When we think of a premium cigar, we are drawn to the flavorful, handcrafted masterpieces of meticulously cured, blended and rolled tobaccos. Cigars have often been viewed as an implication of elegance and class, shared by members of a community within social circles and ceremonious occasions. The upscale nature of cigar smoking however, is built around the good nature and character of an individual, rather than prosperity or affluence. Through this gentlemanly demeanor, there’s a social protocol to cigar smoking that’s expected to be adhered to by both novices and well-seasoned smokers, within most smoking environments. But don’t take that disclaimer as a brooding warning— cigar smoking is a passionate pastime that welcomes any and all individuals! All they’ll ever ask in return in a little etiquette…

Cigar etiquette is simply polite and courteous behavior within these smoking circles. These indoctrinated rules stretch back to centuries ago, and some of which, amongst all the changes in environments and technology, still hold up today. Zino Davidoff was one of the first to publicize these time-honored traditions with an essay entitled "Zino Davidoff's Guide to Cigar Etiquette." Davidoff’s guide is one that does bear a few more of the guidelines that aren’t as emphasized in today’s culture, such as walking with cigars, or asking a fellow smoker to borrow a lighting device. But Davidoff’s insistence on lighting your own cigar, or the refusal to re-light cigars which have been smoked two-thirds of their course, have remained social strongholds. In truth, any premium cigar should be allowed to die with dignity, and we should all opt not to stick our nubs with a toothpick, and smoke them until there’s seemingly nothing left!

Since Davidoff’s essay, other prominent figures within the industry, or credible publications such as Cigar Aficionado and The New York Times, have issued further suggestions to maintain an upscale smoking environment. It’s often encouraged to let a cigar burn out on its own, rather than snubbing it out in an ashtray, or worse, between the sole of a shoe and the ground. Respect for any non-smokers should be taken with precedence, and can be displayed by regulating cigar smoking to designated areas or lounges, and properly airing yourself out before entering a non-smoker’s home, or a non-smoking institution. For the establishments or tobacconists that provide upscale venues to enjoy a cigar, respect these businesses by shopping with them, refraining to bring cigars acquired from another retailer. Limit smoking within these places to the areas they were built for. If this particular location has a walk-in humidor, try not to alter the air they’ve meticulously set by smoking within it. Go back out to the lounge and enjoy your cigar there with your companions, and be sure to follow any house rules while do so.

There are a few other actions that are almost universally frowned upon, for lack of a better term, within smoking circles. Always accommodate yourself with the right tools to appropriately prep your cigar. This means to make sure you use a cigar cutter or punch, as opposed to improvising with a knife, or savagely removing or puncturing the cap with your teeth. Try to bring your own tools as well, to avoid having to interrupt another smoker for theirs. Things do happen, and we are sometimes forgetful in nature, so do keep your cutter clean for anyone in need. Keep your cigars out of your mouth until they are completely ready to be smoked. This way, if you happen to borrow another smoker’s cutter, you’ll be using their blade on a factory-fresh cap, as opposed to one that was just removed from your lips!

Chain-smoking is something that’s been considered to convey a seemingly ‘addictive’ nature that one may want to avoid. To circumvent this rule in an extended smoking session, smoke your cigars slowly and peacefully. You may actually even enjoy them more this way! You might also want to consider waiting at least 15 minutes before lighting a new cigar, if you do have the time and desire to smoke a second. Ash is another major factor in cigar etiquette— always be hygienic, and use an ashtray and keep ashes orderly. Try not to over-ash or lavishly under-ash, showboating that long ash you’ve accrued in an otherwise calm and orderly atmosphere.

As for your personal behavior, respect the elegance of the cigar by re-lighting in your hand, and not your mouth. In fact, cigars aren’t meant to be wet, so refrain from dipping yours in a cordial or cognac for additional flavor. This action seriously diminishes both the quality of tobaccos of the cigar, and the work that went into both producing and providing it for you. Also, for the sake of your perception, avoid chewing on your cigar, or worst of all, clenching it between your teeth like the gangster stereotypes of popular, action-star B-movies.

Finally, there are some more chivalrous rules that are just considered good natured, such as returning any cigar loaned to you that goes unsmoked, bringing extras to share in celebration, not insulting anyone’s cigar or flavor preference, avoiding the need to sniff the body of a cigar, and most importantly, continually accepting complementary cigars without reciprocating appropriately. And for the love of God, when it comes to Cuban cigars, it may be wise to keep a don’t ask/don’t tell type of mentality!

POSTED ON Oct 09, 2017

When discussing cigars, one can not help but think of the beautiful little island in the Caribbean known as Cuba. For hundreds of years, the cigar tobacco from Cuba was seen as the pinnacle of quality and luxury. Since the embargo was enacted in the 1950s, the aura around these cigars has increased even more. Although today we have seen some top of the line products out of Nicaragua and the Dominican, Cuban cigars still have a mystical hold on cigar smokers everywhere. Now, everyone who has even heard of Cuba has heard of brands such as Montecristo and Cohiba, but today let’s take a look at some lesser known but amazing options that Havana has created.

Partagas Serie D No.4
While the Partagas Serie D is one of the best-selling Cuban cigars, it does not have anywhere near the popularity of Montecristo or Cohiba. Why this is remains a mystery, especially if you have ever smoked one. Ask an average smoker their favorite Cuban and they will probably say a Montecristo No. 2. Ask a true connoisseur, and the Partagas Serie D will most likely be the answer. It has a good deal of spice, but it is not overwhelming. In fact, there is a good amount of sweetness to help balance it out. This is one of the highest rated general releases ever produced in Cuba, and a definite pick for your Cuban cigar bucket list.

H. Upmann Coronas Major
H. Upmann is one of the oldest cigar brands in existence, dating back to the 1840s. Since then it has developed quite a reputation as one of the premium boutique brands of Cuba. In fact, this was the brand that John F. Kennedy bought moments before he signed the Cuban embargo. The Coronas Major is a newer size that was previously machine made. It is rich and creamy, with dabs of spice throughout. It is actually quite affordable, even for a Cuban cigar. If you have the option, these are an amazing choice for a daily smoke.

Bolivar Belicoso
It would be hard to find a Cuban cigar with more complexity then the Bolivar Belicoso. Besides maybe the Montecristo No.2, this is one of the best perfectos every to come out of the island. It starts of rich and creamy, then shifts to slightly spicy, followed by a sweet spice finish. I have yet to smoke one that burned bad or had a flaky ash. Great construction plus complex flavors equals amazing.

Obviously, many of you reading this cannot go out to purchase these cigars regularly. However, on your next vacation abroad, you now have a great list of cigars you can try without breaking the bank.

POSTED ON Oct 11, 2017