Over the past few days I have been thinking about posting some sort of article on selecting a cigar for a special occasion. After thinking about how to approach that article from a variety of angles, I just couldn’t settle on one that I was completely happy with.
Giving advice on how to select a cigar for a special occasion is much harder than I originally anticipated. When I began thinking through a variety of scenarios, which included time of day and taste preferences, an endless list of possibilities began to unfold.
After over-thinking the situation a number of times, I felt the best thing to do would be to simply pose the question for community discussion and see if we couldn’t create a running list of interesting perspectives on selecting a cigar for a special occasion. But before I open it up for community discussion, I want to sort of “think out-loud” in regards to how I went about selecting a cigar for my recent special occasion.
Does Price Matter?
Under most circumstances I do think that price matters in regards to a special occasion cigar. Every fiber of my being screams that it does not, but ultimately, if the cigar is inexpensive enough for you to smoke regularly, it may loose some of its pizzazz when that special time rolls around.
Some of my favorite cigars are less than ten dollars. Even if I were to treat myself with this sub ten-dollar cigar during a special occasion, I may really enjoy it, but it feels like less of a treat because it is a cigar I smoke routinely.
When it comes down to it, I like to either smoke a cigar that is out of my normal comfort range or smoke a cigar that is not readily available to me. I think the situation is heightened by the fact that I am smoking something that I enjoy but wouldn’t feel comfortable purchasing, or be able to purchase, under normal circumstances.
Some of you may be thinking, well how do you know you will enjoy the cigar? To ensure that the cigar doesn’t take away fro the special occasion, I like to smoke things that I have had positive experiences with in the past. Just because I wouldn’t purchase this cigar routinely, it doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t have had it at some point.
Do the Surroundings Matter?
My surroundings play a big part on my cigar selection. Regardless of the surroundings, I’ve already mentioned that I’ll be smoking something that is typically more expensive than I would select otherwise. If I am celebrating with a couple of people and there is drinking involved, I’ll try and select something that doesn’t require my full attention to enjoy.
Lets face it, some cigars are incredible if you are in a situation where you can focus exclusively on the cigar. Take that same cigar and introduce a few distractions, and a dulled palate due to alcohol, and that stick may loose much of its luster.
On the other hand, there are some cigars that are straight forward enough that they can deliver even with a few distractions. While these cigars may not be overly complicated, with a variety of subtle flavors, they provide a smoke that is, plain and simple, good.
Does Time Matter?
As my though process progresses, I’ve run down the mental checklist and determined that my cigar selection will not be one that I smoke routinely and I’ve factored in the circumstances in which it will be smoked. From here I need to take a look at the matter of time and determine a few things.
When I consider time, I’m looking at two factors. I need to determine how much time I have to smoke the cigars as well as what the time of day is. Over the years I’ve found that I definitely prefer certain properties of cigars at different times of the day. For instance, if I’m celebrating in the evening my selection may differ greatly from what I would have selected as a morning cigar.
With a palate that is more sensitive in the earlier parts of the day, I find that I appreciate the milder and more subtly flavored cigars more. In the evening I prefer cigars that have a little more punch and crisper flavors. In the middle of the day, I like something in between.
When it comes to allotted time to smoke, it isn’t just a matter of selecting a Corona or a Churchill of one particular brand. I find that some vitolas have a completely different flavor profile within the same brand. I try to take that into account and may turn away from a cigar simply because I can’t afford to take the time to smoke my preferred vitola.
For instance, I love the Pinar del Rio Classico Exclusivo, but if I don’t have the time to smoke the Lancero I may turn away from the line entirely. In the case of special occasions, its about maximizing the enjoyment and accenting the special occasion. Instead of simply going with the Robusto because it would take less time, I’ll turn to a smaller vitola that I feel stands out in a particular line.
Does Presentation Matter?
By presentation, I’m not only talking about what the cigar looks like, I’m also talking about the back-story that the manufacturer tells about this cigar. For instance, Room 101 is presented as a stick that carries sort of a “bad ass” attitude. A Padilla Miami is presented as a stick that feels as though it is created out of tradition and heritage.
You are probably thinking this portion sounds a bit crazy, but it really isn’t. Some people feel that just because they are celebrating an engagement, anniversary, or honoring someone, that they should smoke a Davidoff. The reason being, Davidoff is presented with a kind of black tie sophistication that just seems to match those particular instances properly.
I don’t feel as though the presentation, or back-story, of a cigar should determine its eligibility for a special occasion cigar. If I was celebrating the birth of a child, I would not disqualify the Illusione ~hl~ because it carries with it a back-story involving a weapon used in battle (for more on this visit the Illusione Website).
In short, I do not feel as though the special occasion cigar is, in part, determined by the story, or attitude, it carries in comparison to the event being celebrated. I make my selection based on the factors listed above and try not to get wrapped up into the hidden meaning behind the brand/blend/vitola/etc…
Truth be told, I like to do my celebrating twice. The first is done with friends and family. This generally makes for many smiling faces and memories that last a long time. If the situation allows us to smoke cigars, I like to share a few so that we can all tie a cigar to that memory. The cigars don’t necessarily have to be the same. What is special for me may not be right for someone else, so if I’m providing I’ll try to match the cigar to the individual and situation as best as possible.
The second celebration is for me, and me alone. I am the type of person that really enjoys my quiet time, it gives me the opportunity to reflect on what I am celebrating on a much deeper level. This celebration often comes in the evening when all is still in the night. In this second situation, I go all out and select something that I can focus on. This is the time for that cigar that requires the extra bit of effort to extract all of the enjoyment from.
The photo above, showing the Illusione ~hl~, was taken just before I settled into my quiet time. While smoking that cigar, I was able to allow my mind to drift to fond childhood memories. I thought about the things that instantly put a smile on my face as well as all of the things I hope my future child can experience as well. After carefully matching the cigar to the scenario, I think it was a perfect match. There are very few cigars that come to mind that I feel could have made the situation any better. I hope that anyone reading this rather long write-up has, or at least will, experience a similar situation.