Pulled out a Cohiba Corona yesterday. Enjoyed it on a trip to the dog park.
Last evening I enjoyed a Bolivar RE release from Greece which was very approachable for a young Boli. Very tame compared to the Boli's of the early 2000's.
"The most futile and disastrous day seems well spent when it is reviewed through the blue, fragrant smoke of a Havana Cigar"
I don't know if anybody here smokes Acids but I just bought a tin of the Krush Conneticut. They're pretty good. I love the Acid Kuba Kuba's but rarely have the patience for a normal size cigar. So the Krush little cigars are great for me.
Acids... I would say they are to cigars as Jack Daniels Honey is to bourbon. They have their market segment, but few enthusiasts hold them in high regard.
You are right, the number of brands (and combinations of tobacco) can be very overwhelming. But like bourbon, there are certain traits you can look for to help narrow things down, depending on what you like.
For example (And these are slightly oversimplified)
CT. Shade (or "shade grown) - these blond color wrappers generally will indicate a more mild flavored cigar. They will impart a more silky smooth taste, that is the best known and best selling in the US. Macanudo and (Domincan not Cuban branded) Cohiba are probably the best known examples of this type. I would equate this with Maker's Mark to a bourbon drinker. Simple, inoffensive, but not much else.
Sun Grown - typically darker than the Shade Grown, these vary a lot in taste. Best known for this is the Ashton Virgin Sun Grown, because they are almost always excellent (and generally cost considerably more), this can be a very hit or miss area (other than the Ashtons). If you want to get into Sun Growns, I always suggest buying sampler packs if available to you to try out several different brands. This is like going through Stagg, WTRB, Handy and other powerful Bourbons. When good, they are great, when not, well, you can wind up with nothing more than a lot of burn in the back of your palate. As I said, the Ashton VSG is probably the best (and best known) of this type, but there are plenty of other (and less expensive) options.
Maduro - Usually a rich dark, chocolate color, the flavor is usually richer than a sun grown, but also smoother and less "spicy" (Whether less spicy is good or bad of course depends on taste). I could go on for hours on selecting different types of Maduros (but won't... your welcome), but suffice it to say the darker and more oily looking the wrapper appears to be, the richer the taste. This is along the lines of an ORVW, or Knob Creek, but also Jim Beam Black and Evan Williams. Generally good tasting, but the richness varies and age definitely improves them. Too many to give a "typical" taste to a single or just a few cigars. La Gloria Cubana, Arturo Fuente, Padron are certainly some brands that are always trustworthy though.
Cameroon - Color varies on these rarer wrappers, thought they are almost alway lighter than a maduro. They impart a sweet taste to the cigar, less rich, but definitely smooth. They are also quite fragile (to roll as well as care for in your humidor). They generally cost more, and except for some off brands that use thickly veined wrappers ("seconds" for lack of a better term), are generally excellent cigars. This is like the wheaters bourbon category of cigars. There are a few less aged cigars that would be like a Weller Special Reserve, but it also moves up the scale to Pappy like status (and price) for some of the very good. Best known in this category would probably be CAO Cameroon and the Arturo Fuente Hemigway line.
Finally there is Ecuador Sumatra - this actually fits into several categories depending on how it is aged and grown, you can find the standard broadleaf which is closer to a Sun Grown (and sometimes is) all the way to a Dark Maduro, They are spicy and tasty wrappers. These are my personal favorite. It is not as expensive as a Cameroon and not as boring as a CT Shadegrown. Paring this up with a rich flavored, heavier bourbon (For me that is Knob Creek Single Barrel, though I can see WT Rare Breed or Saz working well here).
There is of course more options, and the binder as well as the filler is what makes them different, but this should give you a decent base to go into a tobacco shop and feel less overwhelmed with the options.
Hey thanks for the write-up, Jay! I'm familiar with Connecticut Shade and Maduro wrappers. Thinking back through the few cigars I've smoked I probably prefer the Maduro. I'll have to look for Cameroon and Sumatra next time I go to the store. And I'll check out a few of those brands (particularly Arturo Fuente).
I also don't have a great deal of knowledge in terms of what I smoke. I usually read a bit and pick up a few cigars that I keep in the humidor until I pull them out (usually on a whim). I usually equate the light wrappers with mild, non-offensive smokes (and for that reason rarely buy them myself, but sometimes get them as gifts). The Cohiba I had the other day was rich and spicy and full of flavor; I even said to my wife that it was the most impressive light cigar I'd had to date.
I've had 2 Ashton VSGs in my brief cigar smoking life (1.5 years or so). Neither of them tickled my fancy. They were both decent enough smokes but not enough to get me to pick up another one. I generally stick to dark wrappers and look for coffee/espresso/chocolate flavors, but I also like the leather/nut/oak character I've had in a few lighter cigars. Are there any combinations that bring together some light character (say leather and oak) with some dark coffee/espresso? I'd also be interested in some dark character with spicy notes in it if anyone has recommendations.
Any recommendations from you guys on a decent, small/medium humidor?