Cigar Chat with "Mr. Smoke"

Spring is Here!

After a long hard winter spring is finally here, a lot of us see spring as a time to tidy up the house and do some much-needed cleaning. When I was a kid my mom would have me go around the house and pull all the furniture off the wall so she could clean the baseboards behind them. Dad would have me up on a ladder changing all the batteries in the smoke alarms. I guess it was sort of programming me for adulthood because now I find myself doing the same things as an adult. Why stop there you need to think about your cigar accessories the same way as any other household item that needs maintenance.

When I became a cigar smoker  only a few months went by before I started collecting accessories to go along with my cigars. When I bought my first Humidour I asked the owner of the store how do I use this. The owner explain to me that you need to season it to get it started and then keep the humidification element full. Being a newbie I then asked him what does seasoning mean, he took a few minutes and explain to me the process of wiping down the humidor with distilled water to get the humidity up faster. After that I was on my way,I went home seasoned the box and kept the humidification element full, easy right.

Things went well through the summer, fall and winter, But when spring rolled around I began to notice that the humidity in my humidor would not stay at the 70% mark like it had been doing for months and I noticed that I had to fill up the humidification element almost every week instead of once a month. So what changed ,why am I having trouble keeping up the humidity and if you sit and think about it logically nothing changed except the season. Most of us that live in cold climates have forced hot air heat, it's one of the most efficient ways to heat a building, but it's also very dry air.

After a long winter your humidor is tired and getting very dry because your forced hot air heat has been running for months, so every spring I add it to my list of spring time chores and re-season my humidors. I've had the same desktop humidors for over 20 years and since I started re-seasoning every year I have never had a problem.  It is also a good idea to rotate your cigars around so that the cigars in the middle of the box get moved to the outside and the cigars on the outside get moved to the middle. I usually find a cigar or two that I completely forgot I had when I rotate cigars. It's like finding money in an old pair of pants.

Some other things I would recommend adding to your chore list would be purging and cleaning your cigar lighter along with cleaning your cigar cutter with alcohol, after all it does cut the cigars that you are about to put in your mouth.

Quite often customers will ask, "What is the best way to cut your cigar?", and we tell them the truth, which is what ever way you prefer. 

For those of you who don't understand the question, let me spell it out for you. There are a wide variety of cutters on the market. There are straight cutters, bullet cutters, V cutters, and everything in between. There is even a cutter made by Brizard called a spear cutter that drills tiny holes in the back of the cigar to allow you to draw smoke through it. 

You see there really is no right or wrong way it all comes down to personal preference. 

The very next question they ask is, "Which way do you cut your cigar?", and the truth is, I only believe in using a straight cut. 

A straight cut removes the entire cap from the head of the cigar allowing you to draw the maximum amount of smoke through it. Sure most of the other styles of cutting cigars are cleaner when it comes to smoking them and by that I mean there's less chance of you getting bits of tobacco in your mouth, but the problem is they all cut a much smaller hole in the back of the cigar, which tends to concentrate the smoke coming out. This causes the cigar to taste harsher than it was intended to.

I've actually tested this theory and smoked three of the exact same cigars at the same time, cut three different ways and they all tasted different. If that's not enough to convince you, there is yet another problem. Some cigar manufactures first form a pigtail on the cigar and then push it back into the head before capping it. Small diameter punch cutters do not always cut enough off the cap for this reverse pigtail to be removed, and your cigar will not smoke very well at all.

But in the end the choice is up to you and you should cut your cigar which ever way you prefer. 

There is one other thing I would like to point out when it comes to cutting a cigar. You should have your own cutter and you should bring it with you to your local cigar store. I know there are thousands of cigar stores in the country and every store has some sort of cutting station with various cutters for customers to use. So you might say, "Why should I bring a cutter to a cigar store?" That's like taking sand to the beach right? Well let me ask you this... when is the last time you saw someone in the cigar industry or someone working in a tobacco shop using the cutters that are out for the public? The answer is probably never! 
The reason for this is we watch thousands of cigar smokers a year use those cigar cutters, and we've seen it all, from the little lick to the complete down the hatch like a sword swallower, and of course it's always right before they use the cigar cutters. I don't know why they think licking it will give it a better cut but thousands of them do. Of course we clean the cigar cutters periodically but not after every use. 

So take it from me. Don't use the a.k.a. "slobber cutter." Buy a nice cigar cutter and bring it with you when you plan on smoking.

How to get Your Wife/Girlfriend Involved in Cigar Smoking​

So as we all know the majority of cigar smokers are men, which brings up the question, "Why don't more women smoke cigars?"

