Cigars 101: Your Local Cigar Store

imageby guest blogger David F. Cline

The flavor scale of cigars goes from mild to medium to full. I generally prefer mild-tasting cigars, and until very recently, I was under the impression that all the cigars I ever have purchased were either mild or mild-to-medium. When I learned that the Rocky Patel Edge Sumatra (discussed in my first column) is, in fact, a medium-bodied cigar, I decided to expand my smoking palette and try other medium-bodied cigars.

When I arrived at my local cigar store and explained my intent, the clerk (actually, I later learned he is general manager of the chain – great guy!) smiled, nodded – and proceeded to quiz me about what cigars I had smoked and enjoyed, when I smoked, how often, what time of day, etc. He explained that by learning my preferences and tastes, he would be better able to recommend certain cigars that might fit what I was looking for.

I ended up purchasing some higher-end cigars, and spent more than I generally prefer. However, in the interests of experiencing more and becoming more familiar with a medium smoke, I was willing to pay. One reason I like my local store is the staff doesn’t pressure me to buy expensive cigars. They may – and often do – recommend them to me, but they are not offended or upset when I refrain.

In addition, this store – one of a chain of several throughout Maryland – has a few lines of cigars unique to them. They all are made by big-name cigar makers, but are priced less. For all I know, the same cigars are sold under different names across the country, but it is neat to get a cigar whose name is locally significant.

If there is a local cigar store in your community, I encourage you to visit and spend some time with the staff. Get to know them, let them get to know you, and your smoking habits and tastes, and let them recommend some of their favorites. Naturally, you don’t have to buy what they recommend, but they are there to help. Another tip – save your cigar labels. Separate them into those you like and those you do not like, and take the former collection to the cigar store. Even if you choose not to buy the same ones as before, the staff will be able to help you select others based on what you liked.

Note: If anyone is interested, I’m looking for someone to write a regular column on whiskey, bourbon, rum and other fine liquors. No compensation—just the satisfaction of writing for a large audience. Good for a portfolio builder.

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