Here's a quick list of cigars for beginners to try:
- Ashton 8-9-8 Parejo
- Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real Corona
- Arturo Fuente Curly Head Panatela
- Perdomo Habano Epicure
- CAO CherryBomb Corona
- Acid by Drew Estate Atom Maduro Robusto
- Gurkha Grand Reserve Cognac Corona Natural
- Tatiana Chocolate Classic Long Corona
For any beginner cigar smoker, choosing which cigars to try demands thoughtful consideration—sometimes also known as a headache. There are myriad of factors to weigh and that can definitely get overwhelming.
You probably don’t want to start off with something too strong. Full-bodied cigars may very well be in your future, but it takes time for the new smoker to get a tolerance for the strength. Additionally, you probably don’t want to spend a lot of money before you know your taste, then end up with cigars you don’t care for. There are certainly great cigars out there for affordable prices, but how do you know which? Making the wrong choice early on could easily result in a smoking experience that would turn off the newcomer before they’ve given their curiosity any real chance to roam. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the 8 best cigars for the beginning cigar smoker.
We think all of these are great cigars full-stop, and especially welcoming to the beginner’s palate and tolerance. But to better use your own preferences as a compass through this guide, let’s make sure we’re coming to it with a little background knowledge.
Strength and Body of a Cigar
Strength and body are sometimes used interchangeably, but they each describe a different aspect of the smoking experience. It’s not hard to see why they’re often glommed together, one could say they both relate to a cigar’s weight (in the abstract sense, not its literal mass). However, it is what is being weighed that differs.
Strength refers to the nicotine content of the cigar. It’s what can leave a new smoker feeling light headed. However, strength doesn’t necessarily translate to harsh or bitter. A cigar with high strength may still be smooth.
Body refers to the presence and depth of flavor and aroma. The best way for beginners to think of this is in comparison with beverages. There are full-bodied wines such as Merlot that have a bold, lingering flavor that is best taken in sips and pairs well with hearty foods. Compare this with a crisp white wine like Prosecco.
If it feels like the light between these terms is thin, that’s okay. You’ll quickly get a sense of strength and body once you’ve had a few different blends and notice the contrast between their qualities.
No big surprise then, strong cigars aren't usually a kind friend to the beginner cigar smoker, so we’ve chosen cigars that are all considered mild to medium in strength. I say “considered” because each smokers' sense of strength is personal—it's inextricably bound to our relative perception. And it’s not as though nicotine is something added in a measuring cup, it’s natural to the tobacco plant and its potency hinges on a number of factors like the variety of tobacco, the stage of growth when harvested, or where the leaf was on the stalk. So, this categorizing is based on a general consensus, but it’s still subjective and some smokers may not be in agreeance.
Now, if you're thinking to yourself, "Hey, I love dark, bold tastes—spicy, woody, bitter flavors. I wanna start with the strong stuff." Well, you’re probably someone with a dynamic appreciation for taste so you’ve come to the right hobby, but your body’s nicotine tolerance doesn’t care that you like a strong black coffee—that nic-hit will still kick you with a strong blend. However, a cigar with strength doesn’t necessarily mean it’s full bodied in flavor, and vice versa, so don’t think because you’re not yet acclimated to strong cigars that you don’t get to explore and enjoy dynamic and interesting profiles—many cigar lovers never venture far into strong, nicotine-heavy blends simply out of preference, and they are happily fulfilled smoking and exploring the kinds of cigars they like.
The Difference Between Traditional and Flavored/Infused Cigars
Then we come to flavored and infused cigars. We’ll discuss the differences between these two but they both diverge from what we might call traditional cigars (which is just to say not flavored) in that they have had some sort of flavor added to them besides the tobacco. These can be popular with new smokers, so the latter half of our list are flavor/infused cigars.
The distinction between flavored and infused is in how that flavor is added. For flavor cigars, the additional flavor is imparted from syrup or oil that is applied to the cigar. Infused cigars on the other hand, pick up their flavors through a curing process where they are hung up and exposed to different essences and herbs and such, then left hanging to imbibe the flavors.
Fair warning, flavored and infused cigars receive flak from some stiffs. This is often due to a generalization associating all flavored cigars with those behind gas station counters. If those convenient store cigars were the only flavored cigars, I’d be inclined to agree with the kibitzing—those sticks are often made with stale scrapped tobacco and, well, there’s just nothing to be desired there. However, what we’re talking about are premium, crafted cigars from respected industry brands. Now, some purists may still want to stick their noses up. Ignore the braggarts and find what you like. From pipe tobacco to premium cigars, it’s all about carving out your profile and fueling curiosity. And that’s what this list is for, not a prerequisite “you’re not a real cigar smoker until you’ve tried these blends” list. But a good jumping off point for a personal exploration—so let’s get into it.
