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Cigar Newbies

How to Buy Cigars – A Guide for Cigar Newbies

Are You a Cigar Newbie?  Don't worry, every cigar smoker had to get over the "newbie" stage.  So you are not alone.

Choosing a cigar is a very personal thing. There are many variables such as personal taste, availability, and budget. When buying cigars online or at a store it is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of different brands and types of cigars available. If you are fortunate to be experienced choosing the perfect cigar should not be a problem but if you are new to cigars these suggestions may help you find a great cigar you’ll love.

The composition of a cigar is pretty simple. The core of a cigar which lends all of its taste is the filler. The binder, composed of coarse tobacco, holds everything together, while the wrapper is the outer layer is composed of silky leaves. The quality of a cigar is often noted in the look of the head or cap. This is the part that you will need to cut off in order to smoke it.

What is in a Cigar

The size is often referred to as the ring size. The combination of ring sizes and length identifies most common cigars like the double corona - the biggest, the churchill, the robusto, the corona, and the petit-corona, one of the smallest. A basic rule of thumb is the bigger the ring size, the cooler the cigar smoke will be. It's often recommended that inexperienced cigar smokers start with smaller size cigarsfor instance a Corona or perhaps a Petit Corona, to build up the smoking skill. You also have to establish a taste for them before attacking the big ones that would take up to one hour to smoke.


Guide for Cigar Sizes

Shapes Length (Variations)   Ring (Variations)
Churchill 7 in. (6-3/4 to 7-3/4)  47 (46-48)
Corona 5-1/2 in. (5-1/2 to 6)  42 (40-44)
Corona Gorda 5-5/8 in. (5-5/8 to 6-5/8)  46 (45-47)
Double Corona 7-1/2 in. (7 to 8)  49 (49-54)
Corona Grande 6 in. (6 to 6-3/8)  42 (40-44)
Gran Corona 9-1/4 in.  47
Lonsdale 6-1/2 in. (6-1/2 to 7-1/4)  42 (40-44)
Panatela 6 in. (5 to 7-1/2)  36 (34-38)
Toro 6 in. (5-5/8 to 6-5/8)  50 (48-54)
Petit Corona 4-1/2 in. (4 to 5)  42 (40-44)
 Robusto 5 in. (4-1/2 to 5-1/2)  50 (48-54)


The cigar industry has made a vocabulary to describe the color, from double claro to maduro obscuro. Cigar tastes are diverse for example claro (gentle), colorado (average), maduro and oscuro (quite rich). A novice needs to begin with a gentler flavor like a claro or perhaps a colorado at the very most, as the maduro or oscuro are often too robust for a beginner. Don't rush into purchasing a whole box of cigars simply because you like how they look or smell, or simply because you like the container they are available in. Keep in mind that the region the place where a cigar is made has an effect on its flavor. For example, cigars from Cuba taste different from cigars from Nicaragua. 

Guide to Cigar colors and Colouring

The first thing anyone should do when buying a cigar is make sure it's fresh. Cigars tend to dry up in less than 24 hours after their removal from the humidor. The easiest way to know if a cigar is fresh is to pinch it with two fingers; the wrapper and the binder should be tender. If the cigar is hard and the wrapper cracks, it's a sure sign of its poor condition.While looking in a cigar box, you should notice the color of all the cigars, not just one. Since quality cigars come in the same shade, discoloration is another sign of a bad stogie.

Guide to Cutting and Trimming a Cigar





The second step is to cut the cap of the cigar. Cutting the cap will permit you to have a good draw; cutting too little makes the cigar hard to smoke, and cutting too much makes the wrapper unwind. There are many techniques to cutting a cigar, the use of a single or double-blade guillotine being the most common.Xikar Cigar Cutters available at Gotham Cigars are a great option. It's also possible to puncture or make a pinhole with special tools.

Third, but not the least, never light a cigar with paper matches or a gas burning Zippo, since both of them may give the cigar a bad chemical taste. The best way to light a cigar is with wooden matches or a butane lighter.

The question of the paper band is complicated, nobody seems to agree on whether to leave it or not. A band should only be removed while the cigar is lit, because the warmth of the smoke eases its removal and can break the brittle wrapper.

You are now ready to enjoy a good cigar. Many cigar newbies make the mistake of drawing the cigar smoke into their lungs.  The smoke of a cigar should not be inhaled.  Rather, it should be tasted and savored like a fine cognac. Another cigare newbie mistake is the act of chewing on the cigar or holding it with your teeth.  This is a sign of a cigar newbie and should be avoided so as not to destroy the cigar smoking experience. The tip of the cigar should always remain dry for a better draw. It is recommended to smoke your first cigar on a full stomach and not to swallow too much of the tar filled saliva, which could cause stomach cramps.

Cigar aficionado's know the secret is to keep the cigar at a slow burn in order to avoid tar build-up which makes the taste of the cigar too strong to enjoy. Cigar connoisseurs favor a hand rolled cigar “hecho a mano”, over a machine made cigar. To maintain the freshness of your cigars, they must be kept in a humidor, or in a Ziploc bag with a damp paper towel. Cigars should always be kept at 70% humidity with a temperature of 70 Fahrenheit.

There is no secret to finding a good cigar. Tobacconists and online stores such as Gotham Cigars are always a good source of information for any novice cigar smoker. You can now smoke with your head up high and enjoy the taste of a good old stogie without looking like a cigar newbie.