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How to Appreciate Cigars and the Art of Smoking

17 Feb

Cigars have been popular in England and the Americas for ages, they were of extreme popularity in the 1800s as seen in their mass consumption by Mark Twain and the fictional character, “Dorian Gray.” They were immensely popular in the 1900s, becoming the trademark of Winston Churchill, after whom the largest size cigar is named; and by many popular entertainers and celebrities of the era.

Cigars, like any hobby or vice, should be used in moderation and should be enjoyable, which it could never be as a habitual practise.

That being said, cheap cigars are not a way to go. They will save you money but you will not get any real value out of your savings, they are made for people who need the nicotine, are sprayed with preservatives and toxic chemicals and do not take the form of an art.

Cigars, for many, are an acquired taste. For some, they cause too much displeasure to ever want a taste for them. Some people enjoy cigars ab initio. Whichever you may be, if only to better acquaint yourself with an age-old hobby, I will lay out the steps to understand and enjoy your cigar to the fullest.

Requisite Investments:
Cigar(s)
A humidor of decent or high quality
Propylene Glycol Solution
Distilled water
Wood Matches
A good cigar cutter

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Suggested Additions:
A good single-malt (I will follow up with an article on whiskey)
A substantial but not overfilling meal beforehand: The nicotine will make you feel ill if you are not used to it and your blood sugar is low, some people enjoy this, but most people do not. Hydration is important too.
Friends: When you start out you will probably be smoking alone. Many people associate cigars with negative stereotypes such as old men or criminals so they dislike them. Others smoke them wrong because they think of character’s like Al Pacino’s “Scarface.”
Either way, you will encounter some resistance but may find some of your friends asking you to introduce the hobby to them and it is a hobby that is more enjoyable in a social environment.

First Step
Purchasing:

Go to your local tobacconist, most people even acquire a favourite after shopping around a bit.
If you do not know the people employed there, then do not trust them completely, they are not your guardian angels, they are salesman.
You are going to want a small cigar with a light and easily palatable flavour. Cigarillos are very good and I most certainly suggest them with one deterrent; if you do not like one, you are stuck with nine to twenty-four more of them.
“Hoyo de Monterrey,” makes a very good cigar, mild, versatile and appropriate for virtually any palate, you will be purchasing the, “Petit Corona,” the small size which is, chiefly in “Hoyo de Monterrey’s,” products, referred to as, “Demitasse.”
Next you will purchase a cutter, do not get the cheapest one, get one that is sharp, nicely constructed and comfortable for you, mine is a guillotine style, double-edged.
Your humidor needn’t be prodigious, start with a small, good quality one and purchase with it an electric hygrometer and a small size bottle of Propylene Glycol with a crystal humidifier. -Tell this to the salesperson, he/she will understand and explain if necessary.
You may save money by purchasing a travel humidor if you do not plan on owning a large amount of cigars at a time, mine is called an, “X-treme,” it was inexpensive and I am thrilled with it. You will, however, have to add your own hygrometer.
Distilled Water and Matches, guess for yourself.

“What? He did not mention Cubans?”
I assume my readers primarily to be within the US, Cuban cigars are terrific. I own some. These I took with me to the United States, I did not buy them here. I have heard that there are a lot of peddlers selling what they claim are “real,” and I have been consulted about this over the phone. I don’t know. If I cannot see them, smell them or examine the packaging, then I cannot verify their authenticity. I also do not know anything about where you can illegally purchase them, I am not in that business.

As for my suggestions, if you are in Cuba and decide to violate federal regulations, or you happen to be from somewhere outside the USA; I would suggest the Montecristo Mini Cigarillos, the Montecristo Number 2, Partagas Torpedos and a few others. Feel free to send specific inquiries relating to suggestions.

Now, on to Part Two of Our Mythical Journey
Setting up your humidor:
The easy answer is to neatly put in your cigars and hygrometer, put a 50/50 mix of propylene glycol and distilled water into your humidifier and close it.

What you will do in actuality is, without “pre-soaking,” your humidor, as some suggest, because this damages the wood; you will take out your humidifier, put in the 50/50 solution, wait for it to absorb, in the mean time place your cigars gently and carefully in your humidor along with your hygrometer, after 10-15 minutes, you will lightly dab with a clean paper towel at the humidifier, replace it, and shut your humidor. Do your best to maintain about 65 degrees Fahrenheit and 65% humidity at all time.

Step Three
Hard Work and Investments Pay Off:
If your cigar is fresh, have your matches ready, carefully cut the sealed end off of your cigar, do not over-cut but do not undercut as this will make it impossible to smoke.

This is a two match process, you are not lighting with the first:
Put the cigar to your lips and light a match, slowly move it across the end of the cigar, warming it evenly to insure that it lights evenly. Light your second match, bring it to the end of your cigar and move it around slowly and evenly as you pull in the smoke, being careful not to salivate onto the cigar. When the end of the cigar is lit in a seemingly even fashion you are done lighting it, it is okay to take it out of your mouth to examine.

Now you are going to pull in the smoke, with your mouth and throat, not your lungs. Remember, cigars are not to be inhaled. Let the smoke roll over your tongue and relax as you enjoy your cigar, try to focus on it intently and appreciate each subtle flavour and texture.

That is it, no more to it really.
The only thing left to do is experience different brands, sizes, types and discover which one is best for you.

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Cuban Cigarillos
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Cuban Cigars to the Left of the Divider Regular Premiums to the Right

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