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Cuban Cigar News
Cigar bars make comeback in luxury hotels
By Barbara De Lollis, USA TODAY
Forbes has spotted a small trend in luxury hotels: Cigar bars.
In recent years, smoking bans have spoiled the fun for cigar aficionados. But now the clubby, "dimly lit dens" are popping up in hotels in cities such as London and Beijing, Forbes says. They have advanced air-filtration systems and sell Cuban brands such as Cohibas and Montecristo.
They're most common in London:
- Dukes: This boutique hotel opened the Cognac and Cigar Garden in a secluded patio behind the hotel.
- Ten Manchester Street: This hotel has an all-weather cigar terrace with humidors that also hosts monthly cigar talks.
- Belgraves: This new hotel - the boutique Thompson chain's first overseas hotel - next month will open a cigar garden with a retractable roof outside Mark's Bar.
- May Fair Hotel: This spring, the hotel will open a cigar bar and have a cigar concierge.
Article... 02/04/12 DF
One man’s guide to premium cigars
What a Man needs to know
Premium cigars cost real money. A man can indulge only what he can afford, but if all you can afford is one fine cigar; do that instead of something less. This is one hobby where quality is King.
Here are some terms about cigars that you will hear. Not the elitist stuff that a cigar snob will spout, just the facts. There are lots more; these are just the main ones.
Hand rolled cigars means full leaves (long filler) is used by a human being (torcedor) with skill and many years of training and tradition to roll the cigar.
Short filler means cut up scraps of tobacco, likely swept off the floor and smelling * tasting like feet, which is then stuffed in a tube for tourists to smoke.
Wrapper means the final cover leaf; it will have few veins to ensure a smooth clean wrapper look and a oily consistency.
Ring gauge means diameter of the cigar. You will see references such as: 6 1/8" long by 52 Ring. The ring gauge number is measured in 64ths of an inch
Cap means the part they put on a cigar after it is rolled to keep the tip from unraveling. It is the part you cut and if you do it correctly, some of the cap stays on to help the cigar from unrolling while smoking. Sometimes the roller leaves extra on the end and twists it up into a pigtail.
Vitola means size and shape. Cigar brands are like car companies, they make many models to choose from and while they may have similarities, all are different in some way. Just because you had a cigar you did not like or a tight drawing cigar, do not dismiss the brand entirely. If a brand seems too mild, look to their smaller cigars to be stronger and bolder. Conversely, if you tried a smaller one and, while too strong, enjoyed the flavors, move up to a larger diameter to soften its power.
Cutter means a cigar cutter, preferably with two blades. A cheap one is fine, but remember, it wears out quickly. Do NOT use your teeth, box cutter, a bowie knife, kitchen scissors or other such instruments.
Walk in humidor means a room properly humidified and temperature controlled to store large quantities of cigars. Gas stations and zippy marts seldom have these, so you may as well grab a stick of pepperoni and light that up. Whether online or in person, find a tobacconist that knows and cares about cigars. Recommended storage is at 70 RH (relative humidity) and 70F temperature.
Blend is a term for the mixture of filler leaves from different parts of the world, mixed (blended) within one cigar. This only applies to non-cuban cigars, as Cuban cigars (Habanos) are made only with tobacco grown in Cuban soil, no exceptions. Others often will use the different fillers to improve the quality of a poor crop or to add a specific perfume to the smoke. Others import their wrappers to enhance the quality look of the finished product.
Aroma A cigar has full aroma if properly stored. Just put it towards your nose and you should smell the full aroma of the cigar if it is fresh and ready to smoke. If you can't smell it then go elsewhere to buy cigars.
Buying premium cigars
Whether ordering on the internet or at a local tobacconist, you will want to ask questions before you buy. So pick up the phone or corner the purveyor, specify your taste, your experiences to date and let him know you are new to the hobby. Look to better known brand names when buying non-cuban cigars. Cuban hand rolled cigars are all high quality; though stay away from the machine made tourist stuff. There are several smaller makers that offer great product, but even more that offer less than premium cigars so no reason to take chances at first. Good cigars cost you, but you’re looking for an indulgent experience, so why would you go with a cheap cigar to save a few bucks? Häagen-Dazs ice cream by the pint costs the same as those gallon buckets of frozen stuff we all remember as kids. There is a good reason for it too. If you need quantity over quality get something wine dipped with a plastic tip and leave this hobby alone.
