Friday, April 30, 2010

The Cigar Advisor cigar blog has moved



Dear CigarAdvisor Readers,

The CigarAdvisor cigar blog has moved. You can now find the blogs, "How to" guides, feature articles, videos, and tons of other information about premium cigars by going directly to CigarAdvisor.com.


It's been fun posting here, but I think you'll find this a significant change for the better.

Please also like us on our Cigar Advisor Facebook page, where you'll find even more articles, pictures, posts, and comments from our fans. You can also follow us on our CigarAdvisor Twitter page.

Please update your bookmarks accordingly, and thank you for staying with us.

Happy smokes,

Gary Korb
Executive Editor
CigarAdvisor.com

Monday, April 26, 2010

My Weekend Cigar: Arturo Fuente Hemingway Signature


I picked up a 5-pack of Hemingway Signature cigars several years ago, smoked three of them, and placed the remaining two in one of my humidors. Yesterday, while searching for something to smoke, I wound up digging a little deeper than usual and voila!, there they were. It's been way too long, I thought, so off we went to the comfy chair with a mug of coffee and watched the ballgame.

This is one of my all-time favorite cigars and it did not disappoint. The Cameroon wrapper had darkened some and the cigar was well-packed. Although I would categorize the Hemingway Signature as "mild," by the last couple of inches it was stoking pretty well up in the medium-body range.

Upon lighting there's that marvelous shot of sweet tobacco that rides along an effortless draw. Living up to it's "perfecto" shape classification, the burn was clean, and the balance was dead center.

This is not a complex cigar, but it is amazingly consistent. The smoke offers a creamy base of sweet wood with a prevalent nutmeg flavor and a wonderful aroma. I also like its 6" x 47 dimensions, which are similar to another one of my favorite Arturo Fuente cigars, the 8-5-8 Flor Fina. (Try 'em in the Maduro!)

A good friend of mine once told me how much he enjoys the Hemingway Signature in the morning. I agree, and it really pairs well with coffee, too. But these cigars are great just about any time. Moreover, if you're just getting into smoking premium cigars, I recommend this cigar as a special treat. You'll see what I mean.

One last thing I noticed that some of you more experienced readers may already know. When I got down to those last couple of inches I let the cigar rest a little longer than usual. This allows the cigar to cool down and it helped keep it from becoming bitter, making it all that more enjoyable.

Try to make sure you always have a few Hemingway cigars in your collection. Considering their pedigree and popularity, the prices are pretty reasonable.

~ Gary Korb

Friday, April 23, 2010

Exploding cigar theory: Why some cigar wrappers split on you

I received a recent email from a reader asking, "What causes the wrapper to crack about an inch above the burn after I smoke half of it?" Although, thankfully, it doesn't happen on all cigars, if you're an avid cigar smoker, this has probably happened to you every so often.

One of the causes of this phenomenon is usually due to extra moisture in the cigar, which can result from having a higher than usual relative humidity in your cigar humidor, say, 72-75% or higher.

When the soup heats up the steam has nowhere to go but through the seams in the wrapper leaf, which, in turn, causes it to crack or split.

Another cause of wrapper splitting is drawing too often and/or too hard on your cigars. By doing so, you create more juices in the pipe and get the same results. A symptom related to this is a poor draw, which will cause you to draw harder on the cigar. In these cases, try using a cigar poker in the head and foot to loosen up the cause. If you're smoking a figurado (a tapered or pointed head cigar), it may help to shave a little more off the head.

Suffice it to say, by keeping your humidor at an average of 68% RH in a range of 65% - 70%, you can help keep the moisture level in your cigars at bay and avoid smoking an "exploding" cigar.

