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3 things to look for when buying cigars

Cigar smoking is an interesting hobby, to the newcomer it may seem off-putting, fascinating, or often intimidating. One thing's for sure, once you're hooked, you are in it for the long haul! Seriously, be careful, don't be surprised if a few cigars turns into a 300 count 3-drawer humidor (or more) in no time! Of course collecting cigars is half the fun, but let's take it back to the start, how do you take that first step into unknown cigar territory?

So you've suddenly taken an interest to these foreign delicacies; don't worry, it's perfectly normal. Explain to your wife that it's just for fun and that cigars are like fine wine, not cigarettes. You've taken the first step, now to scout out the market, find a local B&M (brick and mortar) and test the waters. You're not looking for a cigarette shop that sells cigars or a glass (bong) shop, what you want is a real tobacconist, you'll know you're there when you find the "walk-in humidor". Yes, a "real" cigar shop should have its own room filled with cigars, open the door and you should notice an increase in humidity, like walking into a jungle (unless you live in an exceptionally humid region, of course). The bigger the humidor, the better, you want options!

Depending on you B&M of choice, the staff may or may not be knowledgeable, helpful, or friendly. That's why I'm arming you with 3 helpful tips to navigating your local humidor.

Cigar Condition:
Put that humidor to the test, how well do these guys keep their collection? Go ahead, snoop around, pick up a cigar or two and examine. Grab one from the middle and lightly squeeze. It should feel springy, if it feels crackly it's too dry, squishy it's too wet. No soft spots either, a good cigar will be consistent throughout.

If the humidity is too high, you might find mold (sad but true), this will look like white plumes or fuzz. Word of advice: run, if there are moldy cigars, chances are it's not just that cigar. The staff may not even be aware, I've had to be the bearer of bad news to a couple of shop owners that had no idea their cigars were suffering!

Watch out for bugs as well, cigars can be victim to mites. You'll find this in the way of small holes along the side of the cigar. The hole will be deeper than just the surface, so don't assume every nick, crack, or wrapper peel is a bug. Smoking a cigar with mites isn't going to kill you, but it might taste a little funny and burn poorly. Most importantly, never keep a cigar suspected of bugs with any other cigars, as these little guys will spread. A useful trick to preventing this is freezing your cigars before they go in your collection, mites won't spread if they're dead!

Personal Preference:
Your tastes will change with time, so don't be afraid to try new things. While there are nearly endless varieties of cigars, there are a few factors that will help narrow down your decision.

They say a cigar wrapper has as much as 70% impact on a cigars flavor. And of the many varieties, most cigars will fall into one of two categories: maduro and natural. A maduro wrapper is dark in color, the flavors are generally sweet and often cocoa and pepper. A natural wrapper will be lighter in color and have characteristics of foreign spice, coffee, and earth. The wrapper can also effect the strength of a cigar, you may want a little help from the shop staff on this one as the strength isn't normally listed on the box. Generally speaking, however, maduro wrappers will be stronger in nicotine than a natural wrapped cigar.

Another thing to consider is the size of the cigar. Again, there is a lot to choose from, consider the amount of time you have to smoke. Naturally, the bigger the cigar, the longer it will take (even up to 2 hours!). While every cigar will have a different optimum size, I find that when in doubt, go with the robusto! The robusto is basically the perfect medium-sized cigar (around 4.5 to 5"), and often the one manufacturers will use to showcase what they have to offer. This size will take about an hour to smoke and will give you a good idea what that cigar is all about.

Don't assume all cigar shops are created equal. Depending on your given area, cigar prices can vary more than you think. Between two of my local shops (in Colorado), I've found prices to change as much as $5 for the same cigar! Find the shop that offers the best variety combined with the best prices and buy there. Of course there are other factors to consider, like the atmosphere, location, and staff expertise; but when it comes right down to it, I'll do my own homework and buy where the price is right.

Remember, price doesn't determine the quality of a cigar. Start low, in the $5 range and work your way up. Try a nice cigar here and there, then compare with an affordable cigar, what are the differences? Can you find a reasonably priced cigar that offers the same qualities? Find your go-to stick and buy these cigars online, 5 packs and boxes offer the best value for your dollar.

Cigars are a blast, don't take it too seriously. Go out and inspect a few cigars and see if you can't notice the difference in quality between a few high and low end smokes. Share 'em with your buddies and help each other learn along the way.

About Author Martha Kay :

Jordan Gray is a cigar blogger that enjoys writing <a href="" target="_blank">cigar reviews</a> and loyal customer to his favorite <a href="" target="_blank">smoke shop</a>

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Article Added on Sunday, November 18, 2012
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