Cigar Preferences: How to Find Your Ideal Puff

Cigar Preferences: How to Find Your Ideal Puff

When you walk into a cigar store planning to purchase a new stogie it’s easy to get overwhelmed. In fact ask anyone for whom cigar smoking isn’t a new endeavor and you’ll find even the most experienced among them has trouble choosing their ideal puff. Most fine cigar stores carry upwards of a hundred types of cigars with different flavor profiles, shapes, strength and various prices and it can be confusing, especially to a newbie.

Determining what you want and what you expect to enjoy is a well-honed process and requires a bit of thought. After all, the last thing you want to do is waste money on a cigar you find, at best, sub-par. A lot of finding the right smoke for you is based on personal preference and involves a few categories such as body, ring gauge, shape, flavor profile and where and how your stogie is crafted. It may take sampling a few cigars to find your ideal puff but what an enjoyable task!

Body and Intensity

Cigars like wine, whiskey, coffee and many other pleasures in life, are available in a range of intensity. Dark and full-bodied cigars tend to have a deep and robust profile while the lighter cigars are much more mellow. Between these two extremes you’ll find different depths of flavor.

Some of the more experienced cigar aficionados note that an individual's preference when it comes to the enjoyment of beer, wine and coffee mimics their preferred stogie. For example, someone who likes a dark stout, a robust Cabernet or an intense Italian roast coffee will probably prefer a full-bodied cigar.

Likewise the cigar smoker who gravitates toward a crisp pilsner or enjoys a chilled Sauvignon Blanc may be drawn to the more mellow and easy smoking cigars. And some cigar lovers prefer different cigars at different times. Like a cigar of some intensity after a good meal or a milder cigar while relaxing on the lake.

Keep in mind you can select a few varieties to sample before committing to a whole box or larger quantity.

Size/Ring Gauge

It’s important to note that the size of a stogie may not reflect the flavor profile. In other words bigger doesn’t necessarily equal bolder or big flavors. Cigars are measured in length and width. The width of a cigar is known as its ring gauge. The gauge is equal to a 64th of an inch meaning the cigar that is 50 ring gauge is 50/64ths of an inch. The size will be displayed as length X ring gauge. So if you want a cigar that’s five inches long and has a ring gauge of 49 it will be displayed as “5 X 49”.

Although the size of your cigar doesn’t reflect its intensity it does mean something. Obviously longer cigars are going to take longer to smoke. On average a five or six inch cigar can last about an hour, just perfect for some pause and reflect time.

Some of the more experienced cigar lovers claim smoking a cigar with a smaller ring gauge of about 40-50 provides a better flavor. Their reasoning? Traditionally the highest quality tobacco is used for the wrapper and when you smoke a smaller ring gauge you’re getting more of the superior flavor from that wrapper. The larger the ring gauge the more cigar you have to smoke but you’re getting more of the filler tobacco. That’s not always a bad thing though. Especially if you have a very good quality cigar.

The Shape

Parejos are the classic cigar shape. They have an open end and a rounded end that needs to be cut or punched before you can smoke it. Parejo is the most popular category and there are many cigars of different shapes and sizes that fall under the umbrella term of parejo.

The second category of cigar shape is called the figurado. Technically they are anything other than the classic parejo shape and typically have a bullet type shape and come to a point at the end. Those who prefer the figurado style stogie claim the shape concentrates the flavor and provides a richer cigar smoking experience. We suggest you sample both the parejo and figurado styles of cigar in various types while discerning your ideal puff.

It’s important to always use the correct tool to create the best smoking experience. When you cut your cigar you should do so with a cigar cutter designed specifically for that purpose. If you prefer a punch use the right tool for that as well. Either way the correct cutter or punch ensures an even draw which is essential to your pleasure.

How to Choose a Quality Cigar

When defining your preferences based on size, shape and intensity you also need to learn how to spot quality. You’ll find both poor quality cigars and excellent cigars across every category and price point. But by incorporating the following criteria you can have a pretty good idea of the cigar quality as you search for your perfect puff.

  • Examine the Wrapper: The wrapper is your key to cigar quality as it is the most obvious sign of how the stogie has been crafted. Look for a smooth and clean exterior with no gaps and especially no tears. You should not see any unusual discolorations or markings.
  • Check the Color: Uniform color is a sign of a quality cigar. There shouldn’t be any dark areas or spots of discoloration. Be sure to check for spots of mold as this is somewhat common if the cigar has been stored in a too-humid environment.
  • Make Sure Your Cigar Has a Little Give: One of the worst things to happen to a cigar is fir it to dry out. It harshens the flavor and will cause your cigar to burn too hot. Gently press on the sides of the stogie to make sure it is firm, doesn’t crackle and has a bit of give.
  • Check for Uniformly Filled Tobacco: This is a fairly common problem with lesser-quality cigars. The filler must be uniformly packed or the cigar won’t burn evenly. And let’s face it, if they skimp on the filler what other corners did they cut? Press gently up and down the length of the cigar and make sure there are no “pockets” or areas that bulge.
  • Smell the Cigar: Just like a fine wine a quality cigar has an enticing bouquet. Let your olfactory senses tell you if the cigar has a rich and inviting aroma or if the tobacco smells a little off.

Cigar Preference is A Personal Thing

In your quest to find your ideal puff keep in mind that your cigar-smoking enjoyment is a personal one. In other words not everyone likes the same thing. That’s what keeps life-and cigar smoking-so darn interesting!

To find out more about the best ways to keep and enjoy your ideal puff contact Northwoods Humidors. We have a full line of all the right tools and accessories to ensure your smoking experience is everything it should be and more. And if you have any questions our knowledgeable staff and customer support people are here to help. We look forward to hearing from you.

22nd Feb 2024 Colleen D.

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