Out of the Humidor

| By CA Readers | From Animal House, January/February 2018

Dear Marvin,

My compliments on a terrific and refreshing interview with Michael Jordan [December 2017]. Now I understand more fully why he ranked as the most popular athlete in history in The Harris Poll. Your frank discussion with Mr. Jordan reinforced why we love heroes—because we remember them at their strongest. Michael never disappointed. When the stage was the biggest he seemed to always rise to the occasion. The funny thing about heroes though—they’re regular people. For everything he has accomplished, Michael appeared calm but remarkably humble during your interview.  

We will all remember Michael Jordan for being the greatest winner of our lifetime because that’s what he is. No one else could be like Mike.

Tim Groza

Greensboro, Georgia

Dear Marvin,

Congratulations on your 25-year anniversary. It took guts to do what you did and launch a magazine in 1992. But, besides congratulations, I also want to say thank you.

I remember 1992 well. My father had just passed away from a terrible and drawn-out ordeal with colon cancer, when only days later my first child was born: a son, named Jack. I had just been named a vice president and corporate officer of a Fortune 50 company, the youngest in the firm. At the age of 32, the combination of grief, anxiety and elation was a lot to handle. 

Upon hearing the news of my Dad’s passing, my son’s birth and my grand promotion, a gracious colleague hustled me down to a local tobacconist and bought me and himself the best cigars in the place. I don’t remember the brand, but I do remember that we lit them up on the spot and enjoyed a tremendous moment of life. One I have never forgotten.

In the corner of the store I spied the inaugural edition of Cigar Aficionado. I will never forget thinking that I had stumbled onto a lifestyle that would provide me with unforgettable and authentic enjoyment. Since then, your magazine has provided a guide map. 

I never got to smoke a cigar with my Dad: a regret. But I am comforted knowing that my son and I frequently sit—him with a Montecristo White and me with my La Gloria Cubana—to talk about the issues of the day, laugh at the absurdities, and love the time we share with one another. What a great ride it has been. I’m glad we were all in it together. 

John Baker

Eden Prairie, Minnesota

Dear Marvin,

Congratulations on your 25th anniversary. Your success is a classic example of discovering an underserved market and providing the right product to appeal to its needs. Cigar Aficionado could be a real-life case study in business schools. To achieve so much after starting in an uncertain economy is a great credit to you and your team.

Rich Foley

Fayette, Ohio

Dear Marvin,

Congratulations on 25 years of publication. Your 25th-anniversary issue, for me, is your best work yet and truly captures all the greatness and class of Cigar Aficionado. I read it cover to cover and I especially enjoyed reading the editors’ first experiences with cigars in Great Smokes as it made me pause to reflect on my own first experience.

Right, wrong or indifferent, when I was a boy, film and television revealed a pattern that resonated with me during an impressionable age; that successful, professional men enjoyed Scotch and cigars. 

The brand of whisky was irrelevant. It was the decadent crystal decanter the whisky was in that expressed its significance. The pairing of a great cigar only further demonstrated to me the achievement those men of influence had earned. I now know the pleasure of whisky and cigars is not limited, nor should it ever be, to a select group.  

After finishing college, I was a young adult forging my own path as a professional. Over a span of several years, I managed to climb into a stratosphere that I believed flirted with that crystal decanter. It was on a business trip when, cautionary spending eschewed, I appreciated a glass of Johnny Walker Blue. I promised myself at that moment, when I earned six figures, I would buy myself a bottle and celebrate with a cigar.

Purchasing the bottle of Scotch was a breeze; walk in, point at the bottle and buy. Finding the right cigar, however, was not.  The mixed aromas of spice and nougat sweetness of the walk-in humidor instantly entranced me, but its floor-to-ceiling walls of unending choices overwhelmed me. I was now a man overboard in uncharted, choppy seas with no life vest. The shop tobacconist asked me what I was in the mood for but I had no idea. In the end, I took a stab on a cigar that battled against the minerals and peat of the whisky; disappointment created simply from the lack of knowledge of cigars.

Knowing there must be a more sensible process, I picked up my first Cigar Aficionado at a local wine store to see if the key to unlock the cigar mystery was within its pages. When I found the blind tasting results, providing flavor profiles and ratings, it was Xanadu. I scoured each page and meticulously notated every cigar I wanted to try. Over a short period, I moved from cigar con to connoisseur. 

Because of the brilliant idea to include this section in your magazine, I was afforded the privilege to enjoy so many wonderful flavors and pairings and continue to do so. I want to thank you for aiding the expansion of my knowledge and love for cigars.  I am not convinced that would have happened without the help of your publication.

Ryan Oliphant

Phoenix, Arizona