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David Savona

How Cold Is Too Cold?

Posted: Jan 6, 2014 12:30pm ET

I'm a bit of a weather junkie. I frequently check my weather apps on my iPhone, I'm guilty of turning on the weather on the television on a regular basis, and I'm adamantly opposed to naming winter storms. Part of my interest is occupational. Weather can play a major role in the cigar industry, with hurricanes, El Niño and volcanoes all posing risks of one sort of another to tobacco crops. But the major reason is just good old fashioned interest. I enjoy knowing about the weather, and its extremes fascinate me. Today, like many of you reading this blog, I'm thinking about the weather extremes in the Midwest United States.

Severe cold has closed schools in hardy Minneapolis and Chicago, which had temperatures of -18° and -11° Fahrenheit when I was writing this blog. Fargo, North Dakota, legendary for its cold, was 23 below. International Falls, which calls itself the "Icebox of the Nation," is 27 below.

I grew up in the northeast U.S., so I'm used to chilly weather. I remember camping in single-digit temperatures in an old army tent that didn't have a floor. I go to Vermont a few times a year with friends, and two years ago I opened my car trunk to find it covered in what looked like snow. I was confused, as it hadn't snowed the previous night, then I found a can of Fresca soda that had exploded from the cold and instantly turned into frozen chunks. That was cold.

On that trip, my buddies and I puffed cigars outside (it was a no-smoking house) and made it about 20 minutes as the temperature came close to zero Fahrenheit. That was, for me, extreme smoking weather. This weekend, with the weather well below freezing in the Northeast, and in the single digits much of the time, I didn't smoke at all.

But many cigar smokers only puff their cigars outside, and weather like this makes it all but impossible. This dip in the mercury sent me to Twitter over the weekend, where I asked the question: "How cold is too cold to smoke a cigar?" Some of you are a lot tougher than I am. Justin from Canada said it's never too cold. New Jersey Chef Scott built an igloo (with four chimneys) so he could have a cozy outdoor venue in which to smoke his cigars. And a cigar lover named Curtis smoked a La Flor Dominicana in Ottawa, Ontario, with temperatures of 22 degrees below zero.

So let me pose the same question to you: When it gets cold outside, do you give up on having a cigar? Or do you bundle up, go outside and fire up? You can comment below, Tweet me, or participate in our Weekly Poll.

Comments   29 comment(s)

Ed Foley — Kingston, MA, U.S.A.,  —  January 7, 2014 8:08am ET

I will crank up my propane patio heater and smoke a nice Carlos Torano or a Fuente while I watch the heater melt a small ring in the snow around me.


Ryan Britz — Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada,  —  January 7, 2014 11:40am ET

Well, when talking about cold weather, one must consider Canada...more specifically central Canada. Here, we have been experiencing extremes into the -40 to -50 celcius range (windchill included). There was even a report, that parts of Manitoba registered temperatures colder than MARS!!!!! For myself, smoking a cigar is not about smoking as much as it is about the experience of the cigar. That being said, I rarely experience a cigar in our winters unless I have the pleasure of smoking in a friends garage or shop. How cold is too cold...well, I'll leave that up to you to decide.


Timothy Cox — Lincoln, Nebraska, USA,  —  January 7, 2014 3:13pm ET

We live in Nebraska. Winters can be tough. Two years ago I built a "cowboy room" in my barn, it's heated. When it's "0" outside it's 65 inside my room. I smoke in comfort all year long!!


David Savona January 7, 2014 4:26pm ET

Ryan, Timothy, I'm not sure I can complain about single digit temperatures after reading your posts.


Mike Maxwell — Crystal Lake, IL,  —  January 7, 2014 6:38pm ET

It is NEVER to cold for a smoke. The "experience of the cigar" is definitely part of it ... so we braved -13°F in our garage to try the CAO Evil Snowman. =) Great cigar for the winter cold!


Eric Schwenk January 7, 2014 9:09pm ET

The other side of the coin, for me, is that it is indeed about the experience, and if that experience involves sitting or standing while shivering and holding your cigar, that's not enjoyable. I cut down on cigars significantly in the cold months in Philly and just head over to my local cigar bar when the occasion arises. In the warmer months, I have the choice of inside or out, but if you're freezing as you smoke, that, to me, ruins the experience because all you're thinking of is how cold you are. That's part of the reason smoking in the tropical vacation spots seems so ideal - the climate is perfect. Days like these are the complete opposite, so I just wait for a better time.


Ryan Britz — Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada,  —  January 8, 2014 11:17am ET

Eric, you couldn't have said it better. In March i have a trip booked for Varadero and I can't tell you how excited I am. Cheers to you, and happy smoking.


Alejandro Benes — Newbury Park, CA, USA,  —  January 9, 2014 11:32am ET

Dude. Fresca?


MARTIN J WYSOCKI — HOUSTON, TX, UNITED STATES,  —  January 9, 2014 7:19pm ET

When it gets below 60 I head to the man cave!


MARTIN J WYSOCKI — HOUSTON, TX, UNITED STATES,  —  January 9, 2014 7:19pm ET

When it gets below 60 I head to the man cave!


David Thomas — Hatfield, Pa, US,  —  January 11, 2014 10:07am ET

It is all about the experience. When it is to cold I believe it effects the flavor of the cigar. Plus the effects of the bone chilling cold on the body.


Scott Taylor — Hobart, Tasmania, Australia,  —  January 11, 2014 3:37pm ET

Ive just come back from holidays on the gold coast (australia) temps in the 90's. consistantlly smoked 1 or 2 cigars a day, compared with where i live averge temp in the 70's, where i might smoke 1 or 2 a month.
Certainly enjoy the warmer weather for cigars!


