Cigar 101

From lighting your first cigar to proper storage and humidification techniques, our Cigar 101 page provides answers to commonly asked questions for first-time smokers and seasoned veterans alike.

Cigars come in all shapes, sizes, and strengths. The body and strength of a cigar are the same thing. When someone refers to the term “strength,” they are describing the overall characteristics of a cigar. Strength measures the flavor and body of a cigar. A great comparison is to say that the strength of a cigar is a lot like proof in alcohol. More nicotine makes the cigar stronger. The most common strengths are: mellow, mellow to medium, medium, medium to full, and full.
It doesn't really matter unless a wrapper is on the foot of a cigar where you light it like on the rocky patel edge, in which case you should remove the band. Many smokers say leaving the band on is arrogant and is parading your wealth inappropriately, especially if it is an ultra premium cigar. Others say it is a good indication as to when to stop smoking your cigar when the cigar burns all the way to the band. Both of these theories are just that, and should not be considered gospel, but there is some validity to them.

I personally like to leave the band on so I can continue to be reminded of the prestige of the cigar I'm smoking, as well as admire the thousands of dollars the cigar company has put into making a snazzy band. However, if you need to remove the band, whether due to the fact that the cigar still tastes amazing even though it is burning close to the band, or you just like a natural smoking experience, make sure that the cigar is warmed up first. If you try to remove the band before the cigar is warm, the glue that adheres the band to the cigar will still be hard and some of the glue that has dripped off the band will rip the wrapper leaf right off. Before you remove a band, let the cigar smoke for 15 minutes to warm up the glue so that it doesn't rip the cigar’s wrapper leaf.
An "infused" cigar has flavors other than the natural flavor of the tobacco imbued into it, and is commonly known as a "flavored cigar." However, there are differences in how the flavors are integrated into the cigar. With certain flavored cigars, the tobacco is actually coated with a flavored syrup, while other cigars have tobacco that is kept in aging barns next to trofts of cognac or bourbon, and the cigars naturally absorb their essence. A couple examples of popular infused cigars are Acid and Ambrosia.
A cigar's wrapper is the top tobacco leaf that covers the binder and filler tobaccos and is visible to the eye. The wrapper is generally considered to be pretty influential to a cigar's flavor, and a cigar's wrapper color or seed type can sometimes be indicative of what you can expect from it.

With so many different wrapper types listed on our various cigar items, we thought it would be helpful to provide you with a list of the most common wrappers and their typical characteristics.

Candela - Once the most popular cigar wrapper type in the U.S., Candela wrappers are mellow in strength and typically vegetal and somewhat bland in flavor. Sometimes called “AMS” or “American Market Selection” because of their former dominant role in the U.S. cigar market, Candela wrappers are distinctly green in color and give off a fresh, grassy aroma.

Double Claro - Green in color, an alternate name for Candela wrappers.

Jade - Green in color, an alternate name for Candela wrappers.

Claro - Usually light tan in color, Claro wrappers are “shade grown,” meaning that they are grown under large canopies or tents that protect the leaves from the sun’s rays. This process produces a smooth smoking cigar wrapper leaf with light, mostly neutral flavor.

Café - An alternate name for Claro wrappers, used specifically on Macanudo cigars.

Colorado Claro - Another shade grown wrapper type, Colorado Claro wrappers are medium-light brown in color and offer a slightly fuller flavor than regular Claro leaves. Colorado Claro wrappers are often derived from leaves sourced from Connecticut and typically exhibit burning and tasting qualities that combine especially well with other types of tobaccos.

EMS - EMS, an abbreviation of “English Market Selection,” refers to cigar wrappers that are medium-light brown in color such as the Colorado Claro. This term has roots in the 19th century when this wrapper color was initially favored by British smokers. The majority of popular modern cigar wrappers fall into the EMS category.

Natural - A common cigar industry term for Colorado Claro or EMS wrapper leaves.

Shade Grown - A leaf that is grown under a large canopy or tent that shields it from direct sunlight. Shade grown tobaccos are generally thinner, more elastic leaves, and seed varietals typically dictate strength and flavor. The practice of raising tobacco under shade originated in the Connecticut River Valley in 1900. The original tents were made of cheesecloth, but today nylon is the preferred material.

Connecticut - A golden-brown wrapper leaf grown in the state of Connecticut. Generally mellow and sweet, Connecticut tobaccos intended for wrapper use are often shade grown.

Colorado - A medium-brown to brownish-red shade of wrapper tobacco. (refers solely to cigar wrapper color, not origin)

Corojo - The most famous of Cuban-seed tobaccos, Corojo wrapper leaves give off an earthy, sweet, and spicy flavor. Depending on growing conditions, Corojo wrappers can be a number of different shades in appearance, ranging from a light brown to a reddish brown color and anywhere in between.

Rosado - A reddish-brown wrapper leaf. (refers solely to cigar wrapper color, not origin)

Sun grown - A wrapper leaf that is grown under direct sunlight, resulting in a thicker leaf with thicker veins. Sun grown wrappers are usually strong, sweet, and full in flavor.