I think a lot of it has to do with the stereotype that only men smoke cigars... play cards smoking cigars, go to the race track smoking cigars, sit at this Sports bar in the casino smoking cigars, and so on and so forth. This is what's been drilled into our head for many years. And both women and men now believe it.

I think this is partially why most women hate cigar smoke and hate the fact that their husbands, sons and boyfriends smoke them, but when you really think about it, it's not the cigar they hate, it's the fact that they're totally left out. It's something that men do together which doesn't necessarily have to be the case.

The holidays are right around the corner, and this is a time that many gatherings take place in which brothers, uncles and sons will most likely be huddled in the garage after Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner enjoying cigars together while their wives, sisters and aunts clean up the enormous mess they just made. I'm not saying it's right, but it's probably true.

So what can we do to change this? I think instead of just buying cigars for you and your dad, maybe you should think about buying a small cigar for mom to try. Let's include mom instead of leaving her out.

You'd be surprised at the reaction you get just by including someone.

The reason I bring this up is because a couple of years ago we had a woman stop by the cigar shoppe to buy cigars for her husband and son. While she was here, she asked for a small mild cigar for her. I was completely shocked and intrigued by this request. I asked her if she ever smoked a cigar before and she replied, "No, this will be my first one." When I asked her why she wanted to try one she replied, "My husband and son always get together on the weekends and after dinner they go out to the backyard and have a cigar together and I'd like to be part of that too." So before she left we gave her a crash course in "Cigar 101." We told her, "If you're going to smoke cigars with them, you're going to be the expert." So we showed her the proper way to cut and light a cigar and how to properly Ash in the ashtray. She has now been coming in for years and knows much more about cigars than her son or husband.

So what I'm trying to say is if you make cigar smoking more enticing for the women in your life, they might not give you such a hard time about smoking cigars yourself.

Here's a few more pointers you can take to the bank. Look around at your cigar paraphernalia. Are you still using the same ugly cheap cutter that you've had for 10 years and never cleaned? FYI I know we think it's fine, but women see it as disgusting.

How about your ashtray? If you even use one is it that black plastic ashtray that you got at the dollar store? Is it overflowing with cigar butts? Not very appealing to the ladies.

Let's face it. Women are not like us. We will wear the same shirt every day if it's on top in the drawer and comfortable, even if it has a hole in it and a great big stain. Women like nice things, so if you want them to be on board with your cigar smoking and maybe even join you for one, let's clean up your act. Get yourself some new cigar toys that are pretty and shiny and keep them clean.

And remember no one likes to be left out. You might find yourself a new smoking companion to talk to instead of sitting on the porch by yourself. Who knows, maybe someday she'll even let you smoke in the house.

So What Does Lifting the Cuban Embargo Mean to You & Me?

Since President Obama's announcement to lift the Cuban embargo, it has become a great topic of discussion here at The Humidour.

The day that he announced lifting the embargo, the phone started ringing before he was off the air..."When will the Cuban cigars be in?" Well I hate to burst anyone's bubble, but so many things have to happen before we ever get Cuban cigars, it is going to be a long wait.

For starters it will take an act of Congress to lift the Cuban embargo, and we all know how well Congress is at getting things done.

Secondly, there will be a lot of issues involving trademark disputes. As we all know, many cigars that are marketed in the United States bare Cuban names, such as Cohiba, Montecristo and Punch, just to name a few. Because of the embargo, the United States does not recognize Cuban trademarks. Therefore, in their ultimate wisdom, they granted trademarks to many companies for the names of Cuban cigars in the United States. The legal battle for these trademarks has been going on since 1997 and has still not been resolved.

Thirdly, don't forget about the FDA. They haven't figured out what to do as far as option one or option two are concerned for the cigars that are already marketed in the United States. Once you throw Cuban cigars into the mix, it gets even messier.

Now let's put that all aside and assume Cuban cigars are now legal to purchase in the United States. The Cuban embargo has been in place since 1962 (as we know when the The Communist Party of Cuba took over many Cubans fled to United States.) The majority of the premium cigars manufactured in Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican republic are owned and operated by Cuban families and refugees that fled Cuba many years ago, taking with them their knowledge and skill of producing the finest cigars in the world. That being said, the quality and construction of Cuban cigars is not what it used to be. Anyone who has recently smoked a Cuban cigar knows what I mean. There is a great analogy that my friend, Michael Kidd, likes to use: "Cuban cigars are manufactured by the government of Cuba. How good do you think your cigar would be if we let the DMV produce them?"

Taking all of this into account, I'm not that excited about Cuban cigars becoming legal in the United States. What I am excited about is what will happen once Cuban tobacco is available for Master blenders to work with. When we start to explore the possibilities of Cuban tobacco being blended with Nicaraguan, Dominican, and Honduran tobacco, the possibilities are very exciting.

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