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Stogie Commentary: Cigar Loyalty versus Cigar Variety

6 Oct 2010

A friend recently mentioned that he planned to significantly narrow the scope of his cigar purchases. Taking the “life’s too short for bad cigars” approach, he intended to select only a handful of specific blends and smoke little else.

CigarsMy gut reaction was that he was making a mistake. To each his own, I thought. But trying new cigars is more of a journey than an objective. Part of the fun of the cigar hobby is discovering what’s out there, deciding what you like, and then comparing, contrasting, and experimenting with variables like age.

Besides, as illustrated by this year’s IPCPR Trade Show in New Orleans, talented cigar makers are constantly turning out new blends. The industry’s greatest strength is its abundance of innovation and the wherewithal to put new ideas into practice. While not all new cigars are good cigars, why would any enthusiast deprive himself of fresh creations?

But then I got to thinking: Maybe my friend is on to something. There are, after all, some noteworthy advantages of narrowing the scope of your cigar intake. One would be the certainty of knowing that every cigar you light up is going to be outstanding—assuming you carefully selected your favorites. Another would be the elimination of the risk of spending good money on cigars that disappoint.

Perhaps my own cigar routines would be drastically different if not for this website. Much of what I smoke is driven by our cigar review needs: what we haven’t yet reviewed, what readers are asking us to review, what’s new, etc. This requires a ton of variety. When I’m just smoking for sheer enjoyment, though, I often find myself turning to the same dozen blends.

Truth be told, I wish I could afford a little less variety and a little more loyalty in my cigar rotation. Whereas I currently smoke my favorite blends only about 10% of the time, I’d like to bump that up to around 50%. I doubt that’s possible.

But don’t get me wrong: I certainly don’t resent for the variety it imposes on my cigar intake. I consider this web magazine a great joy, a terrific journey that I have the privilege to share with my colleagues and our readers. And I must concede that I may not have discovered my favorite blends if not for the website’s requirement of me to venture beyond my comfort zone.

How often do you venture beyond yours?

Patrick A

photo credit: Flickr

10 Responses to “Stogie Commentary: Cigar Loyalty versus Cigar Variety”

  1. Thorne Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 2:20 am #

    When I started smoking I smoked about 75% CAO's. After beginning to read more reviews online, joining CRA–getting their samplers–and following more cigar people on twitter I began to branch out and try other brands. Some good, some not. Last week I had 3 in a row of new to me, unimpressive but well reviewed smokes and I decided to cut back my experimentation some. Instead of buying 4-5 new to me sticks when I hit a B&M I'm going to get 1-2 new and the rest tried and true that I know I like.

  2. Ken Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 2:42 am #

    Up until about 2 years ago I only bought 2 brands for my regular smoking.

    But then a friend offered me a handful of cigars I had never heard of, let alone ever smoked. I was blown away by the differences. Since then I have stopped buying by the box and now buy mostly online where I can get 5-packs or samplers that allow me to try different blends. I still go to the B&M, but only to get singles that are newly released.

    I have smoked Coronas (of various sizes) for many years, but have noticed that a lot of the newer blends are not offered in that size. So I have succumbed to the call of the 50 ring size (don't like much larger) and the choice is still overwhelming. So little time – so much to chose from.

    I probably have about 8 brands/blends that I get on a regular basis, but I'm always open to trying something new.

    I normally have about 80-100 cigars in storage at any given time and like to hold them for at least 4-6 months before smoking them.

  3. Dave in Ashburn Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 3:14 am #

    I've yet to buy the same box twice. There are more good-to-great cigars available today than I'll ever find the time to smoke. At the B&Ms I tend to always pick up one or two of my current favorites, but those change over the years as well. There is something noble about having "your cigar," but for me, variety is indeed the spice of life.

  4. Ira Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 3:36 am #

    The profusion of new cigars is what keeps me interested. Until I became more aware of all the internet sales sites, smoking had become boring to me, most of my purchases having come from the NYC retail division of the country's largest cigar retailer. The ability to get five packs or samplers before committing to a box has given me the exposure to cigars I would generally not find at the aforementioned retail outlet. While I have had some experiences where I didn't care for the stick, they are far outweighed by my pleasant surprise at trying something new.

  5. dmjones1009 Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 4:17 am #

    Because I review I smoke a great variety of cigars as well…actually, come to think of it, I think I review because I like to smoke a great variety of cigars! For years I have had a desire to try anything and everything on the market…or at least everything that's reasonably priced, easy to acquire, and decently reviewed by others I respect. That sensory curiosity is what drove me to start recording my thoughts on cigars, which turned into reviews eventually.

    I do have my favorites, though, and when I just can't decide which of the 50 different blends I've got sitting in my humidor I want to smoke…I'll just pull out a CAO La Traviata.

  6. Marc E Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 6:55 am #

    I'm in the middle. I have too many brands in my humidors that I'm waiting to smoke and although I sometimes feel fortunate to have them for exploration I', sometimes pissed I don;t have more of my favorites on hand. I have narrowed down my top 15 based on smoking about 80 different blends/brands over the last few years but somehow I always feel compelled to pick up a new type when I visit my local shops. In other words, I have a problem 🙂

  7. doug Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 2:46 pm #

    Great article, never really thought it before. Have to admit I buy a box online of my favs, but like to go to my local shop for new blends. I find a good way to keep my humi stocked, yet support and enjoy my local shop

  8. ROTHNH Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 8:52 am #

    I, like the preponderance of my friends, agree with Patrick A. and those posting comments here — a major part of enjoying cigars is trying new brands and the brands I've never tried before. While, like everyone else, I have my favorites, after smoking cigars for decades, it's always a pleasant surprise how my tastes change over time — how a cigar I didn't care for very much back when is a terrific smoke when I revisit it.

  9. JoshK Friday, October 8, 2010 at 8:31 am #

    For the last few years I was always smoking something new. There are few blends that I've smoked more than 2-3 of. However now I have enough scope to know what I like and am starting to limit myself to only try new blends within my comfort zone.

  10. Anonymous Saturday, August 6, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    I just started on handmade cigars. any suggestions on something good for beginners?