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Stogie Commentary: Turning Green and Two Questions

9 Dec 2008

The other day I had a little time for a smoke, so I began looking through my stash for a small cigar. But before finding one, I noticed a green thing, roughly robusto-sizes, that had been there for quite awhile: an Iguana from Thompson that I almost certainly picked up at one of their cigar events I’ve attended. I thought, “Hey, I’ll give it a try. If my memory of the last candela I smoked is correct, I won’t like it very much and it’ll end up being a short smoke.”

Well, I ended up smoking about half of it. In all honesty, it began fairly nicely. Mild, with a touch of sweetness and tobacco. But that didn’t last. The Iguana produced a lot of smoke—again, not what I recall from previous candelas—but it quickly became so dry and tasteless that I could imagine I was smoking dry pine needles rather than tobacco.

So, that leads to question number one: Does anyone smoke candelas on a regular basis?

The second question was prompted by a recent visit to a cigar shop where I found myself gazing at some of the pipes displayed on the wall. I smoked a pipe years ago during one of my attempts to quit smoking cigarettes. I enjoyed it but eventually gave up because of what seemed like too much process and too little enjoyment. Poking around on the web I found quite a few sites related to pipe smoking, two of the most interesting being the Old Toby podcast and the Bootleg Bon Vivant blog.

I haven’t taken up a pipe again, but I am thinking about. Hence, question number two: How many of you out there smoke pipes and how do you compare it to cigar smoking? I’m eager to read your answers.

George E

photo credit: Old Toby

21 Responses to “Stogie Commentary: Turning Green and Two Questions”

  1. jay Monday, December 8, 2008 at 9:27 pm #

    ive been smoking a pipe in addition to cigars for some time now, and i generally find one or more of the following…

    1. i enjoy it but i get bored before im through

    2. it generally lasts less long and with less fulfillment than a on gets with a cigar

    3. i look ridiculous

  2. Old Toby Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 1:05 am #

    I guess I am a little Biased because I kinda host the Old Toby Podcast, but you should smoke a pipe. I smoke both Pipes and cigars, but I enjoy the leisure, room aroma, and relaxation of a pipe. To me, a cigar is more of a social smoke (meaning with other people) and a pipe is a relaxation smoke. There's my two cents worth! Thanks for giving us a link, I would be glad to have you on the show for an interview sometime!

  3. furious Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 4:45 am #

    I do not smoke candelas regularly at all; in fact, I have only had a couple in fifteen years of smoking cigars. I seem to recall the primary motivator in trying one was that I had once read that candelas were quite popular back in the 50's and that President Kennedy also had a soft spot for them. Since I considered Kennedy a real aficionado (and still do), I thought that I should give them a try. However, upon smoking a bargain example, I was not very impressed with the flavor profile. Quite bland and tasteless really. Perhaps Kennedy was smoking an Upmann candela (Havana no doubt) with markedly better tobacco.

    As for the briar, I have flirted with it a few times over the years but I have yet to acquire the taste for pipe tobacco. Smoking a pipe is relaxing though; however, I always feel like I should burst into a chorus of "White Christmas" or perhaps the theme from "Holiday Inn" while engaged in the act.

    All kidding aside, I must say that Bing Crosby smoking a pipe looked just as cool as JFK smoking a cigar.

  4. dmjones Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 5:19 am #

    The Iguana holds a special place in my heart…it's the cigar I always have to refer to when I am asked "What's the worst cigar you've ever had?" Seriously bad smoke and the last time I ever willingly smoked a Thompson-branded stick (although I've bought other brands of cigars and cigar accessories from them).

  5. George E. Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 6:03 am #

    Interesting comments. And they raise another question: Does anyone know of a high-end candela that might be worth a try? As Furious says, candelas were once very popular wrappers. I'm guessing they were Cuban. Does Cuba still produce a candela?

  6. Patirck A Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 6:39 am #

    I had a "conflicted" experience with the Don Tomás Candela Robusto back in April. The extremely mild flavor of grass, sweet hay, and banana peel was OK, but not something I need to seek out very often. In fact, I haven't had a candela since I worked on that review.

  7. xjvpastor Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 7:21 am #

    I just switched from pipe to cigars, and so far I prefer the stronger pull of the cigar to the lighter fare of pipes. Although I think my wife like the smell of the pipe better!

  8. dmjones Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 7:58 am #

    I have had a couple candelas besides the lizard experience (Iguana). The Fuente candela was actually pretty good; I don't remember the brand of the other I've had, but I didn't enjoy it as much. A local shop sells pretty much the entire line of Graycliff cigars, including their candelas in multiple sizes. They're supposed to be fantastic, but it's hard to swallow the price point to try something that you haven't been blown away by in the past.

  9. George E. Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 8:17 am #

    A Graycliff candela. Somehow I can't imagine spending that kind of money on a candela. I'd forgotten the Fuente, though. Maybe I'll give that a try the next time I see one.

  10. Adam Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 8:31 am #

    I've smoked cigars for about 12 years now. I decided to give a pipe a chance, and bought a few different tobaccos. I found that if I'm smoking tobacco, I want it to taste like cigars and not pipes. I think there is a reason I don't like flavored cigars.

  11. interesting monster Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 12:23 pm #

    I found that when smoking a pipe, I had no idea what to do with my hands. As all of my smoking is done outside, more often than not walking about, I found the pipe to be a sort of absurdist prop; it made me feel very self conscious about what I was smoking and that detracted from my enjoyment.

    As for flavor, I found pipe tobacco to be enjoyable enough, with a nice nicotine kick, but there simply wasn't enough variety in the blends that I tried. I felt as though there were about five flavors being represented in the blender's palate, with clove and cherry being the overwhelming favorites.

    I did however like gesturing with the pipe tip, very professorial and all that…

  12. Creekend UK Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 12:46 pm #

    The original Cuban candelas i smoked in the late 70's – early 80's in the office int UK came in glass jars and were gobsmackingly good.

    The only others that are just OK for a morning smoke in my opinion are the Camancho (sp?) and Famous Smokes few offerings like Montisino.

    Their own Famous Smoke honduran brand do a claro which is green enough to be a double claro/candela and is remarkably good.

    I normally smoke full flavoured if not full strength cigars but like a candela or two a month.

  13. George E. Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 1:56 pm #

    Creekend UK – Do the Cubans still make candelas these days?

  14. Beringer Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 4:01 pm #

    George – If you're doing an absorbing activity like creative writing or reading – or if you have little kids that need your attention – then pipe smoking is great. Unlike cigars, relights of the pipe can improve flavor. Stay away from the 'aromatic' blends that are treated with toppings and polyethene glycol. Having tried them all, I think these are best in their class (English; Virginia; Burly; Oriental; Perique): Penzance (by Estoerica); Flake Deluxe (by Bjarne); Irish Flake (by Peterson); Red Rapparee (by Rattray); Long Golden Flake (by Reiner).

  15. George E. Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 4:35 pm #

    Beringer – I think you're on to somethingt in your assessment. When I did smoke a pipe it was back when you could smoke in the office and I always found it most enjoyable when I was working.

  16. furious Wednesday, December 10, 2008 at 5:02 am #

    George–I would really like to try a Cuban candela also (vintage or modern). I think we would be pleasantly surprised given the popularity of double claro Cubans back in the pre-Castro years. I am going to do some research on the availability of these sticks.

  17. George E. Wednesday, December 10, 2008 at 7:25 am #

    Furious – Great. Keep us posted.

  18. furious Sunday, December 14, 2008 at 4:53 am #

    Well, George, there doesn't seem to be anything out there currently except for the Quai D'Orsay Coronas Claro. They once had a claro-claro offering but it appears to have been discontinued sometime in the 80's along with all other Cuban candela options. I have read rumors from Graycliff that Habanos SA is considering a limited production run of candelas–perhaps inspired by the success of the Emerald. This sounds like reverse marketing to me though. Wish I had more for you on this.

  19. George E. Sunday, December 14, 2008 at 6:15 am #

    Furious – Thanks! That's very interesting.

    george e.

  20. Shaun Friday, December 19, 2008 at 4:28 am #

    I have to agree with Old Toby. I'm also a bit biased since I'm the author of the Bootleg Bon Vivant. In my opinion, the aroma between cigars and pipes are much different. Depending on how long you smoked a pipe and the help you achieved in knowledge to gain a great smoking experience, I can completely agree with your sentiments on too much process. By packing a pipe properly, you can gain an awesome smoke with little to no re-lights. Pipe clubs all over love having a contest to see who can keep their pipe lit the longest. Much of this is gained by experience as well as knowledge picked up by other pipe smokers. As for the uncomfortable feeling others have expressed in comments, if you're conscientious about a pipe hanging from your lip, then yeah, you're gonna feel goofy. When you picture people with a pipe these days, you picture an older fellow. Yet, here I am, 30 years old and have come to find many people my age and younger enjoying a pipe. So, why does one not feel goofy with a stogie? Someone commented on the lack of variety in pipe tobacco. Seriously, do a little online research. There are plenty of tobaccos not laced with flavorings. Many tobaccos are flavored in how the leaves are cured, not adding a chemical flavoring. George E, Thanks for the link. You have a very interesting site indeed.

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