As the seminar title suggested, the cigar lovers in attendance were given a "how to" for collecting Cuban cigars, especially rare and aged Cubans. Suckling and his fellow panelists, each an expert on aged Havanas, discussed a wide range of topics, including price, availability and market quality.
"The cigar world changed in May 1997," Suckling began. "Christie's held the first major cigar auction and established a world value for rare cigars." Before the auction, Suckling explained, nobody was really sure what the prices should be for rare and aged Cubans. In the mid-1990s, boxes of pre-Castro Montecristos or Cuban Davidoffs were relatively inexpensive, sometimes selling for less than current-production cigars. Today, these cigars command thousands of dollars in the marketplace and on the auction blocks.
For Suckling, the key area for collectors to concentrate on is buying cigars that will age well, not what their price is. This way, "if the value [of the cigars] goes down, at least you can still smoke them." Cigars are like wine, explained Suckling, and provenance is as important in cigars as it is in wine. It's all about where and how they've been stored. Cigars can be rejuvenated, but they can lose flavors if stored poorly. Proper storage, Suckling said, means keeping your humidor properly humidified to your palate's liking. It also means maintaining a moderate temperature -- Suckling himself stores his cigars in his wine cellar, between 55 and 58 degrees Fahrenheit, although much closer to 70 degrees is the norm.
So which cigars are best for aging? "If you smoke a cigar and enjoy it," said Nisenboim, "that's the one that I would put away for a few years."
"After a few years, the cigar is more mellow and more refined," added Suckling, "and aging is all part of the enjoyment of cigars.
|An attendee listens intently to insider info on Cuban cigar collecting.|
In the end, it's all about being a cigar lover and smoking the cigars you love most. However, no cigar enthusiast should go through life without smoking a rare or aged cigar, no matter how costly or difficult they are to find. "It's just a different experience," said Suckling. "As cigar lovers, it's something we should all be able to enjoy." And a few lucky smokers at the Big Smoke did enjoy them, as Bohrer surprised them by sharing some Los Statos Brevas, pre-embargo Cuban cigars from the early 1960s, at the lunch that followed the seminars.
Photos by Camilla Sjodin Hadowanetz
CLICK HERE TO READ PART ONE
CLICK HERE TO READ THE SUNDAY SEMINARS