Choosing The Best Ashtray For Cigar Smoking
Is an ashtray just an ashtray? Unlike regular cigarettes, cigars need their own special space to support their girth and ashes. Many cigar aficionados swear by the pleasures of finding the proper place to hold their cigars and ashes.
So what are the characteristics of a good ashtray? First of course, make sure the ashtray you buy is big enough to hold your cigars. Cigars come in varying sizes, so you will want an ashtray that can accommodate the single of your choice. Next, consider your personal style of smoking. Do you produce a lot of ash? Do you let your cigar rest for extended periods of time? These are all important considerations when choosing your ashtray.
Look for ashtrays made of metal, heavy glass, or ceramics. Ideally, you will want the ashtray to be big enough to hold the ashes for two cigars.
Where can you find the best ashtrays for your cigars? Many cigar aficionados swear by antique ashtrays. Search out flea markets and antique stores for good deals. Tobacco shops, mail order catalogues, and Internet shops are also good places to look.
How To Properly Age A Cigar
Experienced cigar enthusiasts know well the pleasures of a well-aged cigar. The subtle flavors and complex constitution of a well-aged cigar is indescribably and unforgettable. Like wine, many cigar aficionados swear by the process of aging. A great cigar, the argument goes, is an aged one. How can you attain a well-aged cigar that provides the mellow, complex flavors you crave? You can always fork over a good deal of your money and purchase a box of expensive vintage cigars. If you would rather save the money and experiment with aging on your own, here are a few tips to help you get started.
First, know that you will have to be patient if you want a properly aged cigar. You will have to age your cigars for about a year in order to achieve the flavors and complex subtleties of a well-aged cigar. Also, know that in order to achieve the rewards of a well-aged cigar; you must begin the process with a high quality cigar. If you try to age a lower quality cigar, chances are any amount of aging won't improve their flavor significantly. Many high quality cigars that you find too strong or odorous are perfect candidates for aging. In fact, almost all high quality cigars can be improved through the process of aging.
To age your cigars, purchase a good quality humidor. Cigars must be stored in a constant and stable environment. Follow the 70-70 rules. That means the humidity must be at a constant humidity of 70%, and at a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Of course, the environment in which they are stored is crucial. Follow the usual 70-70 rules for temperature and humidity. Any more and your cigars will get moldy; any less and the aging process begins to be stunted. Maintaining a stable environment for your cigars is key - a constantly fluctuation environment can be disastrous. Swings in temperature and humidity cause cigars to expand and contract, cracking their wrappers and it may disrupt the aging process. Ideally, the space in the humidor should be about twice the volume of cigars. The lining should be cedar - cedar wood is highly aromatic wood, full of its own oils. With the passage of time, the interaction of the tobacco oils amongst themselves, and with the cedar oil of the wood it leads to a mellowing and blending of flavors resulting in that subtle complexity you can only get from proper aging.
Fighting The Beetles Protecting Your Cigars From Infestation
Your cigar box may be at risk of a secret predator. Many cigar aficionados have been shocked and repulsed at finding their treasured cigars infested with Lasioderma Serricorne, also known as tobacco beetles. This dreaded beetle feeds on your precious cigars. They don't care if your cigars are drugstore mass-market brands, or imported beauties.
What is the tobacco beetle, and where does it come from? The tobacco beetle exits in all countries where tobacco is produced. It thrives on tobacco plants, infesting their leaves before it is processed. Tobacco beetles thrive in hot climates, and especially in the warm countries Caribbean countries where much of the world's tobacco is produced. Tobacco beetles lay larvae that are white and up to 4 mm long. When the larvae hatch, they produce moths that proceed to hungrily eat their way through the tobacco leaves. Unfortunately, the tobacco beetle has been known to survive the process of fermentation and production that is used to make most cigars. Although many countries have made the effort to rid their tobacco crops of this dreaded pest, mostly by spraying crops with gases, the tobacco beetle has proven highly resistant.
