Gestalt? What the Hell is Gestalt?

I recently discussed the word “gestalt” with Famous owner, Arthur, during lunch. As a German speaker, I’m well aware of the literal definition, “form, or shape.” But it’s the English counterpoint that’s infinitely more fascinating.

In English, “gestalt” is the idea that something is greater than the sum of its parts. Walking back to my desk from the break room, I couldn’t help but ponder how this concept applies to premium cigars.

A premium cigar contains longfiller, binder, and wrapper tobaccos. Smoked separately, you taste those specific components. When handrolled in the right proportions, however, those same components render a fundamentally different experience.

Widen your focus to consider presentation. Most cigar smokers I know care more about a cigar’s flavor, aroma, and burning qualities than its packaging, and rightfully so. But what about breaking the seal of an attractive box and observing the elegantly understated treasures within? A bundle could never whet my appetite like that!

Now zoom out to include drink pairing. A cigar you may normally enjoy suddenly attains new complexities when juxtaposed with a beverage. Zoom out another level…does it get any better than punctuating a delicious, well-prepared meal with a fine handmade cigar and digestive? Only if you take an even bigger perspective and consider the joy of good company.

My wife must often wonder what it is I like so much about cigars. It’s all of these things, but so much more. In a word, it’s the Gestalt. What about you?

-by Hayward L. Tenney

Hayward Tenney


When he's not busy writing, editing, smoking cigars, or raising his many, many children, Hayward "It's Lou, not Hayward" Tenney spends his days combating confusion about his real name (it's Hayward, but please - call him "Lou") and mourning the matrimonially-induced loss of his moustache (what's he gonna do with all that moustache wax he made?).


  1. orsonwelles says:

    Thank-you so much, Hayward, for your explanation and insight. The term Gestalt has always baffled me before. And, yes, when I received my GORGEOUS box of TEMPUS Creo, uncellophaned (as they should be for aging), shapely as Marilyn (in this case perfectly uncurved) and redolent as pre-Castro Havanas (I used to sniff them in Duhill’s private storage catacombs on 5th Avenue –where I worked in 1968– Sid Ceaser’s were the best), and then smoked one last night, I experienced Cigar Gestalt –in spades. These are one of the very few (modern Habanas included) cigars which successfully (at least to some degree) mimic the flavor profile of Old Havana. That I bought them from Famous at close-out prices only intensified the moment. That they are no longer available nearly brings me to tears.
    But that’s how it goes, I’m afraid: if you live long enough, everything you love disappears before your very eyes. One down and nineteen to go. I just hope I’m around long enough to enjoy a few of them when they crest a few years from now.

    “I will (try to) smoke no cigar before its time.” –Orsonwelles