Sunday, April 6, 2008

Cigar Myths: content preview

There is enough magic and wonder in the world of cigar making and luxury tobacco, that lies, myth, and marketing exaggerations are totally unnecessary. But that would not seem the case since there are innumerable untruths in the marketplace and many of them have been propagated for decades by successful individuals and companies. Perhaps this is the case because marketers have determined what information consumers receive. Or because there has never been a credible institution dedicated to teaching, learning, and researching the impressive truths of our industry; but the days of biased romanticism and exaggeration should be coming to a close. Tobacconist University is committed to teaching the truth about our industry, not duping customers into brand loyalty and ignorant misconceptions.

Great cigars and luxury tobaccos are practically miracles in their own right. Our products take more collective skills and longer to create than great works of art, architecture, and furniture, yet their destiny is to be combusted and return to dust. Our products need no exaggeration to be fully appreciated; only to be honestly represented. The following is a list of cigar/tobacco myths which retail Tobacconists hear every day. In our efforts to enhance consumer appreciation, we must help enlighten our customers, not B.S. them.
Eventually this will be a multi-media component of our Academic Curriculum, but until then, this is a great place to start telling the truth.

Virgin Thighs
Myth: In Cuba, cigars are rolled on the thighs of virgins.

Truth: This is an absurd concept which sounds interesting and amusing to some, but is not grounded in reality.


Cuban Seed
Myth: Cuban Seed = Quality

Truth: Cuban Seeds, grown inside or outside of Cuba, can produce both good and bad cigars. There is no direct correlation between product quality and Cuban Seeds. There are far too many variables impacting the quality of tobacco and cigars, like soil, climate, rain, fermentation, blending, rolling, etc... This myth was started after the American embargo on Cuba when cigar makers wanted to enhance the perceived value and quality of their own brands.

Refrigerate Cigars
Myth: Keeping cigars in your household refrigerator will keep them "fresh" (or optimally conditioned).

Truth: Refrigerators are far too dry to keep cigars optimally conditioned and the more humid "crisper" drawer is also inadequate.


Spanish Cedar Necessary
Myth: Humidors and Cigar boxes need to be lined with Spanish Cedar.

Truth: Spanish Cedar is not necessary. It was historically and geographically convenient and practical. While it may be a valid taste+aroma preference, it is not required.



Cigar Licking
Myth: An entire cigar should be thoroughly licked/wet-down before being smoked.

Truth: This practice was common a century ago when humidification was not as accurate and consistent as it is today. Wetting the wrapper would help keep the cigar from unravelling, but it is not necessary when smoking a well conditioned cigar.



Angled Cut
Myth: Some people claim that cutting the cap/head of a cigar on an angle helps aim the smoke directly to the palate and enhances taste.
Truth: In contrast to a Perfect Cut, an angled cut jeopardizes the integrity of the cigar head and may lead to it unravelling. In addition, a mouth filled with smoke will taste the smoke, whether it is aimed at the tongue or not. The other down side of an angled cut is that the heat of the combusted cigar will be aimed directly at the tongue.


Self Sharpening Cutter
Myth: Some Double Guillotines are believed to sharpen themselves.
Truth: This is untrue; the physics of metal sharpening have nothing in common with the way Double Guillotines function.


Packaging = Quality
Myth: It is natural to perceive and equate beauty with quality; this is a natural human trait.
Truth: Many cigars with the simple packaging are extraordinary and many cigars have extraordinary packaging which is not commensurate with the product.

Strength = Body
Myth: Full-Bodied cigars are Strong. And Strong cigars must be Full-Bodied.
Truth: A cigar can have a Full-Body and not be Strong. Strength relates to Nicotine intensity and Spice, but not necessarily profound flavor.


