Some of your cigars might need some aging after purchase to achieve optimum flavors
Obviously sitting on product can get expensive, and additionally, when a brand is popular there is a lot of pressure on the manufacturer’s to get them on the shelf as quickly as possible. However, sometimes tobacco needs to age for extended periods of time for blends to marry together and achieve the desired flavor profile. Some smokes are in optimal shape right off the truck, but others are best after some additional time in your humidor. Our suggestion – get more than one cigar. Try one within a few days/weeks of receiving. Store the rest in your humidor, and smoke them in 6 month intervals to find the optimal flavor for your favorite brand.
A high-end humidor isn’t essential to storing your cigars
The beautifully crafted humidors you see on our website and in your wealthy friend’s man-caves are aesthetically pleasing, and do a darn good job keeping cigars fresh and in optimal smoking condition. The only downside is the cost, but of course the people who make them (and usually companies like ours who sell them) want you to think there aren’t any less-expensive options. However, you can achieve the same results (minus the impressive appearance) by building your own “coolidor” for pennies on the dollar. Boost your storage space and save your hard earned dough for more stogies by checking out various cigar forums like Puff.com, Cigargeeks.com, or CigarAsylum.com and searching for directions on how to convert a regular old cooler like you’d bring to beach into a haven for your premium cigars.
Country of Origin doesn’t really matter
One of the first pieces of information you’ll see about a cigar on a manufacturer’s website, or even right here in this catalog, is the country of origin for the particular line. The country where the cigars are rolled in is even frequently stamped right on the box. However, that designation has absolutely nothing to do with the flavor of the cigar. For example, a cigar might be rolled at a factory in Honduras, but it might utilize tobacco from the USA, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic. It’s not even out of the question that there won’t be any Honduran tobacco in the blend at all! Technically speaking it might be a “Honduran cigar”, but it’s not going to have the same flavor profile as a cigar made utilizing 100% Honduran tobacco. Pay more attention to the wrapper/binder/filler blend details. Those will let you know the country where the tobacco used in the cigar was grown in, and will help you learn which countries and regions deliver the flavor profiles that best fit your palate.
Not all Maduro wrappers are created equal
Maduro wrappers are incredibly popular, and seemingly are the “next step” once a cigar smoker has mastered the art of appreciating milder Natural-wrapped stogies. They add strength, complexity, and depth to a blend. It also happens to be my personal favorite wrapper style, specifically the Connecticut Broadleaf variety. However, making a Maduro wrapper leaf takes an awfully long time. The leaves need to be fermented for extended periods of time to achieve the color and flavor that they are known for. Since this process can be long and expensive, some manufacturers do take short cuts. Sometimes wrapper leaf is “painted” with a mixture of water that has lots of tobacco leaf steeped in it to make them appear darker. There is also a process known as “cooking” or “steaming” where the tobacco is placed in a sauna-like steam chamber at about 180 degrees to super-speed up the fermentation process. Both “short-cut” processes are 100% natural, use only tobacco, and aren’t necessarily “cheating”, and won’t necessarily create a poor-tasting cigar. However, when you compare them head-to-head with a Maduro wrapper that did it’s time in the fermentation room, you’ll notice the difference in the complexity and depth. Next time you’re comparison shopping and see a Maduro that costs a buck or two more, consider that your dollar might be paying for a manufacturer to make the investment in not skimping on the fermentation and likely will yield you a better smoke. Next time you’re at the shop holding two Maduros next to each other and considering going for the darker one, know that darker doesn’t always mean better or more flavorful. Take another look at that jet-black, un-branded cigar in the bargain bin – does that jet-black wrapper really look like the natural color of a well-aged tobacco leaf?
Bigger isn’t always better
60+ ring gauge cigars have been a very popular trend in the cigar industry lately, and I don’t see the trend going anywhere anytime soon. There are certainly benefits, the wider cigar can yield a cooler smoke, and the larger space allows for more variety of tobacco, which can produce a more complex blend. However, I frequently hear of customers selecting the 6 x 60 smoke because it’s a “better deal”. My “sweet spot” ring gauge is 44, and I hesitate to smoke anything bigger than a 54. The reason is very simple – the wrapper leaf is the best cared for, most carefully selected, and featured leaf of any cigar. It is also the element of the cigar that imparts the most flavor. The smaller the ring gauge of a cigar, the higher the percentage of wrapper tobacco to binder/filler tobacco. The pure flavor of the wrapper can really shine through on a smaller smoke, and create a whole new flavor dimension in a blend if you’re used to only smoking the 54+ sizes. Also, 40-46 ring gauges are typically utilized for blenders and rollers to taste-test new blends, so these vitolas are frequently the best example of the intended flavor profile of a particular blend. Next time you find yourself reaching for that 6 x 60, consider giving the same blend’s Corona-sized cousin a try. It may cut a half-hour or so off your smoking time, but you might enjoy the time you are smoking it even more.