How do I choose a good cigar?

Selecting the perfect single


  • Look for open boxes in your tobacconist's humidor that have been there for a while. Cigars are often shipped "wet" to retard drying, and should stabilize for a week or more in a proper environment before smoking. Grab them too soon, and they may have only stabilized on the exposed side, causing uneven burning. (You can compensate just as easily by putting your purchases in your own humidor for a week before smoking.)
  • Squeeze the cigar gently. It should "give" but not be too soft. Don't roll it in your fingers, as some suggest - this can damage the wrapper. Squeeze gently up and down the body to look for lumps or soft spots. A good cigar should have neither. Remember to be gentle. Even if you don't buy that cigar somebody else might - don't damage it!
  • Inspect the wrapper for "odd" discolorations, looseness, or cracks. The wrapper should be smooth and tight, and not damaged on either end. Smaller veins are good to watch for, as these often smoke smoother, but compare your single to other cigars with the same wrapper! Veins appear differently in different wrapper types.
  • Look at the tobacco in the exposed end. Some variation of color is normal, as most cigars are made from a blend of tobaccos. What you're watching for is extreme or abrupt color changes. This sometimes means an inferior leaf was used, or the leaves weren't laid together properly in the bunching process. Off tastes and uneven burns will often be the result.
Wrapper Types
DOUBLE CLARO (also called Candela or American Market Select)

Green to greenish brown. The color is achieved by picking the leaf before it reaches maturity, and then drying it rapidly. Very mild, almost bland with very little oil.

CLARO - light tan

Usually this is the color of shade grown tobacco. Connecticut Shade wrappers are said to be some of the finest in the world. Shade grown tobacco is grown under large canopies to protect the tobacco from harsh sunlight. Neutral flavor and smooth smoking.

NATURAL - (also called English Market Select)

Light brown to brown. These are most often sun grown, meaning they are not protected by canopies like shade grown leaves. Fuller bodied flavor than shade grown leaves, but still very smooth.

COLORADO CLARO
Mid-brown, tawny. (For example, brands such as Dominican Partagas or Fuentes, using Camaroon wrappers.)
COLORADO
Reddish dark brown, aromatic. A cigar with this wrapper tastes robust and rich.
COLORADO MADURO
Dark brown, medium strength, slightly more aromatic the maduro. Usually gives a rich flavor, as found in many of the best Honduran cigars.
MADURO
Dark brown to very dark brown. These usually have more texture and veining than the lighter wrappers. They are often described as oily looking, with stronger taste - sweet to some palates with a unique aroma.
OSCURO
Very dark brown or almost black. They are the strongest tasting of all wrappers. These wrappers tend to be from Nicaragua, Brazil, Mexico, or Connecticut Broadleaf.