The Hedonism of Cigars

Our excellent cigar feature writer; Lawrence Head, leads us into the world of cigar hedonism.

LawrenceThe world of hedonism is a realm of pleasure that can oh-so easily be too baffling for words. Gazing into the world of paisley dressing gowns, monogramming and high-brow cultural monologues through a veil of perplexed bafflement can always leave you feeling…unsettled. However there are two things which I feel are universally fascinating and will vociferously defend to the bitter end. With endless echelons of expertise and knowledge to amass and conquer piece by piece the world of whisky and cigars offers a passion of an all-consuming nature. I’d always assumed that if you ‘liked the taste of whisky’ then you just went and bought a bottle, that if you were a fan of cigars you found one that you liked, and that was that, that would be ‘your cigar’ for the rest of your life, your symbol. What a horrendous error, for within each there exists endless variety, depending on your mood, the time of day, what you’ve eaten and even who you’re with.

The most significant distinction within the cigar world is size, or more specifically ‘ring gauge’. This refers to the thickness of a cigar. As a general rule the slimmer cigars the stronger the taste. The tobacco burns hotter and so the flavour is fiercer. Whereas a cigar with a heavy, fat ring gauge is more complex. The next crucial lesson is the difference between a Cuban cigar, or ‘Habano’, and a ‘New World’ cigar (one created elsewhere, like the Dominican Republic or Nicaragua). A New World cigar’s flavours are thought of as linear, the flavours starting one way…and then continuing along this path in a sort of steady, trundling fashion. However, a Cuban is an entirely different story. You may have seen film-stars proudly tote a Cuban, and announce it loudly, letting everyone willing to listen know of its hallowed origin; the Mecca of cigars. I remember watching the character ‘Hell-boy’ in the eponymous film perform this self-satisfied routine. Let it be known there is a reason. The Cuban cigar is special because of the evolution of flavours. The aroma, the taste, the subtle nuances all change from start to finish, always leaving the palate guessing in a cascade of variety that provokes as much breathless anticipation as is possible when experiencing a whole new world of relaxation and contemplation.

A cigar timelessly popular for intrepid beginners is the ‘Epicure No. 2′, by ‘Hoyo de Monterrey’, (incidentally, Billy Connolly’s weapon of choice). Should you decide to dip your metaphorical toe in the opulent waters of cigar exploration then dip here, its heavy ring gauge means a complex weaving of roasting hazelnut and sweet almonds. Alternatively, should you favour more easily accessible flavours then the Romeo y Julieta, no. 2 is a staunch ally in the battle on stress, with strong, cedar and cocoa notes it never ceases to disappoint. So, take your first step down the pathway to blissful and radiant worlds of unexplored and unencumbered satisfaction, and look back in disdain at the times when you thought of cigars as a mouthful of bonfire.

Buy the Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No 2 here
Buy the Romeo y Juliet no. 2 here



  1. I’m sorry to say but once again the writer of this column seems to lack the necessary expertise and only have the minimum knowledge –not enough in any way to issue advice- of an amateur smoker.
    His reference on ring gauge and the notion that the “As a general rule the slimmer cigars the stronger the taste.” Is quite frankly ridicules and comes in direct contrast to any educated cigar lover professional or amateur.

    “10. Are there any guidelines when recommending Havana cigars to newcomers?
    Novices should start with lighter flavoured Havana brands like H.Upmann or Rafael Gonzalez for example. A slender ring gauge is also advised as the heavier gauged cigars offer fuller flavours, even within the same marque, which may prove too strong for the untrained palate.”

    The above extract is from the the Hunters & Frankau website for cigar funs

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