28 Feb 2013
It’s easy sometimes to get caught up in the many aspects of cigar enthusiasm, from whether the industry’s largest trade group should initiate a consumer day, to which shop has the latest limited release, to the new, hot blender.
Do you age your sticks? Cello on or cello off? What’s the best bundle? Is your humidity at 60 or 65 or 70? I know it’s Nicaraguan tobacco, but what region of Nicaragua is it from? Do you think stalk-curing is the next big thing? Have you seen this stick I got at event last week?
The questions, and the answers, can be endless. And a lot of fun. Part of what makes a hobby enjoyable is the ability to become immersed in the culture and all its arcana.
But sometimes we can become lost—or at least I can, speaking for myself—in a thicket and miss that bright blue sky overhead. This came home to me the other day when I was reading a column in the February Stereophile, one of many magazines I enjoy despite not even remotely understanding what much of the writing is about.
The interesting thing is how often I’m reminded of cigars.
For example, Jason Victor Serinus described a demonstration he’d produced for an audiophile gathering to evaluate two speaker cables. Serinus was confused by numerous listeners who either could tell no difference or preferred the lower-priced cable sound.
“I couldn’t figure out why so many people were missing obvious giveaways of inferior sound,” he wrote. “But, instead of blaming the listeners, I began to wonder if we who review equipment have unintentionally helped create a community of audiophiles who lack the ability to listen deeply.” He went on to say that reviews centered heavily around specific elements can lead listeners to “focus on individual fragments… instead of receiving music as an organic whole.”
Needless to say, I thought of cigars and my own cigar reviews as I was reading.
And it brought to mind a quote I heard in a video from the Stumptown Coffee Roasters’ Skip Colombo. He was, obviously, talking about coffee. But it could just as easily have been cigars. It’s a description of the experience to which I think we can all aspire:
“A good cup of coffee is one that stops me in my tracks… I take a sip and it’s like the world stops turning on its axis.”