The world of cigars can take a lifetime to understand, so it only makes sense that looking at this world from the outside can be overwhelming. If your man smokes cigars, buying him the perfect gift can be quite the challenge. The key to being successful in this hunt for the great cigar gift is to know the exact tastes of whom you are buying for. Cigars aren’t jeans; it takes much more than finding the right size for them to fit right.
- Find out what he likes. This is the best place to start. It’s not good enough to just know a name brand, however. For instance, knowing he likes Monte Cristos won’t do much good, but if you know he loves the Monte Cristo white label Churchill, you have a good building block of information. Of course, if you already knew this, you probably wouldn’t be reading my article.
- Find a good shop. This is truly a passion business, and any good cigar shop will be run by people who love what they do. Stay away from those corner stores in malls that sell a few cigars along with hookahs and poorly engraved flasks next to the magazine rack. Look online for nearby shops, or do a little detective work and find out where your man frequents.
- Ask the workers. Like I said, these people love what they do. Chances are when you walk in the store, they will be puffing away on a stogie themselves, which means they are constantly up to date with the cigars they are selling. If you tell them your man loves a specific smoke, they will gladly show you a number of cigars similar to its taste and make recommendations as to what else he may like. They may also show you a box of his favorite cigar--I can guarantee you any smoker would be ecstatic if he found that under the tree Christmas morning.
- Remember, expensive does not always mean good. There is no need to buy the most expensive cigar in the shop, unless you enjoy wasting money. Not to say all expensive cigars are crap, but for every 20-dollar cigar there are a dozen smokes under 10 bucks worth equal consideration. For instance, in the latest Cigar Aficionado, the $20.60 Partagas 160 was in the bottom 3 rated cigars in its category, where the number one cigar was a 601 Habano, which costs merely $6.50.
- Don’t be a sucker for packaging. Some cigar shops may have pre-packaged samplers or deals that supposedly save you money. Avoid these “deals” because there’s usually a reason behind them. It may be easier to walk in and buy 5 name-brand cigars in a sampler set, but the quality of these smokes will more than likely suffer. The shop may have found a few boxes full of duds, and they put them together with a nice price cut to get them out of the shop’s hands. I know it sounds hypocritical to go from saying how great the people at cigar shops are to how they will try and screw you over like this, but remember they are still running a business.
- Take a look at seconds, or “J&R Brand” cigars. Perhaps the person you are buying for already has a surplus of all his favorite cigars, or he cares more about quantity, not quality. The amount of seconds or J&R cigars you get for just a few dollars is astonishing. This may be a great way for your special smoker to fill his humidor with cigars for friends, or a cheap alternative to buying him the expensive cigar you don’t have money for. J&R makes replicas of popular smokes on the market for a low price. The quality is not as great as the brand cigars they are imitating, but it’s still undeniably better than buying him some Philly Blunts.
- Look at cigar accessories. If your loved one already has the perfect collection of stogies, maybe it’s a good time to buy him something different. If he doesn’t already have one, a high quality butane lighter or cutter makes for a great gift. The plus side to buying a gift like this is its lasting power. No matter how much money you spend on a cigar, it will all burn away within an hour or two. But a good lighter or cutter will be at your man’s side for years to come. Companies like Calibri or Davidoff (who also produces some of the finest cigars around) make high quality lighters and cutters that will stay lit and sharp for decades.
- Know how to look for quality in the cigars you purchase. When picking out cigars, check for consistency in the box. If you pick a cigar out of a box, take a look at the other cigars to see if they are the same shape, size, and color, and overall if every cigar looks healthy. It should take no more than a glance to notice any warning signs that you may be buying a low quality cigar. You probably won’t run into this problem, but it's still worth noting.
I hope these tips help you find that perfect gift. I wish I could make specific cigar recommendations, but that is impossible, as every cigar smoker’s taste is unique. But that is also exactly why I don’t need to make specific suggestions. Men who smoke cigars are a rare breed, and having a woman who supports this lifestyle is just as rare. Even if the cigar you buy him isn’t his favorite, he will love the fact that you support him and the pastime he enjoys so much.