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Out of the Humidor

| From Vince Vaughn, July/August 2015
Out of the Humidor

Dear Marvin,

I received the June issue of Cigar Aficionado today and I could not put it down. 

Between all of th­e great information on Cuba and the story of Jack Johnson I would say this was one of my favorite issues, and I have been reading the magazine since its inception. 

Thanks for this fabulous issue and let's have more just like it.

Barry Kamen
Lagrangeville, New York

Dear Marvin,

Your June issue offered a charming look inside a nation that has, for so long, been off limits to most Americans. As we enter a new era of diplomacy between the United States and Cuba, it is encouraging to read about the positive outlook that people from both countries have about the future of travel and international trade. After all, we stand to gain more than just great cigars. With honest, open dialogue true progress will be achieved. I look forward to witnessing the cultural contribution that the people of Cuba will continue to make in art, architecture and cuisine, and to one day enjoying a Cuban cigar for the first time.

Michael Aaron Gallagher
Syracuse, New York

Dear Marvin,

I love a good cigar. I love a good mojito. I yearn for the day I can sit outside in Old Havana with a great Montecristo while sipping an espresso as the sun sets. But the reality is that I will never grace the shores of this hellish police state as long as those murderous thugs the Castro brothers are in command.

My wife visited Havana as a little girl with her parents in 1958. Her memory of a sun-soaked tropical paradise is still vivid, but she has also vowed never to return while the Cuban people remain imprisoned in this hemisphere's version of North Korea. You may argue that our 50-plus year embargo and policy of isolation has not really worked, but this is irrelevant. We have outlawed murder and rape forever but it still goes on. Once in a while you take a stand on principal and do not cave to the current zeitgeist—in this case just because it would be good for the cigar business.

Ronald H. Beifeld
Conshohocken, Pennsylvania

Dear Marvin,

The most important reason for normalizing relations with Cuba is not easing the burdens on the Cuban people, or enabling family reunions or making Cuban cigars (of which I'm not particularly fond) available in the United States. It's the task of undermining communism.

As the Chinese are learning to their endless confusion, a free exchange of goods and ideas with a free-market, capitalist society corrupts communism so thoroughly that—like China—a communist country gradually becomes capitalist in spite of itself.

Sanctions have never influenced a communist country, or one with which we fiercely disagree, as North Korea and Iran clearly demonstrate. But open relations and free trade cause communism to collapse. This is the only way to free the Cuban people. It's insidious, it's unfair (from the communist viewpoint) and it's a lot of fun.

Robert Strippy
Richmond, Virginia

Dear Marvin,

I am a longtime subscriber. I can't wait for each issue to arrive. However, my favorite column was missing from the June issue. That is the gambling article by Michael Kaplan. I am hoping this was an aberration (because this was an all-Cuba issue) and will be fixed by next issue.

Lawrence Schwab
Master Sgt. U.S. Army (ret.)
Phoenix, Arizona

Editors' Response: Turn to page 86 for Michael Kaplan's newest piece on gambling. We remain dedicated to publishing articles on gambling, golf, fine automobiles, watches, Cuba, intriguing travel and, of course, cigars.

Dear Marvin,

You are on the wrong side of life and liberty with your April Cuba policy editorial. When negotiating you always get something back. The Obama policy is simply to give to a brutal dictatorship and get nothing for the oppressed Cuban people.

As a Cuban who lived through Fidel's revolution I witnessed the confiscation of all the fruits of hard work of generations of industrious Cubans. The fact is that the Cuban people have no freedom of speech, no freedomof assembly and no free press. While the elite of the communist party live a good life and have full access to food, entertainment, good housing, clothing, the best beaches, etc., those outside the party have to work as directed and have to settle for whatever is rationed to them. At the same time the Cuban lives in fear of being turned in to Castro's regime by the numerous party spies spread through all neighborhoods.

Obama wants to open the flood of money into Cuba, without constraints, but that money will only go to the elite of the communist party and will not benefit the people. Any freedom-loving president would demand, at a minimum, freedom of press and right of free speech in return.

