BY NICK HAMMOND
THIS is a good instruction for our time.
Most have us can do little more while cooped up under lockdown trying not to commit felonies against fellow family members.
Patience is also a virtue in the cigar world in a number of ways. Firstly, the smoking of a cigar teaches us patience. A cigar smoked impatiently at best will not fully deliver all it has to offer. At worst, it will burn fast and harsh and become a different beast entirely from the one the farmer, blender and roller wanted you to experience.
The art of cigar smoking is in least part about giving yourself over to the cigar and allowing it to lead you to pastures new. Crashing through the door with a loud ‘Helloooo!’ and having all sort of pre-conceived ideas about what your smoke is about and where it will take you is not something to be encouraged – or something that will garner you many friends.
There is so much to learn and know about cigars, much of it subjective and mysterious and being the loud, brash, know-it-all new kid on the block is not a great look. By all means ask as many questions as you like and explore away happily – just remember that there is always someone who knows more than you. And one day you might just be talking to him.
It’s not a competition either. This is supposed to be fun. It is one of the great gifts of cigars that they keep on giving throughout both their and your life; the inspiration of ageing (cigars, not you); the huge disparate nations of great houses or marques and their multitude of lines and sizes. There are seed varietals and social, economic and geographical implications factored into where and how the wondrous cigar tobacco plant (Nicotiana tabacum)is grown; there are countless human stories that go into the creation of such great tobacco. And, in many instances, there are individual moments of great innovation and inspiration that drive both some of the oldest – and youngest – production, blending and rolling techniques.
All this smack of patience. The patience of the farmer as he watches his seedlings grow; the patience of the blender as he waits, sometimes years, for the tobacco to be at just the peak he wants it for his project; the patience of the vendor who carefully curates and protects his inventory for perfect presentation. And the patience of the smoker, who must light each stick with reverence and humility and again give himself willingly over to the magic of time and space travel through the simple act of tasting the smoke from dried, rolled leaves.
Take your time. Let the cigar lead you whither and thither.
N I C K H A M M O N D