It’s happened to everyone who smokes premium cigars – the bad burn caused by poor cigar construction. Whether it’s the cigar going out on you too fast, canoeing, or the wrapper coming undone, a bad burn is one of the most frustrating things that can happen. Since a bad burning cigar requires so much extra work, maybe a better word would be “irritating.” Often times, you’ve spent so much time getting the cigar to straighten out, you don’t even remember how the darn thing tasted.
There are several factors that contribute to a bad burning cigar. Some of these I’ve touched on in past articles. For example, it could be the wrapper was too delicate, too thick and oily, or just an inferior quality or poorly cured leaf. Other factors can be a wrapper leaf that’s too dry, which tends to cause the leaf to unravel. It could also be due to poor rolling. Either the bunch wasn’t rolled carefully enough, or during the bunching process some of the binder, which aids in the burning of a cigar, got tucked into the filler. The result is a canoeing cigar, because there’s nothing in those spots to help the wrapper along.
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