Posts in category Cigars
A recent opinion piece on CigarAdvisor.com sparked a controversial debate on how many cigars people smoke a day. I read the article with interest since I had been kicking this “Why we smoke cigars” idea around in my head for a few weeks now.
I am sure my reasons for smoking cigars are shared with others out in the community. Out of curiosity, I posed the question, “Why do you smoke cigars?” on several social media networks as an informal poll on the subject.
The responses I received were what I expected. Except for the one guy who said “Because I’m a Boss” …. I’m really not sure what that means.
The primary reason for smoking cigars that was mentioned was relaxation. I must admit, this is at the top of the list for me as well. There is nothing like ending a long day or celebrating the start of the weekend with a great cigar and an adult libation.
Smoking a cigar should be done when we can set aside some unhurried, quiet time. The cigar we smoke should also be matched to the time we have available to enjoy it. Rushing through a cigar really does an injustice to you and the cigar you are smoking.
A good leisurely smoke allows us to slow down and reflect upon the events of a day and maybe even help us be creative or assist in problem solving.
The second reason mentioned was camaraderie. While smoking a cigar can be an enjoyable solitary experience, it’s also a great way to get out and be social. There’s nothing better than heading out to the local cigar shop / lounge or cigar friendly bar to shoot the breeze with friends or watch a game together and smoke cigars.
The cigar shops are also great for leveling the playing field. People from all walks of life gather to share conversations, discuss world issues, play dominoes and more, all the while the common thread of cigars bonds them together.
The third reason people responded with was flavor / aroma. I always look forward to the flavors I’ll find while smoking a cigar. Even if it’s a cigar I’ve smoked many times before, what I taste when I smoke may change due to beverages I pair the cigar with or what I have eaten before I smoke.
What are your reasons for smoking cigars? Are they similar to these or are yours different? I’d like to read your comments on this subject.
International cigar expert James Suckling just released his list of Top 10 Cigars in 2012 on his website, JamesSuckling.com. All the top-rated smokes are Cuban. Suckling believes the quality of Cuban cigars is excellent at the moment. There’s even a perfect, 100-point smoke.
“The big surprise for me was the superb quality of two of last year’s Edición Limitadas,” writes Suckling. “Cubans finally got their blends right with the dark, more mature wrappers of the limitadas.”
The Top 10 list can be viewed here, though a subscription is required to read the tasting notes: http://www.jamessuckling.com/
His writing and ratings on cigars are available at JamesSuckling.com and in Cigar Journal magazine.
Last year, Suckling released a documentary film on Cuban cigars, entitled “Cigars: The Heart and Soul of Cuba” (www.heartandsoulofcuba.com), which chronicles the entire process of creating the cigars, from leaf to smoke. It was selected for three international film festivals including Havana, Bogota, and Sonoma.
If you have not heard, The Crowned Heads are involved in a legal dispute over the name Headley Grange. Here is the article that brought it to my attention: Nashville cigar company in legal dispute over Led Zeppelin inspired product.
After reading the article, I decided to do some research on the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry. After reading about them I decided to voice my opinion regarding their stance in this dispute.
Here is my email to them in its entirety:
Dear Mr. Luttrell and Mr. Watson,
I am writing this letter in response to your dispute with The Crowned Heads in regard to their new premium cigar named Headley Grange.
I have been a premium cigar smoker since 1985 and until two days ago, I had never heard of the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, even though I am sure I have lived in states that have registered members of your organization.
To be fair, I had never heard of the name Headley Grange until The Crowned Heads announced it as the name of their new product in August. I understand the name Headley Grange was chosen by The Crowned Heads as a reference to a recording studio in England. Even after learning of the very famous bands that had recorded at Headley Grange, the name was still not familiar to me even though I have been listening to many of those bands for decades.
I took the liberty of searching for your organization on the internet. I did this because after reading your organizations name, I was still unsure of your function.
After learning that you are an agricultural organization, I fail to see how the name of a premium cigar could be confused with an agricultural entity. Even if some of your members are cigar smokers and came across the Headley Grange brand by The Crowned Heads, I doubt those people would think their agricultural representative had gotten into the cigar business.
