Is there a cigar aficionado on your gift list? Wondering how to choose a decent cigar for a friend or loved one? Even if you know nothing about cigars or choosing a good cigar, just learning a few basics can help you sniff out (sometimes literally) a good cigar to give to a friend.
Fortunately, cigars have now entered the mainstream. Long ago a symbol of the rich and powerful, it’s now easier than ever for just about anyone to enjoy a good cigar. Of course, you probably won’t be able to buy your friend a box of top-tier Cuban cigars, but you can definitely buy them a good quality cigar that will put a smile on their face.
First, visit your local tobacconist or specialty smoke shop for the best quality and widest selection. Avoid the machine made ‘drugstore’ cigars (i.e., Backwoods, Garcia Y Vega, White Owl, Phillies, etc.). Although they may be inexpensive and convenient to purchase, drugstore cigars are usually filled with preservatives and generally of poorer quality. They may contain, at minimum, saltpeter, paper, glycerin, and other preservatives and irritants. You should make sure that the cigars you purchase are handmade of 100% tobacco. If you have any questions regarding the cigars’ ingredients, ask the salesperson at your tobacconist’s, they are generally knowledgeable of most, if not all the blends they carry. An experienced and knowledgeable salesclerk will be able to tell you extensive information about the ingredients, flavor, even cigar history.
Your local tobacco shop is a good place to shop because you will generally be allowed to smell and touch the cigars. Squeeze the cigar gently. A good quality cigar will give a little when squeezed. The cigar should be firm, with no excessively soft or hard spots. Never buy a lumpy cigar. Look at the wrapper. If you notice any drying or discoloration, it’s best not to buy it. Ideally, the wrapper should be tight and smooth. Inspect the color of the tobacco to make sure it is even. Do this by inspecting the end of the cigar. Some color variation is normal, but if the color changes abruptly, chances are the cigar was not rolled properly. A cigar that is not rolled properly may result in uneven burning and unpleasant odors.
If you’re not sure how much your friend smokes, choose a longer cigar, such as a Churchill or Lancero. Longer cigars tend to have a ‘cooler’ taste, an excellent choice for beginners. If you know your friend is an experienced and regular smoker, choose a cigar that is greater in diameter. These cigars tend to have a richer flavor that experienced smokers will appreciate.
If you’re buying cigars as a gift for new smokers, it is best to buy small quantities, such as one or two cigars for them to try, rather than an entire box that they may not like. Additionally, cigars require consistent temperature and humidity levels to stay fresh and ready to smoke, so buying a lot of cigars for a new smoker that doesn’t have proper storage available would in then end result in ruined cigars. If you want to buy something like a sampler pack, which has multiple varieties of cigars in them, be sure to add a small humidor to the gift so that your recipient can properly care for their new sticks!
Other things to consider when buying cigars as gifts for new cigar smokers are the tools needed to cut and light a cigar. Premium cigars must have their caps cut off to be smoked. So, throwing in a good cigar cutter would be beneficial. Additionally, cigars consist of rolled, whole leaves of tobacco, and lighting a cigar with a standard lighter can not only prove difficult, but can also result in effecting the taste of the cigar. Grabbing a cigar lighter for the gift package will ease frustrations and make your friends first cigar experience that much better.
Your local tobacconist would be more than happy to show you some beginning cigar smoker tools and accessories, and might be able to work out a package deal for you to make the best beginning cigar smoker gift you could ask for! It never hurts to ask!