Correctly Recommending Cigars
Subjective - [suhb-JEK-tiv] adjective
- existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought (opposed to objective).
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times… cigars are a VERY subjective thing – what I love you might say “eh”… what you rave about, I might think is a bona fide camel turd. Or, we might both love the same stick… or to be more precise, the profile of that stick.
THIS is the reason why recommending cigars to others is not the easiest thing in the world. If you know what they generally like, well, okay, yeah, that makes things kind of simple. But when you don’t know the type of cigars they enjoy, then the task is a whole lot more difficult to figure out.
SO, being the benevolent cigar smoker that I am, I’ve listed several reasons that I can think of where you want to recommend cigars…
- You have friends who are total novices and want to be guided on what they should start out with (or are occasional smokers who only light up while playing poker or during a round of golf.)
The rule of thumb is almost always to start a novice off with milder, Connecticut Shade wrapped smokes - something that’s mellow, easy on the palate with a nice aroma. As an analogy, I always say that when you first begin drinking wine, you never start with zesty heavy Cabs or a deep, rich peppery Shiraz because they’re just too much for the untrained palate to handle and appreciate. So, the same goes for cigars for new smokers.
Some good brands to begin with are Ashton, Romeo y Julieta Capulet, Montecristo Classic, Alec Bradley American Classic, AVO Classic, CAO Gold, La Floridita Gold, Rocky Patel Connecticut, and yes, even Macanudo and Baccarat. For those of you who just stuck your nose in the air about those last two last suggestions, Macanudo and Baccarat are two of the top selling brands in the U.S. because they really do appeal to the audiences we’ve named here.
- Okay, the person who’s smoked the mild stuff is no longer a novice and wants to make the jump to the next level, expand their horizons and learn more.
It’s time to introduce them to medium-bodied cigars - sticks with bigger flavor profiles, heartier blends of leaf, and wrappers that ramp up the taste a bit. Here’s where they can experiment and start to gravitate to certain flavor profile that appeal to them. Now you can get them to try wrapper leaves like Cameroon, Corojo, Habano, Sumatra, Honduran, and best yet, maduro. Many novices are deathly afraid to try the darker looking smokes, but a dark leaf doesn’t have to mean strong. Many maduros with their natural oils produce a sweeter flavor, so, a medium bodied blend featuring a nice oily maduro wrap can be super tasty without being over powering.
Some nice medium profile sticks that I smoke and like to recommend are the Romeo y Julieta Montague, Fuente Hemingway, Gran Habano #3 Habano, La Gloria Cubana, Oliva Cain Daytona, Oliva Serie G, Perdomo 10th Anniversary Champagne, Rocky Patel Edge, Torano Loyal, NUB Habano, CAO MX2, AVO Maduro, and Hoyo de Monterrey Maduro.
- So now a guy has been enjoying cigars for a while, has decent knowledge, but just wants to try new and tastier blends and expand into heavier, more complex full bodied sticks. They want to grow their cigar knowledge & really expand their horizons with a much higher level of the leaf.
So the next step - cigars that are medium to full or just flat out full bodied, full flavored tobacco bombs. At this point, they’ve heard you rave about your favorite flavor beasts and they are no longer afraid to dive into the likes of Nicaraguan maduro and oscuro, Connecticut Broadleaf maduro, Mexican San Andreas, Brazilian Mata Fina and Arapiraca wrappers. And of course, it’s time to introduce their eager palates to the world of ligero, the leaf that is used as filler to ramp up the flavor and strength. At this point, you’re also introducing them to the wonders of balance and complexity as well - where they consciously notice how a cigar’s flavor profile changes as you’re smoking it and the different notes they give off like coffee bean, dark chocolate, cedar, and oftentimes fruit or even floral notes.
Some of the sticks I love and highly recommend in this category… Drew Estate Ligas, Perdomo 20th Anniversary & Champagne Sun Grown, Gran Habano Corojo #5, Room 101 Big Payback, 601, Camacho (anything), Aging Room Maduro, Tatuaje Miami, Roma Craft CroMagnon, San Lotano Maduro, La Flor Dominicana Chisel, Padilla Vintage Reserve, Oliva Cain, Don Pepin Black, CAO Brazilia, My Father, Leccia Black, Joya de Nicaragua Antano Dark Corojo, Kristoff Sumatra, Montecristo Espada, and a whole lot of too many great sticks to name.
- You might want to write a Blog, do a YouTube video or post on Facebook and Twitter.
I review a lot of cigars for Cigar Advisor online and in videos and again, I always try to stress the subjective nature behind cigar reviewing and make it clear that this isn’t fact, it’s just opinion - this is what I like or don’t like, but you should try it for yourself if you like this kind of profile and these particular flavors. I also always like to make clear the type of cigars I happen to enjoy and the profiles I gravitate to. As for the cigar, you first want to let them know if it’s mild, medium or full, then the tobacco blend and the wrapper origin.
As far as the flavor notes, well I made it pretty clear in my previous article The Flavor Profile Debate that there are definitely basic things you’ll get the taste of, and organically cultivated Bavarian Pfeffernusse is not one of them. I think if you follow my advice in that article, you won’t be ridiculed and referred to in social media as a liquid based feminine hygiene product. And if you really want to get into an in-depth soliloquy on the cold draw flavor and what the ash looks like every freakin eighth of an inch, well, that’s your call, but the goal is to have the reader make the decision on whether to try the cigar, and not to bore him into a comatose state. Finally, you should always say if you like it or not and why. And if it’s not your cup of ligero, you can always tell ‘em that if they usually like the kind of smoke you just described, that they should try it for themselves.
- Finally… There are those who want to buy cigars as gifts for others and may or may not know what the recipient likes.
I always get asked for cigar gift recommendations, but if they don’t know what the person receiving the gift normally enjoys, well, that makes it kind of tough. First off, if they have no clue whatsoever, I always suggest a medium bodied stick. That way, a mild smoker can handle something a little fuller than usual, and a full bodied smoker can always enjoy them pre-meal or earlier in the day. Also, go with well known brand names that they may have heard of which will make them feel that it’s supposed to be good. For instance: Cohiba, Montecristo, Punch, Romeo y Julieta or Arturo Fuente.
But if they do happen to have some idea of what the gift recipient smokes, but don’t know the brand, you can always try to dig for some clues with the right questions. I’ll always ask if they recall what the color of the cigar was or even the color of the band. You might even toss a bunch of known brand names at them to see if it rings the proverbial bell. And maybe if you have a large enough sack, you can even do a little reconnaissance mission and rummage thru their ashtrays and at last resort, break into their home and crack open the humidor.
In Closing… As I’ve made it pretty clear here, your love or disdain for a cigar is purely subjective and recommending a cigar for someone to try isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Hopefully, some of my suggestions will help you become a better cigar humanitarian as you spread the leafy word in the name of all that is smoky.
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.Show all Tommy Zman Zarzecki's Articles