws rotating the cigar to evenly light all edges. After that just keep in mind that your cigar will go out if left alone for long but don’t fret just re-light it by taping to remove the ash and then blowing air out though the cigar to remove the stale smoke. Light as before.

498 Gryphon MacThoy November 4, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Ah, cigars. I enjoy about one every two months. Always a well deserved indulgence and a pleasure. Often, I take a nice long walk around and slowly just… drift.

My favorites are medium thickness maduras. I like that rich, almost ‘wet’ feel of the smoke, and it combines so beautifully with bourbon or good aged rum. I’m not a label tracker, so frankly, I don’t recall names of makers very well. I go into the local humidor and pick one by direct smell. I ask questions about any rarities available, but never pay more than $15 for a cigar. I’ve found that above $15 just costs more for no good reason to my senses. I always grab a box of fresh cedar matches, and end up leaving the box at some bar or window sill.

I walk around with a flask of booze and a bright red burn. Some people get out of the way because they don’t like the smell of smoke. Most get out of the way because they know I’m am completely blissed out.

Tip: I use my house key to bore a hole in the head. I suppose this isn’t the best method, but after losing about 10 guillotines I gave up on that. A pocket knife, sometimes, but the key trick has been my way since I was 10.

Yup. I’ve been stealing Dad’s cigars since I was 10. Almost burnt down the barn one time. Too relaxed to see where the ash went and if it was hot.

Hm. I think it’s about time for my cigar walk, this evening, in fact. Time to call the boys and see who wants to get into trouble on a Wednesday night.

499 Shaun B November 4, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Although I’m pretty new to the world of cigars, my favorite that I’ve tried so far has been an Arturo Fuente.

500 Fish November 4, 2009 at 5:31 pm

Acid Ming Natural 6 X 60.
This cigar rocks over all others in my opinion.

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