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Cigar Tip: Six Basic Go-To Cigar Accessories

21 Feb 2019

You could spend almost as much time learning about cigar accessories as the cigars themselves. There’s a long history of cigar gadgets, with many of them being mostly useless.

That said, you do need some accessories for a cigar; after all, you won’t get far without a way to cut and light your cigar. To that end, here are five simple, inexpensive accessories worth using.

Djeep Lighter

A lighter is as simple as it gets, and the Djeep is pretty simple. It’s also dependable, has a large capacity, and it’s cheap, especially when you buy in bulk .

Jetlight Torch

Soft flame lighters are great for indoors (or when you’re traveling on a plane), but sometimes, especially outdoors, a butane torch works best. I’ve had a ton of torches over the years, including some very expensive ones, many of which have worked flawlessly. But when it comes to dependability (the key to a good torch), none other than the Ronson JetLite do so much for so less. You can find one for less than $5.

Palio Cutter

There’s nothing worse than a dull cutter that rips a cigar rather than cleanly slicing it. Many fulfill that purpose, though lately I’ve been really enjoying a Palio cutter I managed to pick up for just $10. Not only do the double blades effortlessly and effectively cut my cigar, but the concave design makes it an excellent resting place for a cigar.

Leather Cigar Case

I’ve had this particular case forever. Honestly, I have no idea where I got it. What I like about it is the versatile size (you can fit three coronas just as easily as three Churchills) and the low profile (it fits neatly in the inside pocket of a suit coat). Here’s a similar case on sale for $22.

Travel Case

When it comes to protecting cigars while traveling, nothing works better than a hard plastic case (like one from Xikar or Cigar Caddy). I’m especially a fan of the five-cigar size, which easily slips into a work or golf bag and holds enough cigars to get anyone through a day.

Boveda

Boveda packs aren’t the cheapest way to keep your cigars properly humidified, but they are the easiest. As long as you change them out when they dry out, they will work flawlessly.

Any other accessories you can’t live without?

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Tip: Smoke Two Cigars at Once

13 Feb 2019

[Many cigar enthusiasts eventually come to a point where they go from being someone who enjoys cigars without thinking about it too much, to someone who enjoys cigars and wants to know why they enjoy one cigar or another. For that person, I recommend a suggestion we first made eight years ago: “Develop Your Palate by Smoking Two Cigars at Once” (which is as true today as when we first published it).]

Developing your palate for tasting cigars comes down mostly to one thing: smoking lots of cigars and paying close attention to the flavors you notice. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to accelerate the learning curve.

For one, you can make sure your palate is clean. Sure, a neat scotch or a good rum on the rocks may be my preferred drink pairings, but there is no substitute for for some sparkling water when I want to make sure I’m picking up the full spectrum of flavors in a cigar.

An excellent, but less traditional, way to improve your ability to pick up nuances in cigar flavors is to light up two at the same time. By that I obviously don’t mean drawing on two cigars at once, but rather lighting up two and alternating tastes to pick up differences and similarities. The concept is standard in wine, where multiple similar wines are sampled either vertically (the same wine in different vintages) or horizontally (where multiple wines of the same vintage and type are sampled). The results can be striking. By tasting similar wines, it becomes easier to focus on the nuances and subtle differences.

The same holds true for cigars. The best way to taste multiple cigars is by smoking similar cigars. (Like tasting a champagne against a full bordeaux, you’re not likely to learn much by tasting a mild Connecticut-wrapped cigar against a full-bodied Nicaraguan puro.)

Light up a full-bodied Nicaraguan cigar and you’re likely to pick up the same general flavors: earth, spice, maybe leather or cedar. However, light up two different full-bodied Nicaraguans (as I recently did in the photo above) and you’ll notice more specifics, such as the type of spice (sweeter cinnamon versus black pepper). Secondary flavors, like cocoa, coffee, and clove will also begin to stand out.

As long as you continue to keep your palate clean, you’ll be amazed at what flavors you can “discover” in a cigar when searching for differences between two cigars that smoked alone would be described in very similar terms. Plus, alternating between two cigars forces you to smoke each slowly, which will also help you notice the distinct qualities of each (smoking too quickly will overheat the tobacco and taint the flavor).

