Cigars 101

5 Important Questions You Should Ask Before Buying A Cigar…And One You Shouldn’t

Reading Time: 6 minutes


Updated July 2023

Maybe you’re thinking about buying your first cigar. Or maybe you already have and were disappointed with the results. In either case, the prospect of diving into the world of premium tobacco can feel overwhelming. There are so many different cigars, so many things to know, and unfortunately, so much misinformation.

Not to worry.

I learned the hard way; you don’t have to. Get everything you need up your sleeve to choose and checkout with confidence inside this simple guide.

Remember, smoking cigars is supposed to be relaxing and rewarding—not an anxiety-inducing chore. Ask these 5 questions before purchasing a cigar and you’ll be on your way to smoking bliss!

As a bonus—remember when they said there’s no such thing as a bad question? Turns out there is. On top of the 5 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Cigar, I’ve included a question that nearly everyone asks, but shouldn’t. Read on to find out why!


cigar advisor 5 things you should ask before buying a cigar - question 1: what is the best cigar for a beginner?Question 1: What is the best cigar for a beginner?

Your best bet is something with a mellow body. By body, I mean the intensity of the blend’s flavors. Cigars with mellower bodies typically have gentler flavors like cedar, nuts, leather, and toast, and avoid heavy peppers or spices. The formula for such a cigar usually involves mellower tobaccos—including the popular Connecticut wrapper.

Most cigar manufacturers have a mellow blend among their offerings, but first-time smokers are typically steered toward brands like Macanudo, Arturo Fuente, and Romeo y Julieta due to their time-tested success with giving a tasty initial impression.

Discuss what you like and dislike in food and it will help your tobacconist steer you in the right direction. Below, you’ll find the most popular mellow cigar at Famous Smoke Shop.

Romeo y Julieta House of Capulet

cigar advisor 5 things you should ask before buying a cigar - romeo y julieta capulet at famous smoke shopLauded for its effortless draw and silky-smooth flavors of cedar, earth, leather, and vanilla, Romeo’s House of Capulet is loved by newbie and veteran smokers alike.

cigar advisor 5 things you should ask before buying a cigar - question 2: how many cigars should i buy?Question 2: How many cigars should I buy?

When you’re shopping for cigars, you’ll find that they come in boxes, bundles, 5-packs, samplers, and singles. Not exactly short on choices there, are you? I’ll narrow them down to two for your first buy.

Go for a 5-Pack or a sampler.

Why you should get a 5-pack:

One of the most common newbie mistakes is to buy just one cigar. You take it home, light up, smoke it, and realize, ”this is terrible.” Maybe it’s not the right cigar. Maybe it’s the right cigar at the wrong time. But you’ll never know…because you don’t have any more.

You’ll know after smoking at least 2-3 cigars whether it’s the right blend for you. In addition, smoke the second cigar at a different time of day. It may not be the cigar that was off, but possibly your taste buds instead.

 Why you should get a sampler:

So, maybe you went back and forth with your tobacconist and couldn’t land on the right cigar to try. The next best option, if he hasn’t already suggested it, is a sampler. Instead of one cigar to try, you get several at a discounted price. Here’s a mellow cigar sampler, ripe with easygoing premiums for FNG smokers:

Famous Mellow Clearance Sampler

cigar advisor 5 things you should ask before buying a cigar - famous mellow sampler at famous smoke shop

This who’s who of mellow cigars features critically acclaimed brands like Macanudo, Rocky Patel, Gran Habano, and more. Each is wrapped in a Connecticut leaf to ensure a satisfyingly creamy smoking experience.


cigar advisor 5 things you should ask before buying a cigar - question 3: what is the best time to smoke a cigar?Question 3: When is the best time to smoke a cigar?

Answer: It depends on the cigar you’re smoking. If you took my advice and started with a mellow blend, there’s not really a ‘wrong’ time to smoke it. Just keep in mind—even mellow cigars are going to feel a little stronger to you at first. My advice would be to wait until after lunch or a light dinner.

You’ll get to a point where you can even pair mellower cigars with your morning coffee, but they may be a little too harsh for your palate in the early hours. It’s why Question 2 is so important. Your cigar experience varies by the time you’re smoking it. Having a few on hand to narrow down the best time for you is a good idea.


cigar advisor 5 things you should ask before buying a cigar - question 4: how much should i spend on a cigar?Question 4: How much should I spend on a cigar?

The biggest cigar lie: the more you spend, the better they taste. Stop believing it. You should—as you always do—purchase within your budget. Are you a billionaire? Who cares. Buy whatever you want. Buy the entire factory. For the rest of us mere financial mortals, there are great cigars (under $10…even under $5). There’s no need to spring for a luxury-class smoke right off that bat.

You wouldn’t learn to play violin on a Stradivarius, right? Step your way up slowly.

But if nothing I’m saying will sway you from the ‘you get what you pay for’ mentality, here are some high-roller cigars worth splurging on for your first time—even if I don’t personally agree with such a plan.


cigar advisor 5 things you should ask before buying a cigar - question 5: how do i keep my cigars fresh once i've purchased them?Question 5: How do I keep my cigars fresh once I’ve purchased them?

