Random Saturday: Come Enjoy a Cigar With Me! (And a Slight Political Rant)

So instead of “off-topic Sunday” (which kind of sounds dumb, let’s face it!) I have decided to call it “random (day)” instead. Though this blog is mainly to focus on tattoos and tattoo-related topics, I don’t know as though there’s such a thing as “off-topic” and I don’t feel like having a specific day of the week to stray. I’ll write when a topic comes to me or feel like it. It is my blog and I can talk about whatever I want after all.

Anyway, today’s random topic is going to focus on one of my favorite “other” hobbies (though tattoos will always be my favorite!): my love of fine cigars. So pull you up a chair, get one cut and lit and let’s talk (and rant – somewhat of a political rant coming later!) about cigars!

In a similar way to getting a tattoo, smoking a cigar is almost meditative in a way. You just kind of forget about everything and time sort of slips away from you. You just kind of get lost, puff away and just enjoy the moment and the now as the smoke wafts around you. It’s probably my favorite way to relax.

Contrary to feeding an addiction, smoking a cigar is more about experiencing the unique taste and aroma of the cigar. Cigar smoke is not to be inhaled; just take it in the mouth, taste it and release it insead (passing a little through the nose for the full bouquet of aroma and flavor – called “retrohaling”). Just casually puff on it to get the wonderful smell and taste of the tobacco (and even a little bit of a buzz from the nicotine). Each cigar tastes and smells a bit different and you just have to find what you like. My personal favorite brands are Padron and Oliva as they give me the flavor profiles that I like (smooth, dessert-like flavors such a cream, cocoa/chocolate, coffee, natural sweetness and the like). To amplify the experience, pair a cigar with a nice Scotch, a dark stout beer or, if you don’t drink alcohol, a nice cup of coffee.

Anyway, time for a couple of cigar selfies! First selection was this morning’s choice: Oliva V Melanio Torpedo. Slightly snug draw but great flavors of cocoa, toasted bread, a slight caramel, a touch of coffee and a nice pepper zing on the retrohale. Just hanging out at my local lounge unwinding and waiting for my favorite Asian restaurant to open.

wp-1469303751190.jpegMmm. Delicious. A first-class smoke. Mother’s milk! Cookie for the reference by the way. 

The second pic is about a month ago kicking it at the local disc golf park after a round. This one was a Padron 1964 Gordo in natural. A mellow, creamy smoke that was perfect for just kind of relaxing after some hard exercise. I know, my semicolon tattoo is obscured by the camera angle but I can promise you it’s there!

Man, I’m so cool what with my big fat cigar, shades, tats and short shorts. 😉 

If I’ve maybe interested a couple of you non-cigar people out there into perhaps trying cigars, there is a great basic primer for how to enjoy a cigar on YouTube. Go to YouTube, look up CigarObsession and watch his “How to Smoke a Cigar” video. It’s very educational and informative.

Anyway, now I must go on a slight political rant about the state of tobacco control in my country. Recently the US Food and Drug Administration took it upon themselves to impose stifling regulations on the cigar industry that is liable to make a lot of these cigar manufacturers’ products disappear from the US. Basically under the new rules every cigar introduced after Feb. 2007 (the grandfather date) must be approved by the US FDA before it can be sold.

It might not sound like that big of a deal, but it is. Most makers of fine cigars are in countries such as Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Cuba (we can get Cubans in the US again now) where there isn’t a whole lot of money. Cigar making is a labor of love rather than of profit. You’ll not get rich founding a cigar company. As such, it is cost-prohibitive for these companies to submit cigars for testing, pay the registration fee and that’s not even a guarantee that the product will be approved.

The whole concept behind this prohibitive regulation is to supposedly curb tobacco use, but honestly let’s think about it: since when have such regulations ever really worked with anything? Alcohol prohibition in this country was a total failure as is the current “war on drugs.” This nonsense is really more like a war on personal freedom. Yes, I am aware that tobacco is not good for your health. However, I am also a grown adult and more than capable of making my own life decisions and taking on things that I consider to be an acceptable level of risk. Sure, I know smoking cigars will slightly increase my risk of oral cancer and will impose a slight increase in mortality risk, but you know what else is a big killer? Stress, and lord knows I have plenty of that in my life. I’m more than willing to take my slight chance of oral cancer if it means a dramatic reduction in stress which is more likely to kill me anyway. As with all things in life, moderation is key.

Anyway, where does this all leave people like me? Well, we’re going to have to get our cigars overseas and from “black markets” from places that don’t have these regulations. Sure, many cigars that are around now were around on or before the grandfather date and we will still have them, but a lot of the special releases and such will be gone unless we find another avenue. As a Libertarian, I hate having my rights infringed upon.

Anyway, that’s the end of my rant for today and back onto happier things. Here’s where I open the lines of dialog.

Do you enjoy cigars? What are your favorite(s)? Also, what beverages do you enjoy pairing with them?