Out of the Humidor

| From Sylvester Stallone, July/August 2010

Dear Marvin,
Agreement is in order. Your editors' note regarding the Canadian women's hockey team was on point. To be caught up in a euphoric moment and drink a soda will not do the trick. The Canadian women's hockey team had a right to enjoy their moment. I believe a quote from the article on Chris Noth is applicable in this situation. He stated that his metaphor for life was "as you get older . . . as a person-you contract emotionally and spiritually. You have to keep stretching out and not let yourself contract." Can righteousness be stretched to become understanding?
Lauretta Johnson
San Diego, California

Dear Marvin,
I refer to your feature on the Oliva family ("Nicaragua's Next Giant"), specifically, where it mentions Sam Leccia's idea of creating the Nub for "getting to the sweet spot in a cigar quicker."

Sweet spot? It doesn't make sense to me. If the middle third or so of a cigar is considered the point where the flavors most closely match what the maker intended, I would think the cumulative effect of the first third has a huge bearing on what happens at that "sweet spot." Unlike with other art forms, you can't just eliminate the overture and cut to the chase. Cigars are about taste, and that's a continuum of sensations.

That said, I'm by no means against these short, fat, stubby new vitolas. The Montecristo Petit Edmundo and Hoyo de Monterrey Petit Robusto are favorites of mine. But I do think their present popularity has as much to do with their brevity as their glorious volume and density of flavors.
Rehman Rashid
Jalan Kaloi, Kuala Lumpur

Dear Marvin,
Am I wrong in assuming that any publication should strive to increase their readership? So why is it you folks at Cigar Aficionado seem to do everything you can to alienate your core audience? (Which, perhaps mistakenly, I'm guessing are cigar smokers?) I find it ludicrous to believe that to live your so-called "good life" a man has to earn upwards of six figures and apparently be obsessed with the game of golf. Because that is the conclusion I reach from reading your magazine. Other than your cigar reviews and maybe one or two interview articles, there is little else in your publication to which I can relate. Seriously: $35,000 watches? Ham at $90 a pound? Vacations where I could not even afford one night's stay? That's an insult to most readers-especially in these times.

I'm an educated, hardworking man who provides for my family. I am not a millionaire, but believe it or not I like to enjoy a fine cigar several times a week. I just wish Cigar Aficionado would stop being so snobbish and realize that a lot of us "regular guys" enjoy premium cigars too. Who knows, you might not get invited to as many golf outings and fancy dinners, but maybe you could go back to being a monthly.
Christopher Salvetti
Dearborn Heights, Michigan

Editor's Response: Thanks for your letter. While we know that not every product reviewed can be afforded by all of our readers, we do try to search out the "best" in every category. Some of our readers just enjoy seeing how the other half lives. As for the magazine's frequency, we have never been a monthly publication.

Dear Sirs,
I was just wondering about the prices of cigars. Let's say a box of Cohiba Esplendidos is around 465 Cuban convertible pesos (CUC) for a box. If I buy them in a Cuban cigar shop, does a retailer purchasing several hundred boxes get a discount, or does it pay the same price as everyone else? And the same question for Dominican cigars: Do retailers pay a different price than individuals?
Colin Little, Belleriver, Ontario,
submitted via Cigar Aficionado Online

Editor's Response: Cigar shops pay a different price for their cigars than do individuals. As with most retail channels, there is a retail price and a lower wholesale price.

In the world of Cuban cigars, the pricing and margin depends on the market. In general, a retailer buys from an agent, and then adds his or her margin to the price and then sells it to the consumer at a profit. Some markets have set markups, while others are free to do what they want.

For non-Cuban cigars, the cigar importer sells the cigars at a wholesale price to a cigar shop, typically half the suggested retail price, but there can be discounts or other pricing structures depending on the brand, the size of the order and various other factors. The retailer then puts it up for sale at or near the suggested retail price. All prices published in the ratings section of Cigar Aficionado for non-Cuban cigars are listed as manufacturer's suggested retail prices.

The final cost to the consumer varies tremendously from country to country or state to state, due in large part to taxes. In the Cuban cigar world, Canada has very high cigar taxes, which make its cigars more expensive than most other countries.

State cigar taxes vary widely in the United States. Large cigars can be taxed as high as 70 percent of the wholesale price (Alaska) or have no tax at all (Florida and Pennsylvania).

Dear Marvin,
First of all I had not found another cigar that has the complexity of the Padrón Serie 1926. So when I started reading the blogs about the Padrón Family Reserve No. 45 Maduro, it piqued my interest. I went to my favorite cigar shop to see if I could find them. As it turned out, they had one box tucked away in the corner of the humidor. The price was a little off-putting. I usually don't spend that much on a single cigar. But having such a great experience with the 1926, I couldn't resist. I bought two and safely tucked them away for a special occasion.

I was telling a friend, a member of my Cigar Therapy Group, of my find. He got very excited and wanted to share the experience together. As I was driving to meet my wife for an after-work function, he started texting me: How many can we get? Jim wants in. Mike won't spend the money. Mike wants in!

I politely excused myself early from my wife's function and rushed home to meet the guys. Dave generously brought a case of Guinness.

It turned out to be a beautiful night to sit outside around a fire. I had already put my firepit and patio furniture in the basement. But this was an emergency meeting of the Cigar Therapy Group, so Dave and Mike insisted on pulling out my neatly stowed furniture. We sat around the fire anxiously awaiting Jim's arrival. We could not wait to light up the highly anticipated Padrón 45.

Jim arrived with the latest copy of Cigar Aficionado and his travel humidor. The moment had arrived. Jim was reading aloud about the Padrón 45 maduro as I brought out the box with the coveted cigars that the cigar shop had given me when I bought the last three. The box is beautiful. On the inside lid it bears the image and story of "The Little Hammer." We passed the box around the circle as part of the ritual, each of us smelling the box as we took a cigar. Initially we noticed the powerful spice that almost overwhelmed the palette. It didn't take long to notice the dark chocolate and cocoa undertones. As we smoked, the flavors become more and more balanced.

All of us smoked, until we could not hold the stub anymore. We all agreed that this is another great cigar from the Padróns! Definitely to be shared amoung friends, and highly recommended by the Cigar Therapy Group.
Arthur Pagano
Glenville, New York