Why do we Smoke Cigars?

It was once said; “A cigar numbs sorrow and fills the solitary hours with a million gracious images.”

We in the Americas have been enjoying the leaf for 1000’s of years. So what drew us to pick this plant, let the leaves dry, then roll the leaf and light it on fire? What persueded us to then actually put the toasted rolled leaf between our lips and start puffing on it? Why do we continue even today?

cigar ancientI’m no genius in human behavior, but I venture to say it has to do with relaxation, friendship, even a bit of solitude after a long day. We don’t smoke cigars like cigarettes, but rather enjoy them like just the same as a wine connoisseur tastes a fine wine.

Mark Twain once said,”Eating and sleeping are the only activities that should be allowed to interrupt a man’s enjoyment of his cigar.” Yea, I agree with him on that. Those that enjoy the leaf understand the truth in that statement.

So I poured a nice glass of Speyside Single Malt old, opened the home of my stogies, selected a nice Rocky Patel Edge, cued up some old Rolling Stones Vinyl and took to my other pastime, research, to look into this desire.

One of the first comments I found was why smoke if you don’t inhale. Good question – Maybe I can offer an answer. We know it is all about the flavor, and I guess those that never indulged don’t understand that. They see a cigar no different from a big cigarette. Actually that is kind of how the word cigarette got its name. You know, in Japan, a cigarette has a completely different name/sound than a cigar. The Japanese word for cigar is hamaki, which translate literally into rolled leaf, whereas the word for cigarette is shigaretto, which really has no natural meaning other than putting the letter “o”  at the end of the english word. That’s right, that’s all it is. Cigars are  natural, nothing added nothing artificial, just pure leaf. Ok maybe some are infused but not with foreign chemicals, rather with coffee, or rum, or spices of different variety.

Research has shown, that the nicotine is absorbed through the lining of the mouth and cigar smoke dissolves more easily in saliva than cigarette smoke because its composition is alkaline. This allows for quick absorption of nicotine, producing dependence without inhalation. Cigar dependence doesn’t seem like that from cigarettes. If I slow down or stop for a while, I don’t get agitated or get physical cravings, not like cigarette smoking friends I know.

But I digress; let’s get back to the real reasons we enjoy this past time, our love of smoking cigars. Like those that lived long before us, I venture to say it is a ritual. We carefully select a stick, we examine it if we don’t know it. We sniff it, gently cut the head, and draw the unlit flavor tasting the tobacco. Every stick is different – some sweet, some spicy, even woody or earthy. We warm the foot with a dancing flame of fire, mankind’s greatest discovery. We twirl the stick and get it all fired up as we draw in the first burst of flavor. It is at this moment that we begin to relax, lean back, and take it all in. The smoke fills our mouth and fires off taste buds that send flavor sensations to our neural cavity. As we exhale, the smoke bellows up, and if we are good, puff out those iconic rings of smoke, like so many before us.

Like a love dance, we continue the ritual, puffing, swirling smoke, exhaling, and detecting the flavor and changes of flavor. Sometimes sweet to spice, or spice to cocoa and coffee even espresso. Maybe vanilla or almond or hints of fruit or floral. These flavors are not infused but rather the blending of the tobaccos aged and fermented for years.

Of course like all good things, this comes to end and we are left with but a nub and a relaxed euphoric feeling that sweeps us into our own world. Maybe we had some friendly conversation over the hour or so of that smoke, or we just got into our own thoughts. One thing is for sure, we relaxed and that is why we started it to begin with.

So Boston Jimmie says; If you got ’em, smoke ’em – if not get ’em.

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