Everyone starts somewhere. And if you are going to make a move to Cuban cigars, you might want to take it easy. Not that Cuban cigars are stronger than any other cigars, whoever said that to you was either lying or really didn’t know. Apart from that, when we are beginners, we are immediately attracted to big and bold cigars, because we think that smoking a cigar is a symbol of status and success. And it really isn’t.
Smoking cigars is much more about relaxation than it is about success or money. Enjoying a cigar has nothing to do with the size of your wallet or how big is your house or job. It is about friendship, a sense of community and respect for others.
In this article, we are visiting our Top 5 Cuban cigars for beginners, giving you hints to what you can find in each other and why we think they are safe choices for you that are starting.
1. Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No 2
This is the cigar that 99% of retailers and aficionados will recommend you. And there is a very solid reason for that: it is hands down the best beginner cigar in the universe. Of course, all this bravado is an exaggeration on our side, but it serves the purpose of focusing you on what’s really a very good cigar to start your journey. Not only is it super balanced, packed with flavor and borderline delicious, it will also serve as a benchmark for future cigars.
The Hoyo de Monterrey is one of the most sold cigars in the world today and it is been like that for some decades, due to its popular blend of premium Cuban tobacco. Every experienced cigar aficionado has (at least) one Epicure No 2 in the humidor somewhere, because whenever you feel indecisive about what to smoke, you will always feel inclined to pick an Epicure No 2 to save your day. It is always the right decision.
This cigar comes in a Robusto size — 5.88″x50 — with a light body but packed with flavor and sophistication. It also has a solid consistency from box to box (which is a rare thing when it comes to Cuban cigars). The gentle flavors of cocoa, cinnamon, and vanilla are just to die for and its smoke has a creamy complex texture from the moment you light it up.
2. Quai D’Orsay No 50
A lot of hype has been around this cigar lately (just for future purposes, we are writing this in 2019). The Quai D’Orsay brand has a great rich background history but they were asleep for quite some time. The story goes back to the early 1970s when the brand was created to fulfill France’s luxury-driven high-society lifestyle. Quai D’Orsay was more of a regional brand for France and Switzerland that almost got extinct but Habanos took it to the limelight again with two very good cigars: the No 50 and the No 54.
The No 50 is a short Robusto — 4.70″x46 — and the immediate image you have is a light-brown wrapper that has very few to no prominent veins (big veins on the filler and binder can make the cigar taste bitter and can also plug a cigar to the point of it becoming unsmokable).
This cigar is by no means the best cigar you will have but you’ll soon find out that it is one that you will always have in your humidor. If a friend that doesn’t smoke shows up, give him a Quai D’Orsay No 50. If your friend doesn’t like it, just put it down, it is not the most expensive cigar in the world. In fact, being a long-filler cigar from Cuba, it is one of the cheapest.
3. Cohiba Siglo I
We are now entering the big-boys club. Cohiba is one of the most well-known brands in the world (one of the most counterfeited too, so be careful. Check out our Authentication Program and see why you’re safe with us).
This cigar has a special place on this list but is by no means a light cigar. At least not as light as the previous two. At this stage, you are still on your beginner phase but your taste is starting to evolve and suddenly a light cigar is just not enough for you. How do you know it’s time to switch to a light-medium bodied cigar? It is easy: if you smoke one Epicure No 2 and you immediately want to light up another one, it’s time.
The Cohiba Siglo I is a short cigar — 4.0″x40 — and once you light it up, you’ll know you are into something very special. That typical Cohiba flavor profile hits you right from the start. Coffee, vanilla, cocoa are the most probable profiles you are going to get and if you don’t, there’s nothing wrong with it as your palate is still developing. If you start feeling a bit light-headed, stop. There is nothing wrong with putting down a cigar when you don’t feel like smoking it anymore. If you force it, it may ruin your experience forever and you’ll never pick up a cigar again.
4. H. Upmann Half Coronas
The king of short cigars. With its dimensions being 3.50″x44 you’ll take around 30 minutes from start to finish. For a short cigar, it is very balanced and the amount of flavor you get from it is amazing.
H. Upmann is known for its light to medium strength and that is exactly what you’ll get with this half corona which makes it perfect for any time of the day. You can expect some floral notes and even a bit of ripe strawberry on the very beginning but it rapidly evolves to cream and coffee, making it a very easy cigar if you are just starting your journey.
In the morning, combine it with a nice black coffee or even a cappuccino and you will spend the best 30 minutes of your day right there. Plus, they also come in a very convenient tin of 5 cigars, perfect for every day carry.
5. Por Larranaga Panetelas
Let’s just get this out of the way: this is a short filler cigar. We understand if you skip this paragraph and read the next one. However, let us tell you why you should keep reading.
This is a short-filler cigar with a bigger body and soul than some long-fillers out there. At 5.00″x38, this panetela is a glorious short cigar. The burn is always razor-sharp because the ash does not hold on to it that long and, in this case, this is a good thing. Another good thing is the price. For example, at €79 you can get a box of 25 cigars. That’s €3 per cigar and you have to admit that for a Cuban, it is an incredible budget cigar.
Now, will it be as good as a Partagas Series D No 6? Of course not. But it will be head-to-head with the H. Upmann Half Coronas. The notes you can expect for it are cedar, a bit of salted caramel and a lot of earth and thyme. The band of Por Larrañaga is all golden and this brand is not that well-know and for that matter, it is a great conversation starter and cigars are just the right excuse to start a good conversation.