Cigar 101: Picking Cigars for the Best Smoking Experience – Mike Holmes

Boston Jimmie forwarded a message to me about a cigar smoker who was smoking a lancero and started to feel sick while smoking the cigar. It was suggested that one of us write about how to pick cigars to smoke, that are within someone’s league, to help them have the best smoking experience. Once again since I write articles based on what the cigar community actually talks about, I am going to provide a primer on how to pick the right cigar to help you have the best smoking experience possible. 


Consider the Time of Day

So you are going to pick out a cigar to smoke. Whether you’re at a shop or your home humidor you should consider the time of day you are planning to smoke. If it is the morning time you do not want to pick a cigar that is really strong. You’re going to want to pick out a milder creamy cigar that will compliment breakfast foods and coffee. Keep in mind that your palate is just waking up, so you want a cigar that will not overwhelm your senses and burn you out for the day. Typically people smoke a Connecticut shade wrapper cigar or Ecuadorian Connecticut after breakfast while they are having coffee. These types of cigars pair extremely well with coffee. You will experience some of the creamy or buttery notes from the cigar and it will do well with setting your palate up for the rest of the day. 

After a really good lunch you can then move to a medium body cigar, since you have been awake for a while. Typically a Habano Cigar, Ecuadorian Habano, Sumatra or Corojo wrapper are excellent after lunch smokes. Still not super strong but will add a little more strength and not overwhelm you. 

After dinner you can then move on to something a little stronger and more robust. Typically dinner will be a little heavier and you might even have some drinks after dinner. You can then move on to a Maduro cigar or a Pennsylvania broadleaf wrapper, Brazilian mata fina, Brazilian Arapicaca wrapper, etc… your palate will be more apt to tolerate a stronger cigar at this point of the day, because you have had the whole day to be awake and you have worked your way up to a stronger cigar. It is all about working your way up throughout the day. 


Why do I Still Feel Sick When Smoking a Cigar? 

Ok, so you have followed my first advice. You considered the time of day and the strength of the cigar that you are smoking, but you still feel light headed, dizzy, or nauseous while you are smoking. What now?

Normally when this happens, it is because your blood sugar level drops. It is helpful to keep a piece of candy (something sweet and chocolaty) or drink a soda while smoking. This should help with that. If it still does not help, I personally recommend that you just stick to mild cigars and gradually work your way up until your body gets used to smoking cigars, in general.

I remember as a new cigar smoker this was the case for me and no matter what time of the day, I had to smoke something mild until my body got used to smoking cigars. This definitely works! Keep in mind that everybody is different. Some can jump in head first and smoke any cigar while others have to gradually work their way up and build a tolerance. 


Consider the Environment You Are Smoking in

Having the best experience smoking a cigar isn’t only about picking out a cigar based on the time of the day – it is also important to consider the environment you are smoking a cigar in. For instance, if you are alone, it is best to pick a cigar that you can pay full attention to. This will provide you the experience of picking out and savoring all of the wonderful nuances the cigar has to offer.

Think about it, there is nobody else with you so you can pay full attention and really enjoy your cigar experience. You don’t have to be an expert on picking out individual flavors. Regardless of your level of experience you can certainly notice small transitions that the blender intended. After all, that is a main reason we enjoy cigar smoking.

Now, if you are smoking with other people, you might not be paying attention to your cigar but you can still pick out something good, just the same. If you are like me, the cigar just might distract you in mid-conversation and you can certainly be impressed as well as surprised with the various flavor notes you detect.

Either way, cigars are not just a filler for your time of relaxation. It is often the focal point! In the end, however and whatever cigar you intend to smoke, as long as you enjoy it, then it was worth picking out!

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