Cigar 101: How To Choose a Cigar

5 questions to ask yourself for choosing the perfect cigar

Whether you’re a beginning cigar smoker or a veteran, you always want to choose a cigar that’s going to be perfect for the place, time, company and occasion.

Here’s the HSS guide on how to choose a cigar.

How much time do you have?

This is the very first question to ask yourself any time before lighting up a cigar. Do you have 30 minutes to smoke? An hour? Two hours? Answering this question will allow you to make the right choice when it comes to the cigar’s size.

If the answer is 30 minutes, then choose a corona, petit corona, or something smaller like a Davidoff Primero. Around an hour? Robusto all the way. If you’ve got more than an hour, a toro or churchill will do the trick.

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N.B. In addition to the cigar’s size, also pay attention to how densely it is rolled. A smaller sized cigar, when packed tightly, can last much longer than its size lets on.

how to choose cigar beginners

What are you in the mood for?

If you’re a beginning cigar smoker, you might not know the answer to this question as it’s likely you haven’t sampled a wide variety of tobaccos. The more seasoned cigar smoker will know exactly what kind of experience he’s looking for.

Something spicy? Something mild? Something earthy with notes of cocoa nibs, marzipan, hay and cedar?

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The answer here is often dependent on the next question…

What time of day is it?

Just like we crave different kinds of foods at different times of the day, it’s the same for cigars. For a late-morning or afternoon smoke, stick with something on the milder side. Late-afternoon and evening, choose a cigar that’s more full-flavored or spicy.

Did you just eat?

Speaking of food, you should never smoke a cigar on an empty stomach. Many a beginning cigar smoker has fallen victim to this and gotten that awful nicotine sickness in the stomach. We’ve all been there. So, first, make sure you eat a nice meal.

Based on what you’ve just eaten, choose a cigar that will complement that dish. A spicy stick would be great after something rich and savory. A milder smoke would pair better after a spicy meal. And actually, one of my favorite pairings is the milder afternoon cigar with a nice espresso or cup of coffee.

how to choose cigar beginners

What’s the occasion?

Answering this question will help you choose a cigar in terms of price. Of course, you can always spend as much or as little on a cigar as you want, but if it’s for a regular day you might want to keep it within a reasonable budget that you’ve defined.

But for a special occasion, that’s the time to spring for the nice Padron, limited edition Davidoff or Cohiba Behike you scored overseas.

Thanks for reading.

Stylishly Yours,

Brian Sacawa
He Spoke Style

Photography by Rob McIver Photo

Chime In

  • Luis Martinez

    Hey Brian, people starting with cigars usually ask what’s the difference between a natural wrap and a “maduro” wrap, which perhaps might give you an idea to write another post on Cigars 101. My advice is to start with natural wrap cigars since they tend to be milder than the maduro wrap ones. Great post by the way, as usual.