Cigars 101

Anatomy of a favorite cigar

Size matters
Eventually every cigar smoker finds the cigar size and/or shape they enjoy most. There’s usually a top favorite followed by a second choice if the first is unavailable. Of the parejos (straight-sided cigars), I like Toros the most, but I’ll settle for a Robusto. Over the years I’ve learned to appreciate other sizes like Corona Gordas (6-6 ½” x 47), Lanceros (7- 7½”  x 38) and even box-pressed (square-shaped) cigars. In the figurado class (tapered head cigars), my all-time favorite is the Double Perfecto (see La Aurora Preferidos), for its retro, zeppelin-like shape.

It’s as important to try different size and shape cigars as it is to try different brands. As your palate becomes more perceptive, you’ll begin to notice the difference in flavor between various sizes and shapes, too. Add to that the myriad brands available and you’ve got literally thousands of combinations. Whoa baby!

As I noted above, you have to start somewhere. Regardless of which brand you start with, unless you hit a walk-off home run with that first cigar, you have to try many different blends in order to boil it down to the flavors you enjoy most in a cigar. You can try cigars from the same country, factory, wrapper leaf, or switch things up. Try a Cameroon one day, a Connecticut Shade the next, a Corojo another, a Maduro, and so on. Try a blend that has a lot of ligero in it, or one that has more Dominican or Nicaraguan filler. Try a three or four-nation blend, or go for a puro – a cigar that’s made with leaves all grown in the same country, like Padron cigars. How about an all-organically-grown tobacco leaf cigar like the Plasencia Reserva Organica? I could go on ad infinitum with combinations. Suffice it to say, when you choose a particular brand, pay close attention to the blend. If you have to keep a cigar diary of the cigars you’ve smoked, do so; it will help you narrow the factors down to finding potential favorites.

Price factors
For most cigar smokers, price is a BIG issue. Many of them probably spend as much time bouncing around the web looking for the lowest cigar prices as they do smoking their cigars. If you have the means to smoke $10 cigars, more power to you, and you’ll find some real pearls, too. However, in the world of premium cigars you can find some really good smokes for as little as $3.00 each. Who knows, your favorite cigars might end up costing no more than $5. More often, we tend to find our favorite cigars in our most comfortable price range, but it doesn’t hurt to splurge every so often for that really special cigar you discovered that may cost a lot more.

Other Influences
Other factors that come into play when searching for your favorite cigar are suggestions or gifts from friends; an article about a prominent master blender or factory; even a good review or high rating score may sway you to try a certain cigar that could be the one.

Hallelujah! I found it!
The more cigars you smoke over time, the more you’ll narrow it down to the shapes and flavors that make your mouth water just thinking about them. My favorite cigars tend to be medium to full in body; earthy, creamy, and sweet in flavor; well-balanced, yet complex in character, and rolled to a relatively wide ring gauge. If I had to make a current Top-10 list, it would consist of the following cigars:

  1. Perdomo2 Limited Edition Maduro Epicure
  2. Coronado by La Flor Toro
  3. 601 Green Oscuro La Fuerza
  4. Padron 1964 Anniversary Exclusivo
  5. Alec Bradley Family Blend BX2
  6. Arturo Fuente 8-5-8 Flor Fina Maduro
  7. Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real Toro
  8. Torano 1916 Cameroon Toro
  9. Rocky Patel Decade Robusto
  10. Oliva Serie O Perfecto

Looking at this list, I realize I probably could have made a few Top-10 lists, which is why I hesitate about making such lists in the first place. Plus, the list changes as my tastes change and new cigars enter the market, as will yours. Like most cigar smokers, I love variety. That’s why it’s so hard to say which cigar is my favorite. Each cigar has its own special place in my heart, and as you discover your favorites, they’ll find their way into your heart and your humidor.


Gary Korb

Gary Korb

Executive Editor

Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for since its debut in 2008. An avid cigar smoker for over 30 years, during the past 12 years he has worked on the marketing side of the premium cigar business as a Sr. Copywriter, blogger, and cigar reviewer. A graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, prior to his career in the cigar business, Gary worked in the music and video industry as a marketer and a publicist.

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