So your swag is tight and on point. Your beard is flush and you can finally blend with the best of Brooklyn’s hipsters. Fresh out the chair with some new ink that screams a war mantra of blood and guts, no one can stop you now. You’re close to being a bonafide pipe-hitter, but yet, so far away.
To complete your standard-issue SF-guy look, let me verse you on two crucial staples:
This article will help give you the confidence to strut into a smoke shop and not radiate the “I’m fucking lost” look comparable to that most men have when approaching a lingerie store before Valentine’s Day. Let’s get at it, ladies and gents!
At some point, surely you’ll have to deal with that store aficionado. Lots of these guys tend to be overly poetic and unnecessarily complicated in schooling you on what’s what, and what’s good. Don’t pretend to be an aficionado. Like most passions, the basics here are simple. So let’s equip you with the fundamentals you need to get you in the spirit and on to that first puff.
I want you to focus on these three layers to a cigar:
The cigar wrapper
I’m not talking synthetic packaging here. The wrapper is made from the widest part of the tobacco leaf. It’s what keeps the cigar whole and presentable. Cigar-makers ensure this part, the volado, is selectively picked to burn well. This is also the first flavor you will notice when it hits your lips. These leaves are the most expensive segment; quality cigars use more than one wrapper. The color of a cigar matters, since most of the flavor comes from the outer wrapper. There are over 100 shades, from claro (lightest) to oscuro (darkest).
The cigar binder
We’re now at the core of the issue. Literally. This is the center section of the cigar. Unbeknownst to most people, flavor is rarely a component here. Instead, the binder is used for a more utilitarian purpose—to keep the bound tobacco tightly secured to the wrapper. You can observe a fine and expertly crafted binder by how the stick falls apart while smoking.
The cigar filler
Here is where you get the taste and flavor of a cigar. A combination of different colors and strengths are used to form elite cigars. Look for fillers that consist of whole leaves. These are also known as long fillers. Try to stay away from short fillers because they are comprised of chopped leaves, stems, and other random plant parts. By choosing long fillers, you will pay more, but your cigar will burn less hot and in turn will impart the flavors more diversely as you puff away.
Keep in mind that there are other aspects to selecting an appropriate cigar. Bottom line is, get what you like. Try a couple of varieties and experiment. There is no right, no wrong. As always, I look forward to your feedback and experiences. I’m always learning new things from our educated audience. In the future, I’ll couple this article with how to pair Scotch with your new talent of selecting fine, handcrafted stogies. One final note: When lighting your stick, don’t use matches. Simply kiss it slowly with a lighter’s flame as you would expose a marshmallow to a campfire. Enjoy!