Cigars Attract Hot Women
Myth: While sexuality is used by many companies to lure customers to their products, this usually has nothing to do with the actual product. There are many companies that advertise and promote their cigars with attractive and/or scantily clad women - the implication being that 'these cigars attract women like this'.
Truth: Using sex and sexuality to sell cigars may get attention or momentarily make the product seem to taste better (see Emotional Taste Perception), but the effect is short lived.


Absolutes Depend
Myth: "This is the Best Cigar", "This brand must age _____ months/years" and any other Absolute Statements are typically wrong in the world of luxury tobacco.
Truth: Everything in the world of luxury tobacco DEPENDS on one variable or another. Every batch, type, and crop of tobacco leaf is different. There are no Absolute time periods for growing, fermentation, or aging. There are no Absolute ways to quantify or qualify taste. There are absolutely no Absolutes in luxury tobacco: Everything Depends...



Maduros Are Stronger
Myth: Dark Maduro wrappers give consumers the impression that Maduro cigars are stronger.
Truth: While Maduros undergo a longer Fermentation, they do not increase in strength, rather they become richer and a little sweeter, as the sugars develop.


Perfect Consistency
Myth: Perfect Consistency Exists.

Truth: It is impossible to create a perfectly consistent cigar and blend from one batch to another, much less from one crop/year to another. In addition, it is impossible to construct every cigar perfectly. The nature of handmade cigars requires some deviation. It is OK for a cigar to burn a little crooked and for cigars to taste a little different from batch to batch. In fact, the human senses cannot taste or smell perfectly, so we would not even recognize Perfect Consistency if it were possible.

Perfect Consistency is more likely to be found in the wine and/or spirits industry where the final product is a liquid. Liquids are much easier to measure, rate, and blend, so the final product is more likely to be consistent.


Lost & Found [Cuban] Tobaccos
Myth: The classic marketing story about a long lost batch of perfectly conditioned tobacco being discovered and used to create a 'once in a lifetime' cigar.

Truth: The 'Truth' is hard to find in this case. Discovering the how, what, when, and where of a 're-discovered' tobacco is difficult, if not impossible to prove.

Cuban Cigars Are "The Best"

This is the mother of all cigar myths, probably because it was true decades ago and can occasionally seem true today. Cuba is the birthplace of great tobaccos, seeds, and cigars, but time has moved us forward. Great Tobacconists and Consumers everywhere know that our 'Cigar Renaissance' exists mostly because of the efforts and products created by those outside of Cuba. Today, claiming that 'I only smoke Cubans' or 'Cuban cigars are the best' is the last bastion of ignorance, uneducated pompousness, or extreme prejudice; and of course, taste is subjective.

Romanticism plays a big part in the world of luxury tobacco. It is a romantic process to smoke a great cigar; sitting back watching the smoke, smelling the aromas, tasting the notes of flavor, and savoring your time. Luxury tobacco is inherently sensual and romantic. But real romance and pleasure need no embellishment. And the actual magic and wonder of luxury tobacco is enough, without the myths and lies. Enhanced appreciation requires Enlightenment, and that requires The Truth.




7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am old school on the issue of cuban cigars. I do only smoke cubans, and on those occasions when I have drifted afield it has been dissapointing and noticeable. This is NOT a myth. Generally speaking, Cubans are better, and in may cases, markedly so. I remember when Cigar Officionado chose Licensiados as the best Robusto of that year. I tried a box and have to say that they weren't even close to the mediocre cubans I own. Ugh. MJ

Anonymous said...

What about the myth that a cigar lit with a match tastes better than a cigar lit with a lighter?

marcos said...

I wonder if the first Anonymous has done any blind taste tests. If so, could he describe them in detail?

Anonymous said...

Padrons as whole are better than most Cubans I've ever had.

Anonymous said...

well your first mistake was buying a box of something cigar aficionado said was good. their ratings are based on ad sales. try a davidoff millennium blend or padron anniversario and stop being so closed-minded.

cuban cigars said...

I always believe that cuban cigar are better than most.

richard said...

hey that is a really nice post about humidors sir. would love to read more about cigar humidification from you