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Cigar Aficionado

The Zippo Blu

For 75 years Zippo has been a celebrated name in American manufacturing and a benchmark in lighters. But the Zippo name does not carry the same resonance with cigar smokers. The lack of a butane flame in the company's product line has caused a majority of cigar smokers to steer clear of the traditional Zippo lighter because of the powerful scent produced by its lighter fluid. Finally, after an initial failed approach, Zippo is primed to release a new windproof butane torch flame lighter called the Zippo Blu.

The Blu looks like a close cousin of the windproof traditional Zippo lighter, with the same box-like shape, except its edges are rounded off, and it is slightly larger. The lid makes the familiar "click" when you open it, and there is the flint wheel ignition system for which Zippo is known. The big divergence is, of course, the blue torch flame that takes the place of the wick and lighter fluid flame used in the traditional Zippo model. The Blu is being released specifically with cigar smokers in mind, said Zippo chief executive officer Gregory Booth in a recent interview with Cigar Insider. What makes it even more attractive for a cigar smoker is the lifetime guarantee, which comes with all Zippo lighters. In the event something goes wrong, you can send it back to Zippo directly and they will fix it for you.

The flame cannot be adjusted, which can be frustrating. During in-office testing, we also experienced some flutters in the consistency of the flame. The entry-level Zippo Blus are set to retail for $39.95. Combined with the lifetime guarantee (and American craftsmanship) it's hard to ignore the value of that product. Other Zippo Blus will retail for much more, depending on the style of finish and type of metal plating, and a gold lighter will retail for $3,000.

Look for the Zippo Blu on local retailer shelves starting in September or go to www. zippo.com.

"burns through butane very quickly and tough to light at first" —October 18, 2011 00:26 AM