Cigars 101

CA 2016 Report: 5 Important Questions to Ask When Buying Cigars

5 Things: The Most Important Questions to Ask When Buying Cigars

By Tommy Zman Zarzecki

Okay… I need to make it clear that this article on buying cigars is really meant for either the casual cigar smoker or the newbie … but, let me say that those of you who are experienced at puffing the tasty leaf, you’ll want to read this as well in order to help educate those very same beginners that you happen to personally know. This piece can help YOU to help THEM in learning how to enjoy the smoky pastime that we all love.


question for buying cigarsQuestion 1: What are the best cigars for beginners to start with?

It’s a question I have been asked more than a million times over and it is the most important first inquisition that a beginner should ask… and the answer is always the same. It’s not the brand that one should be directed to, but the blend of tobacco and the outer wrapper leaf. MILD bodied cigars – THAT is what the newbie should begin their smoky quest with.

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Mild and creamy cigars, like Ashton Classic, are a great choice for the beginner to start his quest.

Light brown or golden yellow wrappers are generally woven around milder, creamier, slightly sweeter cigars. They’re clean tasting and easy on the palate. Much like a new wine drinker starts with lighter, fruitier offerings as opposed to heavy and peppery Cabs and Shiraz, the new cigar smoker has to start out light and train his untrained palate before he can move onward and upward.


tape measure buying cigarsQuestion 2: What sizes are best for a beginner to start out with?

I always recommend two sizes to start out with: a robusto or a corona. At 5 inches, the robusto is a nice short size, but has a 50 ring gauge which allows an ample amount of air to pass through, making the cigar a cooler smoke for the mouth to enjoy. As for the corona, it’s a slender size at around 5 ½ by 42 and it’s the size that many of the blenders and cigar makers utilize to test new blends that they are creating.

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Even for beginners, size does matter – try something smaller, if only just to experience the flavor first.

For some reason they feel they get the most flavor and true attributes and characteristics of the tobacco with that size, and unknowingly a newbie should experience that particular cigar at its best.


cigar band group buying cigarsQuestion 3: I’ve smoked this certain brand before and I liked it. What do you recommend that is similar?

Maybe you’re a casual smoker; you know, poker, golf, camping, the beach, etc… you’ve enjoyed some of the cigars you were given, perhaps an Ashton, or a Romeo, or a Baccarat or even an Acid.

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If your friend gave you a nice cigar on the golf course, tell the tobacconist about it – and how you like that profile.

When you walk into a cigar store, let the shop employee know that you’re kind of new to the game and tell him what you have smoked and liked. He’ll either direct you to that cigar or make suggestions about other sticks with similar tobaccos, body and flavor profiles. Trying out different cigars will expand your palate and help you discover what tasty tobacco treats are the best for you.


barber pole buying cigarsQuestion 4: What is the Difference between Natural and Maduro Wrappers?

It’s pretty much a fact that cigar newbies are frightened to death by the sight of dark and oily Maduro wrapped cigars. They automatically assume that they’re going to be overly strong and harsh. But for those of us who dig the Maduro, we’re well aware that they often display a naturally sweet taste with flavor profiles of coffee beans and chocolate.

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Don’t be afraid of the dark: many maduros tend to have a tasty, natural sweetness.

So I say, do your research and find out how Maduro leaf is cured before buying cigars. Also, spend a little time reading through online reviews to find the flavor profile that you might want to try. Seriously guys… there’s no need to be afraid of the dark!


humidor buying cigarsQuestion 5: What’s the best way to store my cigars after I leave the shop?

How to keep your precious sticks fresh (at the right temperature and humidity) is an important question because someone who really knows his cigars can help you out (depending how long before you smoke the cigars you purchase). If it’s a day or two, you can leave them in the cello (if it’s dry heat in the winter, a day max). If it’s a few days to a week you can keep them in a zip lock bag or get yourself a small travel humidor or small desktop-type humidor. But if you’re really going to start enjoying them on a regular basis, ask the shop employee to give you the run-down on what type of humidors are out there and what is best for you!

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Maintaining proper cigar humidification is easy – there are plenty of choices that match your personal needs.

If you play golf or poker regularly you’ll want the perfect travel case. If you plan on becoming a successful business tycoon, a standing display shelf case will make you the envy of all who know you. Do your research, ask those in the know and you’ll be all set.

Whether you want to learn more about cigars, or you want to help a newbie earn his wings, these questions will accomplish your goals while making the world a better place, filled with happy cigar smokers. And if YOU have any good questions that should be asked when buying cigars, let’s hear ‘em in the comments below!


Tommy Zman Zarzecki

Tommy Zman Zarzecki


Tommy Zman, is an obsessive enjoyer of life’s leafy pleasures. Growing up in the bowels of northern New Jersey, parented by an eccentric Polish father and a neurotic Italian mother, what else could this man possibly be other than a humorist? ZMan’s a real throwback to a time when men were kings of the castle and smoking a cigar in public didn’t label you an outcast and a pariah. He’s an old–school down to earth guy - but when it comes to p.c. tyranny and nanny-state legislature, he’ll draw his sword and swing for the fences. Tommy gathered a faithful following as a longtime feature writer at Cigar Magazine, and his testosterone laden FaceBook community, CROMAG NATION™ is truly the last great bastion for Men’s Men.

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