What are the best cigars for a novice cigar smoker? There are two obstacles for the beginner, 1) cigars have a unique cultural following with social norms and an etiquette all their own 2) cigars are an acquired taste which is subjective to the smoker and an acquired tolerance.
The first thing to know about cigars is that some are machine made and some are hand made. There is a distinct difference between the two. Most high end “nice” cigars are hand made. The main difference is that the hand made cigars are pure tobacco and the machine made cigars often contain other non-tobacco fillers and tobacco scraps or chemicals.
Machine Made Cigars
Some well known machine made cigars are Swisher Sweets and Black and Milds. These are not likely the best cigars for beginners. This is because they are usually precut or have a plastic tip, and smoking one of these types of cigars does not really translate into being a more experienced cigar smoker.
Hand Made Cigars
In the hand made category, it is best to start with a lighter colored medium length, medium width cigar. The color will most often indicate the potency of the cigar. As with beers, a darker cigar is usually very strong but not always. In cigar terms this is known as a Robust.
Robust cigars are not recommended as the best cigars for beginners. The length of the cigar is also important. Contrary to what you might think, a shorter cigar will likely be stronger than a medium length cigar.
Medium length cigars are sometimes the best cigars because they are not as strong as short cigars, but do not require as much smoking time as a long cigar. Most long cigars are known as Churchills.
As a general rule look for a cigar that has an oily sheen on the outer wrapper leaf as this shows it has been properly stored. Also avoid cracked or dry looking cigars. Cigars must be stored the right way, so avoid buying a sampler or other bulk amount of cigars until you have decided how often you will smoke. Cigars should not be stored outside of a humidor for longer than a few days.
So to be specific, some suggestions for beginners are:
Arturo Fuente Curly Head, Macanudo Café Portofino, Montecristo #3. These are all popular cigars that you will be able to talk about and will be able to use as the standard to compare others with.