You certainly wouldn’t want to smoke most of your cigars this way, because the fun of cigars is relaxing and reflecting, not having to worry about keeping multiple cigars lit or concentrating on the small details of the flavors. Still, if every so often you smoke two (or more) at once to exercise your palate, I think you’ll find it easier to enjoy all the depth and complexity that fine cigars have to offer.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Tip: Four All-Time Great Cigars Before They Were Discontinued

31 Jan 2019

Most discontinued cigars were discontinued because they didn’t sell. Look at the cigars introduced at the IPCPR Trade Show five years ago and you’ll find many that aren’t around anymore, or have been relegated to close-outs.

But other cigars have been discontinued for other reasons. Today we look at four cigars that were discontinued despite being considered excellent.

Cuban Bolivar Gold Medal

This Cuban lonsdale was a cigar connoisseurs appreciated, even though it apparently never was a big seller. Not only is it a bold and full-bodied Cuban, it features iconic gold foil packaging. The pre-1960 release was first discontinued in 1992 only to be brought back in 2007 and then dropped again in 2011. Given its history, don’t be shocked if it makes it back as a limited edition release.

Cuban Davidoffs

Legendary cigars until they were discontinued in 1991, Davidoff was the last company that wasn’t controlled by the Cuban government to make cigars with Cuban tobacco. Davidoff pulled out of Cuba in 1991 because of reportedly sub-standard tobacco, which Zino Davidoff dramatically and symbolically burned to show that it wasn’t up to his standards. Still, prior to that, Davidoff Cubans were the perfect combination of capitalist production standards and the ideal climate for growing tobacco. Today, old Cuban Davidoffs are a preview of what could come when Cuba finally embraces economic liberalization.

Pepin-made Padilla 1932

Production of the Padilla 1932 didn’t stop when Pepin stopped making Padilla cigars in 2008, but the cigar has never been the same. Later versions of the Padilla 1932 were nice cigars, but the original 1932 was one that made me appreciate just how complex, balanced, and exquisite a cigar really can be. (If you want to identify the Pepin-made Padilla 1932, look for “Padilla” in block letters, as opposed to script in later versions.) I smoked many of these cigars before they were discontinued; I wish I had scooped up a few more boxes when I had the chance.

Tatuaje Black Corona Gordo “Ceramic Jar” Release

Not so much discontinued but introduced as a limited edition, the Tatuaje Black line has only expanded over the years, but none match the original 2007 Ceramic Jar release. (Not even the follow up jar release.)  Only 1,000 original jars of 19 were made and, from the dozen or so I smoked, no other Tatuaje quite compares (high praise when you look at all the high ratings Tatuaje has received). One of the overlooked facts about early Tatuajes is that before Pepin and Eduardo Fernandez’s 2010 lawsuit, these cigars included tobacco from Aganorsa farms. As good as many of today’s Tatuaje cigars are, the combination of Aganorsa and Pepin was something really special, even though the subsequent litigation means it probably won’t happen ever again.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Tip: Can That Excess Humidity

28 Jan 2019

For a lot of you, high humidity isn’t much of a concern, except in the depths of summer. Here in Florida, though, it is basically a year-round problem.

I’ve been fighting—and usually losing—the battle against high humidity ever since we moved here in 2005. Finally, I believe I’ve found a weapon that works: a desiccant canister designed primarily for gun safes from Liberty Safe and Security Products.

Now, I’m not a fanatic about humidity levels. For one thing, years of monitoring have shown me that it is virtually impossible to maintain an exact point. But there is certainly a danger in cigars being ruined by far too much or too little humidity. Generally, I aim for a range of about 61-67% relative humidity. However, achieving that is no small task.

Since high temperatures are also a major concern here, I’ve used a cooling unit from the start. I ran through a couple of coolidors, which did OK, but didn’t seem to last too long. Then, about seven years ago, I purchased a Cooled 1200 Refrigerated Cigar Cabinet from Avallo Humidors in Nashville. I’ve been pleased with the unit and the service from Matt Allen, the owner of Avallo.

In addition to cooling, the Avallo also has an automated system to measure and add humidity. Of course, it’s rare that I have to add moisture. Getting rid of it is my problem.

The list of what I’ve tried seems endless: tons of beads, mountains of kitty litter, jars and jars of gel, a self-contained dehumidifier—and anything else that seemed like a possible solution.

None of it really worked.

