Gary reviews 10 “Top Shelf” Maduro cigars: If you love the natural sweetness and savory aroma of Maduro wrapper, these dark discoveries are sure to please cigar smokers at every level of experience.
A Cigar Gift-Buying Primer
Choosing the right cigar for the right person
If you’re a regular cigar smoker (and I assume if you’re reading this, you are), then you most likely have friends, family and business associates who also enjoy cigars. If you already know what cigars they smoke on a regular basis, you can go the easy route and pick up a box of brand X. But we’re talking gifts here, so why not make it special?
According to Gary Manelski at cigars.about.com, “brand names are more important when giving gifts than when buying for yourself, as the giver of a gift seldom desires to be perceived as a frugal person by the individual who receives the gift.” So if you’re buying a box or a gift pack, try to pick a brand they will recognize. But if your giftee is the ambitious type, you might want to surprise them with a lesser-known “boutique” brand that’s earned a good rep among the savvier cigar smokers.
Whether your giftee smokes mild, medium or full-bodied cigars, look for cigars in their strength preference that have received very high ratings or tasting scores. This will help increase the chance that they’ll really enjoy the cigars regardless of brand recognition..
If your giftee is relatively new to the world of premium cigars, they’ll appreciate a sampler with a variety of different brands. New cigar smokers love to experiment and you may just help them find their “perfect cigar.” Again, try to find a sampler that features brands they will recognize, as new cigar smokers tend to be well-informed on what’s new and what’s “classic.” Mr. Manelski also points out that “sampler packs usually come in quantities of five cigars and up, so you don’t necessarily need to spend a lot on a gift for a casual acquaintance, as opposed to a significant relative or friend.”
If you really want to play it safe, a gift certificate for cigars is a smart way to go. This is especially prudent if you’re a non-smoker. Besides, people love gift cards and certificates because they get to choose what they want. Plus, you don’t have to worry about your giftee returning your present, or as seen on Seinfeld, having your gift “re-gifted.”
Storing your giftee’s cigars
One question I get every year around this time, especially from wives, girlfriends and non-smokers, is how to keep the cigars fresh until it’s time to present them to their giftees.
If you purchase a box and don’t have a humidor that can accommodate it, or if you have no humidor at all, keep the box in a cool, dark, space. Under those conditions, the box can survive as long as one month. For insurance, you can place the box inside a large, sealable plastic bag with a Boveda humidifying pack or water pillow. Most cigar retailers sell these products, and they’re fairly inexpensive. Some cigar stores will even toss one or two in for free if you ask. As an alternative, you can also use a piece of potato, which acts as a natural humidifier. All of the above applies to keeping samplers fresh as well.
The Cigar Accessory Option
Another smart gift idea is the gift of a cigar accessory. Lighters, cutters, ashtrays, humidors, and carrying cases are all “must-haves,” and you probably can’t miss by going the cigar accessories route.
Here again, don’t skimp. If you’re buying a cigar accessory, go with a manufacturer that’s known for producing high-quality items and will stand behind their product. Not only will you be getting your giftee something they can return with confidence if it ever becomes defective, but you’ll be giving them something that will last for years. In return, they’ll always think of you fondly when they use it.
Other cigar gifts
For the cigar smoker who has everything, consider thinking outside the box. Something like a cigar store Indian; a rare, antique cigar box, ashtray, or cutter; a neon cigar sign; a framed cigar poster, photograph or painting; a cigar box clock; a cigar coffee table book. Do a little online digging and you’ll find all kinds of unusual gifts and collectibles for cigar smokers.
Finally, remember that cigars are symbolic of the Holiday season; celebrating good times with friends and family. So watch your budget, give selflessly, give with affection, and the rewards will come back to you tenfold.