DID you know there’s an international world championship in slow cigar smoking?
It’s actually become a big thing over the last few years.
Basically, the guy or gal who can keep his or her cigar going the longest – and the vitola used is a Mareva, like, for instance, a Monte 4 – without re-lighting or knocking off the ash – wins the race. The record stands well into three hours plus, we think, and the final is taking place around now in Split.
Whether that sounds like fun or torture to you, the point is that the speed at which you smoke is an important and overlooked part of the cigar lovers’ repertoire.
Everyone has their own natural pace, it’s important to note, and that will also vary depending on a range of factors; who you’re with, what you’re doing, the size of the cigar, how it burns etc. But a general rule of thumb – and it is only a general rule, as don’t forget, if you want to smoke your cigars like the Road Runner’s 150mph ‘meep meep’ or Bugs Bunny’s laid back, carrot-chomping ‘Eer, what’s up, Doc?’ – is that the slower you smoke your cigar, the more you’ll get out of it.
Try telling that to Laurence Davis, Sautter’s owner. He hoovers up handrolls like a demented Dyson, but you’d have to say, he seems to get a fair bit of enjoyment out of each and every one!
While the snail’s pace of the World Cigar Smoking Championships might be taking things to an extreme, it’s fair to say that if you deliberate over a cigar and puff it regularly and smoothly rather than going at it like a hard-worked navvy at a plate of steak and kidney pie, you’re more likely to get the full expression of the tobacco within.
Cigar blenders are clever so and so’s. They put a leaf of this here and a half leaf of that there in an effort to create something that leads you on the halcyon journey that every cigar smoker yearns for. It is often a subtle and nuanced journey, which one could equate to a symphony. It has its moments of introspection and quieter passages which require careful listening to hear the instruments; but it may also include a full fanfare-and-timpani-thumping, brass-section-blowing crescendo to bring you to your feet for a standing ovation.
The secret to getting every last atom of flavour out of your cigar is – that you are the conductor of the orchestra. If you set them off at a William Tell Overture pace, it can be hard to come back from that and weep into a little Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.2, if we’re honest. But if you lead the musicians in gently, guide them along serenely and give them their heads to gallop in the final movement, the crowd will be chucking flowers at you before you can get off the stage.
Take your time, when you find yourself rushing, ease back. Concentrate on each puff, the flavour, the finish, and allow your cigar to recover slightly from the rigours of a fast burn.
To stretch a tortured analogy just a tad more, it’s like listening to your favourite piece of music – and hearing instruments you never knew were there.