Sumatra - Typically mellow and sweet with hints of spice, Sumatra wrappers are grown from seeds that originated in the Indonesian country of the same name. Because of its natural sweetness and mellowness, Sumatra wrappers are often used in the production of flavored or infused cigars as not to interfere with the added flavoring. Depending on growing conditions, Sumatra wrappers can encompass a range of color variations.

Habano - A very popular Cuban-seed varietal, Habano wrappers are known for their dark brown appearance and rich, spicy taste. In addition to their trademark spice, Habano wrappers can encompass a range of tasting notes including leather, cocoa, espresso, and cedar, and are typically medium-full in strength.

Cameroon - Originated in the Republic of Cameroon in Central Africa, and sometimes grown in the Central African Republic, Cameroon wrappers are best known for their coarse, “toothy” appearance and buttery, smooth, and subtly sweet taste. Cameroon wrappers are almost always dark brown in color and generally hover around the medium-bodied strength level.

Colorado Maduro - A reddish brown-to-dark brown Maduro color wrapper. (refers solely to cigar wrapper color, not origin)

Criollo - One of the original Cuban tobaccos that emerged around the time of Columbus, shade grown Criollo-seed tobaccos are now commonly shade grown in countries like Nicaragua and Honduras to be used as wrapper tobacco. These leaves are typically medium-dark in color and relay sweet, spicy, and earthy flavor to different degrees depending on where they are grown.

Mexican San Andres - Dark, chocolaty brown in color with a toothy texture and oily sheen, the Mexican San Andres wrapper conveys smooth, toasty, and spicy flavor with medium-full body. San Andres wrappers are usually maduros, but there are some cigars that use a non-maduro version.

Connecticut Broadleaf - Thick, oily, and veiny in appearance, the Connecticut Broadleaf is considered by many to be “the king of maduro wrappers,” and is rich in smooth, earthy flavor with hints of sweetness. A particularly hearty wrapper, the Connecticut Broadleaf lends full flavor and formidable strength to a cigar.

American Broadleaf - A seldom-used term that refers to a broadleaf wrapper grown in the USA that does not specify the state in which it is grown.

Maduro - A cured tobacco leaf that is produced via extensive fermentation. Deep dark brown in appearance, the production of maduro wrapper leaves is a time and labor-intensive process that actually darkens, mellows, and sweetens the leaf.

Oscuro - The blackest shade of cigar wrapper, darker than maduro. The Oscuro wrapper’s extra-dark look and bold, sweet character is achieved through extra fermentation, over and above that of a Maduro wrapper.

Double Maduro - An alternate term for “Oscuro” indicating a dark brown, near-black wrapper. (refers solely to cigar wrapper color, not origin)

Various - Indicates an item containing multiple cigars of different wrapper shades, such as cigar sampler packs.

Multiple Wrappers - Indicates a specialty cigar that uses more than one kind of wrapper leaf, such as barber pole-wrapped cigars.
Alternatives were created to give the smoker similar attributes to the high priced smokes without the high price tag. While they are not the same, many of our alternatives were created to exhibit similar qualities as their higher priced namesake, and we have worked closely with our manufacturers to ensure that they are as close to the real thing without you borrowing against your house to afford them. We can't say our alternatives are exactly the same as the high priced stogies. What we can say is that our alternatives are damn good smokes for less coin.
By being on both the purchasing and retail sides of the cigar industry, and having a close relationship with our customers and vendors, we are offered a window into what the smoker wants moreso than many other ends of the business. This allows us to see rising market trends and, more importantly, what today's cigar smoker likes to smoke. By creating an exclusive brand, we are able to custom tailor a cigar to suit the needs of our customer with a blend that we feel is either not being made or is simply too expensive.

