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2019 CA Report: Best Cigars for Beginners

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Cigars for Beginners: Eight Top Recommendations

Updated December 2019

Every day new cigar smokers around the world are about to smoke their first cigar. If you count yourself among that group, the first, and most obvious question is, “What cigar should I smoke first?”

With thousands of premium cigars to choose from, it can be a little intimidating. Just walk into a store with a big walk-in humidor and you’ll know what I mean. If you ask most experienced cigar smokers, or the manager at your local cigar store, they’ll usually suggest something mellow like a Macanudo Cafe, a Don Diego, or a Baccarat; all good choices, too.

cigars for beginners romeo y julieta capulet cigars at Famous Smoke Shop
Want to start off easy? Romeo y Julieta is an often-recommended brand of cigars for beginners – or choose from 8 more top picks below.

So why start with a mellow cigar as opposed to a Camacho Triple Maduro or a Padrón Serie 1926? Look at it this way; if you were learning how to cook, you might want to start by making something simple like an omelet rather than Veal Cordon Bleu. Like any pastime you pursue, you have to start at the beginning, and with practice, climb the rope ladder of experience. The same goes for learning how to smoke premium handmade cigars.

Mellow cigars are generally best for newbies because one of the most important aspects of smoking cigars is developing an appreciation for the flavor properties in different tobaccos. A mellow cigar won’t overpower you. I can cite a number of instances where first time cigar smokers lost their lunch. Which reminds me; DO NOT INHALE regardless of how subtle the smoke tastes. (If you’re a former cigarette smoker, this may take some getting used to.)

Mellow doesn’t mean bland

Over the years, cigar smokers tend to drift towards more full-bodied cigars. The reason is, as you develop a taste for premium cigar tobacco you eventually tend to desire more flavor, and the most flavorful (in terms of strength that is) are the full-bodied, or what I call full-flavored cigars. Strength is only one component of the cigar, and in this writer’s humble opinion, flavor trumps strength.

On the other hand, “mellow” doesn’t mean bland. Some veteran cigar smokers tend to believe this (often for the reason I just pointed out). However, there are plenty of cigars classified as mellow that are light years from bland.

cigars for beginners growing connecticut shade wrapper
Some Connecticut tobacco is grown under shade cloth, causing it to burn with a smoother smoke – and that’s easier for beginners to enjoy.

Recently, some of the top cigar makers have begun introducing cigars with “approachable” wrappers like U.S. and Ecuadorian-grown Connecticut. Connecticut is one of the most widely used wrappers, and is also sought for its sweet aroma. Ecuadorian Connecticut is also easy to enjoy, but with a little more flavor and a shade or two darker in color. So, when searching for that first cigar, browse the cigars with Connecticut wrappers first. Other easy-smoking wrappers recommended for new smokers are Sumatra (or Indonesian) and African Cameroon. Keep in mind that many full-bodied cigars are also rolled with these leaves, so be sure the cigar you choose is listed as “mellow” in the retailer’s store, catalog, or on their website. I would even add “medium-bodied” cigars to the mix. So also keep in mind that there are plenty of excellent, medium-bodied “first-smoke” candidates available to new cigar smokers.

Suggestions from a “professional cigar smoker” ;-)

Since it would take up too much space, I can’t list every good mellow and medium-bodied cigar available. So, without turning this post into a commercial, here’s a line-up of 8 that I’ve recommended to cigars for beginners over the years with a good share of success.

Top Cigars for Beginners

Arturo Fuente 8-5-8 Flor Fina

cigars beginners arturo fuente cigars 858

Arguably one of the most popular Arturo Fuente cigars in the brand’s stable for both newbies and veterans. The Cameroon wrapper is first-rate, and the 6-inch by 47 ring dimensions are ideal for giving you a well-balanced, mellow to medium-bodied smoke. Rich and creamy notes of cedar, leather, and sweet spice ripple harmoniously from end-to-end.

 

Flor de Oliva

cigars for beginners Flor de Oliva cigars at Famous Smoke Shop

One of the best values going for years, this bundle brand from Oliva Cigars is not only a great buy, they’re made with box-worthy quality. As one of my every day favorite for years, I’ve turned a lot of smokers on to them, too. The Sumatra wrappers have an attractive, oily sheen, and the caps are very lightly sweetened. Once lit, that earthy Nicaraguan character comes through, rounding out to a naturally sweet n’ savory, medium-bodied smoke underscored by notes of cedar and a snap of peppery spice on the finish.

