“Let’s say your favorite cigar is an Oliva Serie V Belicoso. Try to remember the environment and situation when you smoked it for the first time. Chances are, it was an ‘ideal setting,’ you had the perfect drink to accompany it, and you had just the right people to smoke it with. Would that cigar still be your favorite cigar if you had smoked it right after your girlfriend dumped you, or you got pulled over for speeding?”
Consider the aforementioned scenario, where you have a highly-rated, uber-flavorful and complex cigar like the Oliva V Belicoso, or a Davidoff Aniversario #3, or a Padron Anniversary 1964 Exclusivo Maduro. All are magnificent cigars on their own. Yet, if the atmosphere is not conducive to your enjoyment of a cigar – any cigar for that matter – or if you’re not in the best mood, you are more likely to perceive that cigar in a negative light.
This raises the question, Are the two inseparable? For instance, must the atmosphere be right in order to truly appreciate the flavors and aroma of a good cigar? Not necessarily. I smoke a lot of cigars at the office while I’m working. Some of them are manufacturer samples, while others are cigars I bring from home. The rub is that because I’m trying to concentrate on my work, it’s not always easy to concentrate on the cigar. You wouldn’t believe how many cigars I feel I wasted because I just couldn’t give it my full attention. However, it would be disingenuous of me to say that I haven’t savored many of these “at work” cigars to their fullest. So, there is something to be said for the cigar itself.
As for the atmosphere aspect, the experience of smoking a cigar with my fellow cigar smokers in a lounge, a friend’s house, or alone with a good book or watching a ballgame on TV is far superior because I’m able to relax and simply enjoy the smoke. And isn’t relaxation what smoking premium cigars is all about?
If I plan to review a cigar, I prefer to take it home where I won’t have distractions or interruptions other than maybe jotting down a few notes. To be fair to the manufacturer, I like to be sure that the cigar I’m reviewing is smoked under the most ideal conditions possible. After all, how can you honestly evaluate a cigar if you can’t concentrate on its finer attributes?
On the other hand, when I’m smoking purely for enjoyment, the experience is that much better whether I’m among others or not. I don’t want to have to think a lot about my cigar when I’m smoking it.
Another way of looking at the question “Is it the cigar or the atmosphere?” is not unlike the relationship between two people. Take a girlfriend for example; there’s a lot to be enjoyed simply by appreciating her beauty and personality. Whereas sharing each other’s company at a good restaurant, a movie or concert, a walk in the park, or even a quiet evening at home, can make being with her even more special.
We all have our own idea of what we consider the “ideal” cigar smoking situation. So, whether it’s the cigar itself that’s so flavorful it can be enjoyed under any conditions, or the atmosphere, which makes your cigar more pleasurable, each has its own merits.
I’d really like to get your take on this question, so please use the comments box to describe your experience.