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Stogie Commentary: An Undeserved Reputation

15 Sep 2010

Let’s face it: As much as we deplore snobbery, we’re all guilty of various forms of cigar arrogance from time to time. Even the most tolerant of cigar enthusiasts is bound to scoff at something (flavored cigars, for example).

Cigars Sold HereBut not all cigar-related condescension is justified. Some things from the cigar world have amassed undeserved reputations. Below, in no particular order, are my top five:

1. Inexpensive lighters and cutters. In my experience, wooden matches, modestly priced cutters, and other cheap accessories often get the job done just as well as their expensive counterparts. Does it look ridiculous to clip a $20 smoke with a double guillotine cutter that cost $12? Maybe. But not nearly as ridiculous as losing a $100+ cutter between your couch cushions. Understated, easily replaceable cigar accessories are the mark of a true aficionado.

2. Altadis and General Cigar. I’ll be the first to admit that my favorite cigar manufacturers are small, boutique operations. But that doesn’t change the fact that two of the biggest premium tobacco outfits also make a lot of tasty, widely available, well-made, relatively inexpensive cigars. So it’s a mistake to outright dismiss everything made by Altadis or General.

3. Mild cigars. Some cigar fans condemn all mild cigars and elevate most bold, full-bodied powerhouse sticks to legendary status. This practice can only be perceived as a misguided attempt to prove one’s manhood. Mild cigars, as my former colleague once wrote, “can and should remain part of a well-balanced collection. We should not consider ourselves too macho, too old, too cool, or too proud to smoke mild or medium sticks.”

4. Online cigar retailers. In these discouraging times of restrictive smoking bans and outrageous tobacco taxes, it’s vital to support brick and mortar tobacco shops. Heck, many new cigars are purposefully relegated to tobacconist shelves. While this is a noble cause, let’s not forget that online retailers serve an important role. They provide competitive auctions, affordable deals, and enable customers to buy smokes from the comfort of their homes. They also make some rare smokes easier to find. So frequent your local shop and lose the guilt when you occasionally buy via the web.

5. Bundle cigars. Cigar boxes are truly a work of art, elevating the importance of presentation to a level unrealized in other industries. If cost is your concern, though, consider buying by the bundle. Many good cigars come bunched in bales of cellophane instead of colorfully decorated Spanish cedar boxes. However untraditional and unattractive, this strategy cuts on cost, and the savings are often passed on to you, the consumer. Nevermind the connotation that great cigars have to come from beautiful boxes.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

7 Responses to “Stogie Commentary: An Undeserved Reputation”

  1. matt Wednesday, September 15, 2010 at 2:14 am #

    some of my favorite smokes are made by altadis and general cigar and some of them are mild to medium. that being said my favorite smoke is padillas 1932 series but i do appreciate a good mild smoke. great article couldnt agree more.

  2. Gary Korb Wednesday, September 15, 2010 at 2:19 am #

    BRAVO! Although I'm partial to online retailers for personal reasons, you hit the nail square on the head.

  3. dmjones1009 Wednesday, September 15, 2010 at 3:12 am #

    Good piece, Patrick. I agree with most of what you said, with a couple enhancements and/or caveats:

    On #3, I used to think "bold, powerhouses" were the thing to be seen smoking, but as I have matured as a cigar enthusiast I have learned that many of those stronger cigars sacrifice flavor for strength and body, whereas many mild to medium cigars have amazing flavor that should not be overlooked.

    For #4: I have made a decision to not frequent online retailers on a regular basis because of some of the practices that definitely hurt B&Ms. That's just my personal view after becoming friends with my local B&M manager. I will still buy online on the occasion of some outrageously good deal, though, or especially for those items that can't be easily bought at a B&M (Man o War, for example). To me it feels like this is an issue with lots of gray area and everyone needs to do what is right for themselves and what they can live with.

  4. Lloyd L. Wednesday, September 15, 2010 at 4:20 am #

    I prefer smokes in the medium range. I just don't like the feeling I get after smoking a full-bodied cigar. Regarding accessories, it doesn't need to cost an arm & a leg, it just needs to cut or light properly.

  5. mighty Wednesday, September 15, 2010 at 6:47 am #

    Brick and Mortar stores also have the mighty distinction of almost always bringing in "new blood" into the hobby. Newer smokers usually go to a B+M to buy and learn.

    It is important to support the B+M, especially if they offer good service and their cigars are stored properly.

    Good read!

  6. Brian E Wednesday, September 15, 2010 at 3:29 pm #

    Thank you for writing this, and I completely agree on all points.

    Finding good cigars and accessories that don't necessarily cost a lot has always been a goal of mine That being said, cigars *are* a hobby so I think it is okay to splurge once in a while. Not for bragging rights, but for personal enjoyment. I think everyone has (and should have) some "special occasion" cigars that are outside their normal price comfort zone, but only if they are actually praised for their consistent taste and quality, not high cost or exclusivity (some Cubans come to mind). Personally I have cigars that range from sub-$1 machine-made cigars that I regularly enjoy all the way to ones that fall into the $10-20 range.

    I have long disliked the apparent "contest" amongst cigar manufacturers and cigar smokers to see who could make the next cigar that would become the world's most powerful, fullest bodied, earth-shatteringly strong cigar, and to see who could smoke it without doctor supervision. While I do enjoy some of yesterday's full-body champs (RP Edge, Partagas Black) I have been reluctant to try some newer cigars because of all the hype about how powerful they are. It almost sounds to me like they are intentionally missing the point, because I have also had some extremely enjoyable and tasty cigars that fall into the "mild" category.

    With my collection being as diverse and (in my opinion) balanced as it is, thank God for singles and 5-packs, or I'd be broke!

  7. SFVenue Sunday, September 26, 2010 at 12:13 pm #

    Well stated! I must say because i spent alot of money on my ST. Dupont, I know that I will not lose it in the sofa cusions. I do agree with the mild smokes. You are a true connoisseur of cigars if you can apprieciate a fine mild cigar. Although I personally smoke med-Full cigars.