The beauty of cigars

Cigars. Say that word around different people and watch the reaction you get from them. I find it fascinating to see the differences. It’s often the upturn of the nose or the look of disgust. I also get the comment of how much they stink, they are gross, they will give you cancer, etc etc. On the flip side, you may get the “I love the smell of a cigar” or “it reminds me of my grandfather/father”. And then you get the Brothers and Sisters of the Leaf that really light up (pun intended) and can’t wait to enjoy a smoke with you or just talk about it. The other type of people that I spent some time with this week in Dallas are the curious, eager, and clueless but willing (and I do not mean that as a negative, we were all there once).

I went to Dallas for training this week and people that work with me or have been to other meetings and training classes recognize me as a “cigar guy”. A couple I have smoked with before and others are true “cigar guys” that I had the opportunity to smoke with this time. Of course it was “hey man, did you bring any cigars”? Of course I did. No turning back now…my stash was about to be raided, I just didn’t know how hard. My travel humidor containing 10 beautiful works of art (more to come on that) was reduced to 2 cigars faster than a Donald Trump tweet going viral. Now some people would have an issue with that but I welcome it.

There was a mixed bag of players in this crowd and I welcome the opportunity to share with all of them. Some dabble in cigars, some were really new and others are frequent smokers as I said. One of the beautiful things about cigars that I am fascinated by and truly love about the culture is that cigars unify and equalize everyone. Think about that for a minute. With all the diversity in the crowd I was in (white, black, male, female, younger, older, colleagues at my pay grade and those up the chain) all brought together by a single item…a cigar.

For those that were new to cigars I had the opportunity to make or break the experience for them. For me it was about the proper selection of what I had available and taking the time to teach them just a little bit about it. Overall I received no negative feedback and the next night we took a trip downtown to a local B&M shop in Dallas that will remain nameless because the experience was absolutely laughable and terrible. Any request to know so you can steer clear of them can be asked privately but I will not bash them here. I will however ask the question here, and please feel free to leave your comments…Have you ever asked a shop owner or worker about their house blend and were told “I can’t tell you that. We have an agreement that we won’t discuss who makes our cigars”? Call me crazy and maybe this happens, but this was a first for me. Needless to say, I left laughing and without a purchase. I appreciated the people I was with wanting to replace the cigars from the night before but I won’t spend a cent in a place like that. Sorry. I am a huge fan of supporting local business but not this one. Moving on.

One major thing I consider when I bring cigars on trips with me is selection. Is this a trip that I will have time to really take my time, study and enjoy the cigar or will I be more focused on conversation, interacting with people, and having the cigar more of an accessory to the event? I consider this because as I have evolved into cigars as a passion and not just a thing I do from time to time, it matters to me. I have made a point to bring cigars I never had before on trips where I can take my time and I bring cigars I have had before when I know I won’t be able to sit and enjoy it. Doesn’t mean that I rush through it or don’t enjoy the experience but it’s more of a familiar taste that I don’t have to wonder about. It has proven to be something I enjoy. I also consider it for the exact situation I was in this week. I brought cigars with me that I knew other people, even new smokers could enjoy.

The thing often lost to many cigar smokers I meet and observe is the lack of appreciation for cigars. I see people light up a cigar and puff away and never fully understand what exactly they have in their hands. This isn’t necessarily true for more advanced smokers but I imagine it still happens. Whatever works for you is fine by me. I prefer to take it all in and savor the experience. After all, I will never get to experience it ever again. “What the hell are you talking about? Buy another one or get one out of your box”. Yeah sure, no problem right? Nope. No cigar is the same. Not one. That is the beauty of cigars. Each one is individual and unique, much like people. They should be treated as such. Cigars, much like people, fall into different categories. They can be beautiful, ugly, flawed, wonderful, interesting, disappointing, refreshing, and some I never want to experience again. Some you fall in love with and want to surround yourself with frequently, and others you prefer in short, limited engagements. Others just linger and are there in a pinch.

From a single seed, grown in soil often on foreign lands, the are grown, harvested, handled many many times using a variety of techniques and selected for their quality and traits. Ultimately they are combined with other leaves and skillfully blended and crafted into a single, unique work of art that will be consumed once and only once in its journey. This is a wonderful process that seems to get lost most of the time. When you select, cut and light a cigar, you are becoming a part of the story behind that cigar. Sure this is a much deeper thought into the process but its relevant to me therefore I choose to enjoy it. I am probably one of the slowest cigar smokers in any lounge on any given day and this is the reason. This is also why I choose to do reviews. It started as a detailed way for me to remember the experience.

Next time you get ready to light up that cigar, take a second to appreciate it. Think about it’s journey and the people behind it. You will never get the opportunity to do it again so enjoy the ride. I hope you enjoyed the article. Please leave your thoughts, comments, or questions here. Until next time, long ashes and full glasses.