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Commentary: Can You Recommend Cigars for [Insert Third Party]?

23 Oct 2013

Chances are you, like me, are recognized among your friends as somewhat of an expert on cigars. Granted I’m using the word “expert” as a relative term here. And chances are, from time to time, these friends—ranging from occasional smokers to non-smokers—will ask you to recommend cigars for gifts.

CigarsThis happens to me fairly regularly. The request goes something like this: “Hey, Patrick. You know a lot about cigars. Well I have a [relative, family member, etc.] I want to buy a few smokes for. [He/she] smokes cigars. Can you provide some recommendations?” This request usually comes around Christmas, a birthday, a wedding, a graduation, or the birth of a child. Such timing is a little funny to me because it’s been a long time since I’ve associated cigars with celebrations. I don’t need—and I usually don’t have—a reason to fire up a smoke.

At any rate, I’m always happy to oblige requests like these. Even if, in my head, my first reaction is, “You know I have a website loaded with searchable information, tips, etc., right? Did you happen to look there before asking me?” Of course I never actually say that.

So then I start to pepper this requester with questions. What does this person normally like to smoke? How often do they smoke? Do they own a humidor, or did you just see him/her smoking a cigar at a wedding once? How many cigars did you want to buy? How much are you looking to spend?

As I’m asking these questions, I realize the requester had given no thought to any of this, and has little knowledge of the third party’s perceived interest in cigars. I realize the requester was hoping I’d say, “Go here and buy them this,” and that would be the end of it. And as I think aloud about this, I start to better understand why so many cigar companies are now offering so many pre-packaged gift sets of smokes.

With little knowledge of the third party for whom I’m recommending cigars, and usually working within the confines of a restricted budget, I never suggest a box purchase. I’ll either point to a few legit online samplers of five or ten cigars or, time permitting, I’ll accompany the requester to a local tobacconist and help them select cigars I know almost any cigar smoker will like.

That’s exactly what I did a few days ago when a co-worker asked me to help him pick a few smokes for his stepfather. We strolled over to Iwan Ries & Co., a shop in Chicago’s Loop that’s been open for business since 1857. I actually really enjoyed talking with my co-worker about cigars, answering his questions, and picking out some excellent smokes. I left the shop with the satisfaction of helping someone else—and with a nice little sampler of my own.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

3 Responses to “Commentary: Can You Recommend Cigars for [Insert Third Party]?”

  1. Scott Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

    I enjoyed the article Patrick. While reading it, I wondered how I might answer this same question–but WITHOUT inquiring any further about the person to receive the gift. Which cigar would I choose to cover the widest range of cigar smokers?

    My first thought is the AF Hemingway, but there are many other great options out there.

  2. Swede214 Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    Patrick you did a fine job, those are some tough questions to answer, when that person really does not have a clue themselves about cigars.

  3. Heavy Friday, October 25, 2013 at 12:38 am #

    Lol I work in a shop and get asked this question on a daily basis. And yes the buyer never has a clue about the smoking taste of the one they want to buy for. Next question is usually how much we're you planning on spending or how many cigars were you looking to buy. I give them 3 options and tell them that any cigar smoker that receives one of these cigars would be thrilled! I show them Padron Anniversary, Ashton VSG then finish up with the story how the Arturo Fuente Anejo is aged for 5 years in cognac barrels etc. Most people buy 2 or 3 of the Anejo's and everyone is happy. The buyer feels great about the purchase and can now tell the receiver some history on the cigar he is gifting. The receiver of the gift will know for sure that he was well thought of and will enjoy a most memorable smoke and the tobacconist is happy for sharing his cigar knowledge and educating a non smoker…