Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Why Different Regions Change Tobacco Characteristics



Cigars are an incredibly varied product. They come from all over the world, and each region brings with it unique characteristics. A Nicaraguan cigar will smoke differently than an Ecuadorian cigar, which will offer traits different than many other cigars. Why is this, though? It’s certainly a good thing - after all, it means more variety and enjoyment for us. The science behind it is fascinating and provides some insight as to why your favorite cigar tastes the way it does.

Climate

Climate plays a massive role in tobacco growth and characteristics. Depending on geographical location, tobacco can develop in ways entirely unique to that region. Take Cuba for example. Widely considered the finest cigars in the world, Cuban cigars are noteworthy because of their inimitable qualities. This is due in large part to the climate where the tobacco is grown. Much like the grapes that are used for wine, variations in temperature, humidity, and nutrition fundamentally alter the flavor profile. Take note of the characteristics the next time you smoke a cigar from a new region - you might find something you’ve never before noticed in another cigar.

Different Wrappers

The leaf wrapped around your favorite cigar is more than an aesthetic. In fact, it’s far more than that - it’s an indication of the process and culture that goes into every cigar. Contrary to popular belief, the color of the wrapper doesn’t necessarily point to the strength of the cigar. Instead, the color of the leaf is a reflection of the growing process. Tobacco leaves also vary in aspects like durability, toughness, and aroma, amongst others. Leaves used as wrappers are typically more versatile when it comes to growing regions, too. While they require certain conditions, many wrapper leaves can be grown in various areas around the world. This means that there are countless combination options for wrappers and tobacco, so we can enjoy incredibly unique cigars and flavor profiles.

Different Growing Traditions

Finally, different regions are rooted in different growing traditions, which ultimately play a large role in the character of your favorite cigar. Tobacco cultivated in Connecticut won’t be grown quite the same as tobacco grown in Indonesia. Of course, this is all for the positive - it means we get to enjoy more variety. It also adds character to the history of the cigar you’re enjoying. There’s a story behind it; there are traditions that go into each and every cigar. They are labors of love, and the cultural aspects behind different cigars tell unique and fascinating stories.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

4 Signs It's Time To Replace Your Tobacco Pipe


A pipe is something special. Each pipe tobacco enthusiast sees their pipe as more than an accessory. It’s an special part of each smoking experience. Each time it’s used, it becomes more and more unique. People tend to become attached to their pipes, and for good reason - they tell a lot of stories. However, as sad as it may be, there comes a time when a pipe should be retired for a fresh pipe. Here are a few signs that it’s time to invest in a new pipe.

It Can’t Maintain Screens


Replacing screens is a common aspect of smoking a pipe. Replacements are so regularly needed that changing them out becomes a matter of muscle memory. However, an issue that arises with older pipes is that they can’t maintain screens for very long. Even if screens are changed before they begin to decline, they’ll still last for a decent amount of time. If they’re not maintaining, though, it’s indicative of bigger problems. Always seek the advice of an expert before making any final decisions, but this can be a sign that your pipe is declining and needs service or replacement.

It Imparts Poor Taste, Even After Cleaning

Even with regular cleanings, pipes naturally evolve over time as they’re smoked. It’s one of the main reasons why people become attached to their pipe - as they develop; they become unique to the smoker. However, after a cleaning, any stale or off flavors should be eliminated. If they aren’t, there’s the possibility that your pipe is past the point of no return. If this happens, it’s doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve been improperly maintaining your pipe. Sometimes, it just happens. Again, get in touch with a pipe expert who can properly advise whether or not you should invest in a new pipe.

Repairs Only Go So Far

Maybe it’s about time that a pipe is brought to an expert who can repair and maintain it. There’s not much experts can’t do. They can repair the integrity of the pipe, give it a deeper clean, and replace broken parts. Unfortunately, though, there comes a time when it’s more reasonable to buy a new pipe instead of continually repair one. It is more cost effective over time, and it can provide more consistent and flavorful smoking experiences.

You Want A Different Flavor Profile

Of course, buying a new pipe doesn’t have to be the result of smoking a declining pipe. Sometimes, you simply want a new pipe, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Breaking in a pipe is an enriching experience that smokers love. Once it has seen a few smokes, it begins to take on its own special character. This is a strong reason to invest in a new pipe, and it doesn’t have to involve retiring a seasoned pipe that you love. No two pipes are quite the same, and having different options offers variety to a great hobby.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

3 Pipe Accessories Every Smoker Should Have




Smoking a pipe is an enriching experience for countless people. There’s nothing quite like enjoying a pipe - it’s a great social activity that’s easy to become passionate about. However, many smokers unintentionally limit their smoking experiences by utilizing two things, the pipe and the tobacco. While those are the two necessary components, there is an array of supplemental accessories that turn every smoking experience into something greater. They foster a better smoking environment and elevate the process quite a bit. Here are a few accessories that every smoker should have.

