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Discussion: How Did You Get Into Cigars?

Discussion: How Did You Get Into Cigars?

Happy Monday, folks!  

One of the things that I like to ask our Interviewees is how they got into the cigar business.  It’s always interesting when they include how they were introduced to cigars in the first place, which brings me to today’s question of the week:  

How did YOU get into cigars?

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I remember my first cigar moment like it was yesterday, although I can’t tell you exactly when or what it was. Sometime between late 2007 and early 2009, a friend invited us to a birthday party for one of his kids.  Neither of us really knew what we were doing and looking back on it, I’m surprised I picked up the hobby. 

We ended up cutting our cigars with a knife in the kitchen, and not the way that makes any sort of sense at all.  Yep, we used a serrated edge and completely demolished the poor things.  I remember holding the wrapper together with my hand while I smoked it, casually spitting out pieces of tobacco like a pro. 

How Claudio Sgroi got into cigars

This guy had a very interesting beginning with cigars.  Read his interview

It was a windy day, and all we had was a BIC on-hand since he was a cigarette smoker.  Needless to say, I had trouble keeping the cigar lit and felt like it was the most troublesome task in the world.  And come to think of it, that’s why I still smoke cigars instead of a pipe – it’s just easier. 

I’ll probably never know what the cigar brand was since they were unbanded.  The part that really stuck with me, though, was just how relaxing it was to sit outside with a friend and chat about life as the cigar slowly turned to ash.   

A couple weeks afterward, I found myself in a regular poker game and discovered that cigars were perfectly suited for cards (and whiskey).  I had a little beer stop about 30 minutes away that stocked a Honduran brand amidst a shelf of ACIDs and some dollar sticks.  To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever smoked as many of one cigar as I did that Honduran brand which I can’t even remember any longer.  

That’s my story, what’s yours?  

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Comments
4/15/2019 1:37 PM
My father always smoked cigars, so grew up with them. Started smoking in college with some friends and then got into more complex cigars after college!
4/15/2019 1:52 PM
Have always been interested in the alchemy of transforming natural materials into a finished luxury item. Wine, tea, coffee, tobacco. All steeped in rich history.

The concept of this hooked me right off the bat and I began to dabble into cigars. I became heavily indoctrinated after a study abroad trip to Cuba. My first night was spent with a Monte number 2 and a mojito at Hotel Nacional. Spent the next few weeks exploring Havana and getting out to Pinar del Rio. After that trip I read all I could and smoke all I could furthering my obsession into the world of cigars.
4/15/2019 2:03 PM
I was gifted an Acid Kuba Kuba and bought an extra to take out to my parents place in the Texas country. My dad and I sat back with a beer and just looked out at at nature and talked. I found it incredibly relaxing and jumped into the hobby shortly after. Then, I joined the SBC VIP and haven't been able to control myself since...thanks.
4/15/2019 2:34 PM
I was never around cigars until I was about 16-17 when a customer at my dads body shop would come in, always smoking machine mades. I thought it was neat, but never had any real interest. Then, kinda out of the blue, myself and a college buddy talked about it and we went out and got those same cigars and smoked a few (they weren’t good). Then we decided, we’ll go to the local cigar shop and get some premiums. From then on, we started a Thursday night ritual of smoking that lasted a couple years. It fizzled out for a couple years. I hadn’t smoked one in about a year and a half when my wife and I bought our house in July of 2018 and when moving, the old humidor, with a couple in it, got put a book shelf. Her and I smoked a celebratory one and that was enough to rekindle the flame for the hobby.
4/15/2019 2:39 PM
About 4 years ago my wife and I went over her friend's house for dinner. When we got there her husband was on the deck smoking a cigar and he offered me one. I dont remember what it was but I really enjoyed it. A few weeks later I got the $20 humidor and 10 pack starter set from CI.
4/15/2019 2:54 PM
Many years ago, while taking and teaching courses abroad, I walked by a shiny and air-conditioned bar during the heat of summer. Now this summer was typical for the area, and it was roughly 100ºF and around 98% humidity. Shade, wind, or ice cubes were an irresistible lure to drive me indoors. Drawn in by the comfortable seating and the climate control, the bartender was my next step to finding relaxation in this establishment.

I asked for a neat local whiskey with a side of icy cold water. After finishing off my first glass of water I realized I was not in any ordinary bar. The walls were adorn with cuban regalia—beautiful momentos of regimes past and present. And then I saw it: The walk-in humidor. Glorious and glass enclosed; cedar and grain; cigars and more cigars.

The drinks weren't expensive and I had found a nice spot to avoid the stress and responsibilities in life. Why not try one? The hostess asked me my preferences and I was honest with my unfamiliarity. She described most cigars by the profile of the clientele that chose them, rather than the cigar itself. She finally got to perhaps one of the most famous cuban cigars today: The Montecristo No. 2. Torpedo in shape, milky chocolate in color, the classic look of the band and cigar just held an allure whispering for me to pick it up, take in its aromatic notes, and toast its foot. But I get ahead of myself now and in the past.

The hostess then explained how to cut, light, and experience the cigar, but it was all blown right over my head so I asked her to do the first two steps for me. I watched as she unsheathed Cohiba branded scissors, in their weird shape, wiped them down—so they would be as shiny as possible to cut better—and cut all three caps off the cigar. Next, she grabbed a behemoth contraption from the table, and soon I realized it was a table-top lighter with four flames and tips. I remember distinctively recalling her use of the foreign phrase describing the lighting process as lightly toasting, but what we had here was much closer to a full on incineratory charring. Nonetheless I began seeing the cherry warm and the leaves take heat. Finally, she handed me the cigar and asked me to take a few puffs while she "toasted" the foot, a mere six inches from my face.

I inhaled, and of course I almost died coughing. I had and still have never had a cigarette, so the whole smoke particulates in my mouth, throat, and lungs was completely new at such densities. After a few more tries I found the technique to be quite similar to using a straw, slowing creating low pressure chamber inside of my mouth and drawing the high pressure air outside in, through the embers and coals, into my oral cavity. Like the neat whiskey, I let it sit for a second or five as the flavors began seeping through the oral mucosa and tangoing with my olfactory. Cream. PEPPER. Almonds. MORE PEPPER. HOT (temperature)! I was smoking far too quickly, and it was so incredibly peppery and burning the tongue with the heat of an overpuffed cigar. I learned real quick that slowing down make the flavors calm down, and also reduced the likeliness of burning my own tongue.

I bought a few more to bring back to my place, and I shared those the next night with a friend with a few bottles on the rooftop. Something about an empty sky, decent cigars, and excellent whiskey made the great company even more amazing. Nowadays as I power through legal this and law that, it's often a battle of cramming as much efficiency and content into each .1 hour. So when I can find the time to sit back, toast a foot, and flirt with a smoldering cigar, I enjoy the peace and relaxation it brings.
4/15/2019 3:18 PM
Started when I was 18 and me and a buddy just went into a local cigar shop and picked up some Kahluas and started making it a nightly ritual.
4/15/2019 3:34 PM
I first experienced cigar smoking around my father and I always loved the smell of it. I started smoking Cigars around the age of 16 or so. Cubans were all I could get because i was stationed overseas due to my father being in the military. I enjoyed them whenever I could, mostly at bars that would allow it and outside beer gardens. I really got into cigar smoking a lot more once I got back to the states in my 20's and found a whole different world of flavors, thanks to Dominican, Nicaraguan, Honduran, etc.
4/15/2019 4:06 PM
My wife actually got me started. She thought it might reduce my stress level and was cheaper than therapy. She was half right, it’s not cheaper than therapy.
4/15/2019 5:07 PM
My Father had always smoke cigars when I was growing up.
Only thing I remember about them was they were green and stunk when he smoked them.  Fast forward 30 years or so and I started bowhunting for Elk fall of 2006.  A couple years later, my hunting buddy brought some cigars along for the hunting trip.  Don't remember what they were but might have been some AJ's.  From there, things just spiraled....  :-)
4/15/2019 8:32 PM
Went into a J&R cigar while at work and saw a spectacular selection... so I asked for a good starter....
4/16/2019 7:41 AM
I grew up with one of those uncles that your parents weren't entirely fond of, you know, the uncle that would teach you how to cuss, always smelled like smoke and let you The Matrix in the man cave when you were 10. Once I turned 18, he and I went to the smoke shop and I picked out the coolest looking one I could find. It was a Romeo y Julieta and came in a silver tube. SO COOL. We went back and smoked on the front porch, it was awesome.
4/16/2019 8:22 AM
Growing up, one of my friend's dad was into them.  A few of us friends thought it was cool, tried it, and really enjoyed em.  We've used it as a way to stay together, converse, and bond ever since!
4/16/2019 9:24 AM
Earlier this year, I was celebrating the birthday of a Cuban coworker/friend with a group of people when we were on a business trip, and naturally we decided to smoke some stogies. I've never smoked before but the experience was something to remember--how we picked out the cigars, punched them, and enjoyed them while drinking and listening to the song "yo no se manana" on the cold winter night. It's the feeling I've been chasing ever since.
4/16/2019 9:44 AM
I got into cigars after visiting family in the Philippines. I came across a cigar rolling demonstration in a mall and was instantly hooked.
4/16/2019 1:46 PM
Around 8 years ago, my uncle who just recently passed away gave me a gallon sized ziplock bag stuffed with all kinds of random smokes. I spent that summer burning through the bag and the rest was history. I'm forever grateful for my uncle and for him introducing me into the world of cigars. Every day now, I make sure to smoke one for him.
4/17/2019 5:16 PM
1999. I was a sophomore in college, visiting a small city in Honduras on a spring break mission trip.  There was a general store near our hostel that sold cigars in a tiny corner.  Unlabeled.  They might have been good.  They might have been bad.  I don’t know.  I brought some home to share with friends and the rest is history.
4/18/2019 3:28 AM
I used to golf with my father and his buddies and he would smoke acid blondies, that's how I was first exposed to cigars.

But what really got me into them was when a buddy of mine who smokes wanted to smoke with me, at first I said no. But then I watched an episode of Louder With Crowder where Dennis Prager was guest and they talked about cigars for an hour, that sparked my interest.

So not long after I find myself at Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City with my family, and I stop into a cigar bar to pick up a couple sticks. I told the guy how I was new to it and wanted to try something lighter and something heavier to see what I like more. He then suggested i purchase the Perdomo 10th Anniversary Champagne and the Oliva Serie V Melanio, i smoked them that night on the porch at the hotel.

I still remember the singular moment when I "got it". It was night, clear skies, bright moon, countless stars and I was just admiring the beauty of Gods creation. While smoking the Melanio, relaxing on the porch as my family slept... I tasted f-ing chocolate!

That was my moment. I will cherish it and chase it till the end of days.
4/18/2019 10:00 AM
I vividly remember the smell of cedar and earth wafting from an intriguing little store filled a few leather chairs, a large walk-in humidor (as I would later learn to call it), and a serious looking man behind a long wooden counter. His manner warmed immediately upon my entry into his little shop, and he accurately gauged my inexperience with a few pointed questions. I was encouraged to luxuriate in the aromas and ambiance that first drew me to his corner of this shopping mall, and I left my first tobacconist with a few sticks and the beginnings of a lifelong hobby and obsession.
4/19/2019 7:30 AM
Nothing to exciting here..Back in the mid 90s I saw a flyer in a magazine selling cigars out of Tampa. So I figured I'd give em a shot and got a box of rum soaked ones for around $12. Took me six months to smoke that box (I still have that empty box on my work bench) I do remember them kinda drying out near the end...Go figure
4/21/2019 8:40 AM
Congrats, Michael!  And thanks to everyone else for joining the discussion : )