This is a guest post/interview provided by Chris Garrett. Chris is one of the probloggers that I read on a regular basis for new ideas and blogging strategies.
My name is Chris. As of now I have not ever smoked a cigar, well, at least not while sober. Growing up I have always been surrounded by cigar smokers so there is a comforting appeal to the smell. It has always fascinated me but I never took the opportunity, not even when my daughter was born which would have been the traditional thing to do, and now feel in my mid-thirties I think it’s about time I should give it a try.
Thankfully through the magic of the internets I have access to an expert now so I can ask Cigar Jack a bunch of questions I have about cigars and cigar smoking :)
Chris: Cigar smoking doesn’t seem to have the negative connotation cigarette smoking has, why do you think that is?
Cigar Jack: The only purpose of a cigarette is to deliver nicotine. Cigarette smoking is an addictive habit. Having quite five years ago I can attest to their addictive power first hand. Cigars aren’t typically smoked for that reason. They are used as a way to celebrate a special occasion or to relax after a long day. Your typical cigar smoker usually smokes less than five cigars a week and doesn’t have the same physical addiction to cigars as a cigarette smoker does to cigarettes. I fear much of that is going to change soon though as the cigar industry is coming under increasing attack.
Chris: How would you start with cigars? Buy a selection or would you go for a particular cigar?
Cigar Jack: Try and find a good local shop where you can ask some advice and also check out some of the great cigar websites out there for ideas on what to try. I’d definitely buy a selection, and take some notes on what you like and dislike. If you choose to order online most places offer samplers.
Chris: Is it an acquired taste? something you need to practice?
Cigar Jack: Cigars vary in flavor profile and strength so much I believe certain cigars are an acquired taste. Your tastes will change over time, but I’ve liked cigars since the first one I tried. I started out with some milder cigars and now smoke some stuff that are so strong they would have left me green five years ago.
Chris: How do you smoke a cigar? Light it and start sucking on it?
Cigar Jack: Cutting a cigar is the first step. Typically you want to take no more than 1/8 inch off the cap. Matches are the more traditional route, but I prefer using a butane torch lighter. Don’t get the flame too close to the foot, as this will burn the cigar, and your aim is to just lightly toast it. Once the foot is warmed, you want to start lightly puffing on it and rotating it to get a nice even burn. When the cigar is lit you’ll want to go slow. The rule of thumb is take a puff or two about once a minute, as this keeps the cigar from getting too hot and can help subtle flavors become more noticeable.
Chris: Inhale/don’t inhale? People I talk to say that you shouldn’t, but most of them do anyway?
I strongly recommend not inhaling a cigar if you can help it. Inhaling too much will quickly turn you a lovely shade of green. I end up inhaling some especially if I’m trying to exhale the smoke through my nose. Your nose does a better job picking out nuances than just your tongue. I’m still trying to get the hang of this myself.
Chris: Do you get what you pay for, or is it like wine where price isn’t always a great measure of quality?
Cigar Jack: Cigars are exactly like wine in that respect. By looking out for small unknown brands I’ve found $4 cigars that I think are much higher quality than some $10 cigars. Many of those $10 are that price because too many people think price equals quality or the company has spent a large amount of money marketing it.
Chris: What’s the deal with Cuban cigars?
Cigar Jack: Cuban cigars do have a unique flavor you’ll only find in a Cuban cigar. This is often referred to as the Cuban “Twang” and I can recognize it when I smoke one but I can’t describe it. The embargo definitely added to the mystique. Some are better than what you can get in the States and some are worse, most of that comes down to personal preference. Though in my opinion you haven’t had a cigar until you’ve had a Cuban Partagas Serie D No. 4 that’s been aged for a few years.
Chris: There seem to be lots of accessories and fancy gizmos, necessary? Do they add to enjoyment?
Cigar Jack: Depends on your geek factor! :) I love gadgets to begin with so cigar smoking introduced to me to a whole new realm of gadgets. But honestly they don’t really add any enjoyment factor to the experience. Some wooden matches, a cutter or in a pinch a razor blade is all you need. My preferred method of upping the enjoyment factor is some good company or a good book along with a good drink.
Chris: So is it an expensive thing to do?
Cigar Jack: You can get started fairly cheap. A plastic air-tight food container or cooler can work as a humidor if you plan to keep cigars for more than a couple days. Right now my favorite lighter is a Ronson torch lighter you can get at Wal-mart for $3. The only thing that is worth dropping the extra cash on is a good cigar cutter. A bad cutter can destroy your cigar by damaging the wrapper, maybe even rendering the cigar unsmokeable. I learned to set a budget for myself to keep it from getting too expensive. Some of the cheaper bundled cigars can be had for under $2 a cigar. Typically these are short filler and use the scraps from the more expensive cigars.
Chris: Which is your all time favorite?
Cigar Jack: My all time favorite is the Partagas Serie D. No 4 from Cuba. A close friend of mine gave me one that was nearly five years old and I’ve never tasted a cigar that good again. Pair something like that with some really good rum and it can make for a fantastic evening.
Thanks Chris for putting together these questions together. If any readers have some recommendations or additional advice please feel free to post a comment.
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