Out of the Humidor

Dear Marvin,

This has been a very harsh winter in Southwestern Ontario, so a week-long getaway to Cuba in February with my wife and two young children was just what the doctor had ordered. My life as a married man, father of two and as a lawyer with a busy practice, allows little opportunity for selfish pursuits but I was determined to find time to enjoy a cigar sometime during our vacation.

Midweek, I escaped into town and headed straight for the government-run cigar shop, La Casa Del Habano in Varadero. Although I was alone, the friendly staff and beautiful aroma of thousands of fresh Cuban cigars in the nearby walk-in humidor, quickly had me feeling that I was among friends, even in this unique foreign land.

After making my purchases, I was invited to proceed to the upper level smoking room to enjoy one of my new
acquisitions along with a delicious cup of Cuban coffee. Once I reached the empty room, any lingering feeling of being alone immediately dissipated when I observed an issue of your magazine laying invitingly on the marble and wood table. It was the February 2007 issue with David Caruso on the cover, and to my pleasant surprise, a copy of my letter to the editor was featured on the letters page. I lit my cigar and thumbed through your magazine that boldly celebrated the good life on page after familiar page.

As South Sea Caribbean breezes gently blew nearby palm trees and wafted through the open window, licking the open pages of your magazine that I was reading, I soon felt at home. I was in a strange land with a political system very foreign to our own but your magazine helped me feel very much at home. It was a beautiful and unforgettable smoke. For me, it was a reminder of the power of the cigar to transport us wherever we are, to a special, intangible but joyous place. And being able to read your magazine at that moment and in that place, was a reminder and celebration of our common humanity. Many thanks for your magazine's contribution to that unforgettable experience.

Daniel Mailer
London, Ontario, Canada

Editors' Note: You made me want to be there too!

Dear Marvin,

Congratulations and welcome to the mainstream culture! I say this because I was delighted to come across a reference to Cigar Aficionado in the latest book in the Dexter series. The main character, Dexter, is waiting for an interview in a very high-end office with his sister, when he asks her, "Have you seen this latest issue of Cigar Aficionado?"

I laughed out loud. Is this something you knew would happen? Perhaps some cross-genre advertising between you and the book's author?

My real question, however, is how do you and your tasting panel go about your task? I imagine it must take many days per issue to achieve. Do you consistently sit with one another and discuss the cigars or is it a more private, isolated tasting? How many of you are typically on the panel? I think it would be interesting to read an article or panel interview that goes into detail of how you work in this area. Keep up the good work.

Michael Stewart
Chicago, Illinois

Editors' Note: Twenty years ago, the word "aficionado" was rarely used. Now, you see and hear it everywhere. As for our tasting, see the video section of cigaraficionado.com and click How We Taste.

Dear Marvin,

Every time I get a new issue of Cigar Aficionado, it reminds me of relaxing and enjoying a great cigar, and thus, instantly my mood improves. The first thing I love about your magazine is that it is made from glossy and heavy paper, giving the magazine the look and feel of a high-quality periodical. Other magazines that I subscribe to are printed on newsprint, which has the same tactile feel and look as a comic book. Furthermore, I really enjoy that your magazine goes beyond cigar reviews. You review great cars, golf clubs, vacation spots and virtually anything else that I can imagine doing or using while smoking a cigar.

Some have suggested that your magazine should review items that are more "cost accessible" to the middle class. I strongly disagree with this suggestion for two big reasons. First, your magazine is a reminder that a cigar is an affordable luxury. The most expensive cigar I ever smoked was an OpusX, and it retailed at about $35. While $35 is nothing to sneeze at, it is hardly an amount that will break the bank. Moreover, with the exception of Cuban cigars, I can easily acquire the very best cigars in the world, knowing full well that no matter how much money a person has, they really can't smoke a better cigar than I can.

Second, unlike a lot of publications, Cigar Aficionado covers a huge variety of high-end items, not just cigars. Many of these things (such as high-performance cars), are reviewed in other magazines as well. I like reading about these things even if I never can afford them. However, while I do greatly enjoy reading your articles on these high-ticket items, I just don't have enough interest to justify subscribing to another magazine. For instance, while I did enjoy your latest review of Kobold watches, I certainly have no intention of subscribing to any other magazine (if there is one) that reviews watches. Keep up the good work!

Michael Steel
Cleveland, Ohio