Knowing where to buy your cigars is a tricking endeavour. It often takes a fair bit of research, time and effort. Whilst you can buy a cigar at a lounge or preferred golf course, you can also buy them online.
However, their prices can vary wildly as well as the storage conditions and resulting quality. Therefore, where should you buy your cigars on a regular basis?
In this guide, we’ve outlined the following places where you can buy your favourite cigars:
- Gas Stations & Convenience Stores
- Golf Courses & Clubs
- Cigar Lounges
- Tobacconists & Shops
- How To Protect Cigars During Transport
Just use the links above to jump ahead or scroll on down to read it all.
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In this guide, we look at the different places that you can buy cigars. We’ll share with you our thoughts and opinions when purchasing from these places with regards to convenience, quality and value for money.
With a few exceptions, it’s better to view the varieties of places that sell cigars according to your immediate needs rather than the best or worst.
For instance, while the internet can offer good deals on bulk orders, lounges are a relaxing environment and shops host personal guidance and advice. Meanwhile, some places are better for buying the cigars to take home whilst others are ideal for smoking on the premises.
However, smoking in a formal public setting requires that you may need to observe some protocol or etiquette. Meanwhile, smoking at home can be much more easygoing.
Buying Cigars At Gas Stations & Convenience Stores
We wanted to begin with gas stations and convenience stores first in order to get it out of the way. Unless the owner is a fervent cigar enthusiast, the chances are very high that the cigars are stored in poor conditions.
Therefore, the cigars may likely be dry, brittle and almost particularly unpleasant. Additionally, it’s rare that good quality cigars are sold in these places. Whilst some might be handmade seconds, the majority will be industrial machine-made cigars.
In some countries, the lines can easily get blurred. For instance, regular tobacconists barely exist in the UK and most corner shops sell both newspapers, tobacco products as well as some groceries. Therefore, you’ll unlikely find any half decent cigars here.
Meanwhile, in France, the traditional “Tabac” still uses the same red diamond whether they’re a local tobacconist or specialised cigar retailer.
However, most today are also cheap cafés and betting shops. Sometimes they may have a small cigar humidifier or “civette” but only premium and dedicated shops will have one that works properly.
Buying Cigars At Golf Courses & Clubs
Some golf courses supply cigars to their members that they can enjoy while teeing it up. If a club decides to retail cigars, they’ll likely be catering to a discerning clientele. Therefore, it’s likely that they’ll ensure that their goods are stored properly.
As with most locations that offer premium products on location, like restaurants and clubs, you can expect the prices to be slightly on the high end. However, the convenience should not be overlooked. After all, the club has gone to the trouble of catering to your needs in a relatively remote location.
If you choose to buy or smoke cigars at a golf course, try to observe protocol with a little etiquette. Firstly, being an open space, be considerate to others and ask anyone around you whether they’re comfortable smoking.
Similarly, consider positioning yourself downwind from other players so the smoke doesn’t blow towards them. Finally, take care where you rest your cigar when taking shots. Avoid placing a cigar on putting surfaces or the fairway.
If you struggle to free your hands, you could consider buying a cigar holder that can be attached magnetically to the cart [We like the “Stage V Clinger” – Buy From Amazon for $12.99]. As you may be battling wind, you might want to invest in a decent torch lighter too.
Buying Cigars At Lounges & Clubs
In the USA, cigar lounges have managed to prosper through turbulent times. Meanwhile, the cigar scene in the UK has started to experienced something of a revival of late.
Cigar lounges are an ideal environment for care-free smoking. If your family or loved ones don’t appreciate the smell of cigars, you won’t have to worry about that here.
Bringing Your Own Cigars
While you can bring your own cigars, there’s often a “cutting fee” for the privilege. Sometimes this can be a reasonable symbolic gesture. However, some lounges make it rather high in order to encourage you to buy the cigars from them.
Similarly, prestigious cigar lounges can charge very high rates for their cigars. Much like buying wine or whisky at a bar or restaurant, you can expect the price to quadruple compared to buying them from a store.
Lounge Cost Benefits
Nevertheless, keep in mind that the cigars are usually selected and cared for by experts. You’re not paying just for the cigar but for the lounge’s upkeep, rent, bills, salaries and requirements to keep the cigar in good condition.
If you’re somebody that smokes only a few cigars a year, then the cost benefit can be particularly appealing. You won’t be investing in boxes of cigars, a humidor and all the apparatus needed to start the hobby. Therefore, you can afford to pay a higher price for the odd cigar.
However, if you’re a regular smoker, this may be less ideal. Although it could be a nice treat every now and then, daily trips to the lounge can get expensive very quickly.
That said, some private clubs may give you unlimited access for a membership fee. Furthermore, some of these places allow you to buy a box that you store in your own humidified locker. This will allow you to come back whenever you want to smoke your own stock.
A final consideration for cigar lounges is that it’s often expected that you respect a certain level of etiquette. Depending on who you are, this may be a good or bad thing.
For instance, some people thrive in tradition and enjoy the opportunity to sit in a formal environment. However, there are some that find this overbearing and stuffy. Although we won’t judge either way, be aware of your surroundings and its expectations
Nevertheless, remember to bear in mind that lounges and private clubs may often have their own dress codes.
Buying Cigars Online
If you’re starting to know your way around the subject area, buying online can become a particularly attractive option. Buying cigars online means that you can shop from the comfort of your own home and easily compare prices from different retailers.