You should be more concerned with Obama's desire to eliminate tobacco use in the United States and the new high taxes that this administration wants to place on cigars that the working people can afford. Typical of elitist governments, only the rich and those connected to government will be able to enjoy cigars.

Liberty and freedom should prevail over Obama's desire to be the first president to visit Cuba since Fidel's revolution. Unfortunately, Obama does not care about the daily freedoms of the Cuban people.

Alberto G. Solana
St. James, North Carolina

Editors' Response: We agree that the people of Cuba do not have access to the freedom so many others enjoy, including those of us who live in the United States. However, we believe that ending the embargo is one way to create needed change. The policies of the past 50 years have not worked. It is time to try something different.

Dear Marvin,

I was interested to read in the article "$100 in Cuban Cigars, What It Buys" in your April issue, the exhortation that travellers in Cuba should be so wary of buying cigars outside the proper channels. You can smoke at much less cost when there if you are prepared to be more adventurous. During 16 visits I made as the non-resident British defence attaché from 1997 to 2000, a box of 25 Cohiba Esplendidos on the street dropped from $50 to $25. However, the number of good ones per box probably dropped from 18 to 11, but at those prices if you don't like what you have lit, you light another one.

Malcolm Watson
Colonel (ret.) Defence Attaché
British Berkshire, United Kingdom

Editors' Response: You are a more adventurous cigar smoker than we are, and the Cohibas one buys on the streets of Havana are not likely to be genuine Cohibas. We stand by our advice to avoid buying cigars on the street and stick to the many fine shops in Cuba.

Dear Marvin,

It seems a little odd to me that when you
review current cigars you publish pictures of each cigar. Yet, in the Connoisseur's Corner, all that's presented is a picture of the band. The ‘aged' cigars are, many times, older than the people reading the magazine and they can only imagine what the cigars look(ed) like. Why do this?

Terry Marshall
Athens, Georgia

Editors' Response: Many, if not most, of the cigars we rate in Connoisseur's Corner are one of a kind. The cigar smoked by the rater is often the only one available. Photographing cigars as we do in our tasting section is hard on the smoke itself. Those cigars are often damaged by the photography process and are never smoked for a rating. Taking photographs of the vintage cigars that appear in Connoisseur's Corner would damage the very rare smokes that appear in that section.

Dear Marvin,

As a loyal and interested reader of Cigar Aficionado since your first publication, which I still have, I wanted to take a moment to thank you. Your featured guest articles, reviews and select advertisements are captivating. As an avid cigar person who appreciates more than just the aura of the smoke, I can still recall my first cigar some 50 years ago. Memories of my first job as a young boy working in an old-fashioned stationery store on Long Island bring me back. Folding the Wednesday and Sunday newspapers before sale, anxiously preparing to stock the tobacco and cigar displays, delicately moistening the bricks just right, return me to a time when greater appreciation existed. A smoke was a smoke and a cup of coffee was just that—a cup of coffee. I often recall that people and times were simpler back in the day.

Today, one of my greatest pleasures is a fine cigar, occasionally sharing those times with a great friend and sometimes alone while reflecting and enjoying quiet moments. Many memorable times in my life found me with a cigar in hand. Thanks for all you do.

Steven Lawrence
Wake Forest, North Carolina

Dear Marvin,

I wanted to reach out to Cigar Aficionado and let you know that we are proud and very happy to have your magazine in our lounge and for our patrons to read and enjoy. We are hoping that we can be one of many things in our damaged business district that will help heal our community that has been in the press for the world to see since August 2014. We just opened our doors. Business has been good and we hope it continues.

Mike Palmer
Ferguson, Missouri

Editors' Response: We wish you good luck with the new store. If there's one thing we have discovered after all these years of smoking cigars is how they can bring people together. We've bore witness to few arguments in cigar lounges, and have seen many a friendship created over a long, unhurried conversation with cigars in hand. Here's to better days in Ferguson.