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All Cigar Discussion>Your cigar journey
borndead1 11:22 PM 11-30-2019
What was your 'journey' that led you to become the cigar aficionado that you are today? Did you start with premium smokes or ghetto stogies? Stealing from another thread, what was THE cigar that had you like, "Holy sh*t, this is a good smoke?"

I had smoked Phillies and Backwoods when I was a teenager (early 90s). In my early 20s I decided that puffing on a cigar while I drank alcohol was better than chain smoking cigarettes, so I'd buy one of those glass tubed gas station stogies if I was gonna be drankin'.

In 2003, I was at a smoke shop buying cigs and I decided that I had a hankerin' for a cigar. They had these cute little cigars called Arturo Fuente Exquisitos that had a really pretty, dark wrapper. And they were only 2 bucks! Sold. Needless to say, that cigar was AMAZING compared to what I had been smoking. So I started buying a couple of them every week. Then I got my first 'humidor' - a cylinder type carrying case that held 5 or 6 smokes. Around that same time, my boss at work brought in a catalog from Thompson Cigar. Looking through that catalog, I was like :-) So I ordered one of their 'deals' - a small desktop humidor and a bundle of 'premium, handmade, imported cigars'. :-)

Around this same time, I found a Tinder Box store at the mall. I started trying different cigars (all under $4, of course, because I made $12/hr and I couldn't imagine spending $5 on a cigar). So pretty soon I decided I needed a bigger humidor for 'aging' cigars (:-)), cuz the internet says aged cigars are better. So again, I was suckered in by Thompson Cigars and their super amazing deal of a large barrel glass top humidor and ONE HUNDRED (!) premium, handmade, imported cigars! :-) GOOD LORD, those 'cigars' were awful. And this is coming from a guy who was smoking gas station stogies a year earlier. A side note, though: that Thompson barrel humidor is AWESOME. I still have it, and it's still full. It's very well constructed, and the analog hygrometer is still dead accurate after 15 years!

Around this time, I discovered Club Stogie. Club Stogie led me to C-Bid, and eventually the holy grail of CCs. Gotta give a shoutout to Zemekone for guiding me through my first CC purchase: a box of H. Upmann Corona Majors. I still love that size cigar (5 X 42 is the only smaller cigar size I smoke) and I still love tubos. I could go on and on for another 10 paragraphs, but I won't.

Tell your story, BOTLs. :-)
icehog3 10:03 AM 12-01-2019
Mark, I started smoking cigars as a rookie on the police department...I found they helped me stay alert on midnight shift. I was smoking AC Grenadiers, the ones they sell in boxes of 5 or 6 behind the counter at the drug store...with no humidification, of course.


About 14 years later, a friend handed me a handmade cigar, I believe it was a Fuente. I couldn't believe the difference from the machine made, and I never smoked another Grenadier, and got my hands on all the handmade NCs I could.

In 2002 I made a trip to Nassau where there used to be a legit cigar store on Bay Street. Had my first Cuban, a Bolivar Royal Corona. The worm had turned for me, and over time I smoked more and more Cuban. Still enjoy many of the MC lines, but I smoke 95%+ Cuban now.
markem 12:15 PM 12-01-2019
I have a weird journey. Not unique, but a bit weird.

A part of the high school band liked to go to coffee at 5th period and also smoke Backwoods. I was in this elite clique. :-)

When I was 16 or 17, a relative who worked in politics heard about my cigar smoking and realized that he could regift some gifts that he received from colleagues and others to me. So every so often, I got a box of Partagas Coronas in the mail from Washington, DC. Uncle Mike made me realize that there were VERY good cigars out there. He was a strict non-smoker, but didn't judge either. Very thankful for that. My dad used cigars as a way to quit smoking around the same time.

I mostly smoked Fuentes, Padrons, and such in the 80s but found a person who regularly ordered from Australia in the very early 90s and mostly switched back. I think that I more or less left NCs behind when I found Club Stogie and some people there helped me to learn how to order direct more easily. I still have a few NCs that I smoke occasionally and do love the Short Stories.
4WheelVFR 05:27 PM 12-01-2019
My first cigar was at my bachelor party. I inhaled it a bunch, chewed on it, swallowed the nastiness lol.....I ended up on the couch with a bucket next to me for possible spewing. Swore I'd never smoke another one of those things......and here I am almost 15 years later playing tetris in my Aristocrat.
Wharf Rat 06:44 PM 12-01-2019
Back during the 90’s cigar boom, I was working as an engineer in a lab near Cleveland. One of our technicians got promoted to head tech and set about redoing the lab in his image. This meant sometimes dismantling some of my experiments and I knew we’d eventually butt heads. He liked cigars. So, I asked him if I bought the cigars would he teach me how to smoke them.

