Christmas is just around the corner and many are beginning to scramble to get all of their shopping completed. With the holiday season being so hectic, it can be very frustrating finding the perfect gift, more so when shopping for a cigar smoker. Since cigars come in a huge variety of sizes, shapes, and colors, each of which offer a variety of different flavors, shopping for cigars can not only be confusing but also intimidating, especially if the individual searching is not a cigar smoker. With that in mind, here are some things to consider when purchasing cigars this holiday season.
Men and women do not smoke cigars because they are addicted; they smoke for the flavor and normally do not inhale. Cigars emit many different aromas and produce different flavors which can include coffee, cocoa, peat, cedar, iron, vanilla, honey, rum, etc. It is important to know the individuals flavor preferences before walking into a cigar shop. Does he or she prefer sweet flavors, spice, or something plain and bland? Knowing this information will greatly speed up the selection process and will help to quickly identify specific cigars to choose from. Once the flavor profile is determined, a size must be chosen. Cigars come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some, known as Robustos, are short and fat. Others, like Churchills, are long and thick. Yet others have different shapes. A Torpedo is a cigar that tapers at one end and is open at the other. These are the hardest to roll; therefore, Torpedos must be created by the best rollers in a factory and are a great choice if worried about construction problems. It is also important to know when the individual will be smoking before determining the proper size to choose. Since many cigar smokers refuse to smoke indoors, it would be best to choose shorter, smaller cigars for any person living in an area where the winters are very cold. The size of a cigar also determines how long the smoke will last. A seven inch Churchill could take an hour or more to smoke, while a 5 inch Robusto may take 30 to 40 minutes. If the individual receiving the cigars likes to have a smoke after a hearty meal, then a bigger cigar, like a Churchill, would be a better choice since he or she will be relaxing for some time while their food digests.
Now that the flavor profile and proper size has been determined, its time to take a look at the wrapper types available. Wrapper leaves can play a major role in the overall flavor and strength of a cigar, so understanding the differences between "natural" and "maduro" is very important. "Natural" cigars are normally wrapped with a mellow, light tan colored Connecticut leaf. These cigars tend to have some flavor but very little strength, which is perfect for the less avid smoker. Most people do enjoy cigars that utilize a "natural" wrapper so when in doubt, this type could be the best choice. However, many individuals who enjoy cigars on a regular basis may want something a bit stronger, so a dark, oily maduro may be the perfect fit. Cigars sporting a "maduro" wrapper are often richer in flavor, and contain natural hints of sweetness that usually create great balance. However, many people associate the dark color of a "maduro" wrapper with intense power and strength – this is not true. Maduro simply means "ripe," and does not denote a strong cigar. Natural and maduro are the two most commonly requested wrappers but even so, there are still many other wrappers available, all of which will create different levels of flavor and strength. For example, the Corojo leaf may have a reddish hue of color, and offers a "spicy" flavor, leaving hints of pepper in the back of the throat. It may also leave a tingling sensation on the lips. Again, this would be a cigar for the conditioned enthusiast, not the beginner.
The last main point to discuss would be complexity. Often times, thicker cigars are more complex, as the cigar maker can utilize more tobaccos throughout the cigar, resulting in a more creative blend. A complex cigar will be layered with different nuances, and might change significantly (in both strength and flavor) while the cigar burns. Enthusiasts who indulge daily will most likely prefer a complex cigar, while the occasional enthusiast will might lean towards something more straightforward and subtle. Of course, this all comes down to personal preference and exceptions are definitely a possibility. Each enthusiast is different, and each will prefer certain cigars at certain times. Do not be afraid to purchase a cigar as a gift, even if you are unsure of the recipient’s taste. More often than not, a true enthusiast will gladly receive any cigar, with an open mind and appreciative smile. Also, do not get discouraged if a cigar given is not burned for several months later. This does not mean the recipient does not like the cigar, but he or she may prefer aging a cigar further prior to enjoying it. Lastly, a good cigar could cost two dollars or twenty dollars. By no means should price denote whether or not the recipient will enjoy the cigar. Enjoying a handmade cigar is an art form, and just as any artist would appreciate some brand new paint or a brush, an aficionado will always appreciate receiving a new cigar!