Cigar smoking is a lifestyle. What is meant by “it is a lifestyle?” Smoking a cigar is a gentleman’s/ladies’ recreation. A cigar lounge is one of the few places you will see a Congressman sitting next to a truck driver having a meaningful or frivolous conversation, but thoroughly enjoying each other’s company.
They can talk about any subject from politics to sports and still hold their composure and never offend the other. There is an old-world politeness within cigar smokers. They are the kind of people that still give up their seat to a woman on the train and say sir and ma’am to their elders. No wonder why so many people want to get into the cigar culture. Where do you meet this elite group of people? Go to your local cigar lounge get a cigar and enjoy.
Now you are at the lounge and standing in the humidor. What now? Find the tobacconist and let them guide you. Too often the beginner’s friend chooses a cigar which is too bold for their first-time. Therefore, they don’t enjoy their exposure to the lifestyle. Let a tobacconist guide you.
I am often asked how I personally pick a cigar to smoke. My answer is usually to look at the wrapper and question: is it dark or light; toothy or smooth; glossy or dull? It all depends on what I am in the mood to smoke. Where is the tobacco in the cigar from? Do I want Nicaraguan spiciness, Dominican earthiness, or any number of combinations and blends? Who makes the cigar? What have I thought of the flavor profile of their cigars in the past? What sizes do they have? I enjoy a robusto most of the time but maybe I have heard that their torpedo is outstanding. The response to this elaborate answer is usually, “Really?” I laugh and say no. Though I look at these things when I am smoking a cigar and make mental notes for later, I mostly look at the band and think whether I have smoked this one before and do I want to try something new or one that I know I like.
When helping the newcomer pick a cigar, I start by asking them whether they have smoked before. The answer will tell me where I am going to start them. If they have never smoked before, then I am going to want to move them toward a milder cigar with little to no pepper notes. There are several which have notes of toast with a creamy smoke. I might also give them a cigar option which has baking spice notes of nutmeg or cinnamon, but is still mild. I always want them to enjoy the experience. We relish helping people choose their first cigar as well as guiding them through the lifestyle.
If the new cigar smoker has smoked cigarettes previously, I will usually move them toward a medium strength cigar with a little more spice. A sun grown or Maduro is my normal starting point so they can begin to appreciate the feel and tastes of a cigar. I will also remind them not to inhale and don’t quickly blow out the smoke. A cigar’s smoke is to be drawn into the mouth and then allowed to slowly escape. I remind them to take it slowly; no more than one puff per minute. This is a time to relax and reflect on the life you have or the life you want to have. This is cigar time. Enjoy it to the fullest.
As you come back we will help you move through regions and flavor profiles in the new cigars you choose. You will experience cigars with black pepper, white pepper, citrus, leather, grass, and other flavor notes and full body. You get to decide what you like and what you don’t. This is the beauty of the cigar lifestyle. There are so many options to choose from that you can try any cigar that tickles your fancy and know that the only thing that counts is what is right for you.
Go and enjoy your new-found lifestyle. I have met the most wonderful people who have exposed me to some of the greatest things in life. I have enjoyed great cigars, whiskey, scotch, wine and food with these cigar smokers and am the better for it.
By Tara Maloney
Habana House Cigars