Becoming a Cigar Expert: What You Need to Know
As cigar enthusiasts, it is an absolute pleasure learning everything about the Cuban cigar world. Yes, a cigar is simply something to fire up and smoke - however, the topic goes way deeper than that. Around the world, there are many cigar ‘experts’ or ‘sommeliers’ that know the subject inside-out - how cigars are made, the types of tobacco, tasting cigars and more. If you are interested in becoming a real cigar aficionado, then there are several ways you can learn about the craft. Below, are some of the ways you can improve your cigar knowledge.
KEEPING A CIGAR DIARY
For those who want to improve their Cigar-tasting skills, then keeping a cigar diary is the best way to document and keep a note of all the cigars that you have tried. To begin using a diary, what you can do is take a cigar and start analysing it. For instance, taking the Cohiba Piramides Extra, you can observe its shape as a torpedo-shaped vitola, as well as check smoothness and colour of its wrapper, and perhaps even inspect the aromas of the cigar. Soon after, you can fire it up and give it its first puff. What notes can you taste? Does it remind you of anything? For those who aren’t experienced in tasting or smoking cigars in general, it could be challenging to start identifying any lingering hints in the cigar. But we would like to remind you that it is part of your practice. By keeping a journal, it can help you remember everything you’ve tried, as well a great journal to compare each stick.
Cigar Notebook (Source: Canada Humidor)
If you want to become a real cigar expert, then identifying cigars and their characteristics are vital. At some point, you should be able to recognise brands, the type of vitola, what leaf is used, the ring-gauge and the construction of the cigar. For cigar sommeliers, this is an essential skill to have, because you should be able to give recommendations on cigars, as well as providing useful information about the characteristics of each stick of tobacco. A great way to practice identification is by visiting a Cuban Cigar Shop, or your friend’s Cigar Collection and asking them to lay out about 20 cigars for you to try and recognise. The more you can remember, the better. For extra merit, you can also drop a few interesting facts about why the cigar was made, and the inspiration behind it, especially if you’re presenting a Limited Edition Cigar.
As a cigar expert, you should have an idea on how to pair cigars together with foods or beverages. Many times, cigar sommeliers have to offer recommendations of Whiskey and Cigar Pairings for customers. Therefore a prior knowledge of both the beverage and the cigar is essential, especially when the customer may expect you to explain why the combination works well together. Consequently, it all comes down to the decision whether you should pair a full-bodied cigar with a strong whiskey, or a stogie with floral notes with a light beverage. At the end of the day, the customer is the one that relies on your knowledge. Try not to be biased on what you like or don’t like, but make a general statement of what the
Whiskey and Cigar.
EXPERIENCE IN THE CIGAR INDUSTRY
It’s always worth getting real working experience from the cigar industry. Whether it’s working for a premium cigar shop, cigar lounge, or interviewing prominent figures. Being hands-on with the industry itself is highly beneficial. Through experience, you can retrieve contacts and gain inside information on everything Habanos.
KEEPING UP TO DATE
Undoubtedly, the cigar world is very dynamic. For someone aspiring to be a cigar expert, we recommend you keep up to date with the latest releases, politics or just simply refreshing your cigar-lighting skills. Every year, there are always new regular productions, limited editions and vintages to be aware of. On top of that, there are many events like Amigos de Partagas or Festival Del Habanos to get involved in. And, there is always some controversy happening to anything tobacco-related. In terms of general cigar information, it’s still worth reading articles from Cuban Cigar Blogs or practising your cutting and lighting skills.
If you want to stay up-to-date with everything associated with Cuban cigars, check out our Cuban Cigar Blog.
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