The way I see it, the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry and The Crowned Heads have nothing in common whatsoever.
What I do see is a large agricultural organization taking advantage of trademark laws to go after a small premium cigar maker. Is this how your membership wants you to represent them? How many of your members are small businesses trying to survive in this current economy?
Part of your Vision Statement reads: “The Grange will be a relevant, caring and involved part of the community in which its members are located. “ How many members do you have in the Nashville, TN area? How many of these members are small businesses? If one of these members were in a similar situation, wouldn’t you be rushing to their aid?
Somehow, it doesn’t seem very “caring” to go after a company that has used a centuries old word as part of their brand name, just because you have the same common word in your name brand.
Why don’t you take the time, money and resources that you are using on this legal issue and use it to educate, engage and enrich the lives of your members in the Nashville, TN area. That truly is a caring and involved “vision” for any organization.
Their response, if any, will be posted here for all to read.
If you have an opinion on this subject, I urge you to write to “The Grange” and let them know how you feel.
Recently, both online and offline, I’ve been involved in discussions about cigar lounges. The online discussion was basically “what would you like to see in a cigar lounge”, while the in person discussion compared local shops against each other.
Looking back on these discussions, I started to think about my personal set of specifications for an ideal cigar shop. What would a shop need to have to keep me coming back time and again?
I decided on two broad categories, each with a subset of features:
Good ventilation – Granted, if people are smoking inside a cigar shop, there is going to be a certain amount of smoke. But, I dislike walking into a store and all you see is a hazy cloud of soon to be stale smoke. If I sit in a lounge and my eyes start to burn within a few minutes, then it’s time for me to go.
Fortunately, most shops do a good job with ventilation / filtration and smoke only begins to be an issue at the larger, more popular events that attract a lot of people.
Good selection – I like to see a good mix of boutique cigars along with larger more established brands. That way, there should always be something new for me to try at any given time.
Personable / knowledgeable staff – A cigar shop is a relationship business. It’s always nice to be greeted with a smile and a hello when you walk into the store. It’s also good to have knowledgeable, experienced answers for people’s questions. Also, I appreciate staff that doesn’t hover when you are in a walk-in humidor.
Comfortable surroundings – Well made, comfortable furniture is always appreciated. A mix of lounge chairs and sofas work well along with plenty of table space and ash trays. Recliners might be cool but perhaps too many people would fall asleep in them. I like seeing the furniture arranged so that it encourages conversation among the patrons.
Coffee, water, soft drinks – Most times I’m in a shop, I also get a bottle of water. Although, coffee and soda are good to have on hand as options.
TV’s – news, sports, specials, movies … TV’s are good to have when the shop is quiet.
Outdoor seating – Perhaps, I consider outdoor seating as part of the basics because I live in Florida. Other than the really hot days in the middle of summer, sitting outdoors is a pleasant and enjoyable experience. Also, outdoor seating is a great option for those huge events that fill a shop with too much smoke.
Nice to haves
Premium channels, Sports packages – Lots of shops in the area have the NFL ticket, etc. I’m sure it’s a good draw for some people, I’m just not sure it’s 100 percent necessary.
Beer, wine, spirits where allowed – A full liquor bar inside a cigar shop is rare and a nice bonus. Beer and wine bars are more prevalent and offer good pairings to go with cigars.
WiFi – I put this as a nice to have only because so many people already have internet access of some form that WiFi is almost not necessary.
Lockers – for someone who does not humidors at home or just does not want to deal with storage of cigars, a locker at your local shop is a nice alternative.
Loyalty program – If people patronize a shop consistently, than some sort of discount or rewards program is a great way to retain customers.
Events – I enjoy meeting the people behind a cigar brand and store events are one of the best ways to do that. Some of the local shops put out some big spreads of food and beverages while others are smaller affairs. Either way, they are great ways to meet people and try new cigars.
So there you have it! What are your thoughts on cigar shops? I’d love to hear about them.