If the tobacco beetle survives into the finished product, many cigar enthusiasts may open their cigar boxes to find that their cigars have been eaten through. Sometimes the presence of the tobacco beetle can be detected through the presence of small puncture-like holes on the wrapper. The holes can make an average cigar resemble a flute.
What can you do if you find your cigars infested with the tobacco beetle? Research has shown that your microwave may be your best defense in destroying the tobacco beetle larvae. Before using your microwave, remove and dispose of any infested cigar from your collection. The rest of your cigars can be treated. In order to rid the remaining of your collection of this pest, you should make sure to microwave your cigars together, never individually. Microwave them for about three minutes. After being warmed, immediately place the cigars into the freezer. After freezing them for 24 hours, remove them and allow them to thaw at room temperature. After they have thawed completely, place them in a humidor. This treatment has proven effective in removing the presence of the tobacco beetle. Before removing a cigar from the humidor to be smoked, examine each cigar individually. If the cigar shows no evidence of infestation, it is safe to smoke.
How To Spot Fake Cuban Cigars
Everyone knows that Cuban cigars are the most coveted cigars, renown worldwide for their smoothness and rich flavors. Indeed, Cuban cigars are so prized that many illegitimate dealers have been known to sell fake Cubans to unsuspecting cigar smokers. How do you tell if what you have is a fake or the real thing? First, make certain that you purchase your cigars from a legitimate dealer. Buying from your local tobacconist or a reputable mail order business can protect you from forking your money over for a box of fake cigars.
If you have an opportunity to purchase a box of purported Cuban cigars, but have your doubts, take the time to examine the box before purchasing it. Here are a few tips to help you spot the fakes from the real thing.
The most important thing to examine is the box. Authentic Cuban cigars will contain a green and white warranty seal on the left front side of the box. The seal will contain an insignia that has a picture of a shield and a hat. On the upper right hand corner of the box, you should find a white sticker that is placed diagonally with the word 'Habanos' printed on it. The overall appearance of the box should be neat and clean. If the box appears damaged, smudged, frayed, or marked, avoid it. If the color of the box is dull, don't buy it. Even if the cigars are the real things, their quality may have suffered in transport. If you are in the market for Cohiba, Trinidad, or Q'dorsay brand cigars, know that all authentic Cohiba's will contain the green and white warranty seal on the right hand side of the box.
On the bottom of the box of cigars, you should find a heat stamp with the words 'Habanos.' The heat stamp should be impressed onto the bottom of the box. Fake Cuban cigar boxes often find other ways to imprint this label, such as using rubber stamps or paper labels. You should also find a factory code stamp at the bottom that is stamped in green, blue or black ink. This stamp will tell you when and where the cigars were rolled.
If you can open the box, take the time to smell the tobacco. Cuban cigars will have a deep, rich aroma, unmistakable to dedicated cigar aficionados. If the smell is off, or very weak, chances are you do not have a box of authentic Cuban cigars in your hands. The cigars should be facing the same way, and the top row may appear slightly flattened. The caps on all the cigars should appear identical, and the foot of each cigar should be cut clean. The bands on all the cigars should also be identical, and should be arranged so that they face the same direction. If allowed, test the cigars out by pressing down on them. Feel along the entire length of each cigar, checking for soft or hard spots. The cigars should feel firm yet pliable.
Cigars 101 An Overview Of Cigars
Cigars have long been associated with the rich and powerful, with relaxation and rich flavor. Cigar aficionados have created a culture around the art of smoking, assembling various theories and accessories to debate and facilitate smoking. Much like wine tasting, cigar smoking has been seen as a diversion of the upper echelons of society.
It is believed that cigars were probably first produced in Spain, and then quickly caught on in other European countries. Although many different countries manufacture cigars, Cuban cigars have long been highly regarded as one of the most flavorful and rich of all cigars. This is due to regional microclimates that are said to produce the highest quality tobacco, as well as the skill of the country's cigar makers. Other countries that produce significant amounts of tobacco and cigars include Brazil, Mexico, Honduras, Ecuador, Cameroon, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, and the United States. Why have cigars long caught the attention of so many? Many speculate that the cigar's main attraction is in the way it is manufactured. High quality cigars are always wrapped by hand. Unlike cigarettes, cigars undergo a lengthy process of fermentation and aging (much like wine), resulting in subtle flavors and textures. They are highly individual and the best cigars will provide no smoky aftertaste at all.