If you’re planning on smoking what you’ve purchased within a week or two, you’re better off not fretting about your cigars’ home care. Nevertheless, knowing a few basics will help you hit the ground running. As the adage says…”an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Cigars are a natural product and don’t contain preservatives. As such, they have humidity and temperature requirements that keep them fresh over the long haul. A good rule of thumb is 65-70% humidity and 70 degrees.

Temperatures and humidity that climb higher can cause burning issues, poor flavor and draw, and even promote mold growth. If humidity and temperature fall too low, your cigars can dry out and crack.

Again, don’t worry too much about this if you’re smoking just one or two cigars. Even a 5-pack. Keep them in a resealable plastic bag and you’re fine. Getting a proper handle on cigar humidification will come later. We have a guide for that, too.

Last but not least…

cigar advisor 5 things you should ask before buying a cigar - bonus, what not to ask when buying a cigar: "is it good?"What NOT to ask when buying a cigar: “Is it good?”

Not only is asking “is this cigar good?” a loaded question, but it also means different things to different people. None of the answers you’ll get will necessarily reflect the experience you’ll have.

A tobacconist might answer the question from the perspective of his palate. If he loves the cigar in question, you may be inclined to buy it. But what if his favorite food is pickles—and you think they’re disgusting? That could spell a cigar purchase ending in buyer’s remorse.

A fellow smoker, on the other hand, might answer it solely based on the brand’s popularity—or lack thereof.

You’re better off asking an open-ended question to prevent a simple “yes” or “no” response. Try wording it this way: “What do you like about the cigar?”

With a question framed this way, expect to hear about flavor and complexity. Maybe draw and construction. You’ll get a list of what impressed him, instead of an obligatory “it’s good.” And while we’re on the subject, ask what he didn’t like, as well. Any tobacconist worth their salt won’t hesitate to tell you the cons as well as the pros. Ignore those who just provide lip service.

Hope you found this guide helpful. Let me know in the comments the questions you’ve been asking before buying cigars!

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Mike Schelp
7 years ago

I’m a somewhat experienced cigar smoker (20 years and still learning) and I must agree with this advice whole heartedly.

Leonard Mozley
7 years ago

Great advice for a person just getting started heres one I think a begunner should know dont inhale, Ive been smoking cigars for 43 years and cant remember when I ever inhaled.

Terry Abbott
7 years ago

Excellent write-up! Thanks for this!

Steve Pflock
7 years ago

Spicy cab’s, WTF

Leon Seebruck
7 years ago

you will smoak a lot of cigars befor you find just what you are looking for

Adam Juechter
7 years ago

Do you recommend always taking the cigars out of the cello when storing in the travel humidor for more than a few days?

Dan Evers
7 years ago

I would also add if you have more questions, don’t be afraid to ask your tobacconist! When it comes to learning more about cigars, there’s no such thing as a dumb question.

Robert Wilson
7 years ago

I also think the ACID cigar line is a great way for newbies to get into cigars. The extra flavor, mildness and aroma can be quite delicious. ACID Blondies are very nice, as are the Kuba Kuba’s. It’s just something ‘extra’ in a cigar that can attract a person who may be scared away by the aroma of ‘regular’, non-infused cigars to give it more time and to gain experience. Even a cigar like a Baccarat is nice, due to the sugary tip. I had tried cigars many years ago, and was turned off by the earthy taste. I didn’t know what to expect, and wasn’t pleased with what I ‘discovered’. Then a friend of mine introduced me to an Ashton Churchill that he had infused with rum. WOW! That made me rethink abandoning cigars, and I ended up sticking with it…learning alot in the process and adjusting my expectations (and palate) for ‘regular’, non-infused stogies.

J Dave Davis
7 years ago

a very informative article,am not in a newbie catergory nor advanced this is very helpfull to me.

Douglas Barrow
7 years ago

This is a fine article with valid points to concider for a relatively new cigar smoker like myself. I’ve smoked the odd cigar from a friend here and there but didn’t know much about them. I spoke to a tobacconist at my local shop and learned quite a bit. This article confirmed several points that she made. I’m starting with one mild and two medium cigars. My cigar journey has begun.

3 years ago

Thank you for explaining that the Robusto cigar is about 5 inches and it is a nice size to start out with. My friend from college told me the other day that he is looking to buy some Rocky Patel cigars online and that he needs to make sure that the service he uses is legitimate. I told him that he should check out websites and reviews before he makes a decision, so the transaction will be smooth and he will get what he wants soon.

Jared Gulick

Jared Gulick

Features Editor, Jared Gulick, is a Certified Tobacconist, nerd of all things science, musician and serial abuser of the Oxford comma. He made his way to the Famous Smoke Shop retail store in 2018 and joined the Advisors when it was discovered that he could locate the shift key. Prior to his work in the cigar industry, he was a recording studio engineer, songwriter, and a journalism major at Northampton Community College.

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