Ryan Oliphant of Phoenix, Arizona, wrote that right, wrong or indifferent, he learned while growing up that successful, professional men enjoyed Scotch and cigars [“Out of the Humidor,” February 2018]. This side of the pond, cigars have traditionally been enjoyed with brandy, where it is the brandy glass, or balloon, that has been the eye-catching accessory, not the decanter.
In view of Sir Winston Churchill being the readers’ choice for the most popular Cigar Aficionado cover, perhaps his choice of drink should also be recalled. He would toy with a weak whisky, described by one of his private secretaries as “Scotch flavored mouthwash,” for hours on end. The whiskies were sipped sparingly until lunchtime, when he enjoyed a pint bottle of Champagne (usually served in a silver tankard) with his meal. Later, he might drink vintage wine at dinner, and Port and brandy with his cigar afterwards.
My own preference, after being introduced to cigars in Cuba back in 1997 (as well as to your wonderful magazine), remains for premium rum, plus—as I write this on St. Patrick’s Day—Irish whisky. But then I have a sweet tooth.
Welford, Berkshire, United Kingdom
Editors’ Response: We enjoy all manner of drinks with our cigars. Scotch and other whiskies are a favorite, especially on cold, winter nights in New York. When we travel to cigarmaking countries, premium rum is the natural call. And there are, of course, times when we don’t drink alcohol while we smoke, and then the natural pairing is a great cup of coffee. We’re so happy to hear you invoke the name of Sir Winston Churchill, as he is the focus of our cover package in this particular issue.
It excites me to see that you have decided to add a strength field to the already comprehensive tasting section. I smoke maduro cigars almost exclusively as I prefer a medium to full body and the palate that maduro wrappers offer. This new field gives me a new appreciation to what other levels of strength bring to the smoker and the experience a smoker can anticipate.
I have been smoking cigars since January 2017, and this new field teaches me about the dynamics that Connecticuts, Habanos, Corojos, Sumatra leaf, as well as Cameroon bring. Thank you for remaining faithful to your tried and true rating fields, yet stretching out with class, adding a layer of appreciation to the smoker, new and seasoned, of which cigars out there provide a mild or fuller smoke experience.
I’ve been an on-and-off cigar smoker since 1992. I consistently find the prices of cigars in smoke shops much more than the prices you list in your magazine and website. In the Editors’ Note in your March/April issue, it mentions that the tasting coordinator buys at retail from shops for your tasting panel. One of many examples is a recent purchase of an Ashton Symmetry Belicoso, which made No. 6 of the best cigars of 2017. You list the price as $12.25. I paid $16.50 in two different smoke shops. If what the editors wrote is true, why such a big discrepancy?
Hawthorne, New York
Editors’ Response: The prices you see printed in each issue of Cigar Aficionado are manufacturer’s suggested retail prices. And they are just that—suggestions. They don’t include state tobacco taxes, which can have an enormous effect on the price of a cigar, especially if you’re in a state with high tobacco tariffs such as California or your home state of New York. There are other factors—high rent for example, or limited product availability—that can also have an impact on prices, as ultimately, the retailer has the freedom to charge whatever price he or she feels appropriate for a cigar. Due to the fluctuations of tax, and other factors, the only verifiable and consistent price we can list for a cigar is the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.
Your article “2017 Year in Review” [April 2018] should be mandatory reading for any aspiring rookie cigar aficionado and for the seasoned veteran.
Playing the probabilities to get the best quality stick for your money rather than blind loyalty to a specific brand is a smart (and quick) way to make an informed choice at your local tobacco retailer.
Gordon Mott’s article “Cuba: 25 Years Later” [December, 2017] brought me back to my visits to the island in the 1990s. The Soviet pullout had left the regime on life support, as evidenced by the government permitting the populace to use American dollars again. Imagine the sour look on the faces of Communist Party hierarchy members who had to trade currency with visages of George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant and Ben Franklin.
Ordinary Cubans were fine with it; their relatives in Miami were sending the greenbacks.