It has truly been our honor to serve the cigar needs of our brave soldiers abroad. Because the mission is so large, however, we have decided to join forces with Operation: Cigars for Warriors, an organization whose sole mission is to collect and distribute premium cigars to our brave men & women serving in combat zones around the globe. To read more about Op: C4W and donate to the cause, click here.
If you're a member of the military serving in a combat zone, you'll also learn how to place a request for cigars.
If you've ever had the opportunity to meet him, chances are you’ve noticed it too. Whether he's talking to customers or retailers - anybody, really - Rocky Patel exudes a genuine passion for premium cigars. And that’s pure Rocky: the hardest-working man in the cigar business; a guy who logs more than 300 days on the road a year, yet still relishes the opportunity to travel the world and putting his cigars in the mouth of his consumers.
It's precisely that commitment that drives him to protect the industry. A former LA entertainment attorney, he's certainly no stranger to the law. And that positions him as a great ally in the fight against the FDA's oversight of the cigar industry. For years, he's been advocating for the rights of cigar enthusiasts. In 2008, he voiced his opposition to the then-proposed FDA bill, which would have granted "the surgeon complete control on the taxation of cigars and...what materials go into a cigar.” He further noted that "with the stroke of a pen, [the government] can pretty much take away our business or have a grave impact on it."
Since then, Rocky has spent a tremendous amount in Washington, D.C. fighting the good fight. As you'll see in this video, he speaks from the heart about how people need to "talk to their senators and congressmen, to show them….this is an art form, this is a culture. We don't have to have a cigar; we enjoy them, just like we enjoy a fine glass of wine."
As noted on the Cigar Rights of America site, "H.R. 1639 has been filed in the U.S. House of Representatives; and a companion bill, Senate Bill 1461, has been filed in the Senate. Both are filed under the banner of the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act. This bi-partisan legislation would decree that premium/traditional cigars should be off limits to FDA regulation and, 'to clarify the Food & Drug Administration's jurisdiction' in the 'sale, manufacturing and distribution of traditional and premium cigars."
Such legislation could have a profound impact on protecting the industry: from the fields and factories of Central America, to the supply-chain throughout this nation, to the community tobacconist, to enjoying a cigar in the local shop, club or back porch."
It's that last part that resonated with me the most. Everybody's equal. Whether you're a CEO or an everyday working man, everybody's the same when you step into a smoke shop, light up a cigar, and talk about life, politics, sports - whatever. Rocky gets it, too.
Over the years, I've received many emails asking me whether it's OK to put cigars in the freezer or the refrigerator. Let's start with the latter. NO WAY JOSÉ! True, refrigerators are made to keep foods fresh, but even though cigars are somewhat related to veggies by their nature, the humidity in the fridge is much too low to keep the leaves moist, and your cigars will eventually dry out.
So what about the freezer? Now that's a different story. Though I'm really not a fan of storing cigars in the freezer, which I'll get to in a moment, I feel there are only two reasons that warrant putting premium cigars in the freezer:
- You've discovered that some of your cigars have beetle holes and are most likely infested.
- You have absolutely no space for your overstock cigars, and it may be a while before you get around to smoking them.
The first reason is the most common, because if you find that you do have a beetle problem, the only way to kill the larvae is to freeze them. Many cigar smokers will keep their infested cigars in the freezer for a full 24 hours, but it only takes an hour or two to ensure the larvae will kick the bucket.
The second reason is questionable, because if you run out of storage space there are better solutions than exposing your cigars to icy-cold temperatures. Maybe it's just irrational paranoia, but though the risk of ruining your cigars by freezing them is low, I can't help but think that, by doing so, their character is somehow altered. (I'll leave it to those who post comments to either confirm or deny my suspicion.)
The best solution is to make yourself a "coolerdor" or "Tupperdor;" in other words, a large beer cooler or plastic storage bin with a good seal in which you can also put a humidifier. You can even keep your cigars in their boxes. Actually, you should keep them in their boxes. This will mimic warehouse conditions.
So what if you do freeze your cigars? Fine, but getting them back to out-of-the-box-fresh condition depends on how you thaw them. Like many things that have to do with the care and feeding of your cigars, patience is a virtue. Don't just take them out of the freezer and let them thaw as you would a steak. And whatever you do, DO NOT DEFROST THEM IN THE MICROWAVE. That's instant death. Since cigars don't freeze as solidly as meat, the fillers will dry-out from the inside, and there's no turning back.
