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How to Select the Perfect Cigar

Selecting the perfect cigar can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience, especially for beginners eager to explore the world of cigars. With a wide variety of options available, it’s essential to understand the key factors contributing to choosing a cigar that suits your preferences and budget. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through each step of the selection process, providing valuable insights and tips to help you make an informed decision. Whether you’re new to cigars or an aficionado looking to expand your horizons, this article will equip you with the knowledge and confidence to choose the perfect cigar for your smoking pleasure. 

Understand Your Preferences 

The right cigar is paramount to enjoying your first cigar-smoking experience. Forget about being fancy or finding the darkest, thickest, or most intimidating cigar. Smoking cigars is about enjoyment and honoring the hard work cigar makers put into their craft.

There’s a time and a place for those as your tastes and palate evolve.

Consider the flavor profile you prefer — mild, medium, or full-bodied. Consider the size, shape, and country of origin. Exploring different cigars from various regions will help you discover your preferences. 


Cigars vary in strength, ranging from mild to full-bodied. Beginners often find milder cigars more approachable, offering a smoother and less intense smoking experience.

As you gain experience and develop your palate, you can gradually explore medium-bodied and full-bodied options that provide bolder flavors and sensations. Factors influencing the strength include the tobacco blend, fermentation process, and aging.

A beginner would not opt for a full-bodied cigar, as I did on my first attempt… I swore off cigars for many years until I ventured into those unchartered waters again. 

Flavor Profile

Cigars offer a wide range of flavors, each with unique characteristics. Think about the flavors you enjoy in other aspects of life, such as coffee or chocolate; this can be a useful reference point when selecting a cigar.

Do you prefer earthy and woody flavors, or are you more inclined towards spicy and sweet notes? Knowing your preferred flavor profile will guide you in finding cigars that align with your taste preferences. 

Size and Shape

Cigars come in various sizes and shapes, each offering a slightly different smoking experience. Robusto and Toro sizes are popular for beginners, as they balance smoking time and flavor concentration well.

Experimenting with different sizes and shapes can be an exciting way to discover what suits you best. 

Country of Origin

Different countries are renowned for producing cigars with distinct characteristics. For example, Cuban cigars are celebrated for their rich and complex flavors, while cigars from the Dominican Republic offer a milder profile. 

Consider Your Budget 

Cigar and money Color photo of an expensive cigar and paper money cigar and money stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Cigars come in a range of price points, from wallet-friendly options to those with a bit more luxury attached. Rest assured; there’s a cigar out there for every budget. Sometimes, it’s worth splurging a little to treat yourself to a higher-quality smoke.

Other times, a budget-conscious option can surprise you with its value and taste. Keep the pointers below in mind. 

Price Range

Cigars come in a wide price range, from budget-friendly options to premium luxury brands. Determine your budget range before exploring the available choices. Remember, price doesn’t always dictate quality, and excellent cigars are available at various prices. 

Value vs. Cost

While budget is important, consider the value you receive for the price you pay. Evaluate factors such as construction quality, brand reputation, and overall smoking experience when assessing the value of a cigar. Sometimes, spending a bit more on a higher-quality cigar can provide a more enjoyable smoking experience. 

Sampler Packs

For beginners, sampler packs can be a fantastic option. These packs typically include a variety of premium cigars from different brands, sizes, and flavor profiles. They offer an affordable way to experiment and explore other options without committing to complete boxes.

Sampler packs allow you to discover your preferences and broaden your cigar knowledge. A quick internet search is all you need to find options online.

Seek Recommendations and Do Your Research 

cigars and books cigars and books cigar and book stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

To expand your knowledge and find recommendations, take advantage of the resources available to cigar enthusiasts: 

Visit a Reputable Tobacconist

Head to a reputable tobacconist or cigar shop where knowledgeable staff can guide you. Describe your preferences and let them recommend cigars that match your taste and experience level. Your tobacconist will guide you with the greatest of pleasure; just ask nicely. 

Cigar Publications and Blogs

Read reputable cigar publications and blogs. These sources often feature expert reviews, industry news, and informative articles that can enhance your understanding of cigars. They provide valuable information on new releases, trending brands, and cigar-related events. 

Read Reviews

If unsure about a specific cigar, read reviews from trusted sources or online communities. These reviews can provide insights into the cigar’s flavor profile, construction, and overall quality. Here’s a list of the top ten cigars for beginners. Tying in with reading reviews, consider purchasing a sampler pack. These packs contain various cigars, allowing you to explore different flavors, strengths, and brands. 

Experiment and Explore

cigar cutter and cigars in humidor wooden box cigar cutter and cigars in humidor wooden box. cigars stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Online forums and communities dedicated to cigars are another great way to expand your knowledge of cigars. Engage with experienced enthusiasts who are passionate about sharing their knowledge and recommendations.

As you delve into the world of premium cigars, keep an open mind and be willing to experiment. Here are a few additional tips to enhance your cigar selection journey: 

Try Different Brands

Explore cigars from various brands to discover your favorites. Each brand has its style, flavor profiles, and manufacturing techniques. Trying different brands will expose you to multiple flavors and smoking experiences. Again, a sampler pack is a great idea if you’re new to cigars.  

