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Cigar Culture

Top Cigar Myths: True or False?

J. Bennett Alexander Alexander's picture

J. Bennett Alexander

The more passion an activity engenders, the more opinionated people get. Like when pizza lovers say New York’s water makes New York pizza and bagels the “best.” You can all discuss that among yourselves. I’m not touching it, but you get my point. And in this era of “fake news,” many say there are no facts, just opinions. All this is true of cigars as well. Maybe even more so. Myths surround cigar smoking. Some are crazy and obviously untrue. Some have just taken on a life of their own. We’ll see.

MYTH NUMERO UNO

Cuban cigars were rolled on the naked thighs of virgin women. That’s a big falso. It would be nearly impossible to get anything resembling a straight cigar if this were true. But you can dream, if you like.

MYTH #2

Staying in Cuba: Cuban cigars are “the best in the world.” This truly is a matter of opinion when it comes to flavor. If you love Cuban cigars, you may well think they’re the best. Objectively, however, the only true measures of a cigar’s quality are the quality of construction and consistency. In both these categories, Cuban cigars fail far too often. This ‘myth’ is pretty much false, especially since Cuban cigar makers set up shop in other countries after the Castro revolution.

MYTH #3

You should store your cigars in the refrigerator. This does not require a deep understanding of climate change to know it’s utterly false unless you like to smoke really dry cigars. Cigars require humidity to stay “fresh.” Cold, dry air – such as that produced by a refrigerator – will make your cigars cold and dry.

MYTH #4

President John F. Kennedy hoarded Cuban cigars before signing the Cuban embargo. Kennedy sent aides out to Washington, DC, cigar stores to buy up as many Cuban cigars, especially H. Upmann Petit Coronas, before he signed the embargo of Cuba. This is true, so it’s safe to move this tidbit from the myth column to fact. Kennedy preferred the smaller cigar and sent Pierre Salinger, his press secretary, among others, to buy as many as they could find on the eve of the law taking effect.

MYTH #5

Maduro cigars are stronger than cigars with lighter color wrappers. Actually, this is usually quite the opposite. In general, a Maduro wrapper gets toasted and becomes sweeter. So, false.

MYTH #6

You should warm up your cigar before smoking it. I must admit, I had not heard this one until about five years ago. I’m not sure of its origins, but it’s just false. How would you warm it up anyway? Your toaster oven? Keep your cigars stored around 70 degrees Fahrenheit and you’ll be all set. Under no circumstances should you microwave it!

MYTH #7

Lick the entire cigar before lighting it. I’ve seen people do this. I don’t really know why people do this. Don’t do this. False. Now, if the wrapper is tearing, you might lick it where it’s torn to re-adhere it, but if your cigar is properly humidified, you’ll be okay without treating it like a Popsicle.

MYTH #8

You don’t need a humidor to keep your cigars in good smoking shape. Well, let’s be specific. If you buy your cigars one at a time and smoke them right away, you don’t need your own humidor, but the store that sold you the cigar had it in a humidor. If you are holding your cigars for more than a couple of days, then a humidor is very useful. So, this is false.

MYTH #9

A white ash means you’re smoking a great cigar. False. The color of the ash of the cigar you’re smoking has nothing to do with the quality of the cigar. It has to do with minerals in the tobacco. Calcium, phosphorous and magnesium make the ash whiter. Potassium darkens the ash to a light gray. All those minerals are found in the soil. Cigars with Cuban tobacco tend to have a slightly darker ash than Nicaraguan. Cigars made with Honduran and Dominican tobacco tend to be a little off-white to light gray. It’s all about the terroir.

MYTH #10

Softer cigars are fresher. Totally false. The integrity of a premium cigar is directly related to its construction. Cigars that are too soft or spongy are either under-filled (rolled with too little tobacco on the inside), or they are over-humidified (too wet). In either case, a cigar won’t burn correctly or taste that great. Handmade cigars are supposed to exhibit a stable firmness from the foot to the cap.

MYTH #11

You should dip your cigar in your whiskey before smoking. False. Just like with licking your cigar, there are some who swear by this tactic. Dipping the end of your cigar in your drink is only going to interfere with the integrity of your cigar’s construction and can potentially cause the draw to become plugged. Take a sip of your bourbon or scotch and then take a puff of your cigar. You won’t miss any tasting notes, we promise.

MYTH #12

The more you pay for a cigar, the better it is. You already know this is not automatically the case. A lot goes into the price of a cigar. You can easily find a $5 cigar that you’ll love and is made well. You can also become overly fond of labels and countries of origin (see myth #2) and pay a lot. I’ve got a lot of $5 to $8 cigars in my humidor that I would smoke before some that cost twice that. So, false.

Surely there are others and we’d love to hear about them. We know the one about cutting a Torpedo on a slant to increase the draw and the ones about health issues. We just thought the ones we listed were among the ones we heard most frequently. As always, Holt’s is here to set the record straight. Now where’s my pizza?

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