By having close ties to our vendors, like Alec Bradley, Perdomo, and Oliveros we are able to make exclusive cigars that carry a quality that we feel is not being brought forward in the cigar industry. Also, by cutting out the middle man in having a cigar specifically made for us, we save a lot of money, and are able to offer a box of cigars that would normally sell for $100 to the customer for $50. If you haven't tried one of our exclusive brands yet, give us a call and tell us what you smoke, and we will recommend one of our high quality, high value exclusive brands. We are sure you will be a convert!
In the regular production line of a cigar there are cigars that are deemed unsellable under the manufacturer's cigar name or line name due to minor imperfections. These imperfections might include small blemishes on the wrapper, too long or too short in length, or an imperfection in the shape. These seconds have the same tobacco as their higher end counterparts that passed inspection and are still smokable. Due to these imperfections, these seconds are sold under a different name for a significant discount. Give us a call and we will go over what seconds are from which company.
When it comes to short or long term cigar storage, there is no more suitable environment for cigars other than a high quality, kiln dried, Spanish cedar lined humidor. A refrigerator should never be a home for your cigars. I don't care what anyone says, a refrigerator has to be the most dangerous place for a cigar that I can imagine (I suppose a paper shredder or a pit bull with a penchant for chewing on cigars might be worse…). Cigars come from warm, humid locales. What is it like in a refrigerator? Cold and dry. Storing your cigar in a fridge will not only dry out your cigar, but will deplete the essential oils that are crucial to its flavor. The cigar would also start to contract to the point where it will crack and essentially become unsmokable. Unless you like the burn quality of a pile of dry leaves, save your fridge space for cold beers and sandwich meats, and leave your cigars in your humidor.
Yes you can. We here at BCP are more than happy to answer your questions. If anything, you should call us up with the full intention of picking our brains clean. An educated customer is our best customer, and you can use our info to impress (and belittle) your know-it-all cigar buddies.
Box pressed means that the cigar has a square shape around it's diameter. Many smokers prefer this shape because they feel it sits in their mouth better and at least won't roll off a table if an ashtray is not close at hand. I'm not sure of the history of the shape, but box pressed cigars are normally shoved into boxes while still moist from rolling. The pressure of the cigars being packed tightly together in a box coerces the cigars into a square shape--hence "box pressed." A quality of box pressed cigars is that they still contain the tobacco of a large ring gauge cigar, such as a 64, but presses the effective diameter down, which allows you the smoking characteristics of a large ring gauge cigar without having to dislocate your jaw.
Shaped cigars are very unique and usually only the best rollers at a particular factory are hired to roll them. When it comes to cigars that are "figured" or "tapered" there are many names to describe these special cigars. Just like wrapper shades, cigar companies can call any cigar anything they want. I have Torpedoes that are more like Figurados, Pyramids that are more like Belicosos, ad infinitum. Listed below are what these names refer to most of the time. A Pyramid tapers the entire length of the cigar from foot to head. A Torpedo only tapers off the head and the taper does not extend through the length of the cigar. A Belicoso is almost identical to a Torpedo but the taper is not as drastic and the tip tapers off very quickly. A Perfecto is like a Torpedo but both the foot and the head are tapered, creating a classic Cuban shape. A Figurado is like a Perfecto, but usually has a taper through the entire cigar plus both ends of the cigar are tapered like a Perfecto. This also refers to any odd size that a cigar maker may introduce.
Certain cigar brands that we carry are price controlled by the manufacturer and we are not allowed to offer a discount lest we lose the availability of that cigar. This price control is to ensure that the cigar retains it's status and to ensure that the retailer is able to make a profit on the cigar so that he or she recommends that cigar to customers more than others with lower profit margins. Since we are bound by this price control, we are unable to offer a price discount on the cigar. However, we are able to offer great deals on free bonus items to add more value. You will see many of our high end price-controlled cigars come with high-end bonus items that many other cigar companies do not offer, like high end table top lighters, premium sampler packs, and free shipping, or a combination of all three.
We carry a large selection of travel humidors, which can be found in the “Humidor” button's drop down menu. Travel humidors are designed to keep your cigars fresh while keeping them safe from the rigors of travel.
The rating system for cigars changes from magazine to magazine, but if a cigar gets a high rating, you can be rather certain that it's going to be pretty tasty. But you should not hold cigar ratings as gospel. Cigar ratings are simply a panel's collective opinion or person's individual opinion of a particular cigar. I can't tell you how many of my favorite cigars have been given mediocre ratings, and how many cigars that I thought were lackluster have been praised by the cigar press. Again, it all boils down to personal taste. Be your own cigar reviewer and decide for yourself!
Bundled cigars are usually less expensive than boxed cigars and are put in bundles to fit a price point. Boxes are more expensive to make and are added to the cost of the cigar, so bundled cigars are a great way to get a high quality cigar for a low price. Bundles can be anything from factory overruns, to seconds, to high end cigars that come with a display but can't be packaged in that display for shipping. Usually, a bundled cigar is technically "lower quality" than a boxed cigar, but we have many bundles that exhibit "box cigar quality" for a low price. In seldom cases, bundled cigars can actually be higher quality cigars than boxed cigars.
The quick answers are yes, no, and with a trained eye. Counterfeit cigars are everywhere, and to spot them requires a trained eye and years of experience. There are many guides online to teach you the real thing from a fake, but your best insurance is to purchase cigars from a reputable company, such as, of course, We take counterfeiting very seriously and only purchase cigars from reputable vendors. If you suspect that any of the cigars that you have purchased from us are counterfeit, call us immediately and we will issue a return and contact our vendor. You can be guaranteed that if you purchase any box of cigars from, that it will be the real thing.
Usually, it takes one to two weeks for a non-humidified cigar to start to get dry. On a UPS truck in a non-climate controlled environment, it can be much quicker, but fear not. Most of our UPS ground shipments to California only take 7 days total (5 business days) and rarely arrive too dry. If you receive a dry box of cigars from us give us a call and we can initiate a return. Also, UPS 3Day Select expedited shipping is an inexpensive option and will ensure that your cigars arrive in excellent condition.
Not really. Most cigar boxes are not made to the tolerances that humidors are made with, usually having insufficient seals. Cigar boxes are more of a presentation and short term storage solution than a place to store your cigars. There are very high end cigars that come in humidors, but boxes of those can range from $350 to $1800 per 25. As I have said before, there is no more suitable storage solution than a high quality, cedar-lined humidor.
Cigars usually unravel at the head because the cigar cap was cut off and there is nothing at the head of the cigar to hold the wrapper on. Proper cutting techniques are outlined in an answer below. If the cigar unravels at the foot, it could be an indication that the cigar was not humidified correctly and is dried out so the natural adhesiveness of the cigar is no longer there to hold the wrapper to the body. An unraveling cigar can indicate poor quality, but 9 times out of 10 (with premium cigars), the issue is due to dryness.
The main reason a lighter can malfunction is because it has clogged flame holes where the flames come up. In order to prevent clogged flame holes do not put your cigar into the burning flame. If your flame holes are clogged blow compressed air into them in order to clean them out.

