When I first started smoking cigars 5 years ago, it was a very social experience for me. We didn’t have a humidor so we always went out to smoke. Consequently, there was a lot of conversation amongst ourselves and any friends we would run into at our chosen cigar lounge. We talked about the cigars we were smoking, but only in vague terms. A particular cigar was “really strong” or “great” or “not very enjoyable”. A cigar would have a “great draw” or would “canoe”. For a long time, as my friend Dale likes to say, I would think of cigars as “good”, “eh”, or “bad”. It was all about kicking back with a drink and friends and relaxing. The cigar was part of the social experience. There were some I really liked and others that I didn’t, but I never put too much thought into why. I would read cigar reviews online and be in awe of all the details of the flavor profile. I never picked up on any specific flavors, but that was because I never gave myself the chance.
We went to a cigar event one night where the rep handed out pieces of dark chocolate and a small sample of scotch to accompany the cigar we were sampling. Before giving out the cigar, he told us at what point to have a bite of chocolate or a sip of scotch to enhance the flavors in the cigar. While it might sound a bit extreme, by doing so he made us think about the flavors in the cigar rather than merely smoking it. I started picking up some vague flavors that night, but still nothing specific. He also taught us that retrohaling a cigar is important, in that it helps detect more flavors since the smoke touches more taste buds. It would be a few weeks before I finally learned the art of retrohaling. While some of our friends thought it was a cool party trick, I found I was picking up even more detailed flavors.
I was intrigued by my newfound knowledge and did some reading on how to really taste the flavors in a cigar. I learned that I am not a super taster, and that I need to bring in the smoke on the forefront of my tongue to taste more of a cigar. I also learned to stop and focus on the lingering flavors in my mouth to pick up the subtleties on the finish. Once I started working on these details, I learned to pair my drinks to further maximize the smoking experience whereas before I would drink whatever I was in the mood to drink. A spicy cigar would be enhanced by a Malbec, whereas a mild creamy cigar was perfect with a cup of coffee.
It has been an eye opening transition over the past year, one that I am still making, I still do smoke socially and get involved in conversation or a sports game where I don’t pay so much attention to nuances of my cigar. But there are also evenings, where I can sit and relax with a smoke and really enjoy the flavor profiles and transitions that a cigar has to offer. I thoroughly enjoy both types of experiences, each in its own way.
I started this blog to share my experiences with cigars, whether it be a general experience or a review of a particular cigar. I hope to introduce you to new cigars and perhaps even help enhance your cigar experience.