I have a Xikar PuroTemp Wireless Hygrometer System with a sensor on each of the two sliding shelves to monitor temperature and humidity so I can easily tell when either is getting out of control.

For the past couple of years, I have resorted to DampRid or a similar absorbent material when humidity spiked. While it does reduce humidity, it also involves guessing how much to use and frequently checking the rising water level to make sure it doesn’t overflow.

Recently, I did another internet search to see if there was something I hadn’t tried. That’s when I spotted the Liberty canisters.

They come in three sizes (40 grams, 450 grams, and 750 grams), with prices ranging from $6.49 to $15.99. Rather than wait for an online order, I checked gun shop websites for local availability. Fortunately, a shop nearby stocked them, and I bought the large canister. All that was required to put it to use was to heat it in the oven for a couple of hours while the material inside dried out.

When it was cool, I put it in the humidor and… Voila! It sucked the moisture out of the air. I removed the canister when the humidity was down to an acceptable level, ready to re-heat and re-use again when necessary.

So far, I’ve employed it several times, and it has worked like a charm. No worry about water spilling, no wondering why nothing is happening.

Right now, it’s my favorite cigar accessory.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Tip: Celebrate the New Year with Cigars and Champagne

31 Dec 2018

[In order to help our readers ring 2019 in right, we’re republishing this tip about how to pair cigars and champagne. Enjoy!]

Pairing brown liquor with  cigars is the more obvious choice, but champagne (or other sparkling wines) can go surprisingly well with a smoke. Not to mention the celebratory nature of the bubbly. To enhance your champagne and cigar enjoyment, here are a few basic tips:

Save the top-dollar champagne.

Champagne can be fantastic, but unless you have unlimited funds, the vintage Dom Pérignon should be held back if you’re smoking a cigar. You pay a price for the champagne name (meaning it’s from the Champagne region of France). There are plenty of good champagne-style sparkling wines that can be had for a reasonable cost. Spending $50 or $100 on brand name French bubbly will probably be a waste (considering you’re going to lose some of the complexities due to your cigar). Spanish Cava, in particular, can be had for a fraction of the price. Prosecco is also a nice option.

Stick with mild cigars.

Champagne doesn’t have the heft of rum, whiskey, or even beer or coffee. The best champagnes are the most subtle, so the same subtlety is needed in the cigar you pair with your sparkling wine. Stick with mild cigars that have balance. Some Connecticut-wrapped cigars can feature bitterness, so look for those with age and balance. Extra-aged Cubans can be a great pairing, and a special mention is deserved for the Illusione Epernay, which is named after the Champagne region and was blended with a champagne pairing in mind.

Age your cigars and your champagne.

Smoking a cigar with champagne calls for a cigar that is smooth, mild, complex, and subtle, all of which can be the result of aging a cigar. Some cigars just lose their flavor with age, so be careful. Others others are enhanced by months or years of aging properly in a humidor. Some of the same things happen to aged champagne which, while not for everyone, loses some of its bubbly crispness but adds creaminess and depth along the lines of a well-aged white burgundy. Usually you pay extra for vintage champagne. But if you can get some of those same qualities by just putting aside a good champagne and waiting, don’t be afraid to give it a try. (Not long ago I had some non-vintage Champagne Tattinger with a decade of age, and the result was very impressive.)

Cheers, and happy 2019!

Patrick S

photo credit: Flickr 

Cigar Tip: Cigars and the Common Cold

10 Dec 2018

[Editor’s Note: The following commentary first appeared at StogieGuys.com on April 7, 2010. Since the author is currently suffering from a head cold, and since he’s not feeling well enough to smoke, he thought today would be a good day to revisit the topic. Conveniently, re-posting an old article would also get him out of having to write anything new for the day. He figures if you’ve been publishing for overa decade, you deserve a little break now and then. By the way, take note of two specific cigars that get mentioned below; in the author’s eyes, at least, they really date this article.]

Some call it a sinus infection. Others call it the common cold. The medical community recognizes it as a “viral upper respiratory tract infection.” No matter what the name, the symptoms are usually the same: runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, mild fatigue, and possibly a fever. And, like the summertime blues, there ain’t no cure.

The average adult experiences two to four colds per year. I got my first (and hopefully last) case of the 2010 cold this weekend. In typical fashion, it came overnight with a scratchy throat, stuffed up my nose for a few days, and left just as quickly as it arrived. No big deal, but enough to cause me to cancel a few weekend activities.

