The realm of cigars is quite fascinating indeed. From the various regions & varieties to historical relevance, to brands and blends, to shapes and sizes, to how they taste and how they’re stored, cigars bring about an elegant and refined smoking experience that attracts those new and experienced to this magnificent world. In fact, it has gotten to the point where you now have cigar collectors and connoisseurs of all walks of life really engage this hobby.
Understanding the World of Cigar Collecting and Connoisseurship
Cigar collecting and connoisseurship involve the appreciation, acquisition, and understanding of cigars—primarily the handmade varieties which are crafted from fermented and aged tobacco. Collectors and connoisseurs are enthusiasts who value the complexities, flavors, aromas, and craftsmanship of cigars, often drawing parallels to the worlds of fine wine or whisky in terms of depth and sophistication. Hence, it’s that art and science of appreciating, acquiring, and preserving cigars based on their unique attributes, origins, and other qualitative factors that make it all worthwhile.
Still, if you’re new to this exciting avenue, you might be wondering how these two terms are sorta different from one another. Well, let’s explain.
Cigar enthusiasts often collect cigars for various reasons:
- Acquisition: Many cigar enthusiasts have favorite brands and/or collect limited edition cigars, vintage cigars, or cigars from specific regions or manufacturers. These cigars can sometimes appreciate in value over time, especially if they're rare or have a unique history.
- Craftsmanship: The craftsmanship of a cigar – how it's rolled, its construction quality, the quality of the wrapper, etc. – can significantly impact the smoking experience. Connoisseurs appreciate well-made cigars that burn evenly and draw well.
- Storage: Proper cigar storage is essential. Cigars are typically stored in humidors—specifically designed boxes or rooms that maintain a consistent humidity level to preserve the cigar's quality.
- Documentation: Serious collectors often keep detailed records of their cigars, noting acquisition dates, origin details, aging time, and personal tasting notes.
- Value Appreciation: Over time, certain cigars, especially limited editions or those that have been aged, can increase in value. Collectors often track these potential investments, though many collect simply for the pleasure of it.
Being a cigar connoisseur is about appreciating the nuances and details of cigars:
- Taste Appreciation: Just like wine tasters, cigar connoisseurs appreciate the nuanced flavors of different cigars. They can detect and describe subtle taste notes—from woodsy to spicy to creamy—and often associate these with specific cigar origins or manufacturing techniques. Like wines, the taste & aroma of cigars can be influenced by the region where tobacco is grown. Different soils, climates, and cultivation techniques can produce tobaccos with distinct characteristics. Anyway, they may even discuss and analyze the that said tobacco’s characteristics, the construction of the cigar, and how these factors contribute to the overall experience of smoking a stogie.
- Knowledge: Cigar connoisseurs often possess deep knowledge about tobacco types, cultivation regions, and manufacturing processes. They may also learn about the cultural significance and the traditions surrounding cigar smoking in different regions. The history of cigar making, with its deep roots in countries like Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Honduras, is fascinating. And so, it’s this knowledge which helps them appreciate the craft behind each cigar and understand the factors influencing its flavor.
- Pairing: Some connoisseurs enjoy pairing cigars with drinks such as whiskey, rum, or coffee, seeking complementary flavors that enhance the experience.
- Experience Sharing: Sharing experiences, reviews, and recommendations with a community or through publications is common among connoisseurs. They may participate in cigar tasting events, forums, or even write articles or blogs about their experiences. Many cigar connoisseurs even join clubs or attend events and auctions where they can meet other enthusiasts and experts, exchange cigars, and expand their knowledge and collections.
- Ethical Considerations: Some connoisseurs are also concerned with the ethical aspects of cigar production, ensuring that they support brands and farms that treat workers fairly and engage in sustainable practices.