A common perception regarding cigar smoking is that one should keep the ash on the cigar for as long as possible. Is this true? And, if so, why? Does it serve any real purpose?
The ability of your cigar to hold its ash for a long period does suggest high construction quality. A nicely rolled stogie with quality long filler will often hold onto its ash for two inches or more. Of course, just because the ash falls off early, doesn’t mean it’s a bad cigar…it’s just one indicator.
Keeping the ash on longer can serve another purpose, other than bragging rights. Many cigar smokers believe that a bit of ash at the end of the cigar helps keep it at optimal smoking temperature. Overheating a cigar is bad news in terms of enjoyment, as it can ruin flavor, cause burn issues, and even burn your mouth if it gets too hot as the cigar shortens during consumption. Ash can provide a buffer between the air being sucked into the stick and the cherry itself, thereby avoiding these problems.
That doesn’t mean you have to keep the ash on at all times, however, or tempt fate by letting the ash grow until it falls into your lap. At that point it becomes a matter of preference. Some people enjoy a warmer smoke, which sometimes provides stronger flavor and more copious smoke output. The line between a warm smoke and overheating a cigar is a thin one.
So enjoy your cigar in any way you wish. If you prefer to keep your ash on as long as possible, then do it. But don’t worry too much about what people will think if you tap it off early.
Although I watched Cigars: The Heart & Soul of Cuba with the intention of reviewing, I would have felt compelled to do so anyway. The film is a study of Cuban cigars, the creation process, and why they are the best cigars in the world. The film features James Suckling, an internationally acclaimed wine critic and journalist, and former European editor of Cigar Aficionado magazine. His passion for cigars shows through in his new movie, Cigars: The Heart & Soul of Cuba. Acclaimed director James Orr wrote and directed the film. Check out the official trailer below.
While immensely informative on the subject, the movie is not simply about the cigar making process. It is also about the people behind the scenes. The individuals who grow and create those works of art we know as the Cuban cigar. The making of a fine cigar is, indeed, an art and this is shown clearly throughout the film. The back-breaking, painstaking, loving attention to a cigar’s evolution and creation is illustrated in stunning detail by the film. We get to know the people and process, feel the heat and humidity, and smell the heavenly aroma of fresh tobacco and cigar smoke. Yes, it makes you want a cigar, but it also makes you appreciate and think about them more while they are enjoyed. This movie has increased my cigar-smoking pleasure and I think it will yours, as well. That alone should be worth the price.
The soundtrack for the movie is excellent. You can get a taste of it at the film’s website by clicking the “Play” button at the top of the page or by watching the trailer. You truly get the feeling that you are there with the crew, immersed in the culture. It isn’t often I get this feeling from a documentary, but it was truly superb.
Cigars: The Heart & Soul of Cuba is available both via DVD and digital download through the website. If you are at all interested in cigars or even just curious, I strongly encourage you to give this movie a try. I actually hit replay the instant the fifty-three minute show was over, because I wanted to watch it again and I’m sure I’ll revisit this film again after more time passes. It is true that I am a cigar enthusiast and view the film from that perspective, but I think more that just cigar nuts will appreciate the work.
Today we will review the 5 (pronounced “cinco”) Vegas Miami robusto (5×50). Apparently, I was so eager to test out this cigar that I forgot to take its picture, so you are being treated to a stock photo. The actual cigar looks a little better than this illustration suggests and also has a small blue band around the foot. Its a great-looking cigar. The dark brown wrapper was smooth, with minimal veins, and had a slight oil sheen.
The first couple of puffs caught me off guard with their strength. It was a full-bodied taste, like a strong French Roast coffee. The draw was perfect and the amount of smoke was excellent. After the first few draws, the initial strength of the cigar subsided just a little and a few other flavors began to appear, including a basic tobacco and leather, along with a distinct black pepper spice, especially if exhaled through the nose.
The second third shifted from coffee to a more herbish flavor: hay, vegetation, basil, and a bit of wildflower. The draw was still great and the burn, while not perfect, required no correction. Later in the second third the flavors changed to a more woody taste, a cedar or balsam wood – very smooth.
The final third featured nutmeg and hazelnut, and the taste became a little stronger and less smooth. A bit of anise or black licorice appeared, along with a spicy tobacco flavor. Right at the end, a spiced rum taste appeared just before the cigar became too hot to smoke with about 1.5 inches to go. The burn went off the track for a while, but corrected itself within a few minutes, and the draw remained perfect throughout.
It’s been awhile since I posted a cigar review and I decided it was high time to remedy that. My choice was the Don Lino Africa Duma (5 x 50), which comes with an interesting filler combination from Cameroon, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Nicaragua.
The first thing I noticed about this cigar was that I had a hell of a time cutting it. This is a stout little bugger. In fact, the cap popped off long before I managed to cut through the cigar. This could be a sign that my cutter is just getting dull, but the fact that the cap came off neatly actually impressed me. Too often the cap comes away along with part of the wrapper, but not in this case. I inspected the cap once it was off and found it as sturdy as the top of an acorn. The cigar roller had paid close attention to this little piece of craftsmanship.
