Having smoked thousands of cigars, doing dozens of reviews on The Perfect Draw (my cigar blog) and talking with my fellow cigar smokers (Brothers of the Leaf or BOTL for short) I have learned a number of things that I wish I had known when I started smoking cigars.
If you are ready to take that leap from smoking the occasional stogie to becoming a full fledged cigar aficionado then you need to read on.
Smoke a Variety of Cigars
If you really want to get a good grasp on what kind of cigars are out there then you need to smoke a wide variety. These consist of mild to full bodied cigars, cigars from different companies, cigars with different tobaccos from various countries and different shapes (also known as vitolas).
A question that I often get asked is, “Other than smoking a variety of cigars, how can you figure out what is good?” I remember when I started out, there were some cigars that I smoked that I thought were wonderful. But once I expanded my cigar smoking horizons I realized that those cigars that I thought were excellent were average, at best.
Review the Cigars you Smoke
Reviewing most of the cigars that you smoke is a good idea for a couple of reasons. First off, it allows you to keep track of the cigars you smoked. When I began smoking cigars, I did not review any of them for a couple of years. I liken that time to being blinded and left in a forest, trying to find my way out. It’s fine if you just want to smoke the occasional cigar but if you really want to get an understanding of which cigars are good and what flavors you like in cigars then you will need to keep track of the cigars you smoke.
The second reason why it is a good idea to review the cigars that you smoke is because it makes you focus on the cigar. When I started reviewing cigars, I began picking up more of the nuance in each cigar. All the different spices, the sweetness, chocolate, leather, etc.
Use the Right Tools
Trust me, it’s better to spend a little extra money to get a good cutter and lighter then it is to spend $5 on a long line of lighters and cutters that just aren’t that good.
A solid cutter is the Xikar MTX and there are a number of good lighters out there from companies like Xikar, Blazer and Dupont. Cutting your cigar with a cheap, dull cigar cutter is asking for problems like wrapper tear.
Cheap lighters, on the other hand, routinely break down and produce schizophrenic flames.
While poor quality cutters and lighters can ruin cigars one at a time a substandard humidor can ruin scores of cigars at a time. I won’t get too in-depth here but here are some simple rules about humidors:
- Get a humidor that is bigger then you think you will need.
- Put a digital hygrometer/thermometer in that humidor and make sure the humidity stays around 70% and the temperature at 70 ∞F.
- Humidify your humidor with a humidification system like humidifier beads. Oh, and use distilled water when recharging your humidification system.
Go Smoke a Cigar!
Now that you know some of the basics on becoming a cigar aficionado go out there and smoke a cigar or two!
Travis Lindsay runs a cigar blog called The Perfect Draw where you can find reviews, cigar news and cigar tips. For a look at his favorite cigars check out his Top 10 Cigars 2009.