Have you ever noticed that the same cigar can taste completely different depending on when and where it is smoked? This became clear recently when I grabbed a cigar I usually love, from a box I’ve smoked often, and found it disappointing. Under different circumstances, a cigar once considered smooth can taste harsh; or strong can seem mild. I call this the CFD (Cigar Flavor Disparity) and this condition can be caused by a number of factors. Let’s examine some leading causes of CFD…
Time of day:
Personally, my favorite time of day to smoke a cigar is right after breakfast. It’s the first cigar of the day, and my palate is clean and receptive. After that, all subsequent cigars won’t taste as fresh. The finish of most cigars can last hours, even into the next day. That residual cigar taste can mask subtle flavor components of any new cigar we smoke. And smoking early in the day reveals the true strength of a cigar blend. We tend to get inured to strong cigars at the end of a cigar-smoking day.
Remember as a kid, drinking orange juice with a chocolate chip cookie? That usually sweet OJ tastes downright sour paired with the much sweeter Chips Ahoy! The same is true for cigars. Some of us have a favorite cigar/beverage pairing, based on experience or recommendation. But certain drinks (like lemonade) can ruin the flavor of a cigar. So, what we eat will also influence how we perceive cigar flavor. Personally, I love smoking a cigar during the dessert course. There’s nothing like a bite of tiramisu, followed by a puff of a strong Nic puro.
This is a factor that is often overlooked. I became aware of the impact of wind on cigar enjoyment while walking my dogs. I noticed that whenever I took Daisy and Tillie out, I could barely taste my cigar. An Internet search showed that our nose is responsible for 75-80% of what we taste. That would explain why everything seems bland when we have a head cold. Or, try eating (or smoking a cigar), while holding your nose. This will clearly illustrate how our olfactory sense is crucial in detecting flavors. So, on a breezy day, we get little or no cigar aroma. And aroma is a big part of enjoying cigars.
To get the most of every cigar, I’ve given up smoking while walking the dogs. It just isn’t an enjoyable experience. But for others, smoking “in the wind” is a way of life. I don’t play golf, but I know many cigar smokers love to smoke while strolling the greens. I suspect that in this case, smoking is a secondary consideration. It’s one that serves to enhance the primary goal of hitting a long tee shot, or sinking a great putt. I can imagine how that golf/cigar pairing would be enjoyable. The cigar can relax a golfer, allowing him/her to play more fluidly.
State of mind influences how we judge things. For example, it’s hard to have a sense of humor if we are in a bad mood. That is true for cigar smoking as well. When we REALLY feel like smoking a cigar, chances are we will like what we smoke. But if we smoke simply to kill time, even a good cigar can be disappointing.
This is a big one. All of us have preferences about were we like to enjoy our cigars. Many of us prefer to smoke in solitude, left alone to savor a great puro. This is often the best way to judge the quality of a cigar. With no distractions we can concentrate on the nuances of a cigars blend. Yet at a lively party, surrounded by friends, the gaiety can elevate a cigar to greatness. And at a cigar lounge, smoking alongside other aficionados, our collective appreciation for cigars can create a mood of excitement. This enhanced atmosphere is the perfect environment to fully enjoy a cigar. Plus, with cigar lounges offering a large selection of cigars, it’s the perfect opportunity to try something new. This too will add to the excitement, resulting in a positive cigar-smoking experience.
In Conclusion, cigar smoking is a subjective endeavor. We are constantly judging one cigar against another to determine where it falls in our hierarchy of preferences. With each cigar we smoke, we critique its value. Do we like it? What is its strength? Is it better than (X)? Is it worth its cost? To an aficionado, this is a big part of cigar smoking. It’s what makes it more than simply smoking. Being aware of the circumstances in which we smoke, can help us be more objective about the cigars we are critiquing. For me, sitting in my backyard on a warm Los Angeles afternoon, with my dog in my lap, is the best way to enjoy a great cigar. For others it might be while playing 18 holes, or watching the home team on a big screen TV. Wherever we enjoy our cigars, one thing is sure, it’s a pleasure that is singular, and something enjoyed throughout the world.
How about you? Where is your favorite place to enjoy your passion?
Thanks for listening,