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Stogie Commentary: The Barber Pole Phenomenon

5 Sep 2007

Chances are you’ve seen one at your local B&M. Maybe you did a double take as you were examining the many cigars in the humidor. “What on earth is that?” you ask yourself while noting a dual-colored wrapper.

Arganese Double Wrap Barber Pole CigarThat is a barber pole, and chances are you’ve seen more of them lately. With two wrappers, usually contrasting natural and maduro leaves, “dos capas” are difficult to make and usually only attempted by highly skilled rollers. Yet more cigar companies are making barber poles now than ever before.

Camacho’s limited edition 2007 Liberty release features a barber pole wrapper. So does the highly anticipated CAO America, though technically that’s a “pinstripe” (and the limited CAO Bratalia line also features one). Arganese (pictured at right) and Gurkha have introduced barber poles. Felipe Gregorio makes two different barber poles, one with two wrappers and the other with three (natural, maduro, and candela). And others, including big names like Fuente and Don Pepin, have also created limited edition barber pole sticks.

So what to make of these cigars? Are they novelties, masterpieces, or both?

Like most things, the answer isn’t that simple. While barber poles are likely created more for aesthetics than flavor, the dual wrappers allow for an additional layer of complexity.

Because the wrapper is usually the part of the cigar that most contributes to a stogie’s flavor profile, a barber pole might offer taste possibilities impossible to create with just one wrapper. Of course, more complexity isn’t always better, as evidenced by the Rocky Patel Fusion. While the Fusion is a fine cigar, it’s generally not considered as good as either the Vintage 1990 or 1992 (despite the fact it uses both cigars’ wrappers).

But flavor isn’t the only reason you might want to try a barber pole. Every smoker has their own definition of a good-looking cigar, and a spiraling wrapper is clearly an attention-grabber.

When it comes to construction, the barber poles also offer both both pros and cons. Because of the skill necessary to create them, they are more likely to be the work of master torcedors. On the other hand, because different types of wrappers burn at different speeds, these cigars may be likely to burn unevenly.

Ultimately, like cigars in general, barber poles are going to be a matter of personal taste. And in the end there is only one way to decide if these curious-looking sticks are for you: Go out and smoke some.

Patrick S

Tags: cigars

8 Responses to “Stogie Commentary: The Barber Pole Phenomenon”

  1. Sam Wednesday, September 5, 2007 at 5:40 am #

    One of the coolest things out there- if you can find them is barber pole culebras. With natural, maduro, and candela on each strand and then the three strands braided, it is quite a sight.

  2. Ricky Wednesday, September 5, 2007 at 5:53 am #

    Very cool article. I noticed these cigars started to pop up very recently. Do you guys happen to know what the first barber pole was?

  3. stinkie Wednesday, September 5, 2007 at 11:58 am #

    Big City cigars has one out. They are from the 90's and as far as I know can only be found at in the closeout section. Though I have not tried them I have had other Big City smokes and they are cheaper but a nice cheapie. I have also seen these pop up in a local walk in at Jungle Jim's in the bundled section. I tried one and remember it being hash but again it was in the bundle section and they were I think $2-$3 had no markings.

    I will pick up a CAO Bratalia if I see any local and I can't wait for the CAO America to be released.

    Nice post Patrick.

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