An Introduction to Cigars

By Steve Watson
February 23, 2021

Smoking a cigar isn’t so much about satisfying a nicotine craving as experiencing and appreciating the taste of quality tobacco leaves.

My Recommendations

The world of cigars is often regarded as a rich man’s pursuit, and for good reason – it can be immensely costly, particularly when some cigars are up to £50.00 each. True cigar aficionados invest thousands of pounds in humidors, hygrometers, cutters, lighters, ashtrays etc. and that’s without the added cost of the cigars themselves. Like all things niche, there are multiple levels of extravagance.

My own journey began back in the mid ‘80s when I was 18, at a time when smoking was allowed in pubs. I was an apprentice engineer at the time, earning very little, so expensive Cubans were out of the question; it was King Edward brand for me back then. I would buy a pack of 5 on my way home when I was meeting up with a cigar-smoking friend for a Friday night on the town. I recently bought a pack and failed to get through just one cigar. Terrible cigars – stay clear.

Smoking a cigar isn’t so much about satisfying a nicotine craving as experiencing and appreciating the taste of quality tobacco leaves grown in the ideal climate, harvested at the right time, matured and fermented then hand blended and rolled. Like good coffee, whiskey, wine etc. a lot of work is invested in a good cigar.

A note on recommendations – The cigars recommended below are all high end Cuban brands. The process of making cigars incorporates many steps, great skill, and is very labour intensive. All high end Cuban cigars are hand rolled using specially selected leaves. Check out this video for the story on Cuban cigars.

A note on ring gauge – The diameter of cigars is measured in ring gauge. Each number of represents the amount of 1/64” (0.4mm). So, a cigar with a 50 ring gauge is 50/64” (20mm). The higher the ring gauge the thicker the cigar.

Recommendation No.1 - Hoyo de Monterrey Petit Robusto

If you’re wanting to get into cigars the Hoyo de Monterrey Petit Robusto is a great stick to start with. Hoyo de Monterrey are high end Cuban cigar makers and their Petit Robusto is hand-rolled, 4” long, 50 ring gauge (3/4”), and offers a light smoke. It provides an introduction to the Robusto range of cigar without being too long or too fat. Minimum 20-30 minute smoking time. Expect to pay between £15.00 – £18.00 each.

Hoyo de Monterrey Petit Robusto

Recommendation No.2 - Montecristo No.4

Another great starter cigar is the Montecristo No.4. Being only a 42 ring gauge this cigar is categorised as a corona. At about £13.00 – £15.00 each, the No.4 is a more affordable option whilst still providing you with a high end Cuban cigar.

Montecristo No.4

Recommendation No.3 - Juan Lopez No.2

The lighter taste of the Juan Lopez No.2 also makes for an ideal cigar if you’re just starting out. Being 4 7/8” long and 50 ring gauge this cigar provides a longer smoking time of minimum 30-40 minutes. Expect to pay between £19.00 – £22.00 each.

Juan Lopez No.2

Recommendation No.4 - Ramon Allones Specially Selected

With all the attention the Ramon Allones Specially Selected (aka RASS) was receiving I thought I’d give it a try. Ranked by many as the quintessential and the finest Robusto in production, the RASS is indeed a good cigar. At 4 7/8” long and 50 ring gauge this cigar is similar in size to the Juan Lopez No.2 above. Minimum 30-40 minute smoking time. Expect to pay between £19.00 – £22.00 each.

Ramon Allones Specially Selected

Recommendation No.5 - Partagas D4

Though Identical in size to the Juan Lopez No.2 and the RASS the Partagas D4 is a full bodied and rich cigar with intense flavours. See how you get on with recommendations 1 to 4 before buying this – you might find too overpowering to begin with. Minimum 30-40 minute smoking time. Expect to pay between £19.00 – £22.00 each.

Partagas D4

Recommendation No.6 - Montecristo No.2

The Montecristo No.2 is another cigar that features in a lot of cigar discussion. It’s a serious amount of tobacco and not ideal as something to start off with. That being said, the Monte No.2 is a fabulous cigar, rated by many as one of the finest Cuban cigars on the market. At 6 1/8” long and a 52 ring gauge this will give you in excess of an hours smoking. Be careful though, it’s a lot of nicotine if your not used to it. Expect to pay about £27.00 each.

Montecristo No.2

Recommendation No.7 - Romeo Y Julieta Wide Churchill

The Romeo Y Julieta Wide Churchill is Without doubt the best cigar I’ve ever smoked. With a flawless appearance, heavy ring gauge and medium bodied taste, this cigar can easily be smoked right to the nub. A consistently excellent cigar. If I had the money I’d go with these every time. Like the Montecristo No.2, it’s a big cigar at 5 1/4” long with 55 ring gauge. Expect to pay upwards of £28.00-£30.00 each.

Romeo Y Julieta Wide Churchill

Where to Buy

I know of only 2 outlets in Hull selling good cigars. Occasionally, I’ll buy from Roberts & Sleight in Beverley but I tend to buy online from one the suppliers listed below. Compare the prices between suppliers because they can differ up to £3.00 each.

Roberts & Speight, Beverley. Good selection of cigars on display in large humidor.

Newsagent kiosk at St Stephen’s – the little kiosk next to Costa Coffee outside the entrance to St Stephen’s has a small humidor with some good Cuban cigars.

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Steve Watson
Author and founder of Watson's barber's
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