Cigars 101

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

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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.

buy ashton cigars best selling mild cigars
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!


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Mike Schelp
6 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
6 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
6 years ago

Excellent write-up! Thanks for this!

Steve Pflock
6 years ago

Spicy cab’s, WTF

Leon Seebruck
6 years ago

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

Adam Juechter
6 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
6 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
6 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
6 years ago

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

Douglas Barrow
6 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.

2 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.

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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