After my odd fascination with the cap had subsided, I took a long smell of the unlit cigar. It smelled like a petting zoo, one of those places kids go to, you know, pet animals. It has been said that the more a cigar smells like manure, the better it will taste. I find this adage disturbing and not universally true, but I reserved judgment and began toasted the foot.
It lit nicely and the draw was exactly as I like it: not so tight that it makes your jaw hurt, but tight enough to lend a little resistance. The amount of smoke production was excellent, as well. I expect a decent amount smoke from my cigars – it makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something – and this stick delivered on quantity. Unfortunately, the smoke was also harsh, something I don’t particularly care for.
It took me a little bit to grasp the flavor. They weren’t subtle. In fact, they were quite strong, making them somewhat difficult to separate. Right away there was a bitter flavor, but beyond that I couldn’t quite pinpoint it. I finally figured out that it was a combination of coffee and dark chocolate, both contributing to the bitterness. These flavors played an interesting duet for maybe half an inch, when they were met with the taste of slightly damp wood or freshly fallen oak leaves. It dawned on me that I had inadvertently chosen the perfect fall cigar. Get one of these for Thanksgiving Day. It will go well after a heavy meal and if accompanied with a small glass of bourbon, straight and on the rocks. Scotch might work, as well, but may end up being too sophisticated a taste, depending on your brand. This cigar doesn’t have much finesse. I wouldn’t call it brutal, but it certainly makes a statement. Also, the slightly sweeter taste of bourbon would make a nice foil for the Don Lina Africa’s strength.
Halfway through the cigar, the burn remained good. Not razor sharp, but quite stable. The original flavors moderated somewhat and were replaced by traces of herb root, moss, and an oddly tasty version of orange peel. This is an extremely earthy cigar and remained true to its fall billing. In fact, when I closed my eyes to envision flavors, I kept seeing colors instead of images: brown, gold, orange, and rust. When I forced images to come, they consisted mainly of fall landscapes and harvested wheat fields. The taste was robustly rustic and I decided this would also be a good cigar to have around a campfire after a long day of hunting or hiking.
A little way into the final third, the burn ran off the tracks a little bit, but still wasn’t bad and required no correction. The flavors merged together into a strong musky taste and became a little too bitter. It’s natural for a cigar to become strong and bitter near the end, but I still had 1.5-2 inches to go and the closing bell seemed to arrive too soon.
All in all, the Don Lino Africa is a worthy addition to any humidor and gets a solid three out of four stars. If I rated anything by halves, it might rate 3.5. But I don’t, so it doesn’t.
The cigar in question is the Rocky Patel Fusion. It’s got a gorgeous royal blue label, but that didn’t convince me up front. You see, I’ve had two other Patels, the Vintage 1990 and the Royal Vintage, neither of which I thought were great shakes. So I pulled this stick out of the humidor with some trepidation, expecting it to once again let me down.
I lit it up and took a few disheartened puffs, thinking I would just get this particular smoke out of the way. Then I suddenly realized I actually enjoying the experience. It was closely akin to the Graycliff I had tried, loved, and written about.
The draw was almost perfect, just the tiniest bit too stiff, and the smoke production was downright flawless. The smoke was smooth, and evenly flavored, not at all harsh or choking. “Buttery” was the term I used when describing the Graycliff and this cigar almost matched it.
As I say, this is the first Patel I’ve tried and enjoyed, so the brand doesn’t have much credit with me. Therefore, I probably won’t be trying any new Patel lines, but if I happen across any Fusions, I won’t have to think twice about grabbing them.
I purchased the Graycliff G2 PGX toro (6 x 50) on a whim, never having previously tried any Graycliff products. Subsequently, I had no idea what to expect as I punched a hole in the cap. I became a little concerned as the wrapper near the head cracked when I tried to remove the puncher. I chalked it up to being a bit dried out and proceeded to light it up. Read more…
The Cusano 10th Anniversary (“C10″) is a smallish corona, measuring 5 x 42. It was put out by Mike Chiusano to celebrate his…wait for it…tenth year in business. Using a wide-ranging blend of tobacco from various countries, this cigar has received good buzz since it was introduced in 2005. They have since introduced a robusto size of this blend, but today’s review will feature the classic Havana-type corona that was Chiusano’s original vision for this cigar. Read more…
I just can’t help but show off my new cigar lighter, the JetLine Hurricane Triple Flame.
I’d heard good things about the Rocky Patel Vintage 1990. The reviews were good and the brand is highly regarded, so I removed the cigar from my humidor with a feeling of anticipation. The pre-light smell was pleasant enough, kind of earthy, but not too strong. I punched a hole and performed a pre-draw. It tasted heavily of cocoa, but it was a little odd, like cocoa that had somehow become freezer-burned. Read more…