In March 2011, I was fortunate enough to be invited to Camp Camacho in Honduras, to tour the fields and factories and observe what a Central American premium hand rolled cigar manufacturing was all about. Of the many new lifelong friends I made on the trip, one of my favorites is a madman from Kansas, named Paul. Besides being one of the funniest guys I’ve met through cigars, Paul has a voracious apetite for all things consumable, cigars being one of his favorite.
Paul recently spent an afternoon with me running around NYC with me to visit my favorite shops. My goal was not to “WOW” Paul with the NYC scene, but rather let him reconnect with some buddies who were also on the Honduras Trip. Paul is a student in Kansas and a PT employee at The West Side Humidor in Witchita, Kansas. He’s got a better palate than I, and working at a cigar shop, certainly tries a lot more than I do.
Our Man, Chillaxin in deep thought back at the Camp Camacho Hacienda
Our first stop was Davidoff of Geneva’s Madison Ave. Flagship Location (Davidoff Madison Ave.). We were able to catch Chris and Lino and share a cigar while we were there. These are 2 extremely knowledgeable, extremely personable guys. We had a great time in Honduras w/them.
Hanging with Lino & Chris from Davidoff Madison Ave.
Davidoff Madison Ave.
Next, we went to see Ron and Chris from DeLaConcha. Ron was out of the shop with his family for the holiday, but we were able to chat & smoke with Chris while we were there. I love chatting w/Chris. He always makes me laugh.
Hanging with Chris from DeLaConcha
Then, we went to my stomping ground, The Grand Havana Room for a smoke and some Flor de Cana Rum, that made us reminisce about our ossified times in Honduras. Good times.
Grand Havana Room
Lastly, we took the subway downtown to SoHo and tried to catch Len at O.K. Cigars. He was out for the holiday as well, but we toured the shop and fell in love with come classic tobbaciana on sale. Great shop if you are ever downtown looking for a smoke. We didn’t take any pics here (probably, because of the rum at our last stop.)
I had a great time running around the city with Paul and I hope that we can do it again soon. I’ll come to Kansas too, really. Say hello to Ryan and Gordon also!
“Rolling through New York with Big Sexy him self was a blast. The man has his finger on the thriving pulse of the smoking comunity”.
In my more recent online readings about tobacco, I’ve taken to a more classical style, looking up older writings. And so I came across “Smoking as a Fine Art” by A.A. Milne, a fantastic essay about a pipe smoker from England describing his experience smoking pipes and arguing for a more sophisticated approach to tobacco.
Reading the essay, I had to laugh a bit at the main problem in the pipe-smoking community that Milne points to: posers. Even in 1920, when the essay was written, the trend that turned pipe smoking into a fashion accessory instead of an art was well underway.
Smoking as a Fine Art
My first introduction to Lady Nicotine was at the innocent age of eight, when, finding a small piece of somebody else’s tobacco lying unclaimed on the ground, I decided to experiment with it. Numerous desert island stories had told me that the pangs of hunger could be allayed by chewing tobacco; it was thus that the hero staved off death before discovering the bread-fruit tree. Every right-minded boy of eight hopes to be shipwrecked one day, and it was proper that I should find out for myself whether my authorities could be trusted in this matter. So I chewed tobacco. In the sense that I certainly did not desire food for some time afterwards, my experience justified the authorities, but I felt at the time that it was not so much for staving off death as for reconciling oneself to it that tobacco-chewing was to be recommended. I have never practiced it since.
At eighteen I went to Cambridge, and bought two pipes in a case. In those days Greek was compulsory, but not more so than two pipes in a case. One of the pipes had an amber stem and the other a vulcanite stem, and both of them had silver belts. That also was compulsory. Having bought them, one was free to smoke cigarettes. However, at the end of my first year I got to work seriously on a shilling briar, and I have smoked that, or something like it, ever since.
In the last four years there has grown up a new school of pipe- smokers, by which (I suspect) I am hardly regarded as a pipe- smoker at all. This school buys its pipes always at one particular shop; its pupils would as soon think of smoking a pipe without the white spot as of smoking brown paper. So far are they from smoking brown paper that each one of them has his tobacco specially blended according to the colour of his hair, his taste in revues, and the locality in which he lives. The first blend is naturally not the ideal one. It is only when he has been a confirmed smoker for at least three months, and knows the best and worst of all tobaccos, that his exact requirements can be satisfied.
