When it comes to shopping for cigars, especially new-to-you cigars, or in a humidor with a slew of unfamiliar names, it can be helpful to talk to someone with knowledge and experience of what is in the humidor. Unfortunately, that isn’t really possible with an online shop, such as Guitars & Cigars Farm. However, I still want to try to provide that kind of interaction, even if it can’t be in real time. Enter our Curated Blind Samplers. The idea is simple, select your price (I promise to overdeliver), then add some information in the cart notes, or via the chat feature, and I will personally read and consider what you like and/or are looking for. I will then go through my inventory, and potentially my personal stash, to pick out cigars that I would recommend you try.
This sampler idea came to me after I wrote this article about how I make cigar recommendations. Here is that writeup:
What Kinds of Cigars do I Like?
First, I think it is important to talk briefly about what kind of cigars I like. Being brief will be tough because I like a lot of things and what types I smoke most often changes with the seasons. That being said, in general, I always prefer cigars that are consistently manufactured so that each time I smoke it, I get a similar experience. I also prefer cigars that perform well, that don’t burn out my palate, and are under $12ish MSRP. Most of that is self explanatory so the only one I will clarify is about the burned out palate. I do not like a cigar that ends with my mouth feeling like I bit into a slice of pizza fresh out of the onion. I do not want my palate to be shot the rest of the day from one cigar.
As for flavor profile and body and strength levels, this is where it gets tricky. What I want from a cigar really depends on the time, place, and how I am feeling. I always want medium to full flavor and body. As far as strength, I am indifferent. I won’t smoke something just for strength - or lack thereof. As for the profiles, I will break them down into three categories and explain when I tend to prefer them.
Category 1: These could be deemed the “elegant” options. This consists of cigars that
have softer flavors with more nuance and complexity. These cigars are not going to exhibit more dominant notes like pepper, earth, and tannins. I like these cigars to have notes of sweet cream, nuts, soft earthiness, gentle baking spices, subtle wood, etc. Don’t mistake “softer” with “mild”. Often these cigars have plenty of flavor, but the flavor is more delicate than in your face. These are the cigars I reach for when I am looking to really just relax and enjoy a cigar. Something like the Lampert Family Reserve 2022 comes to mind.
Category 2: We can call these the “daily drivers”. This is the category I most often find
myself in the mood for. These cigars are ones still with complexity, but maybe a bit more obvious flavors than nuance. I prefer these cigars to be a bit bolder in how the flavors are delivered. I look for more general earthiness, black pepper, toast, wood, citric sweetness, etc. That profile tends to always work for me and I won’t finish the cigar feeling disappointed. The Patina Habano Precipitation is notably my “desert island” cigar because it delivers on this style perfectly.
Category 3: These cigars would be the “full” options. This category is for the cigar with
Nicaraguan binder and fillers and a thick broadleaf or San Andres wrapper. A full flavored cigar with plenty of body that coats your mouth with tons of earthiness, pepper, wood, and dark fruits. This is the kind of cigar I gravitate towards if my palate isn’t feeling very crisp, like in the evenings after a big meal, or often in the mornings with my black coffee. These kinds of cigars really go well with coffee as both the coffee and cigar can stand up on their own. I also find I smoke more of these cigars in the winter - almost as much as category 2. If you like these, check out the Tennessee Waltz from Crowned Heads.
How do I Decide What to Recommend?
The categories I talked about above really cover a vast majority of cigars. Combine that with my other criteria of good performance, decent price point, not burning out the palate, and consistency, and it should be easy to see why I recommend what I do. Welllll… it’s not that simple. In fact, I frequently recommend cigars that don’t really fall into the realm of cigars I smoke often. Hell, I sell some. Better yet, I have recommended cigars I don’t even like. It is all about knowing who you are dealing with, knowing that everyone’s palate is different, and knowing quality even when you don’t like the cigar, company, or whatever else.
When I review a cigar, I finish out the review with a summary of the overall experience and who I think would enjoy that cigar. Sometimes the answer of who would enjoy it is a specific group, sometimes it is everyone, and sometimes it is no one. The only time I will not recommend a cigar to anyone is if I get repeated poor performance, the company has proven poor consistency or performance, or I think the cigar is really priced itself out of reality. Otherwise, it comes down to understanding that everyone’s palate is different.
Some smokers have specific palates and they only really enjoy one type of cigar. If I know that, I am not going to recommend just any cigar that I like. That is just setting the recommendation up for failure. I am going to recommend something, whether I like it or not, that shares some commonalities with cigars they tell me they like or that they are telling me they are looking for. I love a RoMa Craft Tobac Cromagnon, but I am not going to tell someone that only smokes Macanudo that they need to try it and will love it. I am going to quickly lose their trust.
I am almost never going to say everyone should try a cigar just based on myself liking it or trying to capitalize on FOMO with a limited release. For me to say “I think everyone should try this cigar” the blend either must be unique in some way, or genuinely something that I think would fit most palates. A unique example is the Accomplice Classic Robusto from Principle Cigars. The blend is a nice cross between a category 1 & 2 (see above), but there is a super interesting note in there that I have not gotten from many cigars. I can’t put my finger on it, but it is distinct throughout the cigar and has left an impression on me. Another unique example that I would recommend every smoker try would be something like the Stillwell Star line from Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust. If you are unfamiliar, they are premium cigars blended with some premium pipe tobacco in the filler. The cigars are not necessarily up my alley, however, they are genuinely a unique experience.
Unique experiences like those two recommendations are not a guaranteed hit, and I will admit that. However, they will certainly provide an interesting smoking experience, and sometimes it is nice to mix it up a bit. Then there are cigars that I go out on a limb for and recommend everyone try because I think there is truly something there for everyone. An example of that is the Apostate The Deseret. I am willing to stick my neck out for this cigar because I really think it will hit most palates well. It delivers a lot of what you would consider “bolder, fuller flavors” with “softer, nuanced” flavors that I think appeal to many smokers, and it does it in a powerful, yet refined and tamed manner. It is also from a new, small company that I think will excite many smokers as they grow.
At the end of the day, anytime you make a recommendation, you are taking a chance on disappointing someone and you have to be okay with that. However, you can minimize the chances if you yourself aren’t locked into only smoking specific types of cigars AND you are okay with understanding your palate is not the same as everyone else's’. You have to be open to expanding your palate and knowledge of what is out there. It doesn’t mean you can’t have “go-tos”, we all have those, but you can’t expect everyone to be in love with your “go-to”. I try to express my love for the Patina Habano Precipitation to as many smoker’s as I can, but I know that it won’t suit everyone, and if someone tells me what they are looking for, I won’t generically just recommend it. There are a lot of cigars out there, and there is a smoker for each and every one of them.
If you made it through this whole read, I appreciate you sticking it out and would love to hear your thoughts, criticisms, questions, or recommendations in the comments below! Thank you!