Last night I sat down to re arrange my main humidor and rotate the contents, while at the same time opening two smaller ones to move some things from one to another. As I dug through the various sticks, I was thinking about cigars, writing, the industry and people. I became fascinated with cigars years ago, the smell, the taste and aroma, the sights and creations to be found in large walk in humidors, the absolute art of the stick itself and the tradition behind it.
The first cigar I ever had grabbed me and I haven’t let go in thirty years. It is somewhat amazing to my though how one can go from just the raw delight in enjoying cigars as a novice to, after time, digging into every bit of information about companies, brands, regions, plants and the who, what, when and where of the cigars. I have written stories about cigars for years but only in the last couple of years have I started putting them out for people to see, for until then it was just a way for me to put my thoughts in a catalog for reference. I think that sometimes, we can get carried away in the business of things, just as in anything, and miss out on that raw joy known at the start. It may be possible as well that sometimes we take ourselves to seriously and miss out on the youthful exuberance we get at lighting up a new stick. You can over think anything and cigars are no different, from cap to foot or the complete structures of cigars. from every vein, variations in the wrapper color to every single note and nuance of flavor.
Now to write about these items is one thing, don’t get me wrong, you have to look at all those to do so, but not to the point that it is consuming or that the joy fades, or get to a point where we complicate the very process of what the creation is for. I’m as guilty as anyone of this. Once again, I’m not saying this is wrong, just that every now and then we should back up, forget what we know, pick up a fine cigar and just light it, smoke it and enjoy it, back to what it is made for, the pure unadulterated pleasure of the smoke. I think also we should never take our selves so seriously that we became oblivious to the fact that we don’t know everything about it. I remember a few months ago, I was in a B&M in Jackson and was enjoying just looking through the multitude of cigars in a very large walk in humidor, sort of like being a kid in a candy store. While in there, two gentlemen walked in and one was new to cigars and it was all to obvious the other was a walking “I know the whole world of cigars” afficionado. I tried not to be distracted but could still here the conversation.
I admired the new bee, you could hear the enthusiasm in his voice as he looked at all the different shapes, sizes and wrappers. He had chosen on off the shelf and asked his friend about it, who started telling him about the region it came from, the parts of the plant certain leaves were picked from, the style of the cap, how long it was aged, how to properly cut it to achieve adequate draw and then ran through the entire length of the stick telling him where various and many flavors make up the blend. After they looked at about ten different cigars, the look on the new bees face was that of sheer confusion, and the glee I saw when he walked in was gone. What a shame. Myself, I picked up a couple cigars I had not had in years and headed for checkout. After my purchase I stepped aside to find a chair to sit and talk with the owner while smoking and had just clipped the end of mine when the new bee walked up to the counter. I saw what he had in his hand and made the comment to him, “Thats a good one, enjoy”. He looked at me and said, “I hope so, my friend said that it comes from a certain region and that I need to let it burn slow and….” you get the idea.
His friend was still in the humi when I sat down, and the new bee sat across from me. He held a nice cigar in his hand and looked at his friend still roaming around the humi and asked me, “Pardon me, but is there a proper way to start smoking this particular cigar? I’m new to this and want to really enjoy it.”. I told him, “Stick the cigar in your mouth, light it and puff, and don’t think just enjoy.”. Its great to know all you can about cigars because there is a vast world of knowledge about it and some of the finest traditions and families involved, but here again, sometimes, just sometimes, forget what you know, cut, light and enjoy.
Thats part of the fun of cigars. With so many companies and so many brands, from the big and well known to the new and to the small, some in it for generation, other just starting, each one producing a product that they spent time and effort to blend what they think and believe to be a great cigar is for a certain taste. Notice, I said certain taste, each person is different. By the way, while it is true that the cigar world is somewhat a community, its a community that should never be gated.
On a whole, the people you meet in the cigar industry as well as those who write about it are some of the finest people you ever want to meet, with great kindness, business knowledge and as friendly a group of people as you ever could know. That being said, like in anything, every once in a while you find one that thinks in a very closed community way and that is terrible, because its whats outside the community that buys the product that gives you the opportunity to be in the industry.
And to the consumer, remember one thing, that cigar you bought, that you ordered or walked into a B&M and selected, when you light it remember all that went into it, for its more than just leaves rolled up, its an art form. Thats one of the many great things about the cigar world, so many variations and flavors, shapes and sizes, brands and histories. But fellow B.O.T.L. and S.O.T.L. every so often, lets stop and clear our minds of the science and do just one thing………