Here's the deal: When you're ready to thaw your cigars, move them from the freezer to the fridge where they will thaw SLOWLY. This should take about 24 hours. Since they've been frozen, there's no risk of them drying-out within that time frame. After they've thawed in the fridge, place them in a cool, dark space and let them sit for one more day out of the humidor. By day three they should be humidor-ready again. Let them settle back in for a couple of more days, and by then they should be good-to-go.
It's fair to assume that if you smoke cigars you already have a lighter; maybe even several of them. Cigar lighters are sort of like pens. Odds are you've got a number of them at your disposal, but there's probably one you use most often. That said, if you're not sure which lighter to use for your cigars, what follows is a brief description of the options available to you.
Basically, you've got two choices. A soft flame lighter, and the more popular torch, or jet flame lighter.
Soft Flame Lighters
Soft flame lighters have a flame similar to that of a candle. Typical examples of soft flame lighters are your disposable Bic-types and cheap convenience store imitations; though reputable manufacturers such as Xikar, Vector, et. al. (better known for their torch lighters), make some excellent soft flame models, plus they're refillable.
When using a soft flame lighter, you want to make sure that the white tip of the flame doesn't touch the foot of the cigar. The tip of the flame provides more than enough heat to properly toast and light your cigar. It may take a little longer, but when done right the results are excellent. Just two caveats:
- If you're using a plastic convenience store lighter, the metal tip can get very hot and burn your fingers.
- Generally speaking, soft flame lighters don’t work very well outdoors in windy conditions.
Therefore, if you prefer using a soft flame to light your cigars, since you'll be using it most often, you might want to invest in a high-quality soft flame lighter made by one of the companies I noted above, including Zippo. But first...
...a word about Zippos
Zippos are cool because they have that "iconic" American look and feel to them. Besides, certain models also become collectors items. However, because they run on liquid fuel they've been reputed to emanate an oily smell when lit. It's believed that this odor can affect the flavor of the tobacco, which is why many cigar smokers tend to avoid using Zippos. This may have been true with the original Zippo lighter fuel, but in recent years Zippo has developed a much more refined, premium-quality fuel that's essentially "odorless."
Torch/Jet Flame Lighters
For the majority of cigar smokers, the torch lighter is the standard. The neat thing about them is the flame is much hotter and more powerful. As a result, the flame toasts your cigars more quickly and is way more wind resistant. Another neat thing about torch lighters is they come in one, two, three, four, and even five jet models.
Single jet torch lighters are the most common, and generally lower in price. They work on all cigars, but because of their high temperature and pinpoint accuracy they can risk charring some cigars. For cigars with smaller ring gauges like 36 - 42, single flame torches are ideal. But when used on larger cigars with ring gauges of 48 and above, it may take longer for a single torch to do the trick. If you tend to smoke big cigars most of the time, you may have better luck with a two or three jet torch, as it will cover more surface area during the toasting process. This will also lessen the risk of overheating the foot.
Here again, regardless of how many jets are on a torch lighter, you want to keep the flame from touching the tobacco when lighting-up. This is another advantage to using a torch lighter. Because they're SO hot, you can toast a cigar from as far as several inches away from the foot. This gives you much better control over the entire toasting & lighting process, and may result in a more flavorful smoke.
(BTW: If you can't bear to part with your Zippo, but want a torch flame, check out the Z-Plus replacement insert. It turns your Zippo into a single torch flame lighter in seconds.)
No matter what type of cigar lighter you use, you're eventually going to have to refill it. If you think that just any brand of butane is sufficient for refilling your lighters, think again. If you want to get years as opposed to months of use from your lighter, you want to use the most refined fuel available. The more the gas has been filtered, the cleaner the burn. When purchasing lighter butane, make sure that it has been filtered at least 3 times, but the more the merrier. Xikar, Madelaine, and Lotus all make high quality butane. Lotus butane is triple refined, while Xikar's Premium Butane contains less than 15 parts per million of impurities.
Whichever lighter you decide is best for you, take good care of it and it will pay you back with unlimited lights.