Cigar Aficionado

My First 2012 Smoke

I wanted my first cigar of 2012 to be special. The last three months of 2011 had involved a lot of work smoking—yes, people, the editors of Cigar Aficionado receive compensation for smoking cigars. For many of you, that describes a work situation that resembles Nirvana.

I’m not complaining either, but when your humidor is constantly filled with cigars bearing white-numbered bands, and you have no choice other than a decision to smoke #35, or #56, or #11, it does temper the absolute pleasure I associate with a great cigar-smoking moment.

So, when I have the chance to smoke purely for pleasure, I consider all the possibilities; the taste I want to enjoy, the size of cigar, the setting and the people I’m with. Until the elements and the stars are in perfect alignment, I can delay my immediate gratification.

The moment came right after New Year’s in Queretaro, Mexico. I was with my wife and daughter, a couple from New York who are our closest friends and our friends of more than 30 years who are helping us renovate a house in the city on Mexico’s central plateau, about two hours north of Mexico City.

My wife and I had spent the day mulling over tiles and wood floors, and imagining the finishing touches on some of the house’s freshly plastered walls. We ended up on a hotel’s rooftop bar shortly after sunset, still in shirtsleeves following a sunny, 75-degree January day.

The margaritas arrived with the salt gleaming around the edges of the glass. I knew the stars were aligned because the constellation Orion was right in front of me, just rising up over the tops of the many cathedral domes that dot the Queretaro skyline—the constellation is one that I associate closely with winters in Mexico.

My friend Matthew offered me a 2003 Cohiba Robusto that he had received from a diplomat friend of ours for his 60th birthday; I traded him a Edmundo Dantes Conde 54, the new Mexican Regional Edition.

The Cohiba was already in prime smoking condition, mellowed out by eight years of aging. Like many Cuban cigars of the early 2000s, the cigar wasn’t overpowering, but showed the perfect balance of a well-aged cigar from a modest vintage—there was strong hints of leather with a smooth earthiness that had me holding that Robusto right down to the knuckle-burning stage, long enough to get through a second round of margaritas. We spent nearly two hours on the rooftop, finally heading home for dinner as the first cold breezes of a high-desert night chilled us.

It was a perfect cigar to start the New Year.

"My first cigar of 2012 was a Rocky Patel Decade. I smoked it on the road as I drove back to school from my folks house where is was visiting for the holidays. A great cigar, economic lectures on tape, and 12 hours on the open road got me in the zone to make this next year as productive as the last." —February 9, 2012 21:30 PM
"My first cigar of the new year was a Fuente Opus X. I enjoyed that with a 25 year old glass of scotch along with my wife and children." —February 2, 2012 02:19 AM
"hey Gordon, Good job as that of smoking cigars. Good job to test that for us. Tastes may differ, but your opinions are always good advice. My first cigar in 2012, on the terrace, Trois-islets (Martinique), the sound of small frogs,the sound waves of the carribean sea, a starry night, peaceful, a "domain AVO 20 (4 5 / 8, 52), an intense spicy smoke. the small cigar along with an excellent quality Clément XO rum from Martinique (right blend of vintage 1952,1970,1976) Let me tell you, a moment of peace and happiness. " —January 30, 2012 12:23 PM
"1st cigar a Padron 85, great smoke to start the year off ! The flavors will remain until my next one !" —January 28, 2012 20:25 PM
"Mine was an opus x lost city black label" —January 24, 2012 02:21 AM
"while i was reading, given consideration to your location, i thought you would be smoking the Edmundo Dante Conde least one was in the picture. Following your recent reco I went to LCDH this past weekend in Polanco and picked up a few....Ill be at them some time this week." —January 19, 2012 05:28 AM
"Good to hear all of the great first smoke stories of 2012. Last Saturday a good friend whom I haven't seen in a dog's age came to Toronto to visit. It was way too cold out and there is no where we could find with a heated patio so I headed to my local cigar shop and picked up a fancy (overpriced I must say) car air freshener. Long story short, Picked up an Alec Bradley Black Market Robusto and enjoyed the last half much more than the first. Drove through the city and enjoyed my first of 2012 while my friend enjoyed a nice Padron." —January 18, 2012 04:23 AM
"My last cigar of 2011 was a CAO American I smoked when I was down in Tampa for Christmas what an awsome smoke hats of to CAO. then when I got back to the cold I smoked 2 cigars in one day to kick off 2012 a Casa Magna Colorado and later that day a really short honduran Punch Champion, that was a great smoke I wished it was longer." —January 16, 2012 13:29 PM
""I wanted my first cigar of 2012 to be special.The last three months of 2011 had involved a lot of "work smoking"" That's what you may call the 25 best cigars of the year. Only 4 Cubans on the list with Alec Bradley No. 1 ? That's really work. "So, when I have the chance to smoke purely for pleasure," You pick up a Cuban cigar. Now that's what I call Pleasure. Since I didn't see many Cubans on the list, I was asking myself why I was not smoking any of the NC cigars that were on the list. Now I know why. Best regards." —January 13, 2012 22:57 PM
"Well Gordon in a relative sense I had the same experience you did. January in Toronto is supposed to be -15 (Celsius keep in mind)and lots of snow but after work I can sit out on the deck in +4 degrees and see no snow. I had taken the first Alec Bradley (Black Market Gordo - you know .... it's the size of a fence post) out of a new box before christmas. My notes on it where "much less tasty than the Alec Bradleys I'm used to - what is going on, maybe I'm off somehow, maybe the cigar is off ??". So this was the second one from the box and this time Alan Rubin came through really nicely. I'm not an expert at identifying the flavours as you guys (often I notice something in a cigar that I cannot quite put a name to) but this was cedar, woody, nutty and creamy with some old fashion raunchy cigar also thrown in. Very nice. These have become one of my "always have in the humidor" cigars. Didn't have a margarita though - maybe next time." —January 11, 2012 20:05 PM
"Great story Gordon, im getting married in 2 weeks and had a quiet moment away from the family, and time to reflet on the years past i think a cigar is not a cigar but ones attempt to capture a moment in time, my first smoke was a Quorum Shade Churchill, the night was calm and had a great glass of New Zealand Syrah, a real moment in time." —January 11, 2012 09:37 AM
"My first cigar of 2012 was just a cheap knock off Alec Bradley. I figure get the garbage out of the first, that way I'm not dissapointed this year. I did know this was a fake as the name was misspelled and the person who bought it for me knows nothing at all about cigars, i smoked it with him and after a few pulls i just handed it over to him. Thought is was kina funny. " —January 11, 2012 05:17 AM
"That's funny--your first cigar of 2012 was my last cigar of 2011. Great smoke. " —January 10, 2012 19:46 PM