You can also empty your lighter our completely and then re-fill it to clean it out and get rid of any excess air inside the lighter.

It's also important to protect your cigar lighter from the elements. Don't leave your lighter outside overnight or in your car in the hot or cold weather. Also, keep your torch lighter out of direct sunlight.
There are many products that we carry, including candles that are excellent for removing smoke odors, and smell pretty nice too.
The various designation usually means that the product is a sampler of different cigars with different wrappers.
This depends on the manufacturer. Let's say we have a Relajado Robusto and a Relajado Churchill and they are both Cameroon wrapped with the same binder and filler. The same exact tobacco is created to make both and both will have similar qualities, but size is going to have a major impact on the taste due to the fact that they will burn differently and their differing lengths and widths will create a different flavor and temperature for the smoke. It's not that one is better than the other; different smokes for different folks.

If everyone liked the same cigar, it would make the guys in the warehouse much happier. Some manufacturers will create different blends for each size in a series to facilitate the burning characteristics for each cigar to actually make the cigars more homogeneous throughout the line, but this is more often seen on ultra premium cigars. They are essentially changing the blend for each cigar to make them more alike throughout the line However, if we are out of your favorite smoke, the next size up (or down) is going to be as close as you can get to that blend and will have the same tobacco.
When choosing a humidor, you need to ask yourself how many cigars you have at any time. If you only smoke a box a month and only order when you are out, a 25 to 50 count humidor will be just fine. If you like a variety and have multiple boxes at a time, consider a 100 to 200 count humidor. Keep in mind that the cigar capacity rating does not apply to all cigar sizes. A 25 count humidor may carry 25 coronas, but 25 Presidentes will not fit. If you buy a box of 25 large cigars at a time, A 50 count humidor will be more appropriate.

Regardless, a humidor should never be filled to the brim. Some space should be left to allow humidity to pass to the cigars. What I can tell you is if you're like me and lose anything smaller than a breadbox in about a week, look into less expensive disposable cutters and lighters. However if you hold on to your goodies, we have many high end cigar accessories that come with a life time warranty. For instance, our Xikar line has a no questions asked lifetime warranty, and all of their cutters offer lifetime sharpening from the factory! If you need a recommendation, one of our sales associates will be more than happy to help. Give us a call!
Again, we are entering the realm of personal opinion, and the methods I will outline are based off of my experience and the experience of smokers across the country. Before I begin, let me give you a tip if you're new to the cigar world: don't inhale! Your mouth and nose have more than enough capillaries and receptors to get the full flavor out of the cigar. I do have many customers who inhale, but they are of a formidable coal mining, nail banging breed and are insane. Even if you are a chain smoker, inhaling your first cigar will have you calling up Ralph on the big white telephone quicker than you can say "Belicoso."

Almost every time I give a cigar to a friend who is a cigar novice, they start puffing away like God gave last call. This is, in my opinion, the worst way to smoke a cigar. As I mention in the cigar lighting section, smoking a cigar hard and fast will cause too much heat in the cigar and will bring more tar and nasty stuff out of the tobacco leaf, leaving you with a bitter, acrid taste. I feel that a cigar should be smoked just hard enough to keep it lit. This will make the cigar burn coolly and evenly and give you the best flavor. If you are a pipe smoker as well, you know that when you smoke your pipe too quickly, the tar and moisture of the pipe tobacco comes up into the mouthpiece and leaves you with a shot of bitter, salty liquid that is not very pleasant.

My favorite technique is to take a long, easy draw off of the cigar to fill my mouth with smoke. I keep it in there for a moment to introduce the smoke to my palate, but the mouth isn't the only body part that should benefit from the smoke. If you are blowing the smoke out really hard after taking your draw, the smoke won't have an opportunity to reach your nose and you're missing out on the full experience. What I like to do is let the smoke naturally escape out of my mouth and drift up into my nostrils. I don't suck in the smoke with my nose, just let it drift into my nasal cavity. It's a real pleasure to get all of your senses in on the party.