However, it is the pipe rather than the tobacco which marks him as belonging to this particular school. He pins his faith, not so much to its labour-saving devices as to the white spot outside, the white spot of an otherwise aimless life. This tells the world that it is one of THE pipes. Never was an announcement more superfluous. From the moment, shortly after breakfast, when he strikes his first match to the moment, just before bed-time, when he strikes his hundredth, it is obviously THE pipe which he is smoking.
For whereas men of an older school, like myself, smoke for the pleasure of smoking, men of this school smoke for the pleasure of pipe-owning—of selecting which of their many white-spotted pipes they will fill with their specially-blended tobacco, of filling the one so chosen, of lighting it, of taking it from the mouth to gaze lovingly at the white spot and thus letting it go out, of lighting it again and letting it go out again, of polishing it up with their own special polisher and putting it to bed, and then the pleasure of beginning all over again with another white- spotted one. They are not so much pipe-smokers as pipe-keepers; and to have spoken as I did just now of their owning pipes was wrong, for it is they who are in bondage to the white spot. This school is founded firmly on four years of war. When at the age of eighteen you are suddenly given a cheque-book and called “Sir,” you must do something by way of acknowledgment. A pipe in the mouth makes it clear that there has been no mistake—you are undoubtedly a man. But you may be excused for feeling after the first pipe that the joys of smoking have been rated too high, and for trying to extract your pleasure from the polish on the pipe’s surface, the pride of possessing a special mixture of your own, and such-like matters, rather than from the actual inspiration and expiration of smoke. In the same way a man not fond of reading may find delight in a library of well-bound books. They are pleasant to handle, pleasant to talk about, pleasant to show to friends. But it is the man without the library of well-bound books who generally does most of the reading.
So I feel that it is we of the older school who do most of the smoking. We smoke unconsciously while we are doing other things; THEY try, but not very successfully, to do other things while they are consciously smoking. No doubt they despise us, and tell themselves that we are not real smokers, but I fancy that they feel a little uneasy sometimes. For my young friends are always trying to persuade me to join their school, to become one of the white-spotted ones. I have no desire to be of their company, but I am prepared to make a suggestion to the founder of the school. It is that he should invent a pipe, white spot and all, which smokes itself. His pupils could hang it in the mouth as picturesquely as before, but the incidental bother of keeping it alight would no longer trouble them.
The Truth? You Should Insure Your High-Value Cigar Collection
You’ve probably heard the story about the lawyer who insured his cigar collection. According to the tale, he then filed a claim with his carrier because the cigars had all been destroyed by separate fires. A judge, upon hearing the case, ruled that fire was a covered peril in the policy and ordered the carrier to pay up. The kicker: When the lawyer accepted payment for the claim, he was promptly arrested for arson because he had “set the fires” himself when he smoked them.
Great story, right? Problem is, it’s a hoax.
So is there a connection between your cigar collection and your home insurance? The answer to that question is a resounding “yes.” In fact, there could be more than one.
First the bad news
One way your cigar collection might affect your home insurance policy is a definite negative. Unless you don’t actually smoke the cigars, you’ll lose access to a major home insurance discount available in some states. It’s called the nonsmokers discount, and it can save you up to 20% on your premium. It’s restricted to households in which no members smoke cigarettes or other tobacco products, and it’s in place because it lessens the chance of fire.
Now the good news
The good news is that your cigar collection is covered against fire, wind and other perils specified in your homeowners policy. The collection falls under your personal property coverage, which gives you help if the contents of your home are damaged by a covered peril. Coverage limits for your stuff generally are set as a percentage of the amount of dwelling coverage for your home. That’s the amount it would take to rebuild your home in case it is damaged by a covered event. Standard home insurance policies generally set personal property coverage limits at 50% to 70% of the amount of your dwelling coverage.