Consider Limited Editions

Limited edition premium cigars offer unique smoking experiences and often showcase exceptional craftsmanship. Keep an eye out for special releases from your favorite brands. Limited editions can provide a sense of exclusivity and allow you to enjoy something extraordinary. 

Attend Cigar Events

Take advantage of cigar events, festivals, and tastings in your area. These gatherings provide opportunities to try new cigars, meet industry experts, and deepen your understanding of the craft. They are also a great way to connect with fellow enthusiasts and share experiences and recommendations. 

Many times cigar makers will offer demonstrations or even samples of their products. Cigar festivals are a great way for new cigar lovers to learn about the craft and what sets a premium cigar apart from machine made cigars.

Select Your Premium Cigar 

large Cigar Humidor 4 A large cigar humidor showing off a selection of smokes with the lid open. cigars stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

The right cigar is paramount to enjoying your first cigar-smoking experience. Forget about being fancy or finding the darkest, thickest, or most intimidating cigar. There’s a time and a place for those as your tastes and palate evolve. Consider the flavor profile you prefer—mild, medium, or full-bodied. Consider the size, shape, and country of origin.

Exploring different cigars from various regions will help you discover your preferences. For now, let’s look at the most common shapes and sizes to help you choose the perfect cigar—whether you’re new to the world of cigars or a seasoned smoker.

There’s always something new to discover. 

Premium Cigars: Sizes and Measurements 

For cigars, size matters! But it’s not just about the length and shape—we also need to consider the diameter, known as the ‘ring gauge.’ Let’s break it down.

They measure cigars in inches for length, and the ring gauge tells us the diameter in 64ths of an inch. For example, a cigar with a 42-ring gauge is 42/64 of an inch wide. 

Now, here’s the interesting part: the size of a cigar doesn’t determine its strength. Don’t be fooled! You can have a long, slender cigar made with mild tobacco that offers a mellow experience.

On the other hand, thinner cigars burn hotter and can deliver a potent punch. It’s all about the tobacco blend. However, remember that thinner cigars tend to burn hotter than their fatter counterparts. 

Oh, and here’s a fun fact: strength can vary from brand to brand. A corona from one company may taste completely different from another.

So, don’t rely solely on the size or shape when selecting your cigars. Take the time to explore other brands and blends to find the perfect match for your taste buds.


Let’s talk about parejos, the classic straight-sided cigars. These beauties come in different shapes, from round to box-pressed. Now, what’s box-pressed? Well, it means that they pressed the sides of the cigar square before packaging or even with some gentle pressure inside the box. When lighting up a parejo, you’ll notice they usually have an open foot. That means you’ll need to cut the end before you can enjoy the flavors. It’s like giving them a little trim before the fun begins! 

So, whether you prefer a perfectly round parejo or a stylish box-pressed one, remember to grab your cutter and give it a nice snip to get that open foot ready for a smooth and satisfying smoke. The benchmark size in the cigar world is Corona. The traditional measure is between 5½ to 6 inches (13.9–15.2 cm), and the ring-size gauge ranges between 42 and 44.  

Below is a list of the most common Parejo sizes (derived from this source). 

Name Inches Metric (cm) Ring Gauge Petit Corona 4½  11.4 40–42 Churchill 7 17.78 47 Robusto 4¾ to 5 1/2 12–13.9 48–52 Corona Gorda 7½ to 8½  19–21.6 49–52 Panatela 5 to 7½ 12.7–19 34–38 Lonsdale 6½  16.5 42 Grande 4½ (min.) 12 cm 60–70–80 

Common parejo cigar sizes


Now, let’s talk about another exciting category of cigars called figurados. While most cigars are parejos with straight sides, cigar companies are getting more adventurous and introducing creatively shaped smokes into their portfolios. Figurados are cigars that deviate from the traditional straight-sided cylinder shape. It’s like adding a little twist to the world of cigars! 

From elegant, tapered ends to intriguing curves, figurados bring a touch of artistry to your cigar experience. They come in different shapes and sizes, providing a visual treat and an opportunity to discover new and exciting flavors. So, next time you want to try something different, why not give a figurado a chance; or check out some examples below (complete listing and descriptions here). 







Common figuredo cicars

Wrapping Up 

Selecting the perfect cigar is a personal journey that requires exploration and experimentation. By understanding your preferences, considering your budget, seeking recommendations, examining the cigar’s qualities, and embracing the joy of trying new cigars, over time, you’ll develop a deeper appreciation for the world of cigars. Remember, the perfect cigar is the one that brings you pleasure and satisfaction. With time and experience, your palate will refine, allowing you to discern this timeless indulgence’s intricate nuances and complexities. The more cigars you encounter and smoke, the more your taste will develop and you’ll learn what your personal preference is. Enjoy the process, savor each moment, and celebrate the art of selecting and enjoying the perfect cigar. 

Andrew Olsen, a Musicology Ph.D., explores the intersections of art, literature, and music. Beyond academics, he's a cigar aficionado who revels in experimenting with pipe tobacco blends and collecting vintage and new pipes. Other pursuits include reading about cigars and tobacco pipes, blends, and (of course) writing about it.

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