Cigars are like wine or Scotch or Terrence Malick movies: you’ve seen people talk about them knowledgeably — maybe even pretentiously — but you can’t honestly say you have the first clue what they’re all about. So we talked to Gautam Arora, owner of Old Morris Tobacconist in downtown Victoria B.C. His shop has been around since 1892, so he knows a thing or two about the little brown devils, and he’s here to help you out.
Equipment You’ll Need
You’ll need to cut the cap off the cigar, allowing air to flow all the way through it and, thus, you to smoke it. You’re looking for something with the right shape, and incredibly sharp.
You want something with a big enough flame to cover your whole cigar — and preferably with an adjustable flame, in case you don’t always want to smoke the whole thing. Also, butane, because it’s odorless and won’t affect the flavour of the cigar.
For obvious reasons.
When you get into cigars — as in, you have more than one on hand — you’ll need somewhere to keep them moist and smokable until the right moment. You can spend a lot of money on a humidor. Or you can start with something like this.
A Note on Humidors
“You’ll want to keep it at around 75 per cent humidity,” says Arora. “You’re looking for ‘bloom,’ which is a white dust from the tobacco. It’s oil from the cigar coming out. It means it’s aging, so it’ll be a nice smoke. If you baby your cigars, they’ll last forever. There’s a store in London that has pre-Castro Cubans. They’re priceless.”
What to Look for When Choosing a Cigar
There are lots of factors that can come into play: length, width, country of origin. But if you’re not a connoisseur, these can all be red herrings. For example: “Cubans are sought after mostly because they’re difficult to get — at least for Americans. There’s logic behind it: the soil in Cuba is perfect for growing tobacco, and they’ve been rolling cigars for generations, so they’re good at it. While they can be a lot smoother, I’ve also had Dominicans or Nicaraguans that are just as even. And now, a lot of the tobacco grown in Nicaragua actually uses Cuban soil.” Don’t choose a cigar like a cartoonish movie villain. Instead, focus on these characteristics: