Cigars and Tobacco Buying Guide
For some, smoking cigars can be a right of passage; for others, a trendy congratulatory gift or a great way to seal a business deal. But whatever the reason, it's important to know the ins and outs of what you're buying so you get the best product for your money. When buying cigar and other tobacco products especially, knowing their various origins as well as the different flavours, colours, sizes and shapes all help you to determine what will be best for your taste and purposes.
- The centre of a cigar has a lot of bunched up leaves that give it all its flavour. This is called the filler.
- Composed of coarse tobacco and more elastic leaves, the binder holds everything in the cigar together.
- The wrapper is the outer layer composed of more silky leaves.
- The quality of a cigar can often be noted by looking at the head or cap. This is the part that you will need to cut off in order to smoke it.
- The size of a cigar is often referred to as the ring size. The combination of ring size, length and shape identifies most cigars and is known as the vitola.
- Common Sizes include:
- Hermosos No. 4.
- Mareva/Petit Corona.
- Corona Gorda.
- Corona Grande.
- Dalia (6 ¾" x 43).
- Julieta, also known as Churchill.
- Prominente/Double Corona.
- Gran Corona.
- Panatelas – longer and generally thinner than Coronas
- Small Panatela.
- Short Panatela.
- Slim Panatela.
- Deliciados/Laguito No. 1.
Things to Consider
- Size and Shape
- Thicker cigars often smoke cooler and tend to be more flavourful since there are usually several types of filler leaf packed into that one blend.
- The longer the cigar, the longer it will last. Shorter ones may last a half hour to 45 minutes, while longer ones can last up to an hour.
- The darker the colour of the wrapper the stronger the flavour.
- Dominican Republic and Jamaican are often milder.
- Honduran are the most full-bodied.
- Mexican fall in between.
- A cigar's wrapper determines much of the cigar's flavour, and so its colour is used to describe the cigar as a whole.
- Claro – light tan or yellowish.
- Double Claro – very light, slightly greenish.
- Colorado – reddish-brown (also called Rosado or "Corojo").
- Colorado Claro – mid-brown; particularly associated with tobacco grown in the Dominican Republic or Cuba.
- Colorado Maduro – dark brown; particularly associated with Honduran or Cuban tobacco.
- Maduro – dark brown to very dark brown.
- Natural – light brown to brown.
- Oscuro – a.k.a. "Double Maduro", black, often oily in appearance.
- Overall, it should have a smooth, shiny and oily wrapper. A crack or tear means that the cigar is old and in poor condition.
- It should have a little give, but not be too soft because under-filled cigars will smoke hot and quick. On the same token, a cigar that is rock hard may not draw well.
Steps for Smoking
- Make sure it's fresh. Cigars can dry up in less than 24 hours after removal from a humidor.
- Cut the cap. Cutting the cap the right amount will ensure that the cigar has a good draw. If you cut too much, the wrapper will unwind, and if you cut too little the cigar will be difficult to smoke.
- Light up with wood matches or a butane lighter . Lighting a cigar with anything else may alter its natural taste.
To keep your cigars fresh and ready to smoke, you may want to pick up some of the following accessories.
There are many techniques for cutting a cigar, although the use of a single or double-blade is the most common.
Used to measure humidity, these can help you maintain environmental conditions that keep cigars fresh.
Using a butane lighter is often preferred for lighting cigars or pipes because it doesn't interfere with the natural flavour of the tobacco.
A type of box that maintains a constant temperature and degree of humidity mesaured by a hygrometer, a humidor keeps pipe tobacco and cigars fresh.
You might also find these products helpful:
And you may be interested in trying these other tobacco products: