If we had based our early cigar purchases solely on the reviews in Cigar Aficionado, we may never have started smoking cigars. All their highly rated cigars seem to be nicotine powerhouses with the potential to level any newbie cigar smoker. To understand why this is so, we must remember that the reviewers at Cigar Aficionado smoke cigars all day and night, and have built up a tolerance to nicotine. Additionally, strong tobacco tends to have a more intense flavor and today’s cigar makers are pushing the envelope on both these fronts. There now seems to be a competition among cigar makers to create the strongest, most flavorful cigars possible. This has resulted in cigars of extraordinary flavor, but of unprecedented strength (nicotine levels). Seasoned cigar smokers can appreciate this level of cigar making, and the resultant positive reviews reflect this appreciation. But smoking super strong cigars can sometimes feel like work.
All of us have different cigar smoking tastes, but we all smoke cigars for the same reason: to give us pleasure. But smoking strong cigars is part of being an aficionado. We seek out highly rated cigars and smoke them in an analytical fashion, taking mental notes of flavor characteristics and construction quality. These are the kinds of smokers who benefit the most from the Cigar Aficionado ratings, as we look forward to discovering new cigars of extraordinary flavor. But smoking a powerhouse cigar can make us feel…well…awful. Yet we come back to these powerhouse cigars time and time again. Are we gluttons for punishment? I don’t think so. We are just adventurous cigar lovers looking for a new experience. Sometimes there is a small price to pay for being on the cutting edge of cigar trends.
On the flip side is the cigar smoker who smokes for one purpose only: relaxation. These smokers don’t care about cigar ratings, and seek cigars recommended by smokers with similar tastes. And when it comes right down to it, aren’t all smokers looking for a pleasurable experience? If a cigar makes us work, how enjoyable can it be?
Benjamin Franklin recommends that we experience everything in moderation. He was sure on to something. Smoking strong cigars can be stimulating but there is also a time for sitting back and relaxing with a cigar in hand. Luckily, mild cigars have also benefited from advances in cigar making and these cigars are no longer mild at the expense of flavor. Sometimes it’s simply nice to smoke for pleasure, rather than for the experience. Yet mild cigars never seem to get their due. They rarely rate well, if rated at all, and bloggers tend to gravitate towards the stronger, cutting edge cigars.
At this point I would like to herald the beauty and benefits of mild, yet tasty cigars and give them a voice amidst the din of the strong cigar movement. There is a time and place to sit back and relax with a cigar, even for an aficionado. Sometimes we study cigars at the expensive of simply enjoying them.
Here are some recommendations for mild cigars that don’t sacrifice flavor:
Alec Bradley American Classic
Ave Maria (AJ Fernandez)
CAO L’Anniversaire Cameroon
Sol Cubano Cuban Cabinet
La Palina Classic
Your additional suggestions are welcome in the comments section.