Of course, people who have never tried a cigar will not read this article. But you as a cigar connoisseur might know someone who wants to enter the magical world of cigar smoking.
Cigar Journal asked some of the most experienced experts worldwide how they tackle this issue: “Which cigar do I recommend to a beginner?” The answer: “It depends.” That is why the personal conversation with an expert is irreplaceable.
“When a newcomer comes into a Two Guys Smoke Shop in New Hampshire, we start asking questions,” explains David Garofalo. With 35 years of experience in the cigar business, he is an old hand and knows what is important. “Have you ever been a cigarette smoker? How do you drink your coffee? Do you rather drink beer, wine or cocktails? Do you like spicy food?” The list of questions is long, and depending on the answers, David’s profile of the first trial set is created for the customer.
Grant Ovenden on the other side of the world in Christchurch is tapping the same line. Grant has also found that it is sound to recommend cigars with different wrappers to newcomers, for example series with the same blends but different wrappers. “We put samplers together because they send people on a taste journey.” www.canteros.nz
Pablo Montorio from Madrid knows from experience that cigars with a small ring gauge are often perceived as harsh. “Slightly thicker cigars allow cooler smoke” is his insight from contacts with newcomers. As strange as it may sound, he has to point out again and again that cigar smoke is not inhaled.
Nancy Friedenthal, one of the most acknowledged cigar personalities in Vienna, compiles her beginner packages according to the price in addition to the criteria mentioned above. And as far as the formats are concerned, she says: “Usually, women resort to shorter Vitolas and/or slimmer cigars on their own.” (Friedenthal Tobacco Shop, Vienna)
Her colleague Merja Juselius from Stockholm first discusses with her customers their taste and strength profiles, then about pricing and finally about formats. She has put together a “Cigar Rummets Classic Basic Package” for newcomers. It contains cigars from five countries of origin and is so popular even with her regular customers that the sampler has remained unchanged for 15 years.
René Wagner from the popular Tabak-Lädeli in Zurich does not recommend extremely mild cigars to novices, but rather medium-strength ones, relying on well-known brands. “Even beginners want to get to know a taste and aroma experience. But if someone wants to try a particular cigar, I yield to their wishes.”
For Jeff Borysiewicz of Corona Cigar Co. in Orlando and Tampa, a mild entry-level cigar is essential. “Nothing is worse for a novice than a queasy feeling in the stomach,” he knows. “If someone wants to taste something stronger after the first experience, fine. But don’t start with a cigar too strong!”
Angela Yue from Lord Puffer Tobacconist in Escondido, California, also tends to recommend mild cigars to beginners. “Best with Connecticut Shade wrapper and from the Dominican Republic.” Of course, the decision, in her eyes, also depends heavily on the taste expectations of the person.
Although many beginners like to choose thin ring gauge cigars, Régis Colinet from the Parisian specialty store Le Lotus never recommends a cigar with a ring size of 50. He also tries to find out the taste profile of his customers. In his opinion, it is often helpful for beginners to try a certain format, such as a Robusto, from different countries of origin.
(Le Lotus, Paris)