One activity I cut back on while sick is cigar smoking. I’m not really concerned that cigars will prolong the cold’s duration (although doctors say smokers tend to have longer colds—but then again, doctors say a lot of things). I just find cigar smoking a lot less enjoyable when my throat is sore or my nose is clogged.

I’d never attempt to review a cigar when my nose—the best cigar tasting instrument I have—is out of whack. Recently, though, I conducted an experiment. I fired up a Rocky Patel Vintage ’90 Toro to see if I could identify the flavors I normally associate with this cigar (cocoa, spicy wood, etc.). I couldn’t.

Not even close. I could have been smoking pretty much anything and it would have tasted like chalky, billowy air. As expected, this was a reminder of the huge role our sense of smell plays in cigar tasting and how important it is to routinely smoke through the nose.

Aside from being an impediment to appreciating premium tobacco, my cold also reminded me that I’m far from addicted to tobacco. I went a solid five days without smoking (and I’ve gone much longer under different circumstances, like when I was training for a marathon). Never once did I experience cravings, headaches, nausea, anxiety, or other symptoms common to those trying to quit cigarettes. Sure, I missed not being able to thoroughly enjoy a cigar. But it wasn’t an epic battle to lay off the leaf for awhile.

Now I’m feeling much better. I took my nose for a test drive with a 601 Red and everything seems to be back to normal. Health permitting, I’m looking forward to catching up on some new reviews and Quick Smokes in the weeks to come.

The next time I get a cold, I’ll probably get lots of sleep, drink lots of fluids, and avoid cigars—at least expensive ones. I suggest you do the same.

Patrick A

photo credit: Flickr

Cigar Tip: Have a Happy Thanksgiving… with Cigars (2018)

21 Nov 2018

 

With football on the TV, turkey in your stomach, and family gathered, Thanksgiving is a great day to enjoy a cigar (or several). So as we have every year for each of the past eleven years, today the StogieGuys.com team tells you what cigars we’ll be firing up after our big meals.

Patrick A: Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday (with its fireworks, barbecues, baseball, and beer, the Fourth of July is a close second). That’s why, despite being smoked in a way-too-cold Chicago garage, my post-dinner smoke on Thanksgiving is probably my favorite cigar experience of the year. So there’s a lot riding on picking a consistent smoke that’s well-suited to the situation. This year I’m going with the Mi Querida Fino Largo (6 x 48, about $9). Crafted at the NACSA factory for Steve Saka’s Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust, Mi Querida sports a blend of Nicaraguan tobaccos surrounded by a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. Full-bodied flavors of espresso, cinnamon, nougat sweetness, damp wood, and leather will provide the combination of power and harmony I’ll be craving after a huge dinner—and (hopefully) a Bears victory.

Patrick S: I’m visiting family in New York, where the high on Thanksgiving is expected to be below freezing and where any cigar will have to be enjoyed outdoors. So while I’m still looking forward to a post-turkey cigar, brevity is very much appreciated. This year I’m going to be lighting up a Paul Garmirian 25th Anniversary Short Robusto. The small (4.5 x 52) cigar packs all the complexity and flavor of the larger Connoisseur size. Think full-bodied flavors of rich oak, toast, black coffee, spice, salt, and pepper. I’ll probably pair it up with a peaty single malt (Lagavulin or Arbeg), which should be ideal for the harsh conditions.

George E: The weather down here in Florida nearly always makes for a terrific Thanksgiving, unquestionably one of the best holidays. This year is no exception, with the forecast calling for a couple degrees below the average high (77°) and little chance of rain until late in the night. So, I’m almost certain to end the day outside with a large cup of coffee (Starbucks Italian Roast) and a cigar. Looking back through some of my previous Thanksgiving selections, it seems I’ve often opted for high-powered cigars. For 2018, that’s not really changing. I’ve decided to light up one of the few My Father Limited Edition 2011 sticks (6.5 x 52, $20) remaining from the box I bought at an event when they were released. It’s been more than a year since I last had one, and I’m really looking forward to it.

Previous cigars the StogieGuys.com team designated as Thanksgiving smokes include:

 

Not a bad list, eh? If you’re so inclined, feel free to let us know what you’ll be smoking tomorrow in the comments below. And be sure to have a safe and joyous Thanksgiving.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr