If you’ve just gotten into cigars recently or are looking to get into cigars, this is to give some advice on how to set you off on your journey with some knowledge that we wish we had known when we first got into cigars. This is in no way meant to be an instruction manual or the only way to do things, just how we would have done things in hindsight.
Don’t Buy a Humidor
If you purchase a good quality humidor, it’s going to carry a decent price tag. When you’re first starting out, or even when you’re fairly established, a traditional humidor may not be necessary for you. Typically what happens if you end up getting sucked into this hobby, whatever humidor you purchase early on is going to be too small. You are better starting off with a sealable Tupperware container and a Boveda pack for humidification as it’s cheap and simple to setup. A Tupperware setup that could hold approximately 100 cigars along with the humidification device will run you in the $15-$20 range which is cheap. As you move further along in your journey you will be able to determine what your smoking/purchasing frequency is, how many cigars you’ll be storing and then be able to decide if you want to invest in a traditional humidor or other storage device.
Don’t Buy Boxes of Cigars
Manufacturers and retailers aren’t going to like us saying this, but when you are first getting into cigars, don’t buy boxes. The early stages of your cigar journey are going to be an intense learning experience of what you like and don’t like along with what is available in the market. Also, typically along the way, your palate will mature and some of what you liked early on, you may not like as much once you’ve experienced a larger variety. If you buy too much of something early on, you may end up with a lot of something you either don’t like as much anymore or don’t like at all. We recommend buying one or two of a particular cigar so that you can try it and many other cigars to get a feel for what you like so that later on you can map out what your purchases should look like.
Listen, Read and Learn
There are so many forums, communities, websites, podcasts and web shows dedicated to cigars that it’s pretty easy to find answers to your questions, educate yourself or just geek out on cigar information. There is one particular podcast/website that we feel is very valuable and worthwhile to mention specifically due to its wealth of knowledge and that is the Stogie Fresh 5 podcast and stogiefresh.info website. David “Doc” Diaz created both of these entities with a huge emphasis on cigar education and both of us have consumed a large amount of it. The podcast series is 500 episodes long but is a great ride that will keep you coming back for more. The website has in-depth articles on various topics as well. We highly recommend that you check both of them out.
The 70/70 Myth
Early on in your research you may come across the popular 70/70 rule which states that you should aim to keep your cigars in an environment of 70 degrees and 70% humidity. In our opinion, this is no more than a simple idea to remember and that’s why the numbers are the same. Temperature is something that we think most people will agree on that you’ll want to keep in a range of 60 to 70 degrees. You may see some people discuss lower temperature for long term aging, but that’s something for a more advanced discussion. Getting over 70 degrees can be dangerous for the potential of tobacco beetle hatching.
The humidity level is where people have some strong opinions, but in the end it all comes down to personal preference. Just like temperature, you’ll want to stay in a range to prevent bad things from happening such as cigars bursting when too humid or cigars cracking and losing essential oils when under humidified. We would recommend staying in the 62% to 68% range for humidity. We prefer to keep our cigars in the 62% to 64% range. We just find they smoke better at that level, but again, it’s personal preference. You’ll need to see what works for you.
Spread Your Purchases Around
Sometimes what happens is, the first place you make a purchase at, you keep going back and only buy from them for a fair amount of time because you’re comfortable. That’s fine, but you should really explore other shops and online retailers. No shop or online store we have ever seen carries everything that is available on the market, so if you’re limiting yourself to one retailer, then you are limited to their inventory, their pricing and their service. We recommend visiting the various shops in your area and any shops nearby when you may be traveling to get a feel for different environments and selections. Online stores are great as well as there may be some brands that aren’t available in your area that you can get from an online retailer.
Not Knowing Anyone Else That Smokes Cigars
This is a problem that has a pretty easy solution. If you start getting involved in cigar communities such as forums or community apps to learn more about cigars, you’ll usually strike up friendships with other members. These members are all over the country and even the world, so eventually you’ll come across someone that lives close to you or lives near somewhere you’ll be visiting, so you might be able to meet up for a cigar. Communities also tend to put together regional herfs where a bunch of people get together, with some traveling quite a distance to attend, which allows you to meet a lot of people at once. There are also video herfs or vherfs where people get together online with video, typically through Google Hangouts and chat while they smoke which really gives you an opportunity to hangout with fellow cigar smokers from all over the world.
Another method of making new cigar friends is attending your local cigar shops. It might sound intimidating to go into a cigar shop by yourself, but believe us, cigar smokers are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet and tend to be very welcoming. Just use standard social etiquette and you should get off on the right foot.