Ashton Cigars are great for beginners as they’re notoriously consistent and smooth. The Dominican filler and binder are aged for at least five years, making for a creamy, mellow smoke with notes of mild spice and wood. It’s wrapped in a Connecticut shade wrapper, infamous for their light color, thin veins, and incredibly even burn. This is a great option for a slow-day puff, maybe an easy-going morning. You can sit back enjoying a smooth, effortless smoke.
The Reserva Real from Romeo y Julieta is a favorite mild cigar that peaks its way into the medium strength range. The honey notes are complemented by an earthy smokiness, especially in the retrohale. This blend really shines in the complexity of flavor brought out with its mix of Nicaraguan long-filler and Dominican tobaccos. The smokiness and strength make this a solid option for those coming from cigarettes.
The name Arturo Fuente alone is enough to flag a quality cigar. The Curly Head Panatela features Dominican filler and binder with a Cameroon wrapper. The humble, band-less cigar is a great option for those that really like the taste of smoky tobacco without a flavor-bomb. Peppery notes dance gently with a slight dark woodiness—very consistent and one of the most quality cigars you’ll find for such a price.
For our last traditional stogie, here’s a medium strength that's ideal for beginners who have a little experience or are coming in with some nicotine tolerance from cigarette or pipe tobacco smoking. The Habano from Perdomo is a wonderfully chocolate, woody, peppery smoke that takes you through a range of bold, interesting flavors. All of the tobacco in this blend is aged for at least six years. The Ecuadorian Connecticut wrappers are then bourbon barrel-aged for an additional eight months making for a smoke that is creamy all the way through with an easy draw.
Now onto the flavored cigars. The CAO flavored line features cigars that are mild and super flavorful, perfect for any curious beginners without nicotine experience. In flavored cigars and pipe tobacco blends alike, a good cherry flavor is supreme. It’s one of those flavors that can often taste more artificial, covering the tobacco as opposed to working with it. But done right, it’s a perfect complement. The CAO is the latter, a delicious fruity, vanilla smoothness with a sweet, natural aroma and taste.
The Acid line from Drew Estate Cigars is a favorite for appreciators of infused cigars. The Atom Maduro is cured in a fragrance room where it is imbued with all sorts of delicious flavors to make for a complex, dynamic blend. The Nicaraguan tobacco makes for a smoky, thickness that perfectly mixes with the fruity, potpourri flavorings to give a smoking experience characterized by its sweet aroma and smoothness. This one will start mild, but finds some strength in the last two-thirds or so, which is great for a beginner who’s toeing down the shallow end toward the bold, darker blends, instead of having to jump right in.
Expertly flavored with fine cognac, The Grand Reserve from Gurkha is one of most popular infused cigars in the industry. Each stick is wrapped in a pristine Connecticut wrapper that’s aged five years. The binder and filler feature premium Dominican tobacco that has been aged for three years. An easy draw and forward sweetness with a subtle pepper finish makes this cigar a great place to start.
Although any of the amazing, flavored blends from Tatiana Cigars’ make for a great smoke, let’s close our flavor list up with some chocolate. One thing you’ll notice as you continue to grow your palate and try new cigars is how much pairing goes into the craft. That’s to say, it’s not always about a “good” or “bad” cigar, but what the cigar is complementing, and what’s complementing it. The creamy, rich, smoothness of this Corona is a favorite evening cigar. Made with premium Cuban seed Dominican tobacco, and wrapped in a silky Indonesian wrapper, the Tatiana Chocolate is mellow yet resonates on the palate. Open a nice ale or after-dinner coffee and perfectly wind down the day with a soothing, sweet aroma.
That’s it for our list of great cigars for beginners, but here’s one more recommendation for the budding cigar smoker—
Sometimes it can feel hard to pull the trigger on your next cigar when there are so many options, especially when looking for something new. We know that feeling—wanting to be economic and buy a box but are hesitant to make the commitment on a cigar you haven’t tried before. This is why sample packs are a great option for beginners, or really anyone looking to explore more blends. They offer an opportunity to try an assortment of cigars to explore and uncover one's preferences.
Not only are samplers likely to introduce a few new blends, but they help the experimental newcomer understand what kind of blends they like. They help in developing one’s compass for their preferences which will be an asset in researching and deciding on your next cigar. We even carry two great assortment packs that include blends mentioned in our list—The Habano in the Perdomo Travel Humidor Connecticut Epicure Sampler and the CherryBomb in the CAO Sampler. But you can browse all of our cigar samplers and find an assortment that piques your interest.
We hope this list of the best cigars for beginners proves to be a useful launchpad off of which your exploration can flourish. And as important as the right cigar is, make sure you have everything else you need like a cigar lighter, cutter, and storage care gear to keep those stogies fresh. As always, our customer service team is happy to help you find just what you need.