How Cold Is Too Cold? | Cigar Aficionado

Cigar Aficionado

How Cold Is Too Cold?

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.

"Cold weather seriously interferes with the ability to taste a cigar's flavors and nuances. I find below 60 degrees fahrenheit I have real trouble enjoying flavors. When it gets a couple degrees above freezing the cigars lose all taste and have difficulty remaining lit." —April 24, 2015 11:07 AM
"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 is good(LG)" —February 18, 2014 15:13 PM
"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." —February 17, 2014 20:45 PM
"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." —February 13, 2014 09:08 AM
"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. " —February 9, 2014 19:16 PM
"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!" —February 4, 2014 21:40 PM
"" —February 2, 2014 16:29 PM
"I live in Florida therefore any time the temp is below 60, I'll wait for a warmup before smoking a cigar." —January 29, 2014 17:10 PM
"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. " —January 27, 2014 20:34 PM
"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 !! " —January 26, 2014 14:54 PM
"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. " —January 22, 2014 14:45 PM
"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'" —January 17, 2014 03:04 AM
"One1off, good point. Too few cigar lovers can puff indoors like you (or myself, for that matter). " —January 15, 2014 11:26 AM
"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. " —January 15, 2014 05:14 AM
"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. " —January 14, 2014 21:56 PM
"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. " —January 14, 2014 21:55 PM
"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. " —January 14, 2014 17:23 PM
"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!" —January 12, 2014 16:54 PM
"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!" —January 11, 2014 16:07 PM
"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." —January 11, 2014 10:37 AM
"When it gets below 60 I head to the man cave!" —January 9, 2014 19:49 PM
"When it gets below 60 I head to the man cave!" —January 9, 2014 19:49 PM
"Dude. Fresca?" —January 9, 2014 12:02 PM
"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." —January 8, 2014 11:47 AM
"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." —January 7, 2014 21:39 PM
"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!" —January 7, 2014 19:08 PM
"Ryan, Timothy, I'm not sure I can complain about single digit temperatures after reading your posts. " —January 7, 2014 16:56 PM
"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!!" —January 7, 2014 15:43 PM
"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. " —January 7, 2014 12:10 PM
"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. " —January 7, 2014 08:38 AM