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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
Denzel Washington, Jan/Feb 98

(continued from page 7)


Dear Marvin,

Let me preface my story by providing a little background. I am a 35-year-old male and I make a living as a computer systems engineer. I have been a cigar smoker for about two and a half years, a part of the recent wave of young professionals to become entranced by this delightful predilection. I started my journey in the usual way, by experimenting with various types and sizes of cigars until finally coming to the conclusion that I really could not decide on any particular brand as my favorite, opting instead to match the cigar to the mood of the moment.

After having had the opportunity to try most Jamaican, Dominican and Honduran brands at one time or another, I began to wonder if I was really enjoying the epitome of cigar pleasure in these brands or if the renowned quality of a Cuban cigar was the only way I could experience that level of enjoyment. My curiosity to try a real Cuban became something of an obsession.

I tried for well over a year to get my hands on one, and the closest I could come was watching one of my closest friends fondle a corona-sized Cuban Partagas that he had received as a wedding gift. Before he left on his honeymoon (where he was planning on enjoying it when he arrived), I managed to hold it long enough to sample the bouquet, and it was very different from anything I had encountered prior to that. Exquisite was the only word I could use to describe the sensation and this only served to amplify my efforts to try one for myself.

Through a series of inquiries and the intervention of destiny itself, some of my friends and I were able to obtain a box of (verified authentic) Cohiba Robustos. I considered this fortunate acquisition to be nothing less than the find of a lifetime. I had read many accounts in your fine publication about famous and upper-class individuals enjoying Cuban cigars as if they were as easy to get as your garden variety Dominican. This made it all the sweeter when I, a middle-class professional with no political or diplomatic ties whatsoever, was able to procure some as well.

Upon receiving the box, we took one cigar each and agreed to meet some other time to divide the remainder, leaving it in the humidor of a friend (the only one of us with one big enough to hold the box). The timing could not have been any better as my birthday was just days away. I took the lone Robusto and put it into my own humidor for safe keeping until the day arrived.

When that time finally came, I invited one of the other members of our group who shared in the Cuban treasure to my house to help me celebrate and enjoy a cigar with me. When he arrived, we went to my humidor and drew out that sacred jewel, and adjourned outside. It was a beautiful, star-filled night, and comet Hale-Bopp was shining bright in the Northwest sky. It almost seemed as if it were a cosmic acknowledgment to the experience we were about to enjoy. We exercised extreme caution in cutting and lighting these fine cigars so as not to do anything that might lessen their flavor or quality. Finally, we relaxed on my patio, looked up into the night sky and took our first draws on our prized possessions. If the word epiphany could be used to describe a cigar-smoking experience, it definitely applied here. The deep, rich and complex flavors that graced our pallets lived up to every expectation either of us could ever have imagined of a Cuban cigar.

We remained there, enjoying our cigars for almost an hour, by which time I had gingerly nursed my cigar until the heat from the lit end almost burned my lips as I took my final draw. I was thoroughly amazed at the quality of every aspect of this smoke. I usually do not care for the last inch or so of any cigar, as the taste begins to turn rather bitter as the end approaches. But, in the case of this Cohiba, it was truly great from start to finish. I would say in this instance, the results more than justified the effort and anticipation I had put into obtaining this, the finest cigar I have ever had.

I could not think of a better way to toast the occasion of my birthday than to enjoy one of the best cigars that Cuba has to offer with a friend who could appreciate and share the experience with me.

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