Watch now and learn as AB founder Alan Rubin reveals the “wow” moments that shaped Alec Bradley cigar success, from his first smoke to finding out his cigar was chosen #1. Plus: Alan’s little-known blending tricks, and great “hard work” stories about your favorite Alec Bradley cigars…
Top 5 Cigar Guides and Resources for Cigar Smokers
Top 5 Cigar Guides and Resources for Cigar Smokers
By John Pullo
Cigar smoking may have started as a hobby for you…but chances are, you’re here because that hobby has turned into an appreciation for premium cigars, if not a full-blown passion. Part of the cigar journey is picking up and using the tips and tricks you learn along the way; and the more you learn, the more you love it. So today, we’re looking at our 5 top free cigar guides and resources for cigar lovers that will help you – and the people you share these tips with – get more satisfaction from your smokes.
Beginner’s Guide to Cigar Smoking
Cigar knowledge is often that kind of wisdom you get as a “hand-me-down” from your elders – grandfather, father, or those that have been in-the-know and smoking cigars for quite a while. Better yet is seeking the advice of a tobacconist to answer your cigar questions and make cigar recommendations – they’re trained to be a guide in your cigar journey. If you’re new to cigars, or have a friend that’s looking to get into our hobby, help them by turning them on to the Beginner’s Guide to Cigar Smoking. I’ve said in the past that this site was like having an on-demand tobacconist; calling on 79 years of cigar experience, it’s more like having a cigar Sherpa.
This is where cigar smokers can easily find answers to a range of questions about cigars: What’s the difference between a Torpedo and a Belicoso? How do I season a humidor? Should I remove the band from my cigar before I light it? All perennial cigar smoker questions.
And that’s the challenge…if you’re a new cigar smoker, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of info you feel you need to know. That’s why this cigar guide for beginners will prove to be a great resource for you: packed with seed-to-cigar details, you’ll get a quick (but thorough) overview of what goes into creating premium cigars, and tips from the experts on how to get more enjoyment from them. Photos, infographics and how-to videos abound, giving you a comprehensive look at cutting and lighting cigars, choosing the right cigar, the different shapes and sizes, cigar terminology and more.
Want to learn the best ways to keep your cigars fresh? Click and read up on cigar humidor basics, why temperature & humidity matter, how cigar humidification devices work and which one is best for your humidor – a useful intro for the noobs, and great reminders for the veterans as well.
And don’t miss the interactive cigar smoking quiz: you might be surprised to find out what type of cigar smoker you really are…
Cigar Pairing Guides
Some say there’s a science to pairing cigars with drinks; I think it’s just as much an art, and what works can even depend on the occasion. The only way you find what you like is to try, try, try. So here’s a 2-for-1: The Cigar Pairing Guides play to both fields, whether you prefer beer or spirits (or both).
One thing we found while developing these drink and cigar guides is that people are really in tune with what they like about their cigars, but maybe don’t have the same command over what they like to drink; for instance, I know what kind of cigar I like to smoke, and when…but I don’t know as much about bourbon, except that I like it. If this sounds like you, and you’ve been searching for the elusive, just-right cigar/drink combo, these two cigar guides are where you start.
Cigars & Spirits
Cigars and whiskeys have been friendly for a long time – but if you’re ready to break away from the single malt to try a rum or an Añejo tequila with your cigar, your taste buds will appreciate this shortcut. Nearly 100 cigar & drink pairing combos are featured in the Guide: the recommendations were built based off of independent expert reviews from Cigar & Spirits Magazine, and Famous Smoke Shop customers’ honest and unbiased cigar ratings.
It’s a can’t-fail quiz; pick your spirit, your price, and what you like to do when you drink and smoke cigars. No limits, either: where other cigar guides talk only to the top shelf booze and ultra-premium cigar options, this one talks to liquors and cigars at all price points.
By tying each set of tasting notes together, anyone on any budget or level of cigar experience can enjoy a drink and a smoke together.
Cigars and Beer
If craft beer is more your speed, here’s a hefty to-do list: you’ll find 54 cigar and beer combinations in this pairing guide that talks nothing but brew. If you’re a cigar pro that doesn’t have a lot of beer experience, or you’re a big-time beer guy who is new to cigars – this guide is designed to help you make easy pairings via concise cigar ratings, and easy-reading beer reviews from The Man Guide.
Here’s a quick tour: choose the shade or color of your preferred beer…then what type, such as Amber, IPA or Bock. The beer pros give you tasting notes of particular beer styles (along with specific brands as examples), and what the cigars provide on the flavor front that makes the combination work.
