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Just How "Smoky" Should That Stogie Be?

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While taking a stogie's flavor might seem like a fairly innocuous experience, the reality is that there are many factors to take into account when contemplating the level of smokiness. From filler leaves to wrapper types, cigar enthusiasts know all too well that there is always something new to master. But, when it comes to smoky stogies, there is one factor that every cigar smoker should know: how to determine what "smoky" means.

Brief History

There are several ways a cigar might be labeled as "smoky." Sometimes, this term is applied to cigars that have been infused with smoke flavor. Other times, it is used to describe the taste of tobacco. When this term is applied to cigars, it generally refers to the general taste of the wrapper or filler leaves. In this case, "smokiness" refers to the general experience.

What is Smokiness?

A cigar's smokiness is determined by its filler leaves. Specifically, this term describes the taste of the filler leaves. In short, a cigar will be described as smoky if it has been infused with smoke flavor.

There are several ways in which a cigar can be made smoky:

  1. The wrapper can be made of tobacco that has been fermented or aged for longer than one year (similar to bourbon). This will give a cigar a taste that some cigar smokers describe as smoky.
  2. The filler leaves can be made from tobacco that has been grown under very specific conditions. In some regions of the world where tobacco is grown, farmers use the same fields year after year. Because of this, soil conditions become very predictable, and tobacco often produces leaves that are full of flavor. In these areas, tobacco is typically by hand, and the farmers who grow it will often smoke their leaves in order to "season" them (similar to smoking a steak). When this is the case, the tobacco will have a much more pronounced taste of smokiness.
  3. When cigars are rolled with tobacco leaves that have been grown and cured at high altitudes (2700-4000 feet or higher), they will have a smokier taste due to the humidity. The region in which they are grown also plays an important role here. Generally, tobacco leaves softened by high altitudes tend to have a strong flavor.

What Should You Be Looking For?

In many cases, a cigar's "smokiness" is described by its wrapper. When this is the case, the wrapper will usually range from tan to dark brown and may give off a slightly sweet smell. In some cases, the cigar's filler leaves (the leaves that are in direct contact with the cigar's binder) may be smoky. However, this is rare.

What are the Effects of a 'Smoky' Stogie

Smoked stogies will almost always give off a sweet aroma. In addition, they may have a more pronounced flavor than other cigars. Lastly, they will usually have a very strong nicotine kick. Because of these traits, smoked cigars are slightly more "heady" than most other types of cigars.

Because of the many different factors that come into play when describing a cigar's smoky taste, it can be difficult to determine what level of smokiness is right for you. As a general rule of thumb, however, people who enjoy cigars described as slightly smoky usually don't mind smoking a cigar that has a darker wrapper. Those who love cigars described as very smoky know that there really is no substitute for the real thing.

Correcting "Smokiness"

If you find yourself with a stogie that is slightly too smoky for your taste, you might try to correct the situation by allowing the cigar to sit out for about 10 minutes. Longer resting periods are not recommended in this case. Doing so will prolong the time it takes for your cigar to smoke and overall experience.

In some cases, cigar lovers may be able to "correct" their cigars by smoking it very quickly. This process is known as "burning off" the smoky taste. Initially, this sounds like a great idea; however, you should know that this is not a recommended way of smoking cigars (especially if you're smoking them to enjoy them). In order to "burn off" the smoky taste, you have to smoke the cigar in a very short period (more like less than 20 minutes). In other words, if you don't smoke a stogie for about 30 minutes after lighting it, you're not going to get rid of the smoky flavor. Instead, all that will happen is that your taste buds will become desensitized to it.

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