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Stogie Commentary: My Top Five Cigar Pet Peeves

25 Jun 2009

The art of smoking cigars is all about enjoyment, relaxation, and taking a much-needed break from an otherwise hectic day. That and tasting delicious, delicious tobacco. At least that’s why I consider myself a cigar enthusiast.

Complaint DepartmentMaybe you ride the stogie train for completely different reasons. But pretty much nobody smokes cigars in order to get pissed off. Despite that, and as my colleague pointed out in April, there are a number of industry nuisances (aside from smoking bans and tobacco taxes) that need to be addressed. So I begrudgingly submit to you my top five cigar pet peeves:

1. So-called “super-premiums” with poor construction. When I spend $10 or more on a single, I expect top-notch physical properties. Anything less than a sturdy ash, a clear draw, and a sharp burn is disappointing—no matter how fantastic the flavors might be. An expensive stick that smokes poorly is like a Porsche with bad steering alignment.

2. Polarization towards industry superstars and popular brands. Cigar consumers and publications alike tend to gravitate towards towering figures like Don Pepin Garcia and Rocky Patel. Perhaps deservedly so. But it irks me when enthusiasts use this fascination as an excuse to ignore B&M house blends and boutique creations—especially since uncovering an underappreciated gem can be so rewarding (and not to mention easier on your wallet).

3. Expensive cigar gadgets that under-perform. We all need cutters, lighters, and other accessories to keep puffing away. And even though we’ve written about well-made options that won’t break the bank, sometimes—depending on income, preference, or occasion—it may be appropriate to shell out good money for top-of-the-line wares. Nothing’s worse, though, than when a $100+ lighter stops working well before your sub-$5 Ronson.

4. Insufficient information on cigar websites and boxes. Since each manufacturer has various lines, shapes, sizes, and wrappers, and since the name of each individual stogie is rarely printed on its label, knowing exactly what you’re smoking can be difficult. Is it too much to ask to have the complete cigar name printed on boxes? Is it too difficult for producers to keep comprehensive and updated catalogs of their blends on their websites? I’d rather not have to bring a pen and paper with me every time I visit my local tobacconist.

5. Inconsistency. In a perfect world, where all cigars are stored in ideal conditions, each stick of the same blend and vitola would taste and perform similarly. It’s frustrating when you try a stick, like it, and buy a whole box only to have your new purchases smoke completely differently. While I realize there are many variables (some of which—like the weather—are out of cigar manufacturers’ control), inconsistencies make finding and maintaining a supply of what you like all the more difficult.

Don’t get me wrong, though. Despite these pet peeves, smoking cigars is still one of the most enjoyable activities around. Perhaps it’s telling that my biggest complaint is often that I don’t have enough time to engage in this hobby as I’d like. So I guess I could keep listing off gripes but, with all the great cigars out there, who’d listen?

Patrick A

photo credit: Flickr

16 Responses to “Stogie Commentary: My Top Five Cigar Pet Peeves”

  1. furious Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 2:49 am #

    Life is much too short, my friend, to be spending valuable time enumerating the potential pitfalls and faults of what should be a pleasant diversion. We, as lovers of the leaf, should be spending a maximum of time simply appreciating our glorious pasttime for what it is–a momentary diversion from our hectic lives.

  2. Dan Cale Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 2:58 am #

    I couldn't agree more, and in the poor construction category, it's really irritating to have an expensive cigar that is plugged. Also on the super star vien, I couldn't agree more, I have had many boutique sticks that knock the sock off the big names and cost half the price. My tobacconist has considered dropping the big names and stocking all boutique brands.

  3. Matt Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 3:09 am #

    #5 could be one of the reasons for #2. The big guys seem have more tobacco and more control over their products and tend to put out a more consistent product. Although brands like Fuente and Rocky and Oliva aren't immune from it, it is the smaller boutique brands that seem to more commonly be plagued by inconsistency problems. That said, I still agree with your sentiment. Good article.

  4. George E. Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 3:50 am #

    Great list, especially the first one. I think cigar makers too often fall back on "remember, it's a handmade product so there's always going to be occasional problem." Somehow, I can't imagine using that line on people who buy, say, a Morgan or an Anderson & Sheppard suit.

