Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Two schools of thought: Cigar bands and the pre-light draw

I've had several comments about my second posting being a little too political for what I have proclaimed this blog to be. The good life is something to enjoy and not think too much about. I have already received many suggestions and a lot of support and I truly hope it continues.

The title of this entry may be a bit misleading because, as with everything, there is always more than one opinion about it. I wanted to tackle two subjects and some different perspectives on them.

Most people have their own routine when smoking a cigar. A la Tom Hanks from You've Got Mail, just like with Starbucks coffee it allows people with no decision making ability at all to make several decisions all at once. Tall, low fat, decaf, cappuccino. Same with a cigar. Once you decide on the brand of cigar, several other decisions must follow. What size? What type of cut? How to light? What to light with?

If you start to list everything out it can be a little overwhelming. But as I previously stated, everyone has their routine. My brother almost always elects for the V-cut on the end of his cigar, as my preference fluctuates between cigar sizes.

However, as the title states, I wish to focus on cigar bands and the pre-light draw for the time being.

The cigar band was put in place for very obvious reasons. H. Upmann, along with other brands, wanted their cigar to be noticed among all the other brands and to signal genuine Cuban or Havana ethnicity and distinction. In Europe, some parts of Asia, and Cuba it is considered rude or at the very least uncouth to smoke your cigar with the band still on. The offense of leaving the band on has to do with the mantra, "Not all cigars are created equal." Therefore, nobody should be offended that they can not afford or be able to attain less premium cigars than others. The concept is that everyone gets to enjoy their own. To me, this sounds like the ol' theory behind uniforms in public school. "No kids will get made fun of, if they are all dressed the same." Yeah, right. Once everyone is dressed alike, then nobody gets made fun for being fat, wearing glasses, talking with a lisp, or smelling poorly. Uniforms work wonders on my self-esteem, that's for sure.

I digress.

Today, in the U.S. and around the rest of the globe, it is widely ignored and/or accepted to leave the band on. In most American cigar communities it is accepted, because it allows others to see what you are smoking without asking or interrupting discussion.

From what I have personally noticed, it seems that most people prefer one way or the other. My brother always takes his band off before lighting, just after taking in the pre-lit aroma. I, like most, leave the band on until I have smoked the cigar down three-quarters. The heat and smoke funneling through the cigar typically loosens the band enough so that it can be removed without damaging the remaining quarter of the cigar.

But, let's "Tarantino" this post a bit and take it back to the beginning.

For over a year now, with every cigar I have indulged in, I take a moment to enjoy the pre-light aroma and draw. This is a very common practice among most aficionados, but considerably ignored by the passive smoker.

I would not say it is required or one "has" to do so, but I do feel that this is an underrated, overlooked concept that I really enjoy. First, there are few moments during the course of a cigar that match the initial scent of the bouquet of a particular cigar. Those first subtle notes of earth, leather, floral, coffee, cocoa, etc. almost make the cigar itself. After cutting the cigar, before I light the foot, I partake in a pre-lit draw (I inhale through the unlit stogie to taste some initial flavor). I enjoy this because not only does it allow me the opportunity to taste the wrapper, but I can also garner a feel for how tight or loose the actual lit draw will be.

As you can see, from beginning to end, the cigar is an experience to enjoy. As always guys and gals, there is nothing wrong with knowing you're the best!


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