So the past 2 weeks have been super busy and crazy for me but I have had the opportunity to try some new brands and that is always a good thing. I placed an order with the fine folks at http://cigarfederation.com for some amazing boutique cigars recently and I will review them at a later date, but I have to say that all of them (so far) have not disappointed. I have heard great things about them and it’s good to know that it wasn’t just hype.

First up was the 1502 Emerald Box Pressed Torpedo 6.5 x 52, then the Ezra Zion Tantrum PA 6.5 x 44, followed by the Illusione f9 6.25 x 44, and lastly the Surrogates Crystal Baller Corona Gorda 6.5 x 46.

Yesterday I stopped by http://cigarsonstate.com/wp/ to pick up some cigars I ordered back at the Black Label Trading Company event with James Brown. Killer Bees, Green Hornets and 1502 Blue Sapphire and Black Gold. I have a nice collection of some really great smokes and of course the weather is now freezing and talk of snow flurries in the am so my ability to get out and try them will be limited.

I try to stick to a ritual as much as possible when I am trying new cigars or reviewing one. Being in a group of people, mixing their smoke with yours, can skew your flavor and experience with the stick so I try to do it when I am on my deck and can really take my time and enjoy the experience. I am far from a master reviewer but I am trying to expand on that and develop my palate some. For me cigars fall into a limited number of categories. 1) Box worthy (Exactly what it means. It’s good enough for me to buy an entire box) 2) Definitely will smoke again (Worthy of a 5 or 10 pack and something I want in my collection) 3) Eh…(It was ok but I wouldn’t spend money on it again) Almost every cigar I have tried recently fall into the first 2 categories with very few falling into the last. That is the difference between boutiques and large, big brand cigars. I can honestly say that I had more cigars that were just “Okay” and fell into that 3rd category based on my taste and liking. I am one of the few people on the planet that really didn’t fall head over heels with the OPUS X. Many people swear by them and they have a cult like following but I got one for my birthday this year and I didn’t really enjoy it. Call me crazy but it is what it is.

So for those of you that are new to cigars, I recommend starting a journal or cigar log. Write down the brand and the cigar name and write down what you think about it. You don’t have to know every exact thing you are tasting or even how to describe it, just if you like it or not and why you do or don’t. Simple characteristics of things you notice in the cigar can help. Take that list with you next time you go to your local shop or research similar cigars online prior to going and try to buy cigars with those traits. I went crazy and tried so many cigars from one end of the spectrum to the other and I really did myself a disservice (and spent a ton of unnecessary cash) on cigars I really didn’t like. When you are trying a cigar for the first time, I recommend staying with something mild and then moving into the mild – medium range. Take your time smoking it and don’t puff too often or you will get sick. Keep some water and or Coke/Soda, Sweet Tea etc nearby to help regulate your blood sugar if you start to feel lightheaded or nauseous. Jumping right in to a full bodied cigar can really be a turn off and ruin the experience for you.

Didn’t mean to drift off to Cigars 101 but I know a few readers are new to cigars so I thought that might be helpful. Now that I have been smoking for awhile, I can tolerate almost any strength cigar but being a smaller guy, I can’t smoke cigar after cigar like I see many guys doing. It also screws up my taste buds and sinuses. One thing I have noticed also is now that I started smoking a pipe, I find the tobacco very mild compared to what I am use to with cigars. Maybe it is the blends I am smoking but they seem very light in comparison.

When I first started out with cigars, you could not find 2 of the same brand cigars in my humidor because I wanted to try everything. I would see something online or a catalog and I wanted to try it. I didn’t know enough to research what it was, strength, etc. Now that I am more informed, I find myself sticking to a few trusted big name brands and a lot of boutique brands. I did some humidor maintenance today and I noticed that I have certainly limited my selection as of late. I have a lot of great cigars but it took awhile to get here. Hopefully this will help some of you save some cash and frustration from trying a lot of cigars you really don’t like. Invest in what you enjoy and build from there. There are SO MANY cigars out there to choose from and even now it is overwhelming for me so keep a log, ask questions, research and don’t be afraid to spend a few extra bucks on a good boutique cigar. I can tell you that you will be less likely to be disappointed with that purchase than dropping 4 or 5 bucks on a big brand stick. No one said this hobby was cheap, but if you truly love it, the time and money invested in that stick will be very much worth it.

As always, feel free to drop some comments. Tell us what brands you are smoking and what you like about them. Until next time, long ashes and stay smokey friends. Peace

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