 

Gispert

Cigars for beginners Gispert

Another affordably-priced selection that squares well with the comfort zone of new cigar smokers. The mellow to medium-bodied blend starts with a plush Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper that caps a Honduran and Nicaraguan tobacco core. The smoke is naturally sweet and toasty with some nutty and cedary notes, further enhanced by the cigar’s honeyed aroma. You’ll also get a modest representation of Honduran tobacco flavor.

 

Gran Habano #1 Connecticut

Cigars for beginners Gran Habano no1

Rolled in a very delicate Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper, when married with the smooth Nicaraguan filler blend below, this cigar is a creamy, and deliciously mellow treat at a fair price. The result is a smooth, toasty and naturally sweet smoke that’s ideal for beginners because despite its lighter body and strength, it’s far from bland.

 

Macanudo Cafe

Macanudo Cafe - Cigar for Beginners

Macanudo Cigars are among the most iconic cigar brands lauded for their exceptional quality and consistently sweet, mellow character. As a result, they’re very often one of the first cigars smoked by premium cigar newcomers. Their golden U.S. Connecticut wrappers are stunning, silky, and bitter-free. When married with the Dominican & Mexican core tobaccos the result is a perfectly-balanced cigar with a rich, creamy taste accentuated by a slight note of sweet grass, along with leather and cedar. In word: Classic!

 

Larutan by Drew Estate

cigars for beginers Drew Estate Natural

These cigars are a little off the beaten path, which makes them perfect for the beginning cigar smoker who doesn’t want to follow usual game plan. Mostly in the medium strength range, the blends are far from ordinary, too, using tobaccos from Spain, Italy, Turkey, and Louisiana, among other territories. The wrappers vary as well, so I’m suggesting newbs start with the Big Jucy, rolled in a sweet n’ spicy African Cameroon wrapper. The core blend is mellow-to-medium in strength, well-balanced, and issues rich-tasting notes of earth, wood, molasses and other sweet tobacco flavors, not to mention its head-turning aroma.

 

Perdomo Champagne

cigars for beginers Perdomo Champagne

Among Perdomo’s hottest selling cigars, bar none. The Perdomo Champagne selection is not only a great “gateway” line for discovering the Perdomo brand, its perfect for new cigar enthusiasts who want to know what a well-built, well-balanced Nicaraguan cigar tastes like. Rolled in a smooth-smoking Ecuador Connecticut Shade wrapper that caps a blend of Nicaraguan tobaccos from different regions, the offer a virtual buffet of flavors not limited to almonds, coffee bean, and cocoa. Perdomo Champagne is also one of the cigars that will very likely remain a staple in your humidor even many years from now.

 

Rocky Patel American Market Selection

cigars for beginners Rocky Patel AMS

I’ve recommended this cigar so many times over the years, I’ve lost count. This mellow-to-medium-bodied cigar from Rocky Patel offers the best of everything, and the Ecuadorian Connecticut wrappers are some of the finest. Here again you’ve got a long-aged Nicaraguan-Honduran core blend that keeps this cigar well-balanced down to the nub. The smoke is rich, dense, uber-creamy, and loaded with flavors of sweet spice, cedar, nutmeg, and toasted almonds on a long, luxurious finish. For the new cigar smoker, the Rocky Patel American Market Selection is a can’t miss.

Seek and ye shall find

You can start with one of the above, or maybe you’ll find something else. If you like your first cigar, you may want to return to it or, more than likely, you’ll want to try something else. For this reason, I would also recommend starting with a sampler that has a mix of mellow and medium cigars. Samplers are a great way to discover your first cigar, for one, because of the variety of cigars in the pack, and secondly because you have a better chance at finding the right cigar for you until you’re ready to move on; maybe even more than one in the pack will satisfy you enough to buy a box. Moreover, part of the fun of discovering the wonderful world of premium cigars is trying new and different blends.

A trendy business

As a new cigar smoker you should note that the cigar business is also a trendy one. Recently, plump, extra-wide-body cigars have become all the rage, while about five years ago Lanceros (long, skinny cigars) were in vogue, and for the better part of the last 14 years, manufacturers have been making stronger and more complex cigars. Lately, as I’ve spoken to cigar smokers who have been partaking for decades, I find that many of them have tired of the heavy stuff and are returning to easier-smoking cigars. Even the great Don Pepin has released the My Father Connecticut selection, a mellow Nicaraguan cigar with an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper. I don’t think those cigar smokers are going to give up their Liga Privada No.9’s, Alec Bradley Prensados, Ashton ESG’s, or Oliva Serie V’s anytime soon, but you can be pretty sure the majority of them started out just like you!

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Aaron Matthew Kanelopoulos
6 years ago

Great Article.

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Gary Korb

Gary Korb

Executive Editor

Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for CigarAdvisor.com 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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