New-jack fulfillment associate Matt Rice took some time out of his hectic shipping schedule to write a few words on his experience in being new to the cigar hobby. In this article Matt walks you through four of the most important lessons he’s learned in his first few months @ BCP:
Admittedly, when I first began work as a shipping associate with Best Cigar Prices, I knew very little about cigars. This made my first few days a little overwhelming. I remember overhearing conversations that were riddled with all kinds of fancy terminology. That to me, sounded like some kind ancient curse or Harry Potter spell rather than terms used to identify various cigars. However, once I was able to spend time with the product and speak with some of the professionals that work for the company, the smoke began to clear (terrible pun intended). Here are four crucial bits of information that I’ve picked up so far.
Because of the huge amount of variety available in the cigar world, every cigar experience is unique. As is every cigar smoker. With the seemingly endless combinations of wrappers, binder and filler tobaccos, shapes, and sizes, enthusiasts are able to narrow down their preferences until they find a cigar that is almost tailor-made to fit their palate (more on that later). This makes the process of finding the perfect cigar an enjoyable experience as opposed to a tedious one. Every cigar you try brings you one step closer to your “go-to” smoke.
Depending on where in the world the tobacco in your cigar was grown, It will tell you how it might taste. Different places offer up different characteristics in their tobacco due to the differences in soils, climates, sunlight, and seeds that are used. Reading up on various different cigar blends, I’ve come across tobaccos from the United States, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Indonesia, and the Philippines, just to name a few. Some countries like Nicaragua are known for volcanic soil, which is known to create a bold and rich style of tobacco with a spicy taste to it. On the other side of the spectrum, countries like Mexico produce mellower tobacco that is more sweet than spicy. Each region has its own flavor profile, and figuring out which countries of origin appeal to you will be a huge help in determining which cigars you may like. The best way to do that is to get out there and start smoking some cigars, and you may want to start off by picking up some assorted cigar samplers.
As a new cigar smoker, I had a hard time noticing some of the flavors that many cigars listed in their descriptions. In fact, some of it sounded like straight-up crazy-talk. I was relieved to learn that this is not a permanent issue. The more you sample cigars the more your palate (in this case meaning “ability to taste”) evolves and adapts to seek out and pinpoint the flavors more accurately.
It also helps to know the proper way to smoke a cigar. I’m guessing that the majority of you reading this are well aware that this is done by NOT INHALING! Instead, hold the smoke in your mouth and slowly swish it around your mouth over your tongue, in order to soak the flavor in. For most people, this is common knowledge, but to me and my very (very!) limited experience, it might have been the most important lesson I learned so far. This handy infographic & flavor wheel helped to shed some light as well.
I was surprised to learn that not only do the type of wrapper leaf and interior tobaccos in a given blend factor into the overall enjoyment of a cigar, but the cut you choose does as well. This was a detail that I considered small, only to learn that it plays a pretty important role. To me, this just further proves how much of a personalized hobby the enjoyment of premium cigars really is. There are different types of cigar cutters designed to give specific types of cuts to your cigar. Listed below are a few examples, along with some pros and cons to consider:
These are used for a straight cut, which creates a larger opening for that delicious smoke to travel through. For many, this is is the ideal cut. But, fair warning, for someone who is new to cigars (me), it’s pretty easy to cut in the wrong place and ruin your cigar. The pros recommend that you cut no more than 1/8 of an inch off the cigar’s head to avoid clipping the wrapper and having it unravel on you. Also, make sure you select a guillotine with a large enough hole to fit the size of cigars you like.
This type of cutter creates a V shape into the tip of the cigar (pretty self-explanatory). This is the cutter I would recommend to someone who’s just starting out. It’s easy to use and doesn’t compromise the structure of the cigar. The downside is that the cut is on the smaller side, which could lead to tar build-up near the opening and some hotter smoke.
This is a small cutter that resembles a bullet, it presses into the end of a cigar and creates a neat, circular hole. This particular cutter is known for its convenience and many of them can find a home on your key ring, which is great if you’re on the go. Much like the V-Cutter however, the cut you end up with is relatively small, meaning you could have the same tar and smoke problems.
I’m not talking about the scissors you’ll find in your junk drawer at home, these are specially designed for cigars. From what I’ve gathered, this is the cutter you use when you’ve been in the game a while. They create the same cut as a guillotine cutter without the size restrictions mentioned above. When they’re used properly they offer the most accurate straight cut for your cigar (and you’ll look fancy while you do it), but if you’re a rookie, you could end up just murdering an innocent cigar.
There are still a lot of things I have to learn about cigars and I’m fortunate enough to work with people who really know their stuff. These seasoned cigar vets always make time for me and answer all my questions, no matter how obvious they may be. I want to learn these things not only so I can enjoy cigars to the fullest extent, but for the off chance that someone sees me in my BCP fleece at the gas station or supermarket and asks me a question about cigars. I want to make the company I work for look good by being able to answer that question and help someone else enjoy cigars a little better. With any luck, I’ve done the same for you today.