Cigar Aficionado

Taking a Break

I’m sitting here back at my desk after being away for nearly two weeks. It was a glorious holiday season with lots of time spent among family and friends, eating great meals and drinking outstanding wine and, perhaps most importantly, just relaxing. Like all of you, this past fall was a tough season with the economy imploding, the non-stop banter and uncertainty about presidential politics, and in the case of magazine, more smoking to do than normal. We had our normal tasting for the Jan/Feb issue, but on top of that, three elimination rounds to choose our Cigar of the Year. Oh, and I almost forgot, two Big Smokes in November. As a result, I needed some time away from smoking.

That’s right. Not smoke. Of course, like James Suckling pointed out yesterday, it’s not the easiest time of the year in North America to have a cigar if you don’t have an indoor smoking venue. But I wasn’t worried about a place to smoke, I needed to let my palate clear out a little bit and take a break. It was a truly a case of too much of a good thing, and you all know the easy antidote to feeling that way, whether it’s about playing too much golf, eating too much rich food or imbibing a bit too much of adult beverages--get away from it for awhile.

That brings us to yesterday. My first day back in the office and the decision of the day: What do I smoke? Trust me, I was more than ready. I'd been thinking about this moment since New Year’s Eve when I was in a non-smoking household, and the outdoor temperature was 4 degrees with a minus-15 degree wind chill.

Now I had some choices. Cigars were already resting in my humidor for the March/April issue of Cigar Aficionado. I had finished up some cigars for that tasting before the holidays, so I was ahead of schedule, but new ones always appear. But I also knew it wouldn’t be fair to the tasting process if I were to jump right back into fray with a blind-tasting cigar. No, I wanted to know what I was enjoying so I could relish every puff. There were some Connoisseur Corner cigars in my humidor, given to me by a good friend from Latin America, but again, I wanted to have some benchmark smokes under my belt before tacking a classic Cuban cigar. And somebody, (I haven’t asked who yet), left me a small selection of Cuban lonsdales, some of my favorites, in my humidor over the holidays.

Gee, decisions decisions. I know it’s a tough one and like always, I’m sure many of you would like to help me out, maybe doing a few test runs in my humidor before making any recommendations. Sorry, that’s not to be. But I came up with a solution. I lit up our Cigar of the Year, a …. Ooops, Dave tells me I can’t reveal it yet. But I smoked it anyway, to start my year off right by getting back into the swing of things with our No. 1 cigar.

P.S. It was delicious!