Size matters, I don't care what your wife and/or girlfriend told you. Larger and longer means the smoke has time to cool and the draw is better, resulting in more enhanced flavors. It does create a time commitment as they take longer to enjoy, so be prepared. When actually selecting a cigar notice how it feels. A cigar has a slight spring when lightly pushing your thumb on it and I do mean lightly. It should have an aroma to it that is easily noticeable. If not, it is being stored poorly so avoid it.
Don’t start with the strong cigars if you’re new to the hobby. If a man started the Scotch whisky hobby with a heavy peaty selection (think Laphroaig), he would think he just licked a wet campfire log and go back to his Captain Morgan and Coke. A decent tobacconist will ask questions about your experiences to date and guide you toward cigars that will be pleasing to your palette. That's how they get return customers. In the case of Cubans, there are over 30 brands. Within those lines there are also many different sizes, flavors and experiences.
Samplers are always a great way to start if you want to experience a variety to learn more. Keep in mind some non-cuban samplers have a range of qualities in the mix to make them seem of good value, yet a large part of what you get are seconds or low end cigar lines. Look at each cigar listed to be sure you found a good assortment. Monthly cigar clubs offer an overview and are a good way to fill your humidor slowly, though again, there are good and bad, so use caution when you join one.
The premium cigar experience... aka The Romance of a fine Cuban cigar.
Environment can improve a good cigar. Where you are, who you’re with, what you’re drinking, and what you had for dinner all matter. All these things can combine to enhance the experience greatly. Even the best cigar loses its lustre when everything else going on around you is displeasing. On the other hand, a quality cigar shared with close friends after a good meal, some coffee and a brandy can be amazing. Fancy is not the key, quality is the goal. A decent sausage and pepper sandwich or a Creole gumbo are both as great as a grade A steak, when followed by a fine cigar. Plan the dinner, the wine, the company, the after dinner coffee or other beverage and then select a cigar to match. If you get it wrong, nothing is ruined and you still enjoy a fine cigar and good meal with friends, so not real harm done. If you get it right, you will understand the romance of the premium cigar. For your sake, I hope that happens on a warm spring evening, sitting with a scotch and cigar, chatting with friends as the sun goes down. All the different aspects of enjoyment will come together to enhance that cigar so it is even more pleasurable.
There are exceptions of course; I know a fellow that went on a cruise and found they had closed the cigar lounge due to smoking regulations. He was unaware of the closure, and as a result was devastated since much anticipation had occurred regarding what cigars to bring and enjoy in that cigar lounge. One very costly and coveted cigar he had brought was a Cuban Cohiba Siglo VI and was determined to enjoy it after a fine dinner at the Captains’ table. He took his glass of scotch to a covered deck at the stern and despite the rain, wind and cold (Alaskan cruise), he savored that fine cigar and remembers it as a highlight of his vacation. I can only imagine how great it would have been in that cigar lounge.
What to look for in cigar flavour
As you progress through the hobby, your palette (taste) for cigars changes. Keep it simple, just look for what you enjoy. Buy quality and sample different vitolas to experiment. If you know a cigar is on the strong side, have a full meal first to soften its effects. Buy cigars in pairs when possible, as if you love a particular cigar, you have another waiting. If you don't like one, then let a buddy try the second, as he may find it pleasing. What about all the descriptions of flavour of a cigar? Well, we all taste four things, salty, sweet, sour and bitterness. Everything else comes from your sense of smell; the aroma of the cigar as the smoke is released after you draw on it. (NOTE: if you inhale a cigar, stop it right now. Inhaling is for those with a nicotine addiction who smoke cigarettes chock full of chemicals and such, not fine cigars. If you think a “real” man inhales a cigar, you’re in the wrong hobby.)
So don’t get too wrapped up in flavor descriptions at first. Just enjoy yourself and if you wish, think of what the flavors are reminiscent of to you. You will not actually taste star anise in a certain Bolivar cigar, for example. A memory or hint of a smell or taste is what most mean when they say a “note” found in a cigar. Notes of wood, leather, earth, pepper, spice, citrus, floral, and others are just descriptive terms used by cigar tasting folks. As you move through the hobby, some of these will probably come to mind, but don’t search or sweat about it. Instead let them come to you naturally.
Location, location, location...
Where you are when enjoying a premium cigar really does matter. Think of enjoying a fine cigar while gazing at a view of a lake or the mountain tops. Perhaps you prefer on your deck, viewing the garden on a warm summer day. You will want a well ventilated area, though a strong wind will make even the strongest cigar seem milder and the mild ones weak. Don't get me wrong, outdoors is a great place for a good cigar, just not a wind storm.