Also for those of us who need a bit more punch, many people will take the smoke in their mouth and blow it out of their nose through the back of the palate, instead of having the smoke come in the nostrils. This gives you a much fuller bodied flavor and gets more of the capillaries and scent receptors in on the game. How you smoke a cigar (or don't, many people also opt to chew on their smokes without lighting them) is up to you, but if you follow these tips, your introduction into cigardom will be a much smoother process, and a more enjoyable one.
When determining the country of origin of a cigar, there are three factors: Where the cigar was made, where the tobacco was grown, and where the seeds are from. For instance, a cigar can be made in the Dominican Republic with tobacco that was grown in Ecuador from seeds that originated in Cameroon. Normally, the cigar is only named by the country of origin where the cigar was made. A Dominican cigar may be made in the Dominican Republic, but have a host of different tobaccos in it, as it may have a Cameroon wrapper that came from Cameroon seeds that were grown in Ecuador and then shipped to the Dominican Republic to be made into a cigar.

To sum it up, a cigar is only labeled with a specific country if the cigar was made in that country, regardless of the country of origin of the seeds and tobacco. It used to be that where a cigar was made dictated the quality, but today the cigar industry is so competitive that it's hard to determine where a cigar was made just by looking at it (or smoking it). Don't let a country of origin dictate your purchase. Cigars are made with a higher quality now than they have ever been, and you are sure to find a high quality cigar, no matter where it comes from.
Yes and no. In most cases, it is better to have a dried out cigar than a wet one. First let's show you how to get a dry cigar back to normal. A cigar is dried out when too much moisture has escaped the cigar. This is most often not a death sentence, depending on how long the cigar has been exposed to dry air. Try leaving the cigar in a properly set up humidor for about three to four weeks and you should be good to go, but don't try to smoke it beforehand. If you check on your cigar after three to four weeks and it seems better, but not quite fully revived, try leaving it in the humidor a bit longer.

There is also technique where you can "flash humidify" a cigar by putting it in a Tupperware container with a humidification element. Since there is no Spanish cedar lining (like in most humidors) to regulate the humidity and prevent mold, it can over-humidify the cigar and make it even more difficult to bring back. This is very risky and I don't recommend it.

A wet cigar can very often be a difficult problem to resolve. The wetness is not only a guaranteed magnet for mold, it also disrupts the oils and natural effects of the tobacco. If your cigar is too wet, simply leave it in a dry environment for enough time for it to dry out to a smoke-able state. This will only be successful if the cigar has not been over-humidified for a long period of time and is not rife with mold. If the cigar has too much mold on it, it may no longer be smokable. Purchase a digital hygrometer if at all possible. A well calibrated digital hygrometer will ensure that either of the two situations listed above will be very unlikely provided you are paying attention.
It's not necessary. Humidity has the ability to get in and out of any medium that has the slightest opening. While the tube will prolong the life of the cigar out of a humidor, humidity will still come in and out of the tube freely, so putting a tubed cigar in a humidor will not prevent the cigar from absorbing humidity, even with the cap on tight. Taking the cigar out of the tube won't hurt it, provided that you don't damage the cigar removing it from the tube, but many tubes come with a cedar lining that will add more flavor to the cigar and the tube simply acts as another barrier of protection for when you are searching through your humidor.

While cigar tubes create a convenient transportation device and do prolong the life of the cigar, they are not a long term storage solution by themselves. Even with the tube and the cap, after a month they will start to lose their moisture from the spaces in the thread of the cap. Even cork capped tubes will lose humidity through the pores of the cork. While tubes do preserve the cigar longer without a humidifier, you still need to get a humidor if you don't plan on smoking all of your tubed cigars within a month or if you plan on aging your cigars (See: Are aged cigars really better?)
The first question should be, why is my cigar burning unevenly? Problems like over humidification, under humidification, improper lighting, wind, drastic changes in temperature and cold environments can all cause a cigar to burn incorrectly. All of these issues are outlined in the FAQ. If your cigar is burning unevenly, simply hold a lighter an inch from the area that is not combusting and puff lightly. The non-combusted area should light right back up.

Don't expect every cigar to burn perfectly. Some may ignite a bit off kilter, but as long as the wrapper, binder, and filler are burning in unison, you should be fine. Of course, uneven burn could just be a badly made cigar, in which case you should call us for a return, but remember; if you have not followed the humidor and hygrometer set up instructions I have listed in this tutorial, none of your cigars will burn correctly.
Never, under any circumstances, use tap water for your humidifier unless the humidifier explicitly allows the use of it. Tap water is rife with bacteria, chlorine, fluoride, and other nasties. These agents can mold your cigars and humidor and negatively affect the flavor and consistency of your cigars. There are some humidifiers on the market that accept tap water and are able to contain contaminates, but I still suggest the use of propylene solution or distilled water in them if possible. In my opinion, 50/50 propylene solution is the best bet. This is a solution of 50% distilled water and 50% propylene glycol. The propylene glycol not only regulates humidity to 70%, it is also a mold inhibitor. Some smokers say they can taste the propylene glycol and others don't like the idea of adding chemicals to their cigar stash, but it is odorless and colorless, while being non toxic. Distilled water is void of anything besides H2O and is boiled and evaporated before bottling.