We chose cigars from both boutique and big brand makers; The Man Guide sourced their picks from both U.S. micro and macro beer makers, as well as international beer offerings. We even tossed in some must-read articles about the beers and cigars to round out the experience.
Both are mobile friendly, and both are easy-to-use, on-the-go resources for matching cigars and drinks.
Cigar Advisor Flavor Wheel
Read any cigar review, and no doubt you’ll see something like, “Smooth and creamy with notes of leather, wood and a hint of baking spice. A sweet tartness combines with toastiness on the finish.” Sounds like a delicious smoke, right?
This is how cigar smokers talk to each other when describing cigars, and communicate their smoking experiences. And because you know what these flavor sensations taste and feel like, you understand what we’re saying we taste in these cigars when we review them. But what about a flavor or nuance that reminds you of something, but you can’t put your finger on it? Or you’re not familiar with what cardamom tastes like? Here’s where a cigar flavor wheel can help you, regardless of how well you taste – or how long you’ve been smoking cigars
Flavor wheels are visual cigar guides. If you sense a natural-grown flavor that seems somewhat dry, look to the Plant portion of the wheel; then, to the Wood section. Does that sensation remind you more of raw wood or timber, or a wood product like paper? Once you’ve zeroed in on these spaces on the flavor wheel, you can more accurately describe that flavor when discussing your cigar with others. It also helps you identify these flavors for yourself, and decide if that’s what you like in your cigars. And because they’re laid out in flavor groups, these cigar guides can help give you a sense of what an unfamiliar flavor might be like.
Use a flavor wheel, and you’ll see over time how it helps you understand and appreciate your cigar even more.
Cuban Cigars Hub
Either one of these messages is in our inbox every day: “Can you guys tell me where to buy Cuban cigars?” or, “Are Cuban cigars legal in the U.S. yet?” The answers are no, and yes…but also no. Politics being what they are, our relationship with Cuba as a trading partner is on hold; so while you can’t buy Cuban cigars legally in the United States (yet), you can bring them back from abroad – with some caveats.
But even before we get into the legalities of buying Cubans, it’s important to understand the love affair for Cuban cigars – and how they developed their reputation as the “forbidden fruit.” There’s a whole mystique that begins when you look back at the history of U.S.-Cuba relations from 1898 to the present day, and how wild things have been between the United States and Cuba. And once you read the details in this guide about the on-again, off-again status of Cuban cigars and what led up to the Embargo, you’ll get a better appreciation for why these policies that impact us cigar smokers are in place.
The Cuban Cigar Hub is also one of the only cigar guides that discusses what gave rise to the leading Cuban heritage cigars. These are the non-Cuban versions of the Cuban brands that are made in the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua: Cohiba, Punch, Montecristo, Romeo and Partagas, among others, many of which came to prominence after some of the legendary cigar makers fled the island under duress from the Castro regime.
For now, you can buy Cuban cigars and bring them back to the U.S. without Customs shaking you down…but if you want to clear the fog around buying Cubans legally, the Cuban Cigar Hub is a great place to start – and stay on the right side of the law.
Cigar Smoker’s Rights Hub
Ask any seasoned cigar smoker and he’ll tell you that it’s become harder than ever to enjoy a good smoke. Tobacco taxes are on the rise, and cigar enthusiasts are now prohibited from enjoying a cigar in more public spaces, clubs, and in some states, even in cigar shops.
We’ve long held the position that tactics like these – overregulating the production and selling of premium cigars – are nothing short of the governmental overreach, and have written at length about their negative impact on the premium tobacco industry. But bad became worse when FDA released its 2016 Final Deeming Rule, putting premium cigars under the same harsh restrictions as cigarettes, cheap mass-market cigars and e-cigarettes.
Enter the Smokers’ Rights Hub: it’s one of the more comprehensive, yet easy-to-understand cigar guides out there that educates cigar lovers on how FDA’s massive regulatory changes are threatening the premium cigar industry and chipping away at smokers’ rights – as well as the legal challenges mounted in response to the agency’s sweeping new rules, definitions and fees.
If you enjoy smoking cigars, it’s critical to know about how the authorities are trying to regulate our hobby, and the steps FDA is taking to limit our choices at the cigar shop. Brush up on the details in this important guide and become a well-informed cigar enthusiast.
And that’s what all of these free cigar guides are designed to do; regardless of experience level, and no matter what your cigar budget – learning and reading up about the cigars you enjoy will no doubt enhance your smoking experience…and give you something more to talk about during your next visit to the lounge!