The time was right. I hadn’t smoked a cigar in nearly nine weeks, thanks to a mild Covid-19 case followed by weeks of lingering effects that have often left me exhausted, some days with headaches, sinus congestion and the lingering fear that the post-Covid symptoms could go on and on. But my future son-in-law James was here with my daughter Liz, and they had prepared a great meal for my wife and I, celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary, something we had not been able to do in January while we were both sick with the virus.
But what to smoke? I decided to pull out one of my favorites, a Don Carlos Edicion Aniversario Personal Reserve, a special Robusto sized rendition of that brand, which has always occupied a spot in my top 10 list. For awhile, a Don Carlos No. 3 corona was always in my humidor but after I finally ran out of ones that had been gifted to me by Carlos Fuente Sr., I moved onto the Robusto size.
But what to drink? I decided there was no better time to pull out one of my remaining bottles of 1994 Taylor Fladgate Port. It’s still a baby, but I figured it had to be drinking well. It was.
James and I and the ladies retired to our outdoor fireplace. I lit up the cigar, and the sweet notes of the Cameroon wrapper, melding with the earthiness of the Dominican Don Carlos blend reminded me why I love this cigar as much as I do. Each puff was glorious, a gentle reminder of life’s simple pleasures.
Nine weeks was the longest time I had been without a cigar since 1992, and the launch of Cigar Aficionado magazine. There had been brief hiatuses over the years, due to colds or flus, or the fact that I needed a break to clear my palate following month after month of uninterrupted taste tests for the magazine. After my departure from the executive editor’s chair in 2014, I adopted a new rule: smoke only when I want to, and only cigars that I want to smoke. That attitude has made every cigar enjoyable, and each moment one that I have savored while it lasted.
But nine weeks was long enough. I smoked the cigar down to the final inch, sipping the Taylor Port and letting the beautiful charcoal ash stay until it fell off of its own accord. If there has been a cigar that I’ve enjoyed more in my life, I would be hard pressed to come up with the details. The Don Carlos reminded me that I had dodged the ultimate Covid bullet and I was deeply grateful to be enjoying a cigar once again.