This was back in the time when retailers were rationing and refusing new customers. But, I dug around on the new internet and was able to buy some Macanudos. And, the tactic worked and I made a friend instead of an adversary. Then, I found the USENET group alt.smokers.cigars where I learned a lot before it declined. Then the JR forum, Club Stogie, here...
Mr.Maduro 09:56 PM 12-01-2019
In 2004, on my 28th birthday, I quit smoking cigarettes. I needed something to ease the withdrawal and the whole hand-to-mouth fixation so I started with cigars most people use to roll other things with. Dutch Masters, King Edwards, etc.
Soon after, I was ordering the samplers from the back of magazines, Thompson’s, Cigars International, etc. Through those samplers, my two favorites were the Indian Tabac Toro Maduro and the Padron 2000 which were my first two box purchases.
An older friend of mine seen me taking a liking to cigars and suggested I try a Padron Anniversary Maduro. After that I was hooked and eventually found Club Stogie.
After participating in the FNG / FOG trades there I was gifted my very first Cubans (Bolivar PC, Partagas Short, and a Romeo y Julietta Churchill from Skip (OpusEx)
After that I pretty much smoked Cubans exclusively. I still have an occasional non-cuban, but I would say 97% of the time I’m smoking an aged Cuban. Most likely an H. Upmann. :-)
kingcobradude 10:05 PM 12-01-2019
One of my college buddies gifted me a couple factory seconds, and afterwards I would get what I was able to find. Helix and cuban rejects at first, with the occasional punch or onyx, and then I joined here, and went downhill from there
borndead1 06:01 PM 12-03-2019
Thanks for the stories, gents. :-)
gomeitsmybday 08:21 PM 12-03-2019
A while back a buddy and I went on a camping trip and felt inclined to bring some nice cigars, and while none of them were all that particularly memorable, I enjoyed them enough to decide to order a few more 5 packs and a humidor.
Fast forward a few months, I started smoking through them. One of the 5 packs was Don Pepin Blue Invictos and I recall the first 4 being nice, but nothing particularly special. Then, one truly remarkable evening, I lit the last one and it was like a cheesy 80s romantic montage playing through my mind as I smoked. Fireworks, wildlife cut scenes...synthesizers. To this day, it was the most flavorful, most decadent, most satisfying cigar I've ever had.
I've had a fair share of Invictos since and none have come close, so I'm not sure if it was sheer luck or what....although I'm inclined to believe it was somehow much older than the other 4 in the pack and was somehow perfectly aged.
So yes, I now have many Don Pepin Blues currently resting/aging in my coolidor. :-)
Snook 12:38 AM 04-23-2020
My first cigar was a fake Cuban Cohiba. Picture this: a group of high school seniors skipping school to go day-drinking in a Mexican cantina. Everyone lighting up cheap cigarettes. I never liked cigarettes but that cabinet in the corner of the bar with a cardboard sign reading “Cuban Cigars” caught my attention.

Fast forward a couple years. A college friend introduced cigars that he would take from his dad’s stash. Macanudo maybe? I liked it. I felt very relaxed and at ease while smoking. We all needed it. It was post 9/11 and we would smoke and talk about the world and our future.

I found the local B&M and bought a couple HdM Rothschild maduros because they were cheap. Those sticks became my go-to’s for the rest of my college and grad school career. I still carry some in my humidor to this day. They are nostalgic and part of my smoking roots. During that time, I purchased a small humidor and a cheap bundle from
, you guessed it — Thompson’s. I saw the ad in Maxim magazine and bit. I became a member of club stogie and learned a ****-ton about cigars. After grad school, I moved to Houston for a 6 month internship. I met some fellow club stogie members in herfs and my Cuban cigar cherry was popped. A Boli corona gigante of all things.
It’s been a fun ride. I’ve taken several years off due to personal reasons but I’m back with a vengeance. I love cigars. I truly do. I can’t say that I favor CC over NC. There are good and bad sticks on both sides. But I will say that a CC that is on-point is a truly remarkable experience.
RevSmoke 03:26 PM 04-23-2020
My first cigar was in middle school, a Dutch Masters Presidente. I had a few Muniemaker cigars in the Connecticut and Maduro - decent smokes, but I could get a 4-pack for about $0.50.

