I’ve mentioned it in passing, but one of my more interesting hobbies is my love of premium cigars. It’s kind of odd because I’ve never smoked cigarettes or anything, I just enjoy the taste of a fine cigar. I’m not addicted or anything (and I’ve gone several days without as a matter of necessity or circumstance) and I’m not an “industrial” smoker – I might have one or two per day max. As mentioned, for me it’s more of a hobby than feeding an addiction.
I’m a firm believer there’s a cigar out there for just about everyone’s taste preferences and you just have to try several cigars to find what you like. I also find I prefer certain cigars at different times of the day or with different drinks. Whatever the case, the key to enjoying a cigar is getting a nice mouthful of cool smoke. Do not, and I repeat, DO NOT inhale the smoke and don’t rush the cigar and overheat it as this will cause a very unpleasant hot gas taste. Just casually puff the cigar, pulling a little smoke through into your mouth. Get a taste of the smoke and let it go. Every few draws pass a little bit through the sinuses to unlock the full flavor (it doesn’t take much – just a little; this is called “retrohaling”).
So what do I personally like in a cigar? I tend to gravitate toward cigars that have a “dessert-like” quality to the taste. Flavors such as caramel, cream, cocoa/chocolate and coffee are my favorite flavors in a cigar. I’m not big into “earth tones” though I do enjoy a hint of what’s commonly referred to as “leather” – a smell/taste that is reminiscent of the scent of freshly tanned leather. Pepper/spice I can take or leave but I don’t like an overbearing amount of it. I absolutely do not like “woody” cigars (such as Fuente/Opus X or the like).
Here are some of my current favorites in different categories or at different times of the day.
Morning Coffee Cigars
I don’t very often get chance to slow down and enjoy a cigar in the morning, but when I do I relish the experience. I’ll get up, go run (the first thing I do every morning), shower and then brew me some coffee and go sit on my porch while I sip my coffee and smoke my cigar. This is mostly a weekend or holiday ritual.
I tend to prefer lighter roast coffees with a touch of cream and as such I prefer my morning cigars on the milder side. I think of it this way – the cigar is the creamer to my coffee. Hey, I save the calories that way right?
So what are a couple of my favorites? My first favorite is probably the Gispert Natural Robusto. Mild/medium body, plain, creamy and smooth. Oh, and the price is right. My second favorite would probably be the Macanudo “Café” line. Slightly more complex bringing in just a touch of cocoa and ramping up the sweetness just a bit, but still on the milder side. Slightly more expensive (depending on vitola) but still a great morning smoke.
Weekday Evening Scotch Cigars
After a stressful day at work, I like nothing more than to come home, pour up a dram of Scotch, light me a cigar and unwind. It’s a ritual for me and really gets me wound down in preparation to enjoy a nice meal and a beer or two to go with it.
For my weekday evening Scotch cigars, I prefer medium to medium/full cigars that have a reasonable price point. They have to be able to stand up to but not overpower my preferred Scotches (my favorites are Glenlivet Nadurra and MacAllan Cask Strength). My absolute favorite in this class is the Padron 3000 Natural – medium bodied with flavors of cocoa, creamy coffee, leather and a touch of pepper zing. I probably smoke more of this particular cigar than any other. Another favorite of mine in this class is the Oliva V Churchill Extra – medium/full and a similar flavor profile but a little heavier on the pepper and a longer smoke time so I choose this when I have even more time to relax. I also like the Blanco/Glynn CO First Third. Medium/full and similar flavor profiles as the two above.
Golf/Yardwork/Outdoor Cooking Cigars
When I’m doing outdoor activities and want to have a cigar to keep me company, I want something that has some substance to the taste so I can get a taste without having to really think about it as I will be busy and mindlessly swilling something like Hard Cider or a lighter beer. For this, I’ve not found anything better than the Cuban Crafters Powerhouse Chairman. Medium/full bodied, sweet tobacco core, dark chocolate, and a hot cayenne pepper finish. Oh, and the price is right on these too! A second choice would be the Gurkha Status in Torpedo. This one is on the mild/medium side but still with some distinct dessert-like flavors of cocoa and cinnamon. These are also super cheap.
Indulgent Weekend or Special Occasion Cigars
When my weekend hits and I just want to enjoy a cigar (or when I wish to celebrate a special occasion), I like nothing more than to really indulge in a rich, full-bodied, complex (and often pricey) cigar. I keep these as weekend or special occasion cigars because 1) the price and 2) I don’t want to completely spoil myself. If I drink anything with these, it’s a milder, less complex Scotch (something like a Speyburn) as I want the cigar to be the star of the show. My absolute favorite cigar at the present time is the Oliva Serie V Melanio Torpedo. An absolutely indulgent taste experience in every way – full bodied, complex, sweet creamy core with a cocoa undertone, rich coffee and toasted bread with a balanced pepper zing and a hint of caramel on the retrohale. Also a long smoke time – about 90 minutes. I also like the Padron 1964 Anniversary Series in Natural. Medium/full and complex, cocoa, coffee, leather, a hint of cream. Then there’s the Blanco/Glynn CO Final Third that is absolutely heavenly also – medium/full, caramel, creamy coffee, a hint of cocoa and a slight pepper zing in the background. The least expensive of my “top 3” and also on the long side of smoke time so I can guarantee I’ll be smoking plenty of these in the future (it’s a new release so once I expend my current five-pack I’ll have to wait awhile while they ramp out production, boo hoo).
So if you read this all the way to the end, thanks! Perhaps you learned something about cigars and perhaps I interested you in trying some? As I said, I firmly believe there’s a cigar for everyone out there just depending on what you like. Cigars aren’t just for the rich, well-dressed executives; they’re for everyone from all economic backgrounds and all genders (yes, ladies, don’t be ashamed or embarrassed to enjoy a cigar – they’re for you too; actually it was a lady friend who got me into them).
So do you enjoy cigars? What are some of your favorites? Sound off in the comments!
PS: If you’re just going to comment with the “smoking is bad” diatribe please spare me. I will delete your comment. I know cigars aren’t the healthiest thing in the world, but they’re far less bad than cigarettes as they aren’t inhaled and don’t have the chemical additives and I don’t smoke enough of them to have a significant impact on my health anyway.