Most of my cigar shopping happens at cigarsinternational.com where they have good cigars at reasonable prices. Been to other cigar websites and while they may offer a different selection (there are just so damn many kinds of cigars!) the other sites were more expensive for the same brands. Plus the CI guys seem to really enjoy what they're doing... maybe a little too much.
Another thing - it wasn't until I got my act together and put a calibrated hygrometer inside my humidor that I began to get consistent smokes. Keep the humidor between 68-75 percent humidity, with 70 percent the optimum. And don't smoke any new sticks until they've rested inside for at least a week if not longer.
Tip #1 - when snipping off the end of a cigar, don't remove any more than you need. You should trim at the most 1/16-1/8"... seriously. You don't need to open more than what the tip of your pinky finger would cover to get a decent draw. Any more than that and you might crush the cigar which would break it and then you can't draw anything due to a cracked cigar.
Tip #2 - get a humidor with a glass top and put the hygrometer inside where you can see it without opening the lid... 'nuff said.
Tip #3 - lighters are a cottage industry these days that play on smokers desire to look hip. Torch lighters are the rage and while they seem cool to show off to your friends, I find they run out of fluid way too soon and are a pain to refill. The all-time best lighter I've found will blow your socks off... it's a propane torch commonly used by plumbers for brazing copper tubing. For lighting cigars, this thing is a Y-chromosome monster that lasts forever and will be the envy of all your buddies. Get one that has an adjustable valve so you can trim the flame. No, you won't be able to carry this in your back pocket when traveling, but trust me - pop this out when firing up a stogie and nobody will question your authority on lighters.
Tip #4 - age your cigars. The pricey sticks on store shelves are made from tobacco that has been aged, and you can age cigars yourself with a little patience. Don't give up on a cigar that didn't measure up to your expectations... a little aging (months, possibly years) works wonders. More on aging here and here.
Last, you'll find one of the better resources about all things related to cigars here.
Anyway, here's a quick take on my recent smokes...
This is a massive MASSIVE 70 ring (approx 1" thick) cigar. Box pressed with a hefty appearance, they look absolutely luscious while nestled in my humidor. After lighting up, the draw is surprisingly easy... almost too easy. I'm guessing something this large should have an easy draw as anything this size and densely packed would be a problem.
However it did not burn well... encountered a bad streak that needed to be to lit again to balance it out. In all fairness, these have been in the humidor only one day and probably would be much better reviewed after several weeks in a stable environment... but I couldn't help myself and jumped on the first opportunity to light one up.
Taste was good, even somewhat on the mild side for a dark colored cigar. Despite the streaking I'm looking forward to trying one of these again after a few weeks in the humidor.
Wonderful! A premium box pressed 6.5" x 52 cigar that more than stands up to some high expectations. After spending 10 days in the humidor I fired one up - very very nice cigar that has a great draw which produces an abundant amount of smoke with next to no streaking. Nice taste without any harshness, wonderful aroma and a tight compact ash all the way down... very impressed with this cigar. I bought 10 of these for $70 - the same qty will set you back $110 or more. And to think I passed up an opportunity to pick of a 5-pack for $25... will definitely be looking for the next time they go on sale.
Top notch cigar that's comparable to Rocky Patel Decades... love 'em!
This is the box pressed 5.5" x 55 cigar that spent a little over a week in my humidor. I was impressed, particularly with the draw. Light puffing produced a healthy amount of smoke (take that you anti-tobacco smoke-phobic freaks!) just the way I like it. Nothing is more frustrating than having to literally suck hard on a cigar. Cigars are meant to be puffed lightly, and the 5 Vegas Classic does not disappoint. It burned nicely throughout, no running or streaking, with a consistently good taste up to the end.
Very nice - looking forward to trying another in a few weeks to make sure this wasn't just an anomaly.
One of my favorites. The Gurkha Legend Vintage 2001 is a big bold cigar that draws like a dream, burns evenly to the finish, and has a balanced taste that isn't too light but won't scorch your mouth either. I love these cigars - any time I find them on sale I scoop up as much as my budget will allow... maybe a little more.
They retail for $20 a stick but I've found them on sale at 12 for $30 - like I said, snap them up when you can... these are just plain good cigars.
Bought a 5 pack at least a year ago, maybe longer, and the last one has been sitting in my humidor waiting for the final verdict. No doubt these are good... After all that time this cigar easily ranks with the best. A box pressed Robusto that is a solid 5" cigar. Balanced medium strength with a good draw and a solid feel. They retail for about $10 a stick and the standard discount doesn't go much lower (a good indicator of quality) so if you see them on sale for less don't let them slip by.
Cigars International says "Crafted with dark, reddish-brown Cuban-seed Nicaraguan wrapper leaf and a rich blend of Nicaraguan long-fillers, Artemis delivers a smooth, Cuban-esque profile."
This is one of the rare occasions when hyperbole matches the real thing. Too bad this was my last one.
Quite simply the best. I had a gift card and bought two of these from Mission Pipe Shop in San Jose. There was something about it in the display case that oozed quality and so I took a chance... VERY nice. Box pressed, medium to bold flavor, packed tight but not too tight, and was an absolute dream to draw. Padron Anniversary's are limited production so not easy to come by. To quote cigars.com:
This is the cigar upon which all others I've smoked will be measured, and so far nothing comes close.
Very nice cigar, medium strength, with a VERY good draw. Not as well packed as I like but the draw was just perfect. This isn't box pressed (my real weakness) but very good cigar just the same.
One of my favorite cigars. And truth be told, when I first fired one up I was not pleased. But that probably had to do with not storing them in a calibrated humidor. Once I put these in a controlled environment they became a cherished favorite. Box pressed and a little spicy, but they draw real well and have a weight to them that speaks quality. Remember - this is a house brand... but I think the house scored a game winner with this one.