5th September 2018
Cigars tend to make one think of a scene from Brideshead revisited in the drawing room or at the other end of the spectrum sticking out of a staff sergeants mouth on some foreign field. Either way they’re each kind of fun, being both elegant and rough and ready. There is an old-world quality about them even down to the time they take to smoke. Personally I love a cigar, but on the right occasion of course.
To the uninitiated cigars can be a bit of a daunting experience… for those of you that are, there is no need to go out and buy the most expensive box of cigars with a big name because you heard Dave going on about them at Marks stag do in Amsterdam one year.
Actually not small…
Start medium. There is something about men who smoke really thin cigars that gives me the willies. Just buy a pack of fags for fucks sake. A Good starting point would be a selection set of Robustos which take around an hour or so to smoke. Most boxes come with five or so cigars with a variety of makers. In my book the most frustrating thing about cigars is finding the perfect balance between location, company, weather and time to smoke.
Another thing to bear in mind is Cuban doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best. The whole obsession with Cuban cigars is unsurprisingly down to the Americans. During the cold war the Truman doctrine refused and embargoed any trade with communist states, this also made any communist made goods illegal in the US which only recently has started to change. Anyhow it was this forbidden fruit and ironically capitalist love of anything exclusive or unattainable is what forged this crown for Cuban cigars, that’s not to say that they aren’t fantastic cigar makers - I think there is no doubt there. But just be aware that there is more out there.
I was lucky enough to be taught a little about cigars by someone when I was growing up and so got into cigar smoking a little. Here are some favourites of mine should you still be unsure of what to buy; and want to keep your end up, so to speak, if asked what you are smoking by a snobby dinner jacket.
Partagas serie D Robusto, which has a very accessible flavour while being somewhat complex at the same time. It’s also very easy to pair with cold lagers, white or rose wines which is perfect if you are enjoying outdoor drinks or a by the beach. The price point comes in at about £23 a piece.
Hoyo De Monterrey epicure No. 1. A richer flavoured cigar which needs a good hour to appreciate fully, perhaps not the first port of call for someone just getting into cigar smoking, but certainly something worth looking into when you find your feet.
Juan Lopez Seleccion No. 1. Again an approachable cigar which is easily enjoyed with a red wine, has a nice deep flavour with lighter notes which pop up throughout the smoke.
As with anything the most important thing about enjoying a cigar is allowing enough time to appreciate it without the stress of running around or doing anything else. For instance a cigar on a night out is a waste and fairly crass, after dinner on a summer evening however or by the pool on holiday is perfect; its almost meditative allowing one to appreciate your surroundings as much as the flavour itself.
Just make sure you look good doing it...
Words by Tom Heap
Images by Jordan Stephens