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The Cigar Pass

Priority Mail
Photo by Pope Moysuh on Unsplash
Priority Mail
Photo by Pope Moysuh on Unsplash

So you traveled to Cuba and bought a few boxes of cigars.  Or maybe you splurged on a 5-pack at your local B&M.  Your humidor is full, but there is so little variety, and you’d love to try some different cigars instead of always grabbing from the same few boxes.  What to do?  Go to your B&M and spend an arm and a leg on overpriced singles?  Buy a sampler pack online? The beauty of the above scenario is that the majority of cigar smokers are faced with it.  However, the individual cigars each person has are different.  Ideally you live down the street from a fellow connoisseur to coordinate some trades with, but most of us aren’t so lucky.  There is a much better option for trying new cigars – the cigar pass.  Let me explain…

Whether you realize it or not, there is a vast network of cigar forums, websites, and blogs on the internet all containing dozens if not hundreds of great, honest people who just so happen to share your passion for fine stogies.  They too are interested in learning about and trying new cigars, and you just might make a friend.  So that brings us to the cigar pass – a group of people sharing cigars with eachother.  The general idea is that the first person in the group puts 10 or so cigars in a box and mails it to the next person on the list.  Each person then takes some cigars, replaces them with others of equal value, and sends the package onto the next person.  If all goes well, the box makes it back to the first person intact.

Photo by Luke of aspiringgentleman.com

Step 1: Sign up for a cigar forum.  I quite like puff.com, but there are numerous others, including cigarpass.com and the fan forums at stogiereview.com.  Introduce yourself in the “Introductions” section of the forum, and browse around for a bit.  Don’t forget the search button.  Once you’ve thoroughly searched the site, start responding to threads, giving your input.

Step 2: Watch out for passes that interest you.  Because I didn’t want to pay cross-border shipping fees (and wanted Cuban cigars), I kept my eye out for a Canadian pass.  Most cigar forums even have “Cigar Pass” sections, as they’re quite popular.  Once you’ve found a pass that interests you, add your name to the list.

Step 3: Understand the rules.  Each pass has unique rules.  Some common ones are
a)Non-Cuban for non-Cuban, Cuban for Cuban
b)Shipping restrictions, such as must be insured and have a tracking number
c)Dollar value must be within a few bucks.

Photo by Luke of aspiringgentleman.com

Step 4: When the package arrives, do some research on the sticks in the box.  Once you’ve found what you want, determine what you’d like to replace them with from your existing stash.  The cigar reviews at puff.com and elsewhere can be very useful not only for learning about the cigars, but also for determining an approximate price for each stick, ensuring you are providing adequate replacements.  As a thanks to the coordinator of the pass, consider throwing in an extra cigar or two.  In the pass I recently took part in, the guy before me gifted me a handful of nice cigars, and I was incredibly stoked when I found them.  You can easily make someone else’s (perhaps the next person in the list’s) day by gifting them a few sticks.  At some point the pass coordinator will send you the address of the next person, and you’ll have to say goodbye to the box of cigars.

And just like that, you have a bunch of new and unique cigars in your humidor and have met some fellow cigar lovers.  As a last point, let me show the huge variety of cigars you can try by participating in a pass.  Here are some example takes/puts from a cigar pass I recently participated in.

Takes: Montecristo Legends, Rafael Gonzalez Panatelas, Padilla 1932 Robusto, San Cristobal El Principe, RP Edge Toro.   Puts: CAO L’Anv Robusto, J. Fuego Gran Reserve Corojo No. 1 Toro, Hoyo De Monterrey Palmas Extras, Quintero y Hno. Brevas, Pinar Del Rio Sun-Grown Robusto

Takes: Opus X Robusto, Partagas 898.  Puts: Ashton VSG Toro, Diplomaticos No. 2

Takes: Por Larranaga Panetelas, Partagas Short, Padron 5000, White Owl , CAO Criollo Conquistador.  Puts: RyJ Mille Fleur, Camacho 1962 Torpedo, Rafael Gonzales Panetelas, RyJ 1875 Churchill