However, if you’re new to cigars, it’s hard to know what to get, which is why it’s better to wait until you’ve learned about cigars first. Consider buying a few sticks from a shop and learning what you like. When you’re ready to invest in a box, you could always check out the options online.
That said, there are some good sites that offer “bundles” of different cigars. While some of these are without bands or factory seconds, others are decent brands. Similarly, you’ll discover a far greater range of cigars online than in a store as they won’t be limited by the size of their shops.
Furthermore, it’s impossible to know the cigars’ storage and shipping conditions. Unlike a shop where you can see the humidors for yourself, the cigars are kept in an unknown warehouse. Similarly, they may be shipped without protection or humidity control and might arrive damaged or dry respectively.
Finally, there are a lot of dubious sites out there offering great deals and authentic Cubans at unbeatable prices. Not all of these sites are legitimate you can easily find yourself being scammed with a box of fakes or nothing at all!
Our Recommended Online Retailers
- Montefortuna Cigars: A Swiss-based online retailer that ships authentic Cubans around the world.
- Holt’s: A major US-based online retailer with regular discounts.
- Thompson Cigar: Similar to Holt’s, Thompson is a well-known and reliable American cigar retailer.
Buying Cigars At A Tobacconist Or Shop
The most conventional and generally recommended place to buy your cigars is at a trusted retailer. If you’re particularly new to cigars, you can benefit from their experience and knowledge.
A particularly good vendor will give you recommendations and advice if you ask him or her. If you ever have questions on their storage conditions, a retailer will unlikely be offended but happily walk you through their precautions.
Pricing at a shop varies depending on its level of prestige. For instance, well-known shops may sell their cigars at a premium. However, this is always because of their ideal location and heritage decor. They may have likely earned a certain reputation thanks to their expertise, service and product quality.
However, smaller stores may offer better pricing because the haven’t garnered the same status. That said, it’s important to check whether they take the same care in their wares.
Similarly, smaller stores may have limited space to stock their ranges in the right conditions. Meanwhile, larger ones will have a plethora of different sticks but their overheads for large storage may impact their pricing.
Generally, shop prices will be significantly less than lounges or clubs. As mentioned above, they still vary wildly and buying a box can be an investment. Nevertheless, the care and quality of the product may well be worth the extra funds.
How To Protect Cigars During Transit
We’re often asked how new purchases should be stored when being transported or during shipping. Indeed, a quick purchase of one or two cigars at your local tobacconist may not seem like a big deal. However, it highly depends on when you plan to smoke them!
For instance, if you’re looking to smoke your purchase immediately, a simple ziplock bag may be sufficient. Meanwhile, larger purchases that will be introduced into a humidor will require some extra attention. Similarly, even a few cigars that have been outside too long may destabilise your humidor’s biosphere.
Properly Storing Cigars During Transport
While this is effectively out of your hands if purchasing from the internet, it’s reassuring to learn that a lot of brands are beginning to take this seriously. For instance, iHavanas and Montefortuna now properly seal their shipments.
Occasionally, Montefortuna will vacuum seal a box. However, they are now beginning to include Boveda humidity packs in airtight packaging. If you’ve already read some of our content, you may be aware that we’re particularly fond of Boveda and its benefits.
As the humidity packs are designed with a reverse-osmosis membrane, they provide two-way humidification. This means that they are able to absorb excess humidity unlike most other humidifiers.
How Long Will The Cigars Be Out?
The same applies with your own purchases, especially if there’s a delay before putting them in your own storage. For instance, you may be out on a shopping spree or made your purchase during a lunch break. Alternatively, you may be buying a box while on vacation!
Whatever the situation, the cigars, even if in a box, will be unprotected for a certain amount of time. It’s important to remember that cigars loose humidity seven times faster than they absorb it. Consequently, cigars can quickly become dry.
Therefore, try to plan ahead with an appropriate storage solution.
If you’re just buying one or two cigars, a small case may be sufficient. Meanwhile, if it’s a few more, we recommend investing in a travel humidor. Our dedicated guide on them will provide recommendations on the best ones to buy.
Conversely, if you’re buying one or more boxes of cigars, they are already more-or-less protected from shocks.
However, the wooden box provides little in the way of a seal. On this occasion, we suggest Boveda humidity bags. Not only are they larger than ziplock bags and can easily hold several boxes but they have a double-laminated seal for extra protection.
Acclimate Your Cigars
As mentioned above, internet purchases are often well-wrapped but they’re rarely properly sealed to prevent humidity from escaping. Likewise, if you bought them while on vacation as mentioned above, it’s likely that they’ve been exposed to swings in temperature and humidity.
Even if you have just bought the cigars and are immediately placing them in a humidor, you can’t be 100% sure whether their storage conditions are identical to yours.
Therefore, we highly recommend going through a process of acclimating your cigars. This essentially consists of placing them in quarantine for a period of time so they begin to match the humidity of your main cigar storage space.
The video above explains in detail how to acclimate your cigars. However, it mostly consists of either quickly making a tupperdor or using a Boveda bag so the cigars have their own micro-climate.
Usually, a two-week period is sufficient but you may prefer to do it for longer.
If you don’t acclimate your new cigars before introducing them to your humidor, you risk shocking your current collection. Given that the new cigars may be at an RH of perhaps 50%, they will begin to absorb the moisture from all the others that were already inside. As a result, it puts your entire collection in peril!
Now that you have discovered the different places where you can buy cigars, consider learning more about the subject before making your first purchase: