Cigars are incredibly diverse, so selecting the one that’s perfect for you requires knowledge of its varied features. While our first article explored the difference in cigar sizes, this next instalment of our Cigar 101 series looks into one of the most important components of your cigar; strength.


It is important to make the distinction that the lightness or darkness of a cigar has nothing to do with strength. Although a myth still perpetuated by many, the truth is that the cigar blend will be the determining factor when it comes to strength. Strength can be described as the intensity of the cigar, or how much it ‘hits’ you in regards to the content of tobacco.
When we smoke a cigar, we experience its strength through an increase in the respiratory rate or in the dilation of the blood vessels. This helps you distinguish and savour the different types of strength. Everyone is different, so everyone will experience it differently; perhaps as a light-headed feeling or even a mild euphoria. Strength is a matter of personal preference, so you will be the one deciding whether you prefer milder, medium or fuller cigar strengths. Do not tie yourself to just one type, however, as that can prevent you from experimenting with the, literally, thousands of cigars out there – and means you might just miss out on some of the finest.


Most smokers start with mild cigars. For beginners to the cigar world, starting out with this type can allow you to build-up your palate. Even if you are indeed experienced and have been smoking cigars for many years, starting the evening with a mild strength can help your palate and taste buds become more accustomed to the tobacco and, therefore, enjoy an increase in intensity. For example, the Rafael Gonzalez Perla has an intensity of 1 out of 5, which makes it a mild cigar that is easy to appreciate and perfect for beginners. The strength of the cigar will not affect any other elements, such as taste, which has a beautiful underlying earthy quality. This new release is ideal for those who require taste without strength.


Once you have experimented with mild strengths and believe that you are ready for stronger cigars, medium intensities are the next step. Of course, this does not mean you cannot try full strengths instead – it does mean, however, that your palate has more time to get used to the rise in cigar intensity. This can also help you to avoid strength overload, as well as to appreciate the rush that comes from smoking a strong cigar. Finding the cigar strength that you feel most comfortable with is important, so there’s nothing like experimenting with several cigars until you hit the sweet spot. A great example of a medium strength cigar is the Oliva Serie V Melanio Petit Corona, with a 3 out of 5 intensity. The complexity of flavours and balanced earth and cedar tones are not fazed by the level of strength, which means you can appreciate this fantastic smoke without worrying about missing out on other elements.


Stepping up to full strength cigars should be a careful process. After all, if you are continuously smoking strong cigars you will occasionally ‘hit a ceiling’ and will be unable to pull out more flavour from the cigar. So, carrying on smoking mild or medium cigars while occasionally indulging in a full strength one can help the tar and nicotine to dissipate more easily, preventing nausea or dizziness. Smoking strong cigars involves making sure you pace yourself, so let the cigar rest for a minute or two before pulling from it again. In addition, you will want to drink something with it, whether water, coffee or a whisky to balance the intensity of the cigar. If you are looking for a full strength cigar to start with, why not try the Partagas Selección Privada Limited Editions 2014, which can offer you a harmonious smoking experience with its 5 out of 5 intensity and great depth of flavour.
Finding a cigar that you love is a pleasurable feeling, almost comforting in nature; it also means you add another great smoke to your repertoire! Enjoy your comfort zone when it comes to cigar strength, but don’t shy away from experimenting new intensities – who knows, you might discover your new favourite! At James J. Fox, we have a large selection of cigars for every taste and preference, whether you are looking to buy small cigars or big cigars. We also pride ourselves in helping our customers find the right cigar for them, whether they are beginners or experienced smokers. Please don’t hesitate to visit our store, contact us or call us on 0207 9303787 and we will answer any queries you may have. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram to stay on top of our latest news and offers.