If you’ve been smoking cigars for a while, you’ve probably noticed that you can smoke identical cigars from the same box and have incredibly different experiences. Sometimes you hit that magical sweet spot of an incredible smoke — the tobacco equivalent of an orgasm. Other times the same stick might be less than extraordinary or ho-hum. Here are a few reasons that explain this variation in your cigar encounter.
You Got a Bad Stick
Sometimes it’s as simple as a bad stick. It happens! Think of getting a bad stick as being like finding a bad, or “skunked,” bottle of wine in a case of an amazing vintage. Even the best brands and labels will experience this rarely. Premium cigars are natural, handmade products and despite best efforts at quality control at the factory, invariably now and then you’ll get a bad one. It could be the draw, the construction of the cigar, the tobacco itself, or a variety of other reasons. Not much you can do about it. Just can suck it up and muscle through it or decide to just put it down and start a new one.
If you purchased it at your local store and experience a bad stick while in the store, most reputable tobacconists will replace the bad one for you, assuming you point it out early in the smoke. If you’ve left the store, returns or exchanges are less likely to be honored as the reason for the bad stick could have to do with how you store it (e.g., it’s out of the store’s control).
Your Environment Affects Your Cigar Encounter
Are you outside? In the wind? On the golf course? Inside but walking around or standing? Driving in the car? You can enjoy a cigar while on the move or in the elements, and a cigar might make an otherwise monotonous activity (like rush hour traffic) seem doable. That said, nothing will replace your favorite spot, maybe a relaxing, comfortable chair in a climate-controlled environment.
Your Palate Needs Cleansing
What you’ve had to eat, drink, or smoke just prior to smoking or lighting up your cigar can have a huge impact on your smoking experience. Much has been written about different pairings and what can optimize your smoke. Similarly, what you’ve had to smoke just prior can affect your enjoyment of your cigar. It is difficult to appreciate a lighter cigar just after smoking a heavier, fuller-flavored cigar. You’re still smoking, but you can’t taste or appreciate what you’re smoking. If you want to cleanse your palate, consider gargling a mix of hydrogen peroxide and water (1 part each).
Multi-tasking Changes Your Cigar Encounter
Do you ever find it hard to concentrate on a stick while you are multitasking? Maybe you’re trying to knock out some work while smoking or you’re trying to finish some yard work? Perhaps you’re at a cigar event and much of your time is spent talking with others and not concentrating on your smoke? If your mindset is off, you’ll be less focused on appreciating your cigar and too focused on whatever is stressing you out. Anything that keeps you from paying attention to your smoke can sub-optimize your enjoyment of your cigar.
Optimize Your Cigar Encounter
You’re never going to eliminate getting a bad stick. Patronizing high quality brands and retailers that properly store their cigars will minimize your bad ones. Yet there are other variables you can control to optimize your cigar encounter and improve your smoking enjoyment. Find an appropriate physical environment, minimize your distractions or other activities, and start with a clean palate!
On final note: just because it’s going to be a suboptimal experience doesn’t mean you shouldn’t smoke a cigar! A mediocre cigar experience beats the heck out of no cigar experience! Just one example, but a long car ride is often made better with a cigar. Just consider not smoking your best stuff when your experience will not be optimal and saving your trophy cigars for those times when you know you’ll really be able to enjoy them!
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