Distilled water is also a requirement on many humidifiers like the Diamond Crown humidifier, which has a wick that will clog up if PG solution is used. If you don't have any PG solution, distilled water will work just fine and is the cheapest and most readily available humidifying medium. However, since it does not have the mold inhibiting properties of PG solution, there is a bigger risk that you may encounter mold, but many cigar smokers use distilled water with no problems as long as they keep an eye on their cigars.
This is a very touchy question and I feel that a brief study of Cuban-American relations will answer this question for you. Turn off the TV and pick up a book on US foreign policy! If you really don't have the time, here is a brief synopsis: Fidel Castro overthrows Batista in Cuba in the 1950s and aligns himself with the Soviet Bloc in creating a communist state. America doesn't like this development and initiates a trade embargo that is still in effect today. The embargo includes Cuban cigars. There has been much talk of this trade embargo being lifted in the near future, but any progress remains to be seen. However, the quality of non-Cuban cigars is so excellent now that Cuba's stranglehold on the image of the "perfect cigar" is starting to become irrelevant and outdated as the quality of Dominican, Nicaraguan and Honduran cigars reaches and surpasses the quality of Cubans.
That depends on where you live. If you live in Miami, they should last about two weeks before any appreciable damage happens to the cigar. However, if you live in Arizona or live in the north during the dry winter, that window of time might only be one week. Unless you have a cigar habit that Sigmund Freud would deem illogical (it was said he smoked two boxes a day!), I would highly recommend purchasing a high quality humidor.
The rule of thumb is 70% humidity and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. While this rule is generally accepted as the defacto condition for cigar storage, there are some different opinions on this rule. Many smokers of cigars with thick, dark wrappers prefer a humidity range of about 65% to 68% because they feel thick wrappers burn better at that humidity. Also, we have heard of customers who prefer a humidity of 71% to 73% for more delicate wrapped cigars. It can be a matter of personal preference, but ideally you want to keep your cigars at or around 70% humidity and 70 degrees. Too wet and they will mold over and not burn correctly. Too dry and they will crack, lose their essential oils and burn too fast. This is again why a high quality humidor and proper setup is key.
Aging cigars can be a rewarding and exciting experience.

After a cigar is made it is still curing (aging), even after the initial curing process. Allowing a cigar to age can change the cigar's flavor and body over time and turn a cigar that may have been too "green" (not aged enough) into one of the best cigars you have ever smoked. This is similar to wine aging. Aging a cigar into something better than it was a year ago is one of the perks of being a cigar hobbyist. Keep in mind that aging, when the cigar is kept at the right temperature and humidity (68% to 71% humidity, and as close to 70 degrees Fahrenheit as you can possibly get) and not exposed to mold, will never hurt a cigar. In fact, a cigar will last indefinitely if stored in the proper conditions.

However, huge swings in temperature and humidity is cigar suicide and no amount of aging under improper storing conditions will make a cigar better, much less keep it in original condition. Will your cigar get better with age? This depends on the quality of tobacco and the successful blending of the cigar. The saying is that "a good cigar will get better with age, but a bad cigar will always be a bad cigar." However, it is probably true that some people wouldn't notice any difference between two cigars separated at birth: one aged and one not. Some cigar smokers even prefer a "new" cigar. Regardless of your preference, we do suggest that you give it a shot and add an extra dimension to your hobby.
If you live in Mississippi, this problem probably has never come up in conversation, but if you live in Michigan, I'm sure it's been brought up with your cigar buddies many times. Winter brings a much dryer air to those of us in the north east and mid west. Dry air combined with electric heat creates a challenge to any humidifier. Since we live up here in Northeast PA, our personal humidors need a boost during winter months. What I do is use Cigar Swami to give my humidity an extra boost during cold temperatures. However, your humidor situation may require more or less. By purchasing a high quality digital hygrometer, you will be able to, in real time, quantify if you need more or less humidity, and take appropriate action by purchasing additional humidification elements.
Again, there are many exceptions to cigar size naming. There are Lonsdales that are Robusto size, Lanceros that are Churchill size, etc. I will outline a few sizes and what their names are to give you a basic idea. Robusto - 5 x 50; Churchill - 7 x 48; Corona - 5 1/2 x 42; Belicoso - 6 1/4 x 52 (tapered tip); Lonsdale - 6 1/2 x 46; Lancero - 7 x 38; Toro - 6 x 50. There are many more sizes than this, but these are the most popular cigar sizes. If you are confused about a cigar size or name, simply give us a call!
First off, if you don't have the time to smoke a full cigar down to your fingers, don't smoke one. This is one of the main reasons why cigar companies make different sizes. If you have only 30 to 45 min to smoke a cigar, stick with a Robusto, but if you have a couple of hours to kill, a Presidente might be in order. However, if you just have to cut that Churchill short, there are a couple of techniques that won't have you lighting up a real stinker when you relight your cigar.

