Published Spring 2016
Frank Robertson

Cigars can be hard to understand because there are so many different types, strengths, sizes and price points.  What makes this cigar better than that cigar? Why is it commonly assumed that Cuban cigars are better than other cigars? Let me attempt to answer these questions (and explain cigars in general) in a different context, one that you may wrap your head around a little easier. For a lot of guys, the only thing they think of more than cigars....are women.  So for the sake of argument, let’s think of cigars as our “better half,” our lady friends!  Like cigars, they come in every size, shape, color and strength - so you can rest assured that the perfect match is out there somewhere.  

Now that we have shifted our vantage point, lets look at the same questions through our new lens. What makes one woman better than the other?  Short answer...nothing!! Every single one has something beautiful and unique to offer; cigars are the same way. You may gravitate toward one type or another, but all are equally “good”!  I may like “spicy and bold” and you may enjoy “sweet and smooth” - the point is that you find what you love and enjoy its company until your heart is overflowing with bliss!  If you choose well, it will leave you feeling incredible - however, if you make the wrong choice, you may find yourself dry heaving in the fetal position.  In picking a great cigar, it’s vital to follow your instincts, or the advice of a professional tobacconist.

Why is it assumed that Cubans are the best?  Cuban cigars can be thought of as a Swedish runway model. You know what I’m talking about, the one that you could live 10,000 lifetimes and you would still never have a chance!  Simply, people want what they can’t have. And if you’re ever “lucky” enough to get one, it’s not long until you realize she’s over priced and over hyped - in fact, she’s crazy! Don’t misunderstand me, there are some good ones out there, but generally speaking...go with what you can readily get. It’s often a better experience.

Let’s look at the most common wrapper leaves (the outer leaf of the cigar, where you get about 30 percent of the body and flavor.):

Oscuro – (Almost black and very oily) Think of oscuro cigars as a female olympic power lifter, incredibly strong, yet sweet, but if your not prepared for it...she’ll knock you on your tail end - feeling a little less manly!  She pairs well with a full bodied whisky or dark beer.

Maduro – (Dark brown with a visible oil sheen) Maduros are like a stay-at-home mom.  Soccer practice, laundry, grocery shopping, sick kids....the strength and complexity are mind boggling!  Then, just when you think she’s reached her limit, she pulls a surprise out of nowhere...leaving you awestruck. Enjoy a Maduro with a single malt scotch or malbec wine.

Colorado – (Reddish-brown hue) Think of these as a lady on the Hollywood red carpet.  Beautiful, elegant and just looks rich.  They will rise to any occasion and almost never let you down.  Snuggle up close to one of these during a sunset with a shiraz, and you’ll swear heaven is just a step away.  

Natural – (Light brown color) Natural wrapped cigars are your sweet Carolina southern belles. Light in body, smells like a dream and her company is effortless. Enjoy her companionship on a front porch swing with a little sweet tea or bourbon. 

Clairo – (Light tan or green, often thin and brittle) The clairo is the gal your buddies set you up with on a blind date.  Not the “easiest on the eyes” but after a little time is invested, her company is actually quite enjoyable.  This unexpected delight pairs well with a chilled pinot grigio or light beer.   

I hope the next time you find yourself staring down the barrel of a humidor with dozens of options, then you let your instinct guide you.  Remember what I always say, “The mind will mislead you, but the heart seldom does!” Stay smoky my friends!

Laura Olsen

Houston, TX