How to recommend cigars to others
By Sal Domingo, Famous Smoke Shop
As a “share and share alike” kind of guy, it’s always been important to me to help point cigar smokers new and old in the right direction. Cigar tastes are subjective — you may hate a cigar that I love, and vice versa — which is why recommending cigars can be so difficult.
Being that I am so gracious when it comes to sharing my opinions on cigars with other cigar smokers, I’ve compiled a few hypothetical scenarios that might help when you’re in a bind and needing some guidance for both the newbie and more experienced herfer.
Scenario 1: You’re on the golf course or just sitting around playing garage poker. Your friends are complete cigar newbies, and they’re looking to you to figure out what to smoke.
When it comes to new cigar smokers, I like to start them off with something rolled in a Connecticut Shade wrapper. These cigars tend to be mellow in taste, lighter on the palate and sweet in aroma. Think about it this way: You wouldn’t start a prospective wine drinker with a full-bodied cabernet or an extremely dry pinot grigio, because a rookie would not have the palate to enjoy the finer details of those wines. Follow the same basic rules when recommending stogies. Some good milder “starter” cigar brands with Connecticut Shade wrappers include: Macanudo, Montecristo Classic, Ashton, Avo Classic, Romeo y Julieta Capulet, Alec Bradley Connecticut, CAO Gold, American Classic, La Floridita, Rocky Patel American Market Selection, and Baccarat, to name more than a handful. Baccarat and Macanudo cigars are two of the bestselling cigars in the U.S.
Scenario 2: You’ve got a friend who’s been enjoying mild cigars for a while but is ready to make the leap to more full-flavored cigars.
So, they’ve played in the sandbox long enough and are now ready to move to the beach. It’s time to nudge them along to the medium-bodied stuff. The key is letting your graduate cigar smoker figure out his own path while you deftly guide his hand (or palate, as the case may be) to the strength and aroma you think might appeal to his individual tastes. You might want to suggest cigars with wrapper leaves such as Cameroon, Sumatra, Habano, Corojo and Broadleaf Maduro. Some tyros may be a bit hesitant to try the darker wrappers, but maduro wrappers are not necessarily stronger; in fact, they’re often sweeter in flavor due to the extra time they spend in the sun, which produces more sugar in the plant. For example, the Romeo y Julieta Montague is a nice medium-bodied maduro smoke that I enjoy quite often. But, if you’re still skeptical about the dark side, cigars such as the Arturo Fuente Hemingway series, La Gloria Cubana, Gran Habano #3 Habano, Oliva Cain Daytona, Perdomo Sun Grown, Olivia Serie G, Rocky Patel The Edge Lite, Nub Habano, Perdomo 10th Anniversary Champagne, Hoyo de Monterrey Maduro, CAO CX2, and the Avo Maduro will do right by you.
Scenario 3: Now you have an experienced cigar smoker who’s got a few notches on his belt but is still curious about what else is out there with more flavor, body, strength and complexity. They’re ready to make the leap into the world of super-premium cigars and luxury-class cigars.
By now, you’ve spent days with your newfound cigar buddy filling his ear with your favorite smokes, flavors and wrappers, and he’s finally ready to step into the big leagues. You might suggest some Brazilian wrappers like Mata Fina and Arapiraca, Dominican Corojo, Nicaraguan Maduro and Oscuro, as well as cigars that have more high-priming ligero fillers, or potent Nicaraguan Ometepe tobacco. By this time, you’re likely going to be helping them along into the subtle changes in both the depth, balance and complexity of the cigar, for example, learning how to identify a variety of flavors in the blend, such as coffee bean, wood flavors like cedar and charred oak, bittersweet chocolate, graham cracker, floral notes and even citrusy flavors. Some excellent examples of the more complex cigars include the Perdomo 20th Anniversary series, Tatuaje Miami, La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero, Montecristo White, My Father Le Bijou 1922, Kristoff GC, Davidoff Escurio, San Lotano Maduro, Rocky Patel Decade, Oliva Serie V Melanio, and Padrón 1926. I know that’s a lot, but the list could go on almost ad infinitum. To keep matters simple, pick any three of the brands above, and you’re off to a great start.
I encourage you to take a spin around the blogosphere, maybe watch a YouTube video and see what else is available on social media. Being a cigar connoisseur, as it were, I always try to be neutral and remind other cigar smokers that the experience is often a personal one. The reason I suggest social media is so you can reach out to the community, start a discussion and see what other cigar smokers are smoking out there.