I haven’t had such an experience with Cuban Bolivars, but I’ve smoked a few cigars that have been too strong for me to enjoy. And I smoke a fair number of cigars, so if I have a problem with a cigar being too strong, I bet it happens to a good number of cigar smokers.
After Ashton VSGs became a raging hit, some cigarmakers responded by releasing blends with pumped up power. The VSGs were strong—early advertisements actually suggested the smoker be seated before lighting up—and helped spark a strong cigar trend. Some of the competing cigars were lovely, but a few contained all power and no finesse. I like a strong smoke, but I don’t like smoking something that is noticeably unbalanced. I’ll take peppery flavor but give me some sweetness to keep my tongue from hurting.
I remember a meeting in our offices many years ago when a group of cigar executives came in with a new blend. They had created the strongest cigar they could possibly make. We lit up, and from puff No. 1 it was as if I had put flame to a Scotch Bonnet. My throat burned. My tongue was aflame. And it felt like a mule had kicked me in the stomach.
I couldn’t smoke the entire cigar, and neither could anyone else in the room. I probably gave it a half an inch. I don’t think the men ever intended to sell the cigar: it was more science project than serious product development. But smoking it wasn’t fun at all.
I drop in on occasion to a cigar club in Connecticut called Club Perfecto, and last year during baseball season a club member named Dave handed me a smoke that had been dubbed “The Lobotomizer.” I thanked him, lit it up, and found it just too strong for my palate. (Who could have guessed?)
When I told Dave, I think he was surprised—He enjoys his cigars on the strong side, and was on his fourth or so of the day of that particular blend.
What about you? Have you ever smoked something that was too strong to enjoy?