Cigars 101: what are the best sticks and does anything rival Cuban?

CigSid

Love this place...
Here's an article I (could have) wrote:

Cigars 101: what are the best sticks and does anything rival Cuban?


Guglielmo DeLisi, cigar sommelier for The CigarPass, gives his tips on how to find a great smoke
The Week Portfolio caught up with The Cigarpass resident cigar expert, Guglielmo DeLisi, to discuss where the best cigars come from, what his favourite sticks are and what, in his view, is the must-have equipment for all cigar enthusiasts.
Are there any cigars you recommend to a first-time smoker?
For beginners, I recommend they try Cohiba Siglo, H. Upman half corona or Montecristo No. 5. The smoker usually knows after two puffs if they like cigar smoking. If they like the sensation, I suggest they try three or four different types of cigars. This will help them acquire the taste and get the feel of the cigar. After a smoker decides they like cigars, they will try various smokes. Some like long smokes and some like short. A long drag would mean to inhale for at least two seconds and a short drag would be to inhale for two seconds or less. It takes time to know what you like, but you won’t know until you try.
Are Cuban cigars still best?
In my opinion, yes, Cuban cigars are the best. They must be made with a good, high-quality tobacco and stored properly. Tobacco grown in the most western region of the island is best for cigars.
Of course, some (dumb) people really like non-Cuban cigars - from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua or Indonesia, for example - and you will only learn what you like if you are open to experiencing different brands and origins, and learn that it is stupid to smoke anything other than a Cuban Cigar.
If you could only smoke one cigar for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
Personally, I would pick the Cohiba Sublimes 2004 Limited Edition. It has the perfect balance of aroma and strength, predominantly flavoured with cocoa and providing a coffee taste to finish.
What is the difference between a good cigar and a great one?
The difference between a good and a great cigar is often based only on rarity. For example, the Cohiba Behike 56 is made from the world’s finest tobacco and is a very good cigar, however, the 1950 Montecristo No 4 cigar is the best cigar in the world because they were f'ckn crazy good – this is thought to be the greatest ever cigar.
What brands should all cigar smokers try?
I recommend that cigar smokers should try Cohiba cigars at least once in their life. All tobacco in Cohiba cigars comes from the five best plantations in Cuba.
What cigar equipment do you have about you all the time?
To ensure you’re always prepared should you wish to light up, a smoker must carry with them a very sharp cigar cutter, a single laser flame DuPont cigar lighter, a good travel humidor and a cigar holder - and make sure you have enough cigars to last all day.
 

Scap

Well-Known Member
Cohibas = meh.
I'll smoke em when they're given to me, but I've only ever bought one box for myself. I just don't get the hype, and my box of Pirate Special Price CoRo just fell flat. One dimensional and bland.
 

tone-ny

I smoke therefore I am!
I'm not a fan of Cohiba! The Siglo and Maduro lines are the only ones I like. Otherwise I'm paying a premium for a cigar that doesn't fit my profile. I cut my teeth on Upmann No. 3, they were cheap and a good cigar. I smoked these in the late 70's.
 

BlindedByScience

Proud Father of a brave U.S. Marine
Well.....I'm not about to disagree with the honorable Guglielmo DiLisi (well known author and expert) but..... I think it's a slightly more complicated answer than "Cuban cigars are best"....though, for the most part, I agree with the statement.

Now, to be very clear, I'm smoking 95+% of cigars from the island these days. But how did I get here..?? The journey from mundane smokes to really good smokes to OpusX and Anejos and Padron's and OR Tatuajie sticks has been a very interesting and pleasurable journey. Not going to claim any expertise other than a decade and a half of smoking the best cigars I could at any given time. Many members here have much, much more experience than I do with the leaf, and I listen and learn every day.

So many dynamics involved; cigar quality and blends have changed so much over the last decade that it's really hard to compare the brands I mentioned that you buy today, to their counterparts a decade and a half ago. And, to be sure, my tastes have changed and sharpened. I've become more critical of the cigars I smoke. Also, a few years back, Cuban cigars really suffered, quality wise. After throwing away a couple boxes that were as plugged as a tent peg, for a while I said 'no more'. Have you ever had a plugged Padron..?? I haven't either. Thankfully for Cuban smokes, their quality and consistency has drastically improved, big time, but there was a time when those of us that didn't have the benefit of a wide selection of aged smokes could have come to the conclusion that Cuban cigars were lousy smokes. And they were, for a while.

So where am I going with this ramble..?? For a new smoker, I'd say try everything you can get your hands on. Try to appreciate what makes a good NC cigar, appreciate the differences in NC and Cuban and every different vitola and wrapper and brand you can get. Be mindful of quality and don't smoke crap. Don't give up on one, try two or three and really pay attention to what you're smoking. Talk to others, take notes, really enjoy the hobby and focus on the smoke. Then, at the end of the day, smoke what you like, and like what you smoke. And you'll know why.

After some time, I think most folks that take that path will end up enjoying the sticks from the island as much or more than pretty much anything else made in the industry. But the path has merit, the journey is interesting and a lot of fun.

As they say, one noobie's opinion......:cool:
 

CigSid

Love this place...
Cohibas = meh.
I'll smoke em when they're given to me, but I've only ever bought one box for myself. I just don't get the hype, and my box of Pirate Special Price CoRo just fell flat. One dimensional and bland.
You guys were smoking the wrong Cohibas... until you had a 90’s Lancero, or a Siglo VI from 2004, which are still in my top 10 even after all these years... Or a Robusto from ULA 14 which are like one of the best experiences on the planet...
 

CigSid

Love this place...
Well.....I'm not about to disagree with the honorable Guglielmo DiLisi (well known author and expert) but..... I think it's a slightly more complicated answer than "Cuban cigars are best"....though, for the most part, I agree with the statement.