1. A Proper Ashtray


People don’t tend to think of an ashtray as anything more than a formality, but investing in a proper, quality ashtray has some benefits many might not have considered. The primary benefit lies in presentation. A simple ashtray will hold ash, but isn’t aesthetically pleasing, and considering how smoking a pipe can easily be a social situation, presentation is important. In terms of functionality, standard ashtrays aren’t specifically designed for pipes. Pipe ashtrays are designed to hold pipes, making them much easier to use. They make the smoking experience much more seamless, and they’re well worth the cost.


2. A Pipe Stand


Pipe stands are useful accessories that surprisingly few people purchase, but all smokers should certainly have. From a presentation standpoint, they look fantastic. They create a sophisticated and classic look that many smokers appreciate, but their benefits don’t lie purely with their aesthetics. They make storage much simpler, and proper pipe storage can work wonders for the life of your pipes. Improper storage can greatly reduce the quality and lifespan of your pipe, making a proper stand a wise investment over the long term. As an added bonus, they make outstanding talking pieces amongst company when enjoying a pipe with other smokers.


3. Airway Cleaner


Finally, all smokers absolutely need an airway cleaner. A liquid that's used with a pipe brush, airway cleaners remove extra residue and eliminate stale and stagnant orders within the pipe. With long term use, tobacco buildup can negatively impact the quality of your smoke, leading to off-flavors and poor overall experiences. Best of all, airway cleaner typically is quite friendly to your wallet - it rarely runs more than a few dollars per bottles. With proper usage and regular pipe maintenance, airway cleaner is an accessory that will both extend the life of your pipe and also improve each smoking experience. After using it, simply let your pipe air dry and look forward to a great smoke soon! 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

What to Know When Pairing Cigars, Food and Drinks


Cigar, food, and alcohol pairings have been studied and examined for a long time. Each one brings something unique to your palate, and when properly paired, the experience can be truly unique, fascinating, and downright fantastic. However, entering the world of cigar pairing can be tricky - after all, entering the world of cigars alone is daunting to many. It doesn’t have to be too tricky, though. There are some general rules to follow that make it easier, allowing any cigar fan to take their experience to the next level. Here are a few things to keep in mind when pairing cigars with food and drink.

Find the Right Balance

To start with, remember that cigars, no matter where they fall on the robustness spectrum, are generally quite harsh compared to food and drink. As such, striking the right balance between the cigar and the dish/drink is generally tricky, though it’s not impossible. When it comes to drinks, avoid clear spirits. Even a superb vodka or gin will inevitably be overpowered by the cigar, and this holds true with milder cigars as well. It’s always a good idea to go with scotch, bourbon, or rum. The stronger profiles of these drinks stand up strong next to the strength of a cigar, especially scotch.

Light With Light, Dark With Dark

A common rule with just about any pairing, regardless of the presence of a cigar, is to start by pairing lights with lights and darks with darks. For example, fish and white wine or steak with red are common pairings that people love. When adding cigars to the mix, milder cigars tend to go better with lighter drinks and dishes, while heavier and more robust cigars pair nicely with heavier ones, like a peaty single-malt scotch. There are variations to this guideline and there are certainly exceptions, but for a beginner in the world of pairing, it’s a great starting point from which you can discover what you truly enjoy.

Follow Your Palate

Finally, no matter what, always follow your palate. You know your tastebuds better than anyone else - trust them. There are countless recommendations and they’re absolutely worth your attention, so don’t be afraid to try them. Similarly, simply follow your palate and decide for yourself what works and what doesn’t. No two cigar smokers have identical taste preferences, so take the time to explore different options and discover what you enjoy. Perhaps you’re a rum and robusto fan, or maybe a T-bone and a presidente. Regardless, use recommendations as a starting point, but don’t necessarily treat them as the end-all, be-all of cigar pairings.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

3 Premium Cigars All Cigar Enthusiasts Should Try

There are countless options out there for cigar enthusiasts. With the incredible range of cigars, there truly is something for everyone. However, some cigars demand more attention. The sheer quality of these cigars come from incredible attention to detail and only the finest tobacco. These cigars are of a special quality that places them on a higher level than many other cigars. They’re stellar examples of how truly outstanding a cigar can be, and they’re absolutely worth the attention of all cigar enthusiasts. Here are three cigars all cigar smokers should try.

1.     Te Amo Churchill
A robust and earthy cigar, the Te Amo Churchill comes from one of the world’s most well-known cigar manufacturers. It’s not the most accessible cigar out there, granted - it’s a heavy and tightly packed cigar that might turn away smokers who enjoy a lighter experience. With that said, it’s a perfect cigar for those who want something thicker and packs a powerful punch. Extremely rich and distinguished, the Te Amo Churchill is a cigar that deserves your attention. It may be too heavy for some, but for cigar fans who enjoy a meatier cigar, the Te Amo Churchill is simply unmatched.

2.     Ambrosia Nectar
The Ambrosia Nectar is a truly unique cigar. Hailing from Nicaragua, this one boasts paper that is soaked in wine and rum. The character on this cigar is outstanding, providing an smoking experience few cigars can match. Less robust than the Te Amo Churchill, the Ambrosia Nectar offers a full-bodied smoking experience that doesn’t verge on being too heavy. With an enjoyable sweetness from the wrapper and the earthiness of the tobacco, the aroma and flavor of this cigar are unique and absolutely fantastic. It’s hard to imagine any cigar enthusiast being disappointed by such a particularly interesting cigar.


