6 Common Cigar Myths
Myth #1: “Cuban cigars are unequivocally the best in the world.”
This myth crops up time and again, mostly from the uneducated cigar smokers, but also from many wealthy cigar smokers who are “Cuban only.” Though it might be true that Cuban cigars are very good and even some of the best in the world, it is impossible to make the blanket statement that Cubans are the best for a few reasons.
First, tastes are relative. Some profiles are enjoyable to one cigar smoker and un-enjoyable to others. If you love the kick of a spicy Nicaraguan puro, you might not have the same appreciation for most Cuban cigars, and vice-versa. Second, since the embargo, quality standards in terms of quality control, construction, and technology in countries like Nicaragua, the D.R., Honduras, etc., have increased one hundred fold, rivaling and on average besting Cuban cigars in quality (and I’ve had many Cuban cigars).
So why do people (including seasoned cigar smokers) continue to insist that Cubans are categorically better? For U.S. smokers, it is typically because Cubans are not available in the states, so people tend to elevate them by perception alone. For European smokers that love to boast about how amazing Cubans are, I’ve found that it is often, simply put, snobbery. Most importantly, however, is that Cuban cigars are seen as a status symbol of the sophisticated and well-off.
Myth #2: "All cigar smokers are snobs.”
Put a large number of people together to talk about a hobby, and there will be snobs. Hell, I’m willing to be that if you put 20 clay-mation animators in a room and had them watch Wallace & Gromit, at least one of them would look down his nose.
So why the wide-spread perception that cigar smokers are snobs? Well, we have Hollywood to thank for that, along with the already-snobbish who get into cigar smoking just so that they can be extra-snobby.
Myth #3: “Cigar smoking is for the wealthy.”
If this myth were true, I certainly wouldn’t be smoking cigars, and neither would most of my friends. This myth is, like others, supported by Hollywood, who often portrays cigar smokers as wealthy, corrupt, or criminal. Of course, it is true that some cigars are expensive, and some idiotic companies even play this myth to their advantage.
The truth is, there are many world class cigars for under $5 a piece. If you are wise with your money and don’t overspend, even a poor college student can have good sticks on hand for special occasions or even a regular smoke with friends.
Myth #4: “The darker the wrapper, the stronger the cigar.”
Many beginning cigar aficionados make the understandable mistake of assuming that if a cigar has a dark wrapper, it must be a strong cigar. The truth is, there are plenty of incredibly dark cigars that, though flavorful, are hardly what I would call powerhouse cigars (e.g. Macanudo Maduro 1997, Rocky Patel OWR, Perdomo Lot 23 Maduro, etc). Additionally, there are lots of cigars that, though lighter in complexion, pack a serious punch (some Savinelli cigars, Hispaniola Connecticut, etc).
Myth #5: “A cigar’s flavor comes from the wrapper.”
This isn’t a myth you’ll hear a lot about from the uninformed. Although it comes from a generally true observation (the wrapper adds a lot of flavor to a cigar), many cigar smokers will emphasize the point a bit past what is true. A cigar’s flavor is determined by a lot more than the type of wrapper. The size/shape (vitola) has a lot to do with what you’ll taste in a cigar, and so too the binder/filler tobaccos have a lot to do with the taste as well.
Myth #6: “White ash means the tobacco is high quality.”
This myth has always struck me as a bit bizarre, but the reasons for it seem pretty clear. It seems like human nature to connect purity to quality. We do it all the time with wine, cigars, whiskey, fabrics, you name it. If the ash looks “clean” then the tobacco must be processed better, right?
Wrong. Cigars with very white ash tend to have higher amounts of of calcium and magnesium, which, though important for a good cigar, don’t make a good cigar. There are plenty of cigars with salt and pepper ash that smoke incredibly well, and I’ve had white-ash cigars that are incredibly bland.
hat tip to: finetobacconyc.com