14 Aug 2006
On July 31, I told you about a private cigar tasting we attended with Mike Copperman at Bethesda Tobacco. In that post, I said it’s amazing how refined your palate can be if you (1) pay attention to the geography of your tongue, (2) smoke through the nose, and (3) have a human cigar encyclopedia at your disposal.
While you can revisit that post to study the geography of the human tongue and how it relates to cigar tasting, you most often won’t have a human stogie information bank at your side. But – in order to further your understanding and appreciation of cigars – I’d like to share with you how to smoke through the nose. It’s a relatively simple strategy to maximize the flavors you’ll get from each stick and, no, it’s not inhaling.
First, take a decent puff from a properly-lit stogie. Not surprisingly, your mouth will fill up with delicious smoke. Good. Next, slowly release about 80 to 90 percent of that smoke by gently blowing out.
After that, close your lips, trapping the remaining smoke in your mouth. This time, instead of releasing, literally swallow the smoke (as you would any food or beverage). Then, with your mouth still closed, blow out through your nose. If you see smoke, congratulations…you’ve just smoked through your nose.
Why go to all the trouble? Well, let me answer that question with a question: Ever notice you can’t taste food when you have a cold? That’s because flavor information can’t make it to the odor receptors in your nose.
Our noses can tell the difference between many different tastes, but our tongues can only detect a few flavors: bitter, sour, salty, and sweet. Only about 10 to 20 percent of flavor information comes from our tongue. Smoking through the nose, therefore, will allow you to detect flavors and aromas on the palate you otherwise wouldn’t be able to by just smelling cigar smoke.
Now you certainly shouldn’t do this on every puff – once or twice per cigar should do the trick. Just give it a try and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Note to our readers: As you probably already noticed, the picture to the right has no relation to this particular post. I just had some trouble finding a good image and thought a hot Asian chick smoking a cigar wouldn’t be a bad choice. Sue me.