1. Understand the Different Types of Cigars
Gaining a basic understanding of the different types of cigars is the first step for anyone looking to start a cigar collection. Cigar size is technically referred to as “vitola.” Vitola refers to both the length (inches) and thickness of a cigar, which is measured in ring gauge (equates to 64ths of an inch). Some of the most popular types of cigar sizes are:
Robusto-become the most popular cigar size in America. The size is generally 4 3/4 to 5 1/2 inches by 48 to 52 ring gauge. It has a complex flavor profile but still small enough to be enjoyed in a half hour.
Corona- very popular across the globe, they are typically 5.5-inch cigars with a 42 ring gauge.
Churchill- big cigars usually 7 inches long and with a 50 ring gauge.
The different sizes and shapes will influence how long a cigar will last when smoking it and how the flavors mellows in your mouth.
Another intriguing aspect of cigars is cigar wrappers, which vary in color due to the many methods for processing tobacco and the variety of tobacco strains used; There are primarily seven wrapper colors: Candela, Claro, Colorado Claro, Colorado, Colorado Maduro, Maduro, and Oscuro.
Taking some time to learn a few cigar facts will make you appreciate your budding collection even more.
2. Keep Track of Any Cigars You Smoke
When you’re sampling a new cigar for the first time, it’s always a good idea to jot down some quick notes as well as a personal rating. These notes can include the cigar’s origin, size of the cigar, how long it was in your humidor before smoking, what you drank with it, flavor, and whether or not you liked it.
The simplest way to do this is to take a shot of the cigar band with your phone then add the text over the image for easy record keeping. Alternatively, keep a paper journal. This information can serve as an excellent guide to your future selections.
For example, a cigar’s distinct tasting notes might lead you to other enjoyable options. Do this before you start buying any cigars in bulk and end up with a bunch of cigars that you don’t actually like.
3. Invest in a Good Humidor
Even a truly excellent cigar will lose flavor if stored improperly. A humidor is a wood box that is designed to store cigars and keep their moisture level consistent. This is an essential investment since cigars don’t stay fresh for long. Sealed cigars will only last about a week outside a humidor— dry cigars burn unevenly and fast.
The price of a humidor usually depends on its size. The larger the unit, the larger the price tag. To pick out the right size, you need to know how you want your cigar collection to look. If you get a humidor that is too small, you will have to cram your cigars, while one that is too big will make it difficult to control the humidity level in the humidor.
Humidors made with Spanish cedar are by far the most popular choice. The wood has a strong odor that drives tobacco worms away and preserves humidity really well. Always check the humidor to ensure it can maintain a tight seal for proper insulation.
4. Learn How To Keep Your Cigars Fresh
A blanket rule of thumb in the cigar world is that most cigars fare best with a relative humidity of 68%-72% and a temperature of 65-70 degrees. These numbers can be challenging to maintain depending on the season. That’s why most cigar experts recommend adding one percent of moisture for each degree the temperature lowers. For instance, if the temperature is now 69 degrees, your humidity should lower to 69%.
Your first line of defense in protecting your precious cigar collection is a digital hygrometer which can be purchased for around $10. This simple, effective and affordable device is designed to monitor the exact humidity levels in your humidor.
Stay far away from those little sponges that come with cheap humidors. A better option to add humidity or suck up excess moisture is Boveda 2-Way Humidity Control Pack. Use one Size 60g Boveda for every 25 cigars a humidor can hold.
5. Decide On Your Cigar Budget
Get a calculator out and do some quick math to figure out how much it will cost to fill up your humidor with cigars that you want to smoke. Cigars aren’t always the cheapest, but when you consider that the average cigar contains as much tobacco as a whole pack of cigarettes, then paying $10 for a decent cigar doesn’t seem too unreasonable.
There are $5 everyday cigars to pricier rare and vintage cigars, costing thousands of dollars and everything in between. That said, it’s important to note that just because a cigar is expensive doesn’t mean you’ll love it.
Often the price is primarily a reflection of the work that went into making the cigar ( for example, a cigar hand-rolled using specialed developed tobacco will be costlier). There are plenty of affordable and reasonably priced cigars that are wonderful! You can add good-quality cigars to your collection without making a significant dent in your bank account.
6. Learn How to Properly Cut and Light a Cigar
Although smoking cigars isn’t a mandatory part of cigar collection, you may want to be prepared if you ever want to enjoy one of your collectibles. With most cigars, this means cutting away part of the cap or flag leaf that closes the cigar while leaving some of it glued around the end to keep the filler leaves together. You can make the cut about one-sixteenth of an inch from the end or make a V-shaped wedge cut instead.
Both ways, the objective behind the cut is to create an ample, smooth opening for smoking without damaging the cigar’s structure. While there are many ways to cut a cigar from a sharp knife to your good old teeth, the ideal way is using a cigar cutter.
Lighting a cigar is not like lighting a cigarette or the wick of a candle--it takes longer. Ideally, it would be best if you kept the cigar above and near the flame, but don’t let them touch. Burning a cigar directly in a flame makes it too hot.
You’ll want to rotate the cigar, so all parts of its tip are equally heated. Be patient, and keep at it until there’s a glowing ring all the way around the cigar’s tip. Then, raise the unlit end of the cigar to your mouth and take the first puff.
7. Get Different Cigars for Different Occasions
It’s good to have a mix of cigars in your collection. Cigars come with a wide range of tasting notes, from creamy and mild to spicy, earthy, and intense. You probably wouldn’t smoke the same cigar on your birthday as you would during a quick puff on the patio, so keep this in mind.
Invest in a few premium cigars for milestones like promotions, birthdays, and anniversaries. They might cost way more than the regular stuff, but there’s no better way to celebrate a victory than kicking back and firing up a great cigar.
8. Buy a Few Essential Accessories
There are a couple of things that upscale the experience of smoking a cigar. If you are looking to have your cigar collection in the long term, then these items are must-haves.
A high-quality stainless steel cutter. The last thing you want is to ruin a premium cigar with a bad cut.
Buy a carrying case with a capacity for at least two or three cigars for when you are on the move.
Get an ashtray. Glass ashtrays have been very popular since they were first produced. They can be cleaned easily and are resistant to stains and high temperatures. For a more modern aesthetic, you can try out a ceramic ashtray.
Always have some strong mint lying around. Just because you love cigars, not everyone does.
Don’t forget to buy a cigar lighter or wooden cigar matches (allow for plenty of time to light up, unlike traditional matches).
9. Keep Exploring
Once you have settled on a favorite flavor profile, it can be tempting to stick only with cigars that match those tasting notes. Sadly, this can prevent you from discovering new flavor nuances and aromas. Remember, an individual’s palate evolves the more you smoke (similar to drinking whiskey).
Don’t be afraid to be adventurous! By trying many different types of cigars, you’ll develop your palate even more as you move ever closer to finding the “perfect cigar.”
A good place to get ideas of new cigars to add to your collections is by checking out cigar reviews and ratings. Good detailed reviews can help you sort through the vast array of cigar choices to find selections you enjoy. Ultimately, you may not agree with the reviews or even end up detecting other flavors than what the reviewer listed.
You can also reach out to other cigar collectors on online forums for ideas and inspiration on how to grow your cigar collection.
10. Keep Some Handouts Nearby
If all goes according to plan and you start to amass an enviable cigar collection, there’s just one more thing to do! Keep a couple of budget-friendly cigars tucked away. They don’t have to be bad cigars; they just have to be cheap.
So when those cigar-collection raiders (think all those relatives or friends who love a good smoke) come to descend on your precious collection, you have a couple of ‘handouts’ for them to enjoy—sparing your cigar collection.