Sleeper Cigars - What's up with that?
By Gary Korb
As I define them, "Sleepers" are good cigars that have caught the attention of a few, but for the most part have been overlooked by the majority of cigar smokers. There could be any number of reasons these cigars have gone unnoticed, but rather than speculate as to why, let's focus on how to find a good Sleeper cigar. (Of course, you could order this month's cigar Buying Guide sampler #12.)
Shameless self-promotion aside, cigar samplers are most often the source of a good Sleeper, since many cigar samplers have a few "unknowns" among them. It seems that cigar smokers tend to compromise when it comes to variety samplers, too. They'll take a couple of unknowns because, 1) most of the cigars in the pack are those that they already recognize, and 2) the pack is usually discounted enough to justify the purchase. Ironically, this is usually how they find that outlying Sleeper, too.
Experienced cigar smokers know they can find good cigars at well below prices they would pay for luxury-priced selections. That alone speaks to something I've pointed out time and again: experiment, experiment, experiment. That said, price isn't always the issue. As you experiment, you may just as easily find a $10 Sleeper as a $3 Sleeper.
Another thing Sleepers have in common is, most of them are made by many of the world's leading blenders. If a cigar smoker has enjoyed certain name brands in the past, they're more likely to try a stick made by say, Pepin Garcia, Nick Perdomo, Rocky Patel, Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, or Carlos Torano, to name a handful, even if the cigar is a private blend.
Finally, by finding these undiscovered gems, it's very likely you'll tell your friends, and in turn, you can actually help the brand find an audience.
How much of a cigar's cap should you cut?
You only need to slice off the cap itself, about 1/16th of an inch, and generally no more than 1/8th will do it, and should result in a little round disc. Even if you don't get the entire cap, as you smoke the cigar and the head gets more saturated, it will open wider naturally. If you feel it necessary to cut a little deeper for draw purposes, note that triple capped cigars tend to hold up better because they also protect the cigar's shoulders. Moreover, never clip a cigar below its shoulders as the wrapper may unravel on you.