Another medium-bodied cigar, the Arturo Fuente Don Carlos stands out as a thoroughly brilliant cigar that all cigar enthusiasts simply must try. This one comes from the Dominican Republic, and the profile on it is simply outstanding. It’s quite earthy, but a pleasant hint of sweetness balances the flavor. Even better, it’s one of the most consistent smoking experiences out there - it’s why people are drawn to this particular cigar. A box of these cigars is certainly a bit of an investment, but it’s one that pays off nicely and will make just about any cigar fan happy.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

3 Tips for Properly Packing Pipe Tobacco



Packing tobacco into your pipe can be tricky, especially for newcomers. It’s more than simply shoving tobacco into the bowl; there’s a science to properly doing so. It needs to have enough airflow to smoke smoothly, yet it needs to be packed tight enough to burn properly. It’s a fine line to walk, and it takes some practice to perfect the technique. Here are three tips on packing your pipe tobacco to ensure your next smoke is as great as possible.

1.     Make Sure Your Pipe Is Clean
As always, regular pipe maintenance is crucial to enjoying each and every smoking experience. An unclean pipe negatively affects flavors and aromas, but it also changes the quality of your smoking experience by making it difficult to properly pack your tobacco. Residue and leftover tobacco alters airflow and makes it difficult to get an even burn, and when packing your pipe, it creates uneven restrictions. As such, always keep your pipe clean. It’s a great practice that all smokers should make habitual, and it makes the entire process of packing pipe tobacco much smoother.

2.     Make Sure the Tobacco Is Ready
Another tip is to ensure that your tobacco is actually ready to be packed. When you decide to smoke, lay out the tobacco on a clean surface and make sure there are no issues with humidity, or that there is no unwanted residue hiding away. Not only does it ensure a better smoking experience, it means that your pipe will be packed with nothing but quality tobacco that’s ready to be enjoyed. Best of all, this process isn’t lengthy - you can leave it out for just a few minutes. Grab a drink or check your email; by the time you’re back, the tobacco will be ready to be packed.

3.     Strike the Balance Between Airflow and Tightness

Finally, the perfect pipe is packed by striking a nice balance between looseness near the bottom and snug tightness at the top. When packed like this, air will easily travel through the pipe, but the tobacco will be packed tight enough to ensure a slow, consistent burn. First, place some tobacco in the bowl, filling it just about halfway. Lightly press it down, but be careful not to use too much pressure - it’s supposed to be looser near the bottom. Fill the pipe with more tobacco and press it in with a bit more pressure. Again, don’t use too much pressure, but you can have a heavier hand at this point. Test it by inhaling air through the pipe before lighting it. If the tobacco is snug and you get a strong pull, you’re ready to smoke!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Hand Rolled Vs Machine Made Cigars – What You Need To Know


Cigars are made in numerous different manners. Different tobaccos, papers, and techniques go into each and every cigar, making each smoking experience unique and interesting. They’re also rolled in one of two ways: by hand or by machine. Everyone has their own preferences, and the differences between the two are certainly noticeable. With that said, there’s always speculation and hesitation when choosing between the two, so here are a few differences worth noting before you decide to purchase your next cigar.

Flavor Profiles

When it comes to hand-rolled cigars, everything about the cigar is much more deliberate. Every single step is done by hand, which ensures a very specific flavor profile, amongst other factors. Hand-rolled cigars are typically of higher quality ingredients (though not exclusively so). Of course, this doesn’t mean that machine-made cigars aren’t brilliantly made products - they still require extensive effort and quality control. When it comes to nailing down specific taste profiles, hand-rolled cigars tend to take the edge, though machine-made cigars are nothing to scoff at - they provide a perfect sense of consistency and quality that attracts smokers with a vast array of preferences.

Handmade Doesn’t Mean Hand-rolled

A common misconception with cigars is that “handmade” equates to “hand-rolled.” This isn’t necessarily true; on the contrary, machine-made cigars can easily be referred to as handmade. It makes sense; even though they’re machine-made, quite a bit of effort still goes into making each cigar, so it’s not a false claim. However, the two phrases are not synonymous, so when shopping for your next cigar, bear in mind that a claim to be handmade doesn’t guarantee that it’s hand-rolled. The only way to guarantee that you’re smoking a hand-rolled cigar is that it specifically notes that it’s hand-rolled.

One Isn’t Inherently Better Than The Other

Finally, one thing to remember is that a hand-rolled cigar isn’t necessarily going to be better or worse than a machine-made cigar. Every cigar has its own unique profile, and no matter how it’s made, it will resonate with some cigar enthusiasts more than others. As always, finding a cigar you love is a process of exploration and learning. There are certainly premium cigars that have earned their reputation as truly phenomenal, and there are machine-made cigars that make some hand-rolled cigars look rather pedestrian. At the end of the day, it’s all about smoking the cigar you truly enjoy, and adopting the mindset that one is always better than the other is simply detrimental to any smoking experience.