Many travellers, who find their way to evocative Cuba, come for the music, the dancing, the culture and of course… the cigars. It’s hard to come to Cuba without getting a whiff of the unmistakable scent of freshly rolled cigars and cigar smoke trailing out of clubs and pubs, or even just from those sat on street corners, a locally made cigar between their lips.

There is a reason that Cuban cigars are considered some of the most coveted in the world and this is not just because of the controversy tied in with the Cuban cigar ban still lingering in the United States. Cuban cigars are coveted because they are in a class by themselves. Most cigar aficionados will confirm, and American cigar lovers will sigh as they admit: cigars from Cuba are something special. They would be special even without a US ban.

Even if you don’t want to smoke a cigar while in Cuba, there is something tantalising about the flavours and smells of the unlit cigar and you’ll likely enjoy the scent. Try lifting a fresh cigar to your nose. The smell is intoxicating.

If while enjoying a holiday in Cuba you decide to try a cigar for the first time or to purchase a few for later, or for friends, there are a few things to keep in mind: length, colour, and diameter are all part of the flavour of the cigar.

Length Matters

The length of the cigar affects the smoke. Look for a cigar that is at least five inches long. Cooler smoke is better.

Colour is Key

The colour of the cigar indicates its strength:  The colours range from a light green to yellow shade (Double Claro), to a light tan (Claro), light brown (Colorado Claro), reddish to dark brown (Colorado), very dark brown, almost black (Maduro), to black (Obscuro). If you’re new to cigars, a mild to medium cigar or the lighter coloured selections will be best.

Diameter & Diversity

Cigars diameter is measured in rings (1/64 of an inch). The thicker the cigar, the wider its diameter, and the more likely it is to contain various tobacco blends. A 46 ring is recommended. This will ensure the taste is mellow and pleasing; additionally, it will burn cooler. You don’t want your cigar to burn too hot. Corona, Robusto or Churchill are a good place to start.

Let it Shine

Keep an eye out for the shine of the cigar. Shine demonstrates good aging. Avoid cigars with lumps or bumps. You want to see the veins running smoothly for the whole length of the cigar, texture should be consistent.  Also, a bloom or fine dust forms on naturally aged cigars. This is different from mold. Keep an eye out for this.

So whatever you decide to do while in Cuba, if cigars are on your mind and you’re looking to try a few or pick out some great gifts to bring home, remember when it comes to great Cuban cigars look at the colour, diameter, length, and shine. Expensive does not always equal high quality.

K Newey

K Newey is a copywriter typing away in the South of England with dreams of Cuba holidays, rum, music and cigars, though it is her husband who is the true cigar connoisseur.