Are those snobby, stuck up type of "cigar aficionados" really just pretentious jerks?
Well, yes most are, but just in my opinion. Common sense seems like a good gauge for the enjoyment of any hobby. Not to say experts are not required in some fields, but some of the stuff the snobby types say just makes no sense. Often it is what "they" don't tell you that will open your eyes.
A few of the things these effete wannabes preach make sense, but they so often do it such a snobby way the point is overlooked.
“They” say slowly heat the end of the cigar before you draw on it. This makes sense. It lessens the time the bitter start of the cigar lasts and with more gradual heat, the leaves do not snap into a new shape restricting flow of air. It also allows the natural oils to heat a bit and release flavor instead of just carbon from combustion. What they don't say is any pure burning source can apply the heat, you do not need a blue high pressure flame. An old fashioned yellow Bick lighter type flame is fine, it just takes longer. Retro DuPont lighters are all the rage right now and their old, slow flame does a great job on any premium cigar. I will point out the obvious now for that guy that shopped at zippy mart for his cigar. Lighter fluid, any match with sulphur, candles, etc.. all leave a taste that lingers and ruins your cigar. So stay away from anything that smells. Good manly advice for any situation really.
“They” say once you have slowly heated the foot of the cigar, you should blow on it if it is not burning properly. What they don't say is you will have to go shopping at the pottery barn to replace the dried flower arrangement your wife insisted would add ambiance to your home office / den because it just went up like a roman candle. Did blowing on a campfire after downing that beer ball do anything except singe your eyebrows? Don't blow on a burning cigar, just put your heat source back on the cigar and draw lightly until it is well lit. The point these Little Lord Fauntleroy types are trying to make is excessively heating a cigar with strong draws while lighting it causes the cigar to heat up too much and too quickly, so everything in moderation.
“They” say you have to have an expensive cutter or special scissors. A good quality cutter matters and prevents squishing of the cigar layers which can cause bad draw. What they don't say is a cheap, two blade cutter will do the same job, just not for long, as it dulls very, very quickly. A Xikar butterfly cutter made with surgical steel lasts and stays sharp, but costs you up front. So use a cheap cutter all you want, just replace it a lot.
“They” say the ash should stay on until very long and be dark gray. Well, actually half of them say this. The other half of the "they" say the ash should be white and stay on until very long. This is when I call BS on them for taking life and the hobby far too seriously. The color of ash is related to far too many things to be a guide to quality. The temperature, air movement, storage, plus chemical makeup of the particular plant and soil that the tobacco came from, etc. The important point is what kind of man wants to leave his ash on so long it falls off onto a carpet or soils his clothes. So what they don't tell you is, the ash discussion is for dilatants that forgot to enjoy the cigar experience for the pure sake of the enjoyment.
“They” say the cigar band should be removed at the start of the cigar, so you are not being pretentious and advertising / bragging about your choice of cigar. They say experienced cigar aficionados will always take the band off. What they don't tell you is they are total nobs. Listen, you spent good money on a premium cigar and if other cigar guys are with you, their first question when you have an unbanded cigar is "what are you smoking?". The bands are fine artwork and rich tradition. In the case of Cuban bands, they offer a look at their heritage and diverse culture. Other newer makers use the bands to bring attention to their product. Some are truly amazing to behold. If you bought a Lada you might rip the brand emblem off (if it had one), but would you do the same thing to a Ferrari? Not likely. Once the cigar heats up, the band is easy to remove should you wish. Many will want to remove it to savor the last bit before the cigar finally heats too much to smoke. Others will want to save the band for their collection or a cigar journal entry.
“They” say don't smoke a cigar to the nub or end. The more deluded of this Elite crowd will tell you not to smoke a cigar past half way (not kidding, I actually read this in an article), as cigars taste poorly after the half way point. Only response I have is: what nonsense! I will admit that many non-cuban variety cigars tend to taste better in the first half and can become a little acidic as they progress. Also, they have a perfume that while pleasant at first, can become strong and distasteful in some instances, though not all. What they don't tell you is this is not present on most premium cigars and that with Cuban cigars, the very opposite is true. Ask anyone who has enjoyed a few Cuban cigars. The standard answer is that the crystals (from oils) created in curing and maturation processes in Cuba require time to heat and release their flavors. I am unsure of the precise reason, but the second half of a Cuban cigar does indeed taste even better than the first half. In fact, many will stop and comment at about the half way point, with an exclamation such as "oh, there it goes," "wow, I can sure taste it now" or something to that effect. So anyone that tells you to lay down your cigar at the half way point is in the total nob club mentioned previously.