When a cigar goes out, there is no more air or smoke moving through the cigar, which means that the smoke and tar that is already in there will settle and "flavor" the tobacco with an undesirable taste. If I know I'm going to put out a cigar to smoke it later, I gently blow out of the cigar so that I get all the stale smoke out of the cigar before I let it extinguish. This results in a cigar that, while not at pre-light quality, will relight easier and without the nasty taste that you sometimes get when you relight a cigar. Also, there are cigar tubes that extinguish the cigar by depriving it of air. Just put the cigar in the tube while lit, close the cap, and the cigar will automatically extinguish. The case also makes a great storage and transportation container.
Essentially, this question answers itself, but there are distinct differences between the two. An analog hygrometer is just a spring wrapped in a cloth attached to a dial. Based on this description, we can already deduce how difficult it is to calibrate and adjust a device that has the same technological complexity as an abacus. I've already went over the inherent faults of the analog hygrometer elsewhere in this 101, but they sure do look nice, which is a trait that is still important in cigardom. Digital hygrometers, while not adhering to the old-timey aesthetic that cigar smokers often appreciate, are the be-all and end-all of accuracy.

I don't have my electronics degree, but digital hygrometers have a small sensor that feeds a humidity reading to a tiny computer, giving you an accurate reading on an LCD screen. A bit more fancy, don't you think? However, many of our humidors come with analog hygrometers built into the structure. By all means, adjust them as well as you can and enjoy the look of them. If you have gone through the trouble of adjusting them, they can still be useful so you can get an accurate reading without opening your box, but if you don't own a digital hygrometer I strongly suggest you purchase one so you can get a real reading when you absolutely need to know.
Once you get the hang of it, cutting a cigar is easy. There are several methods, and as you try them you'll find one that you favor over others. Here are some basic descriptions, along with the pros and cons of each cigar cutter design.

Guillotine - The most common cut is made by a double- or single-blade guillotine cutter. Usually, this is used to cut only a portion of the cap off (just enough to expose the inner binder and filler.) You should see one or several lines around the diameter of the head of the cigar -- this is the cap. Cut above the topmost line to avoid unraveling the wrapper at the head. The cap should be almost flush with the blade when you make your cut so that the cap is not completely removed. Pros: Cuts a large portion of the cap to reveal the full diameter of the cigar for maximum airflow and smoke density. Cons: Compromises the structural rigidity of the cap if not used correctly. An improperly cut cigar using a guillotine will make the wrapper unravel.

V-Cutter - Another popular tool is the V-cutter, designed to cut a small V-shaped slit in the cap of the cigar so that the cap and wrapper remain intact. A V-cutter is simple to use since the cigar is resting in a inverse dome on the cutter to support the cigar while you are cutting it. It is also superior to the guillotine cutter in maintaining construction since a smaller portion of the cigar is being cut. Pros: Easy to use. Maintains the overall shape and structural integrity of the cigar and cap. Cons: Only opens a small slit in the cap which may cause a hotter smoke and also collect tar more readily, resulting in a bitter taste if you are hard-drawer. Does not have the ease of draw and combustion qualities of a full guillotine cut.

Punch Cutter - Punch cutters are also very popular due to their small size and ease of use. A sharpened cylinder or "punch" simply cuts out a small hole in the cap of the cigar, which makes this cutter the best for maintaining the overall integrity of the cigar. Many punches come on key chains, guaranteeing that you will never be with out your cutter... so long as you remember your keys! Pros: Portable. Maintains the cap of the cigar better than a V or guillotine cutter. Easy to use. Cons: Like the V cutter, the small punch hole can sometimes cause the cigar to smoke "hot" and build tar within the hole. Creates a hard draw on larger cigars.

Scissors - If you are just itching for an old school cigar cutting experience, there is nothing better than a cigar-specific scissor for your stogies. Proper use requires a delicate and experienced touch, but the payoff is huge. Scissors afford you the versatility to adapt to any size or shape of cigar instead of being limited to the diameter of the cutting area like on a V-cutter or guillotine cutter. With the prevalence of large ring gauge guillotine cutters now on the market, the benefit of a scissor type cutter becomes less apparent, but just like shaving with a straight razor, it's more about the experience than the actual result. A scissor cutter in the right hands will create a clean, open cut while making the operator look like a tried and true cigar expert. Pros: Can adapt to any cigar size. Old school flair. Cons: Higher learning curve. More advanced cutters work just as well without being difficult to use.