Make sure you have enough coverage
However, there can be a catch as your policy relates to your cigar collection. High-value items, including jewelry, furs and collectibles, are only insured up to a specified amount. If you just have a random selection of cigars you picked up at the corner shop, you’re probably in good shape. But if your collection includes a box of Gurkha’s original Black Dragon cigars, which sells for $115,000, or even a large number of Hoyo de Monterrey Double Coronas – at $32 a cigar – you could exceed the limit fairly quickly. The solution is to schedule an endorsement. That’s extra coverage for your high value items.
Regardless of whether you take the endorsement route or you’re comfortable with the limit as it is, you’ll need to list what’s in your collection on a home inventory. That’s a glorified listing, with receipts and photos when possible, of everything you have in the home. It will help you get your claim paid quicker. Keep several copies of the inventory, and make sure you have at least one offsite in case your home is damaged.
Make sure you have the right coverage
There is one other potential problem as well. Standard home insurance policies typically don’t cover damage from floods. You’ll need a separate policy for that. If you survived Superstorm Sandy, for example, but your cigar collection didn’t, you’d only received help for your smokes if you had flood insurance. Premiums vary according to the potential risk, but if you live in a lower risk area, you could pay less than $150 for coverage.
Is flood insurance right for your collection? Consider that it would also cover the rest of your home as well. If your collection means a lot to you, you might want to click here to find a licensed agent about how much protection you have for it and how much you need.
The Wall St. Journal interviewed Victoria McKee at Club Macanudo in two different video segments, one as a sort of cigar 101 and the other a brief overview of Victoria’s top 5 cigar picks for the Fall. Both segments are very well done, though I might disagree on a few points in the second.
First, Victoria McKee, Vice President of Marketing for General Cigar Co. Inc., talks to the Wall Street Journal’s Lee Hawkins about cigar basics, covering everything from cigar strengths and how to smoke, cut, ash and select the right cigar to go with meals and drinks.
Second, Victoria gives the Wall Street Journal’s Lee Hawkins her tips for the five best cigars to smoke during the Fall. They also discuss the various cigar strengths and how to smoke, cut, ash and choose a cigars.
What do you do when your cigar stops burning like this…
And starts burning like this…?
Few things throw off the cigar smoking experience like a canoed burn. There are a few ways to correct this issue that don’t involve throwing your cigar into the backyard in a rage. Here are a few suggestions, one of which you may not be familiar with, but first, a few “do nots” of touching up your cigar.
Do nots of touching-up a cigar:
1. If you are using a flame to touch-up the cigar, be careful not to burn the wrapper of the cigar with the flame. So much of the flavor comes from the wrapper that burning it prematurely will release the flavors oils on the wrapper, and therefore the flavor. Don’t let it happen!
2. Don’t clip your cigar just because you’ve had a burn that gets uneven. It is totally unnecessary.
A few ways to touch up our cigar:
1. Traditional flame approach: hold the cigar close enough to the match where the overhanging part of the wrapper slowly smokes and turns to ash, but do not let the cigar touch the flame. This will ensure that the wrapper doesn’t light on fire and prematurely burn.
Depending on how uneven the burn is, it is possible that the cigar has actually drifted from being completely lit, so it may be important to actually relight the cigar.
2. Using the purge to straighten the burn: One of the lesser known ways of straightening the burn is simply by pushing air outward through the cigar 2 or 3 times, then pulling in. Pushing air through the cigar not only purges the cigar and improves flavor, but it also pushes the ember in the cigar forward and out, catching the pieces of the binder and wrapper that weren’t burning before.
A tip here though: don’t purge too hard or you risk pushing the ash off of the cigar, which could complicate the burn even more. Pushing too hard could also overheat the ember and crack the binder/wrapper.
3. Using a torch lighter: The same principle as with a match. Aim the torch at the uneven wrapper/binder elements, and without lighting the whole cigar on fire, gently burn even the burn.
4. Turning the uneven portion so that it faces downward: I’ve always found this trick to touching-up my cigar to be pretty non-effective, but you’ll find cigar smokers on forums all over the place that swear by it as a method. Just don’t hold on to this method for too long. If it doesn’t work, try a purge, then pull out your lighter.