My next cigar was an Arturo Fuente Rothschild a Iwan Ries downtown Chicago during my freshman year in college. I have smoked many cigars since that day in 1981. I was there with a buddy who was going to hook me up with some "good" pipe tobacco (compared to the stuff I was buying at the drug store). Well, I was window shopping at the walk-in humidor when one of the clerks said, "you can go in if you want." I told him that if it was in a private room, it was above my means. He then explained the reason for a walk-in humidor, took me inside and showed me a few, and then gave me that AF Rothschild to try.

Arturo Fuente Rothschilds & Chateaus (CT & maduro) were a perfect size, and at about $15 for a box, a great deal. ERdM Robustos, Punch Rothschilds were a couple others that made up my rotation. I remember when the Hemingway Short Stories appeared on the scene, I was able to get those for about $50 for a box and they were incredible. Since the boom in the 90s, they are not the same.

I remember trying to get my favorites during the boom, then the skyrocketing prices, getting pissed at all the noobs who wouldn't know a good cigar from a dog turd, and thought that the more they paid for a smoke the better it was. Of course, there were also some great folks smoking cigars.

It was in the boom where I got my opportunity to be a featured reviewer for SMOKE... that lasted 4 issues as they wanted me to smoke way more cigars than I like to smoke during a limited time frame. I was so busy doing their blind taste tests that I could never just sit back and enjoy a cigar. Andy Marinkovich wanted me to continue reviewing, but I just couldn't do it.

When I moved to Wisconsin, I seriously scaled back my cigar smoking as there were no cigar lounges around to smoke in, people in the area enjoyed Swishers, Backwoods, and the occasional Muniemaker and thought they were smoking great cigars. So, I spent more time with my pipe and only smoked the occasional stick.

About 2005 I started to get back into it as I found another forum, some Lowland Gorilla place... 2008 moving over here to CA was even a better move...

I never did get back to smoking 2-4 sticks a day like I did pre-boom days. I may have a day fishing or hunting where I have 5-10, but that is pretty rare.
Havanaaddict 03:34 PM 04-23-2020
Well I was in high school and this guy came up to me and said try this.... Wait you said cigar journey :-)
Ok it all started around 95' the wife won a trip to go to the Caribbean and on the way back home there was a guy reading a cigar aficionado I thought that the mag looked so cool, back then it was a giant mag like 20"x 12. I asked if I could read it and when I got back home I went to a cigar shop and bought a cigar called Rum Runners. It had a sweet taste and I liked that. Then when the wife found out she was pregnant I went out and bought a Cognac infused cigar in a tube. I ran a small body shop 8 to 10 guys, I started to fallow cigar aficionados top 10 cigars. Every day I would go out and find one of the cigars on the list and then at lunch I would walk around out by the guys and smoke. I did this everyday and I had a wholesale car flipper guy that would bring me a hand full of cigars every week to get me to give him a good deal. I left the body shop and became a Stay at home dad, still smoked ever night in the garage. The next step was I started searching out Padron Anniversary, AF Hemingway's and Opus X smoked these for a few years. I then met a guy that worked at the Dunhill store in the mall and sold cubans for $20 ea on the side. It was not long before I met another guy and I started to buy a hand full at a time. I was still only smoking a NC everyday and 1 or 2 cubans a month. Met a few other guys and we started buying a few boxes at a time with his online source and splitting them. Within a few years I was smoking only cubans and never looked back. I worked PT for the next 10 years at a cigar lounge and my cigar smoking went up to 4 a day! And after my 2nd child was born I built a smoking room with ventilation in the house. It was been a fun ride:-)
NCRadioMan 06:39 PM 04-23-2020
Back in 2004 it was a very cold 21 degree day and I was on the golf course. At the turn, I was looking for anything to warm me up. So, I grabbed a cigar. Don't know what it was as it was unbanded. I was shocked at how good it tasted and it really did make me forget the cold. I had never smoked tobacco before and I was instantly interested in cigars.

Went around looking for shops and found a few good ones and a few cig stores that had small humidors. I was getting more into it and was looking for more info and happened across a forum of lowland gorillas in 2006 and they ALL seemed to be very nice and very forward with knowledge without any flame if you asked a dumb question. Refreshing, so I joined. Easily one of the best decisions I have ever made.

I was in radio, hence the name, at the same station for 13 years and on Jan. 1st 2008 I was told my position "is no longer available". On my way home, wondering what in the hell I was going to do, I stopped by the local b&m. The owner happened to be there. I casually asked if she needed any help and lo and behold, she said the guy at the counter was leaving in 2 weeks and I could have the job if I knew a little about tobacco and cigars. Well, with all the knowledge I gained at the old forum, I said I think I know a little and turns out I knew alot more than the owner of 30 years. :-) I'm still there.

Later in 2008, the Asylum was born and I made the exodus with my international family. It wasn't long before I got a taste for Cuban cigars. What a whole new world that opened up! My first box was some '03 Fonseca KDT's. A whole 3 years of age and I was stoked and hooked in that world sliding down the slope at a very fast pace. Made some herf's and enjoyed the company I usually talk to online.

In the mid 2010's, I started to have physical health problems. Every cigar I smoked made me sick and alot of pipe tobacco's smell made me ill. Not good for somebody in the business. I ended up selling a nice collection of Cuban cigars minus a few that were very special, expensive and some gifted ones. I did pay off several credit card's but I wish I hadn't done it. :-)

Don't know if it was related to numerous gall bladder issues I was having over several years but after they pulled that sucker out, I could smoke again. Was away from the forums for years but I'm very glad I made my way back to reconnect to some great people that I call friends, brothers/sisters and all other inmates. I usually don't smoke unless I'm at the shop. On a work day I'll have 3-5 during the day. Starting over from scratch with the knowledge gained over the years make things much easier and as they say....the journey continues............
hudd 06:40 PM 04-23-2020
Started in 74 when l snitched a Swisher from my dad while my buddies snitched cigarettes from their folks. Back in 74 you could "buy" for your folks so l got Shwishers when l wanted. Started driving and switched to Backwoods. Grabbed Garcia Vegas and Antonio y Cleopatra now and then to smoke a "real" cigar. Couple years later a guy l worked with passed out Padron 3000s when his son was born. Found out where he bought them at and went there and WOW. Been going there for cigars since the early 80s.
icehog3 08:30 PM 04-23-2020
Some great stories posted today, Todd, Mark, Greg, Hudd and all! :-)

Originally Posted by RevSmoke:

Arturo Fuente Rothschilds & Chateaus (CT & maduro) were a perfect size, and at about $15 for a box, a great deal.
You ain't just whistling Dixie! :-)
Tredegar 09:55 PM 05-21-2020
A bit of a convoluted story here. It was June 2006 and I was getting married. My wedding wasn't until the 17th and two weeks before that my sisters husband drowned. Now I live in Louisiana, my fiance and our wedding are in Milwaukee and my sister lives in North Carolina. I called her up and asked if she needed some support. She said yes and i flew out the next day. Now since my wedding wasn't for another two weeks, I stayed with her for a few days till i had to fly back and work another week. While i am at my sisters my parents, my half brother and his family from the Netherlands, and a couple of aunts and uncles are also there.

Now before the wedding, not knowing anything about cigars I told my dad that I wanted some cigars at the wedding. Fortunately my sister lived 40 miles from the JRCigar store and my father and I went there for cigars. He got the smokes for the wedding and i got some for myself. I got three pairs of cigars: a couple of Nat Shermans, a couple of Punch rothschilds and another that cant remember. I tried all three and was really impressed with the Punch. It was really good and if it would not have been that good i doubt if I would have continued with cigars. On a side note, while I was there my niece also graduated high school and we had that celebration.

I then fly home, work my next shift then fly to Milwaukee for the wedding. The rest of the folks convoy up from North Carolina and we commence to do wedding stuff. Great time and because of those Punch cigars i got hooked on cigars.
Buckeye Jack 12:27 PM 06-03-2020
June 1997 - a few months before my 20th birthday. I threw a bachelor party for my best friend of (then) 15ish years (still my best friend to this day). Another guy brought a box of Tinder Box branded cigars. Can't even remember what the hell the brand was but I remember looking them up once after I got the bug and they were Tinder Box exclusives. It was a fun night.....when being an adult still felt new LOL

Fast forward a few weeks, my best friend tells me that someone told him he had to get me a gift for being his best man. News to both of us kids so I tell him to go into Tinder box and get me what the salesman says is a good cigar. He buys me an Ashton Churchill.

Well, I enjoyed it, but I didn't smoke all of it just because it was huge. So a couple weeks after that I go in, go straight to the Ashtons (it was all I knew!) and I buy a Magnum (Robusto size). Rest is history.

Became a Fuente whore.....then a cuban whore.....I still flirt with Fuente though....