Thomas Person — louisville, KY, USA,  —  January 12, 2014 4:24pm ET

It is NEVER to cold for a smoke outside but I may switch to a petite corona. This is the reason I am a member of 2 (indoor) cigar clubs as the smoking laws in Louisville, Kentucky are terrible so I have options as I do not smoke inside the house and the screened in back deck is still too often too cold this winter. The fun in lighting a cigar with cedar spills in the winter is also an adventure but it makes the smoking experience all the more fun!


Thomas Dahlgren — Johnson City, TN, U,  —  January 14, 2014 4:53pm ET

The thermometer is not the issue. Proper clothing, a comfortable spot, and suitable free time are all that is required. I'll gladly have a short smoke in the great outdoors - skiing, hunting, snowmobiling, etc. so long as the wind is light.

But if I'm not dressed for the situation, then no I won't waste my time -trying- to 'enjoy' a cigar.


Alan Means — Albuquerque, NM, USA,  —  January 14, 2014 9:25pm ET

Living in New Mexico, any temp below 50 degrees required a space heater for me. When it comes to the cold, I'm a wimp. I also to my local cigar shop.


Alan Means — Albuquerque, NM, USA,  —  January 14, 2014 9:26pm ET

Living in New Mexico, any temp below 50 degrees required a space heater for me. When it comes to the cold, I'm a wimp. I also to my local cigar shop.


one1off January 15, 2014 4:44am ET

What has happened to you that you are forced outside of our own homes for a smoke?
I work hard for a living,and one of the best ways to unwind is with a nice cigar.
A little crack in the window, a Rabhit Air Purifier, which was highly rated in this magazine, and a wife who would rather have a relaxed husband is all that is required. Man up boys!
The Rabbit really works by the way.


David Savona January 15, 2014 10:56am ET

One1off, good point. Too few cigar lovers can puff indoors like you (or myself, for that matter).


one1off January 17, 2014 2:34am ET

Wondering if there to be a survey that asks the percentage of those that smoke cigars "Inside" their homes. Before the fight is taken to the streets to protect our rights, we may have to get our own house in order...
Jus sayin'


dburch1300@gmail.com January 22, 2014 2:15pm ET

I'll smoke no matter how cold if there is a heat source. I put a patio propane heater thru the umbrella hole in my outdoor table to provide heat evenly around the table. I also have a Mr. Heater that sits on top of a propane tank if I need something portable. Of course you can always build a fire. Generally, I won't freeze to smoke a cigar. It's not just the cigar but the overall experience.


Roger Dunham — Kerhonkson, NY, USA,  —  January 26, 2014 2:24pm ET

I purchased a rubber maid shed (on sale $200.00)for My home here in Upstate NY, I call it "The Tool Shed" it where I go to enjoy a cigar and spirit when it gets cold out. It is set up with electric,tv/dvd ,radio,lights and a propane mr buddy heater, a comfy chair and stand for a place to put my spirits,ashtray etc. Hey a mans gotta do what a mans gotta do !!


mike.christens@gmail.com January 27, 2014 8:04pm ET

I live in Wisconsin. And this week we are getting another cold snap of -30 and lower with windchill. My girlfriend and I wont smoke in the house with her daughter so we have currently set up an unheated smoking room in the garage. And on nights we don't have the daughter we go for a walk after work.


Raymond Lemon — Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.,  —  January 29, 2014 4:40pm ET

I live in Florida therefore any time the temp is below 60, I'll wait for a warmup before smoking a cigar.


Jay Zaroda — Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada,  —  February 2, 2014 3:59pm ET

I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and I can attest to cold. Absolute musts are the propane heater, insulated garage, and stiff drink.
As an aside, I'm wondering what sever cold does to the taste of a cigar since I have the opportunity to enjoy cigars inside at the local tobacconist and I've noticed differences in the same cigar between the couch at 20 above and the garage at 30 below.


Joe Elenbaas — McBain, Michigan, USA,  —  February 4, 2014 9:10pm ET

Here in northwest lower Michigan we have been experiencing one of the most frigid winters in recent Michigan history. I'm fortunate to live in the country on my 80 acres and have been passing the time smoking good cigars (Partagas, Black Label, Gurka) and sipping scotch as I watch the deer and the birds. Nothing like a good cigar by the fireplace reading an engaging book! But yes, I'm primed for Spring!


Robert Buschbom — Waterloo, IA, USA,  —  February 9, 2014 6:46pm ET

10 degrees above 0 in the garage is my limit. Without a heater the cigars get tarry and bitter after the first inch. And below 20 it will be the shortest or fastest burning stick I have.


David Savona February 13, 2014 8:38am ET

Great comments, thanks for all of them. I'm afraid it's still darn cold outside in this part of the world. It's nearly time to get to cigar country and escape the frigid air.


jkiefer2@roadrunner.com February 17, 2014 8:15pm ET

Living in the Cleveland area, we are blessed with a wonderful park system known as the Emerald Necklace. My winter cigar smoking involves getting in the car, opening the moon roof, turning up the heat as well as the heated seats, and going for a drive through the park. If the sun is out, I've been known to come home with a tan.


chris weaver — monroe, nc, usa,  —  February 18, 2014 2:43pm ET

My wife had the brilliant idea to move a leather sofa and loveseat in a through passage room from the kitchen to the living room (for many a dining room) In there I have my mini-bar, footlocker humidor, vintage radio.. and other amenities...That got her a room full of new furniture in the recently furniture less living room...which got me a 55" to put over the fireplace...life is good(LG)



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