With so many brands, facings, and different sized cigars out there, it’s not easy to know when a cigar is going to smoke well. You’re spending your hard earned time and money, so you want to insure that the cigar you pick is a good one. You might have an old go-to that you want to switch up from time to time, but you’re scared to get out of your comfort zone. There’s a few things you can look for that can insure the cigar is at least decent. Then all you have to do is find your next favorite!

Some Like Em Hot!

Cigars range in spice and strength level, but not everyone is ready for a little ass kicker. If you aren’t sure about the stronger cigars, try to experiment with medium to mild ones. Ask for a natural leaf or a Connecticut wrapper. This most likely have your salesperson pointing you in the direction of a cigar with a light brown wrapper. Even though it’s not always the case, a good rule of thumb is that the darker the cigar, the stronger it is. Even though there are plenty exceptions, it doesn’t disprove the rule

If you find that lighter cigars are too bitter and mild, that’s understandable. Light cigars are usually not fermented as long as their darker counterparts. This means that their full flavors along with the natural sugars don’t have enough time to develop. This can lead to a lot of mild, but overall boring cigars. If you find this to be the case, try asking for a smooth and milder maduro. Something from the Dominican Republic will likely be milder than a cigar with a lot of Nicaraguan tobacco. The point is, you can still have a flavorful cigar without having it knock you on your ass.

Trial and Error

Once you found a cigar that you like, don’t stop there. Ask for cigars similar to the one you’ve smoked. It’s easy to get caught smoking the same cigar over and over, but your all-time favorite cigar could be your next one. Most quality cigars, that you buy from a reputable tobacconist and or brand, will be worth a smoke.

It’s also a good idea to keep note of the size and shapes of cigars that you like. How tightly packed is the cigar? Do you like it loose and airy, or with a little pull? Some people love to smoke box pressed cigars and some like thin lanceros. This can help you in choosing your next cigar, especially if you jump brands.

The Nitty Gritty

If you are traveling and want to check your cigar for good construction and storage, here’s a few things to look out for.

The wrapper should look healthy and have a sheen to it. You should be able to draw a mental line from the cap to the foot and count 3 points where the wrapper spirals around. Anything that’s wrapped too many times or not enough times, is probably a knock off. You don’t need to squeeze the cigar but feel for dryness. There shouldn’t be any cracks and the cigar should be properly hydrated. Look for spots of mold. Some people swear by their cigars having “plume” (a non-mold white growth on healthy cigars) but if you’re a beginner, just assume it’s mold and grab a different stick.

The majority of high quality cigars will also have a double cap. That is exactly what it sounds like. The cigar has two visible caps to it. There should be no unraveling of the wrapper. Also a good cigar has enough volume to fill the stick. It doesn’t have to be packed super tight, but poor quality cigars will often skimp on the tobacco, which really effects the pull. It can leave a stogie unsmokable

Hopefully these tips help you! If not, you can always ask the worker at your local brick and mortar!