“They” say that they must smoke a certain wrapper color. Wrappers are often referred to as maduro, claro, cameroon, Connecticut and other names. Some want to specify a wrapper color, because that is the cigar they most enjoy and the strength they like. This is hogwash. Once upon a time the color of the wrapper meant something, especially in a non-cuban cigar. Darker (Maduro) was stronger and lighter color wrappers meant milder cigars. Those days are gone. The wrapper does not designate strength and the debate of how much flavour comes from the wrapper will go on into eternity. A wrapper may influence the flavors in a cigar slightly, but the filler leaves make up such a huge portion of the cigar that how could it possibly dominate. I know, I know, many disagree. My take is this: A cigar has tens to hundreds of wrap layers, so how can a few layers of wrapper leaf influence a majority of the flavor. It simply cannot. I do believe a wrapper is a stronger flavoured and aged leaf, so perhaps a ten percent influence could be seen. I do admit a darker wrapper in a Montecristo No 2 seems to offer a darkener richer flavor profile. That 10% difference perhaps, I just don’t know but it does seem a sensible theory.
So there you have it. A man should be able to spend the time to savor a fine cigar and appreciate the passion that went into making it. A key to being a man it today's fast paced times, is enjoying simple pleasures and creating more of a cigar experience that just puffing on a cheap stogie.
At the risk of offending the few women that enjoy cigars, I think it is safe to say the enjoyment of premium cigars is definitively a man’s hobby. The tobacco is grown, cured and aged using the same methods now as when Sir Winston Churchill was enjoying his cigars. Rolled and wrapped by generations of torcedors all trained in the same techniques for their region of the world.
Fine quality cigars have been a perfect example of a “premium product for as long as man has enjoyed them. Why should that go away just because your Blackberry is ringing or someone is tweeting. Take time for the premium cigar hobby and embrace the romance of a Cuban cigar and it will reward you ten fold as it did our Fathers and Grandfathers before us.
SMOKE'EM IF YOU GOT 'EM, CALL US IF YOU DON'T!
EDICION LIMITADA 2011 COHIBA 1966
- Habanos s.a. presents the Second Edición Limitada 2011. Cohiba is one of the brands selected this year.
The Ediciones Limitadas- Limited Editions- of Habanos are highly appreciated and awaited by the aficionados worldwide every year. They are characterized by vitolas that do not appear in the usual range of the brand portfolio, and which are distinguished by a careful selection of their leaves - wrapper, filler and binder- which have been aged for a period of at least 2 years. The dark wrapper dressing these Habanos coming from the top leaves of the Tapado – shade grown black Cuban tobacco plant- is another characteristic that identifies them.
The Ediciones Limitadas are made with the finest tobacco leaves coming from Vuelta Abajo (D.O.P), Cuba.
The vitola selected in Cohiba in 2011 is:
Cohiba 1966 ((52 ring gauge x 6 1/2 in. in the length). This Edición Limitada commemorates the 45th anniversary of Cohiba, the flagship brand of Habanos, with an unique format specially selected for this occasion. These 10 Habanos have been made totally by hand using a selection of tobacco leaves from the plantations of San Juan y Martínez * (D.O.P) and San Luis* (D.O.P) in the Vuelta Abajo (D.O.P) zone, Cuba, aged for a minimum of two years.
This Edición Limitada 2011 has been produced in a very small quantities. All the Habanos were made by expert rollers of Cuba in order to create this exquisite Habano for the most distinguished smokers.
This vitola will be available in the market in just one presentation, a layer box of 10 units in an Boite Nature (BN) box.
Commercial name: Cohiba 1966
Factory name: Canonazo Especial
Measures: 52 ring gauge x 6 1/2 in. in the length
Presentation: Boite Nature (BN) box of 10 units in one layer
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All prices shown for Alberta (AB) residents shopping pages are in Cdn funds.
Local Alberta residents can shop here: http://www.canadiancigar.com/shop/indexAB.html
Please note due to Federal Tobacco Act regulations we are NOT permitted to ship to Canadian consumers in other Provinces or Territories.
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