The taste of cigars is much more complex than cigarettes. The majority of all cigars are created by wrapping three different layers of tobacco leaves together. High quality cigars usually contain long leaves of nicotine as the filler, although they may also contain a combination of scraps. This results in subtle variations, different textures, and complex flavors. Cigarettes, on the other hand, are mass-produced and generally only contain one type of tobacco. Cigars also come in an incredible variety of flavors. The dedicated cigar aficionado can find chocolate, vanilla, apple, and even coffee-flavored cigars!
Although cigars have long been lauded for their smooth and complex flavors, they can also pose a great health risk. All tobacco contains nicotine. We've all heard about the negative health risks of nicotine, but what does it do exactly? Nicotine is a stimulant that produces a sense of euphoria. Even the casual smoker cannot escape the fact that nicotine is highly addictive and contains various toxins, carcinogens, and irritants. Although most connoisseurs of cigars will avoid inhaling the smoke, they are still at risk of developing various types of oral and larynx cancers.
Why Use A Humidor
If you are not an experienced cigar smoker, you may be wondering why cigar aficionados use humidors. Humidors are used to store and protect cigars so that they are kept at their peak flavor. A humidor works by keeping a cigar at a constant temperature, somewhere between 68 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and about 70-72% humidity.
Many cigar aficionados claim that the ideal temperature for storing cigars is 70 degree F. Any lower will tend to age the cigar, rather than keep it at a constant level. Humidors are not meant to age, but rather to preserve the integrity, flavor, and color of the cigar.
What should you look for when purchasing a humidor? The good humidor should close completely, with a tight fitting lid that will keep the cigars well kept from the elements and prevent any exchange of moisture. Seams should be smooth and well fitted for cigars. Cedar, especially Spanish cedar is ideal for the interior of the humidor. Of course, make certain your brand of cigars fits well into any humidor you are considering purchasing.
How To Purchase Cigars From Cuba
Every cigar aficionado knows that the very best cigars come from Cuba. Unfortunately, buying the best can often be a risky proposition. But many cigar enthusiasts are willing to take the risk to get a taste of the very best. If you're wondering just how one would get their hands on a box of Cubans, read on. Because of the relationship between the United States and Cuba, know that there are a lot of people looking to take advantage of cigar aficionados. Purchasing Cuban cigars should be done with great caution in order to avoid getting duped.
First, know that importing cigars from Cuba is considered illegal. The United States placed economic sanctions on the Cuban government in 1963. Ever since then, Cuban cigars have become the holy grail of cigar enthusiasts. There is, however, one loophole: visitors to Cuba who return from a sanctioned and licensed visit are allowed to bring back cigars. However, visitors are not able to bring back more than $100 worth of cigars, and they must be intended for personal use, and not for resale.
Any other ways of obtaining Cuban cigars is considered illegal. It is in fact illegal to buy, sell or trade Cuban cigars in the United States. Fines for illegal trading, buying or selling of Cuban cigars may face up to $55,000 in civil fines. This type of fine, however, is quite rare. The more likely scenario is that you'll have your cigars confiscated.
When purchasing a box of Cuban cigars, be prepared to fork over quite a bit of your cash. Prices can range from about $150 to $500 or more. If you're offered a box below these prices, chances are it may not be the real thing. Most Internet businesses that sell purportedly genuine Cuban cigars tend to be imitations. Always avoid shops or retailers that offer "discounted" Cuban cigars.
How to get your hands on the real thing? The easiest way to get a box of authentic Cuban cigars is to head north to Canada. Buy them in Canada and repackage them so that they are not in their original Cuba packaging. Remove the rings and place the cigars in a different box. Customs agents tend to not inspect cigars carefully, and it is generally not considered a serious offense to bring Cuban cigars into the United States. In fact, many clerks at tobacco shops will even offer to repackage Cuban cigars for you.
