Why do we enjoy cigars?

Tobacco PlantThe other night I was sitting in the Stogie Press lounge by myself enjoying a one of my many fine cigars and started to ponder a bit in my perfect solitude. We in the Americas have enjoyed the leaf for 1000′s of years. Long before the Europeans arrived. So what drew humans to smoke this fine leaf and why do we continue even today? I would say it has to do with relaxation, friendship, even a bit of solitude after a long day. We don’t smoke them like cigarettes, but rather enjoy them like a fine wine or spirit.

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 Lagavulan 16, Single Malt, fired up a one of my favorite $2.50 stogies – Silvio Palamino Santa Ana Torpedo (yes they are that good), broke out some old Rolling Stones vinyl and took to my other pastime, research, to look into this desire of smoking rolled lead.

One of the first comments I found was why smoke if you don’t inhale? Well, we know it is all about the flavor, and I guess those that never indulged don’t understand that. They see it no different from a big fat cigarette. Research has shown that the nicotine is absorbed through the lining of the mouth. 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.

CigarsNow that we understand that, let’s get back to the real reasons we enjoy this past time. Like those that lived long before us, I venture to say it is a ritual. We carefully select a cigar, 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 ignites our taste buds that send flavor sensations to our neural cavity. As we exhale, the smoke bellows up, and if we are good, we 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. Perhaps vanilla or almond or hints of fruit or floral. These flavors are not infused but rather the result of careful blending of the tobacco leaves, 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.

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

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


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