  5. dmjones Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 3:59 am #

    I wholeheartedly agree that manufacturers have been very lax with information, especially on websites. A stroll to Rocky Patel's website will get you plenty of eye-candy, Flash-based video of Rocky walking around in tobacco fields or talking about the Decade, but not a single word about the Seasonal Blend series which has been ongoing for a year now.

  6. Charlie Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 5:56 am #

    6. Cigar retailers who complain about the drop in business, but who mark everything up 300% and whose shops don't reflect any substantial business or physical changes since the Nixon administration.

    7. Guys that don't flinch to drop $20 on a boutique churchill, but who think that a bowlful of "Cherry Vanilla Watermelon" in a $10 Chinese-made basket pipe constitutes "smoking a pipe", and then they complain about the inferiority of the experience.

    8. Cigarette smokers who tell me to move because they don't like my cigar (twice in a month now).

    9. Row after row of fake Cubans right inside the Canadian border. Uh, right.

  7. BubbaGene Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 6:17 am #

    An addendum to Charlie's #8: Bars that permit cigarette smoking, but not cigars (even miniatures).

  8. Charlie Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 6:23 am #

    Yeah, there's nothing like a bar that says "you can smoke all the sour cat-urine-smelling Benson & Hedges Menthol Lights Longs 100's you want in peoples' faces while they are eating a prime rib, but if you dare light up a cigar in our lounge after, you'll earn the wrath of Cruella De Vil, our house matron and owner. So take your business elsewhere, fat cat".

  9. No Dog rockets Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 11:21 am #

    Being on a fixed income and only being able to smoke a few sticks a week, I stay in the 7-8 dollar range. Nothing pisses me off more the getting a bad or plugged stick.

    I feel ripped off every time it happens, there are a few brands I won't buy any more.

    Thank you for todays topic.

    Rant off.

  10. Ahmed Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 12:54 pm #

    nice artical A and guys

  11. Chri Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 4:57 pm #

    I think that the plugged stogie in the $10+ class is a universal gripe. As a new reader of TSG's I want to say thnks for turning this 20 year smoker on to some GREAT boutique cigars. My extra large humi is now home to over 50% boutiques!

  12. Patrick A Friday, June 26, 2009 at 3:22 am #

    Thanks to everyone for sharing all these thoughts, opinions, and experiences; your feedback keeps exciting and informative.

    Now let's all take a deep breath, light up a fantastic cigar, and remind ourselves of all the wonderful aspects of this tremendous hobby.

  13. Marcus Friday, June 26, 2009 at 7:14 am #

    Great article and #1 and # 5 are my biggest gripes. I am tired of all the so called Super Premium sticks that have a construction value of ten cents. Also nothing worse than finding a good cigar, buying a quatity and finding out it's a totally differenct cigar. Happened more than once to me.

  14. Ralph Pina Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at 4:22 am #

    I totally agree with you on #4. Even as a retailer you would be surprise the lengths we have to go through to figure out exactly what we are selling.

  15. Israel Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 10:21 am #

    I'd like to address #4. A retailer even pointed out "the lengths we have to go through to figure out what we are sellling." In my case, nothing could be farther from the truth. You see, there are 2 types of cigar stores. 1) a store that ONLY sells certain products, based on price. If it's a good deal, they'll sell them. (2) a store that stocks cigars ONLY because he/she knows everything about them. We've been in business for 13 years and I make it my business to know what I'm selling. While it's true that most don't want to walk into a shop with a pad and pen…what ever happened to conversing with your local tobacconist to find out what is new and what will fit your palette? Most people choose to. Obviously, you don't. And that's fine, too. But most of my customers enjoy coming in and hearing from me, as to whether they will like a particular cigar (based on their preferences, of course), or what kind of tobacco is in a specific cigar. Again, it is MY business to know these things. If you don't know what you're selling, it's because you're not asking. And if you're not asking, you shouldn't be selling.

  16. Tyler Powers Friday, July 17, 2009 at 4:55 pm #

    That is an very well thought out list of pet peeves. Are you a mind reader? #3 and #5 were exactly my latest issues.