Now, to be very clear, I'm smoking 95+% of cigars from the island these days. But how did I get here..?? The journey from mundane smokes to really good smokes to OpusX and Anejos and Padron's and OR Tatuajie sticks has been a very interesting and pleasurable journey. Not going to claim any expertise other than a decade and a half of smoking the best cigars I could at any given time. Many members here have much, much more experience than I do with the leaf, and I listen and learn every day.

So many dynamics involved; cigar quality and blends have changed so much over the last decade that it's really hard to compare the brands I mentioned that you buy today, to their counterparts a decade and a half ago. And, to be sure, my tastes have changed and sharpened. I've become more critical of the cigars I smoke. Also, a few years back, Cuban cigars really suffered, quality wise. After throwing away a couple boxes that were as plugged as a tent peg, for a while I said 'no more'. Have you ever had a plugged Padron..?? I haven't either. Thankfully for Cuban smokes, their quality and consistency has drastically improved, big time, but there was a time when those of us that didn't have the benefit of a wide selection of aged smokes could have come to the conclusion that Cuban cigars were lousy smokes. And they were, for a while.

So where am I going with this ramble..?? For a new smoker, I'd say try everything you can get your hands on. Try to appreciate what makes a good NC cigar, appreciate the differences in NC and Cuban and every different vitola and wrapper and brand you can get. Be mindful of quality and don't smoke crap. Don't give up on one, try two or three and really pay attention to what you're smoking. Talk to others, take notes, really enjoy the hobby and focus on the smoke. Then, at the end of the day, smoke what you like, and like what you smoke. And you'll know why.

After some time, I think most folks that take that path will end up enjoying the sticks from the island as much or more than pretty much anything else made in the industry. But the path has merit, the journey is interesting and a lot of fun.

As they say, one noobie's opinion......:cool:
Excellent Tom!

Also, the article was satirically based (about our English friends), and really just for fun...
 

BlindedByScience

Proud Father of a brave U.S. Marine
Excellent Tom!

Also, the article was satirically based (about our English friends), and really just for fun...
Oh, I got that and enjoyed the text quite a bit..!! Just providing some of my limited experience; I do enjoy the conversation.....and, at the end of the day, I don't disagree.....:)
 

BlindedByScience

Proud Father of a brave U.S. Marine
This is a fun read. Honestly though, i did not expect this much reading. I really thought I was gonna open this thread and it was gonna say: ‘Cubans, and no there isn’t. -CigSid’
It's good to have an informed opinion, and it's really good to have people with tons of experience to share. I really do mean it when I say I read a lot and usually learn something all the time. I have come to pretty much the same conclusion as Bill, and I know how I got here. Different tastes appeal to different folks, and I think you miss out if you don't try as wide a variety as you can. Then, when you say "I really prefer X" you'll know why. To me, that's a really enjoyable part of the journey.
 

Thoughts

Forehead wrinkle king
It's good to have an informed opinion, and it's really good to have people with tons of experience to share. I really do mean it when I say I read a lot and usually learn something all the time. I have come to pretty much the same conclusion as Bill, and I know how I got here. Different tastes appeal to different folks, and I think you miss out if you don't try as wide a variety as you can. Then, when you say "I really prefer X" you'll know why. To me, that's a really enjoyable part of the journey.
Oh I don’t mind the reading at all. I just expected with Bill’s wit it was gonna be that short declaration. Definitely a great read and great information!
 

Acclaym

Moderation in moderation
One thing I've learned is never to judge a marca or vitola by just one box. CC and NC both. You need several examples to form the slightest opinion as there could be a number of variables including, bad rollers, poor factory qc, poor storage conditions, as well as different smoking conditions.
 

Scap

Well-Known Member
You guys were smoking the wrong Cohibas... until you had a 90’s Lancero, or a Siglo VI from 2004, which are still in my top 10 even after all these years... Or a Robusto from ULA 14 which are like one of the best experiences on the planet...
You're right. I've not had either. However, I have smoked a couple BHK56, and a couple more recent Siglo VI (11-13 ish, I can't remember for certain) that were good, but I never would have bought them myself. I'm lucky to be friends with a guy that lives/loves to share his uber expensive cigars with our local group. It is through him that I have gotten a chance to be promoted from cake-sniffer to cake-taster on a few occasions.
 

Juanote

The sound of one hand fapping
I'm certainly no expert on CCs, but I can attest to this: a RASS with 8 years on it is the second best smoke I've ever had. Number one is an OR 858 Rosado. The later being complete unobtanium at any price and the former being common as aged CCs go, should tell you all there is to know about NC vs CC.

Yet for me there is the question of infrastructure, expense, and commitment. For those with copious capabilities where the above are concerned (Bill being, perhaps, the avatar of all three), CCs are going to be the stick of choice and for very good reason. For me, who is lacking in all three categories to some degree or other, my best smokes are going to be drawn from among (what I consider) the best NCs with a few choice CCs thrown in for spice. So while I aspire to someday make practical the careful, long term aging of a few boxes of select CCs, I will always rely upon the sublime legacy of Don Carlos & his scion (to a somewhat lesser degree), along with other marcas of similar quality, when honoring the hoary wisdom of many a FOG: smoke the best cigars you can afford; you will never regret it.
 

duglynukem

Nuclear Advocate
Appreciation of cigars is very subjective. I've found that the perfect cigar for me is influenced by what I want to drink, where I am or who I'm with.

I really didn't discover CC until about 15 years ago. Before that I really was a Fuentes fan that smoked the occasional Padron. Over the years my preference changed to where I am now smoking mostly cigars from the island. So I agree with Tom the journey has been pleasurable with no destination in sight.
 
Top