Teeth - You'll see people doing the chomp-cut in the movies, but unless you want tobacco salad on the end of your cigar, we recommend you would avoid this method at all costs. I have seen some smokers rotate the cigar on their canine and make a perfect cut, but unless you smoke many cigars each day, I would stick the proven methods. Pros: It looks cool when done correctly. No need to have a cutter on hand. Cons: Can turn your expensive cigar into a salad of wet tobacco. Picking tobacco out of your teeth. Stained teeth.
The official answer is: it doesn't matter...sort of. Cigar wrapper cellophane is designed to be breathable and will not hurt the cigars ability to absorb moisture. The cellophane wrapper is designed to protect the cigar in the box and your humidor and is better to leave on than off. Some smokers talk about flavor marrying which supposedly can only be accomplished if the cigars are out of their cellophane and arranged near each other in the humidor. The theory states that all the cigars, if un-cellophaned, will marry and blend flavors with each other over time. I have serious doubts about this claim and have yet to see it proven, even within my own humidor. So, while the health of the cigar is not dependent on whether its cellophane wrapper is on or off, I would recommend that it be left on simply to protect the wrapper of the cigar from damage when you are rifling through your humidor for that perfect smoke. If you want to experiment with "flavor marrying" just make sure you cut your nails before handling your cigars!
Cigars are measured when they are freshly rolled and still very moist. When the cigar settles and dries to a nominal humidity of 70%, the cigar will sometimes shrink about 2 to 4 64ths of an inch (Ring Gauge). This is normal protocol for the cigar industry.
It is very important to season a humidor before it is used. Seasoning a humidor is the process of getting the humidor ready to accept and regulate the proper humidity for cigars. When you get a new humidor the cedar is almost completely dry and needs to be moistened. If you put cigars in an unseasoned humidor, the dry cedar will suck all the moisture out of the air, thus lowering the humidity and drying out your cigars. Not seasoning your humidor is just as bad as not having a humidor at all! Most of our humidors come with directions on how to properly set them up and season them, and I strongly suggest that you follow the directions for the specific humidor you have purchased.

However, some of our humidors do not have directions and will require one of the following techniques:

1) Boveda Seasoning Packs: This is the "No Muss, No Fuss" solution and the one I recommend over any other method. Simply buy one seasoning pack for every 50 cigars that your humidor holds, plus an additional one. For instance, a 100 capacity humidor would require 3 seasoning packets. Simply open the packets from the clear cellophane wrappers, arrange them in the humidor and close the lid for 10 days. When you open the humidor, simply take the packs out, fill up your humidifier and throw your cigars in. I like this method the best because it prevents the wood from warping, which is an issue I will explain further in the next section. Yes, the packs cost $3.95 each, while the other methods I will outline are essentially free, but when you have a humidor filled with hundreds, even thousands of dollars worth of smokes over the course of many months, a couple of bucks for a no fail solution is cheap insurance, and well worth the investment.

2) The Wiping Method: This is the quickest and most direct method, while also being the most risky if it is not done correctly. I only recommend this if you have successfully done this in the past. First take a chemical-free, clean rag or sponge that is non abrasive and moisten it in DISTILLED water. Do not use any other kind of water, including tap water. Make sure it is just moistened, not dripping wet. With the humidifier and cigars out of the humidor, wipe down the cedar on the inside of the humidor so that you are just moistening the wood, not drenching it. You'll know the wood is being moistened by the slight change in color between dry and wet wood. Do this twice a day for two days. On the beginning of the third day, you can throw in your cigars and install your hygrometer and humidifier.

The problem with this is that if the moisture is not wiped onto the wood properly, it can warp the wood and compromise the seal of the lid, which will render your humidor useless due to the fact that it will not effectively retain a near 70% humidity. Another reason I don't like this method is that the chemicals used to make sponges and rags are really nasty and you're essentially rubbing all that stuff into your wood, though this can be avoided by purchasing an organically made sponge. Sure it is quick, but again, it can be dangerous and I only recommend this if the humidor company specifically states it in their manual or if you are a seasoned pun intended.

3) Other Methods: If you ask 5 cigar pros how to season a humidor, you will get probably get 4-5 different answers. There are many methods out there; some are useful, others destructive, and it's important to differentiate the winners from the losers. But if you're scratching your head as to who's right and who's wrong, I recommend the seasoning packs because it's the most effective and safest way to season a humidor. Also, it is important to note that your humidity will not hit 70% immediately. It will take a couple of weeks for the humidor to settle and reach it's proper operating humidity. Don't worry if the humidity says 73% or 64%. If it is properly seasoned and you have the proper humidification installed, everything should be fine within a couple weeks.
With the exception of our higher end humidors and Madelaine humidors, many of our high quality humidors come with hygrometers and humidifiers that are sub par and are only included as a selling point. If buying a humidor that does not come with a brand name hygrometer and humidifier, I strongly suggest that you purchase a high quality humidifier and hygrometer like our Madelaine executive and crystal series accessories, or our line of Diamond Crown humidor accessories.
Very simply, shade grown cigar wrapper refers to cigar wrapper leaf that has been grown under a sort of tent. This is known in Spanish as a tapado, or covering. The filter provided by the tapado helps create a thinner, more elastic tobacco leaf with thinner veins. This can all help create a leaf with a smooth texture.