The Health Risks Of Cigar Smoking
We have all heard of the risks associated with smoking cigarettes, but what are the risks of cigar smoking? Are the risks of smoking cigars just as dangerous, or more so? According to the National Cancer Instituted, regular cigar smoking can result in a major health threat. Scientific research has linked cigar smoking with cancers of the larynx, lungs, esophagus, and oral cavity. Newer research also indicates that cigar smoking may be strongly linked to the development of cancer in the pancreas. Doctors also caution that individuals who regularly inhale while enjoying a cigar are also at greater risk of developing lung disease and heart problems.
The health threats of cigar smoking appear to increase dramatically in those individuals who smoke regularly and inhale while smoking. Someone who smokes three to four cigars each day will him or herself at eight times the risk of developing some kind of oral cancer than a nonsmoker. Unfortunately, we do not yet know the health risks of smoking the occasional cigar. It seems clear however that smoking cigars on a daily basis can pose serious health risks.
Many individuals wonder if cigars are as addictive as cigarettes. Many wonder why, for instance, so many people become addicted to cigarettes, and not cigars? The truth is that any tobacco product can become addictive because it contains nicotine. Witness the effects of smokeless tobacco products on individuals. These products, such as chewing tobacco, can become very addictive, simply because they contain tobacco, which in turn contains nicotine. Many cigar smokers do not inhale deeply, thus causing the nicotine to be inhaled superficially. Cigarette smokers tend to inhale, causing the nicotine to be absorbed faster and more readily by the lungs. Even though most cigar smokers inhale the nicotine more superficially, it is still possible to become addicted if the user smokes cigars on a regular basis.
If nicotine is so addictive, why don't more cigar smokers smoke more often? It appears that more people avoid becoming 'hooked' on cigars for several reasons. The most obvious reason is that the nicotine is inhaled much more superficially than in regular cigarette smoking, causing less nicotine to be absorbed by the body. Also, cigars are not as readily accessible as cigarettes. They are viewed by most as a luxury item, saved for special occasions and used infrequently. However, when cigars are smoked on a regular basis, they can become addictive. The health risks of any kind of smoking increase dramatically as frequency of use increases.
How To Pair Cigars And Alcohol
The cigar has long been viewed as a luxury of the rich and powerful. Images of well-to-do men puffing on a stogie and swirling a glass of good brandy have been well documented and memorialized in films and TV. If you are just becoming interested in cigars and would like to relax with a stogie and drink after a long day's work, here are a few tips to get you started.
Traditionally, the cigar has been paired with a strong drink. Popular spirits include rum, brandy, or whiskey. Some argue that a good cigar should always be paired with a strong drink that has a hint of sweetness. Indeed, cigar smokers have long enjoyed these popular pairings. For years, the idea of pairing cigars with beer has gone overlooked. But why overlook good old beer? Recently, the trend has been to pair cigars with various varieties of beer. It seems that as cigars have entered the mainstream, it has been democratized and popularized. What better way to enjoy a puff of this newly popularized treat than to pair it with beer?
Pairing a good cigar with a good beer is not an easy feat, but when accomplished, it is well worth the effort. Much of the pairing has to do with your experience level. If you are a novice, you will probably need help in pairing your specific cigar with an appropriate beer. If you have a more experienced palate, and you know what you like, you can probably make connections between certain types of cigars and beers.
Because cigars are so strong and flavorful, one of the challenges in pairing is to find a beer that complements the intensity of most cigars. Most cigars will pair nicely with a good barely wine or a single malt scotch. If your cigar can be described as woody, spicy, with hints of cedar, try pairing it with a barley wine. The fruity hint of barely wine should complement nicely with the spicy flavor of your cigar. The combination of a spicy cigar with a slightly fruity beer can create an overall creaminess that enhances the flavors of each significantly.
If you have no clue as to what flavor combinations might work, experiment. First, find a cigar that you enjoy. Try to identify the characteristics that you enjoy about it. Then, find a beer whose flavors you think might 'match' or complement the cigar. Many incredible discoveries have been made in much this same way.
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