Posted by: The Prince of Whales | March 5, 2010

“Gentlemen, you may smoke”

King Edward VII may never have stepped foot in the Beer Garden of The Prince of Wales, but as Spring begins to ease out Winter, his words hit the spot  and its a fine place to smoke a cigar.

Towards last orders I often enjoy a cigar and sit with some pipe smoking friends outside under the patio heaters. Yes, yes I am the baby of this group at 49 and our average is well over 60, but all those wrinkles and grey hair are always diluted by a few younger cigarette smokers!

If you have never smoked a “proper” cigar, getting started can be pretty daunting. I remember my first adventure in cigar smoking: I was in my early twenties and working as Tour Guide in Switzerland.

Forget the jazz, try a cigar!

One day I took a party of Americans into Geneva and as they bought cuckoo clocks, I went to a rather fine tabacconist. Armed with a selection of about 10 different cigars, I waited until the evening’s work was done and then headed to the hotel room balcony overlooking the lights and lake at Montreux. Fantastic … the view that is. As far the cigars, I coughed like a bastard and had a sore throat for days! So the moral of that one is don’t overdo it!

Now we can’t offer the same view at The Prince, but here’s a few tips on starting out with Cigars.

1. Plan your session as cigars don’t keep much more than a couple of days outside of a humidor (they dry out)  and it takes a good hour to smoke a decent, big cigar. Perhaps plan a session over a weekend, trying a different smoke each evening.

Also never put out a cigar thinking you can smoke the rest tomorrow. Once it’s out its over and will never taste the same. It will taste terrible the next day.

2. Go to a good tabacconist and get some advice. Buy just two or three cigars at first.

3. Try a selection of mild to medium bodied cigars, keeping to under 5 inches in length.

4. On the thickness of the cigar, this is measured in 64th’s of an inch and is called the ring guage.  Avoid the really fat cigars on the first few smokes and tackle something a bit easier until you are confident. The drawing on the right is not to scale but you can see how this works.

5. Obviously Cuban cigars are famous and Havana is synominous with the finest cigars. Expect to pay over £10 for a good Havana and ask your tabbacconists to recommend some mild to medium smokes. Of course there is plenty of choice and some excellent quality in cigars made outside of Cuba. As a rough guide, this table below may help. As often with these things, there are exceptions – some Cuban cigars are quite mild in my view and some Dominican’s are fairly full bodied – but as a general guide, it may be useful.

An ideal second session might be to try the Te -Amo World Series Cigars. Now this range is not Cuban but offers a selection of Robusto (5″ x 54 ring guage) size cigars from Honduras, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and a Cuban Seed. The Robusto is a classic cigar size that has become very popular over the last 10 years, offering a serious smoke without going over the top. They will give you a variety of tastes for about £7 each – good value for a quality cigar.  The variety of tabaccos across this range, with different colours and flavours, give an insight into the rich choice available to cigar lovers.

If you are local to Birmingham, you can buy these cigars from Hollingsworths, an excellent tabacconists in the arcade opposite Snow Hill Station. Mention The Prince of Wales and I am sure they will treat you well.

In my next blog, we will go into more detail about selecting, cutting and smoking cigars.

Strength Country of Origin
Light Bodied or Mild Jamaica
Dominican Republic
Puerto Rico
United States
Medium Bodied Mexico

Honduras- (Med-Full)


Full Bodied Honduras
Costa Rica

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