~ G.K.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Meanwhile...the Cuban cigar debate rages on

Recently I befriended a BOTL who, to say the least, is very passionate about cigars. As a result, we've had some great email exchanges over the past month. During a recent conversation about comparing Nicaraguan cigars to Cuban cigars, he offered the following opinion:

The new smokes coming out of Cuba are pretty frickin' great. The one thing they have over many Nicaraguans is a super harmonious blend. In a good Cuban cigar, all the flavor elements melt together like butter. Some Nics come close, like the El Centurion, LFD Double Press, Perdomo Cuban Parejo, Lot 23 and Champagne, Illusione, (but with a very Nic/Honduran flavor), and others.

I'm not saying Cubans are better than Nics, because that's a generalization that doesn't hold up. Some Cuban cigars are great while others suck, and the same goes for Nics. My current favorite cigar is the El Centurion, a Nic. Last night I smoked a [Cuban] RyJ Small Churchill. It was rated by CA (I don't often agree with their ratings) at 93 (I think). I didn't like it at all. That blend had little harmony to it. But the [Cuban] Hoyo de Monterrey and the Diplomatico have mouthwatering blends. It's funny how two cigars that use virtually the same tobacco can be so different. Well, not different in the sense that all Cubans share a common flavor component, but that the blends make it or break it for me.


Bottom line is, I'm not endorsing Cubans over Nicaraguans, just suggesting you try a great cigar that happens to be Cuban.

* * *
Actually, I have had many excellent Cuban cigars. Thing is, 1) I'm quite satisfied with the cigars coming out of other countries - there are still plenty of those I haven't gotten around to smoking yet - and 2) I'm just not willing to pay the Cuban prices.

Looking at it from the state of the industry, I believe the Cubans once did and in many cases still do produce some phenomenal cigars. Cuba may have set the standard for cigars as France has done for wines, but competitively speaking, they've pretty much all but lost the race.

That said, let's rewind a generation or two. Thanks to Fidel Castro, some of the best cigar producing families left the island. Add to that the imbecilic embargo. Now, give the Cuban emigrants in Nicaragua, The Dominican, and Honduras time enough to cultivate the land, develop great tobacco and, this may sound like a stretch, but if you think about it, Cubans are still making great cigars - just not in Cuba. (Also, conspicuous by its absence, my friend above neglected to mention Padron cigars.)

On the other hand, no ardent cigar smoker should be denied the experience of being able to smoke a good cigar regardless of it's origin. The best thing that could happen to both Cuba and the cigar business would be dropping the embargo.

~ G.K.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cigars: The gifts that keep on giving


I recently made a new friend online who has been sharing his cigar smoking experiences with me. He's been writing to me, asking if I smoked this cigar or that cigar, and in some cases I've answered "no." So, in his enthusiasm for me to share his experience with these cigars he offered to send me some. This is not the first time this has happened, but it's happened often enough that I felt it was finally time to touch upon this subject. Certainly, many of you reading this can relate.

About two weeks ago his package arrived and the cigars were very enjoyable. In return, I will be sending him a little care package from my stash.

What I'm driving at is, part of the overall experience of enjoying premium cigars is the willingness to share, so I came up with a new rule:
When a cigar smoker is offered good cigars from a fellow cigar smoker, he should gladly accept, and is ethically obligated to reciprocate.
Not only have I seen examples of this practice on the cigar community websites, but here in the office, when someone buys a box of cigars or a box of samples comes in, we usually share the wealth or make a trade, especially if someone hasn't had that particular cigar. Even in the cigar store, when someone wins a box of cigars during an event, the winner will often share his good fortune with the other patrons.

We recently hired a new employee who, before getting the job didn't smoke cigars on a regular basis, and I look forward to seeing the smile on his face when he tells me, "Hey, that cigar was really nice."

There's nothing more satisfying than turning someone on to something you enjoy, and so much the better when your opinions of the cigar are in-sync. But even when the giftee is not as gung-ho over the cigar as you, discussing why also makes for good conversation.

So, let's keep paying it forward, and in that spirit cigars will be always be the gifts that keep on giving.

~ Gary Korb