I have noticed something over the years of buying my cigars. No, not that I spend too much (the wife disagrees), or that my tastes have changed all that much (they change, but very little at a time). What I have noticed is the sometimes subtle, sometimes great difference in smoking experience depending on where the cigar has been.
I don’t mean country of tobacco origin, or where it was rolled. I mean where it has been sitting before I smoke it.
Over the years my buying habits have changed for various reasons, as I suspect many of yours have as well. It wasn’t until a couple years ago I started seriously using the internet for purchasing my supply. It wasn’t until one year ago that I ever had any direct from a manufacturer. Back then, I went to my local brick & mortar or lounge and more often than not lit what I purchased right there.
It wasn’t until I was able to keep a nice supply at home, and smoke more often than not at home, that I was able to appreciate the burn and flavor differences present in different types of sale and storage environments. The way I see it, there are three of such.
The first, and most unaffecting to the cigars, is direct from a warehouse to you. The cigars have been produced, boxed and stored all nice and sealed up, waiting for you to open them. Usually they go right in to your humidor until the day they are enjoyed. The home humidor is usually a self contained vessel with nice clean air for aging and acclimation. What you get from the cigar is 100% what was intended by the blender, and it’s up to you for proper storage procedures for a good burn. This is what I experience now 99% of the time.
Second and third is buying from a local store or lounge. The difference is whether the cigars for sale are in a clean air environment or a smoking environment.
Maybe it’s just me, but I now notice sometimes quite a big difference when enjoying a cigar in an indoor smoky environment compared to outside or in a clean indoor setting. When I’m breathing, smelling and tasting a lot of stagnate smoke in the room, it is effecting what I get out of the cigar I’m drawing. Some of my local shops are better than others in this regard. My real close shop has no air circulation whatsoever except propping the door open. Unfortunately that is bad for the cigars in the store so more often than not the small shop with only two chairs is often a cloud from front to back.
Shops that do allow indoor smoking have two types of humidors – those exposed to that smoke and those separated. Some shops are also better at this than others. Tampa Humidor has an excellent air filtration system. Even at large events with 100 or more lit cigars in the lounge side, the humidor room smells of nothing but fresh cigars. Other shops have nothing but cabinet doors or worse yet simply open shelves in the shop, exposing the new cigars to sit in exhaled smoke for weeks and months. I find that cigars I purchase from such shops have a heavier, muted flavor profile than others. Sometimes they just taste ‘smokey’. The difference isn’t just taste but aroma. I don’t mind the smell of most cigar smoke, but I much prefer the aroma of fresh cigars.
Occasionally I get comments from readers/viewers expressing a difference in experience with a certain stick. Of course sometimes this is simply the difference between two people – but more and more I think it could simply be the difference in where our sticks came from. Most of the time what you see reviewed here is what I’ll call a ‘fresh review’. They have been acquired either directly from the manufacturer or directly from a retailers warehouse. When I buy locally I tend to do so from those shops with a clean humidor room.
So what about you – have you noticed any differences?