by David Finley
Don't tell my Mom, but I love cigars.
There is an art and beauty to them, their craft, and form. But, best of all is the ritual.
|The Cigar Smoker- by David Finley|
The Art of the Ritual
Picture it: A nice temperate evening in spring.
A refreshing breeze stirs the air. The sun bathes everything in sight in it's orange radiance as it sets over the trees. A jazz medley of birdsong is replaced by the tiny violins of cricket chirps.
You and a group of your closest friends sit on the porch huddled around a table as the fireflies and stars begin to twinkle like Christmas lights.
You peruse the inventory of cigars displayed on the table examining them for size, length, color and label before finally electing your prize. Raising it to your nose in victory, the aromas of earth, spice, leather, and a hint of wood drift toward your senses like snowflakes.
It is the joy of the selection process. It's the anticipation of what the cigar will be, and the moment where potential is poised on a cliff above realization.
A simple slice, punch, or snip opens the cigar tip. Followed by the scratch and crackle of a match as it releases flame and wisps of brimstone. The cylinder of tightly wrapped tobacco is slowly dipped and rotated in the small flame pooling on the match edge. You put the cigar to your mouth drawing air through dried leaf until it ignites, sending the first hints of smoke to bathe your tongue. A few more draws ensures a good even burn as smoke swirls through your mouth before escaping in a contented sigh.
As you and your friends take your first few draws of smoke, a quiet settles over everyone. The gentle whispers of deep thought, philosophy, and life begin to form in a swirl of discussion, where men are bonded by flame and smoke. And, time becomes frozen like glass.
My First Cigar: the Ashton
My first cigar was a churchill made by Ashton. It was a light, well made, tawny cigar that produced a mild, mellow and flavorful smoke. Churchill, in this case, refers to the length and size of the cigar.
It was the summer before I married my wife. Several of my friends had begun to collect cigars, and the notion of it had seduced me. I've never been a smoker, but cigars have always had a manly and sophisticated appeal to me in a way that cigarettes never have. Plus, I was ready for a new experience. So, I took the leap (with my wife's blessing) and fell in love with these smokey treats.
As I sat with two of my friends, drawing delicious smoke into my mouth through my first cigar, the appeal of them began to wash over me. Cigars, especially the longer ones, take a long time to smoke. You have to stop what you're doing for at least an hour to smoke a churchill like the one pictured above. It makes you slow down from the rigors and stresses of your life to enjoy the moment at hand.
I also enjoy that you are only supposed to take cigar smoke into your mouth, and not into your lungs. It's more about flavor, which adds to the atmosphere of appreciation that cigars carry with them.
As far as that Ashton is concerned, it is still one of my favorites, but there is one brand that slightly edges it out of the top spot on my list:
No matter how many different varieties of Rocky Patels have come my way, all of them have been excellent.
A good and well crafted cigar will produce a long ash when smoked, (which you don't want to flick off until absolutely necessary) and as you can see from the picture above, Rocky Patel cigars don't disappoint. They also age their cigars and distribute vintage varieties.
I promise that neither Rocky Patel or Ashton are sending me endorsements for saying any of this. I just like them a lot. You can, visit their websites and see more of their catalog at the following links:
A great deal of the lore and romance of cigars can be attributed to guys like Winston Churchill. Just look at the guy. He personifies great leadership, manly determination, and great big mountains of awesome. I mean, as Prime Minister he took on Hitler and did not falter. Let that sink in for a second.
He is the cigar smoker personified. He's so synonymous with cigars that they named brands and lengths of cigars after him.
Here's a witty quote of his about his own ritual involving cigars, which I don't subscribe to myself. My own cigar experiences tend to be spread out between much longer spans of time, but I enjoy his words just the same.
"My rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them."
An object of Beauty
Hopefully you can now see how a simple cigar can be a work of art and beauty. I close my article with a link to an info graphic that explains how to select, and smoke a cigar. Just click the picture below to take you there.
Thanks for reading, my fellow Scofflaws.
-Dave, Grand Poobah of the Haven