Cigars and Books: What Does Your Cigar Taste Like?

My humidor these days a pretty schizophrenic collection of single cigars, all in plastic wrap, split into Maduro and non-Maduro groups. And it’s been growing too fast. Until this week, it was possible for me to look at a cigar and know where and why I bought it and about how much it cost. Last night as I added a few Don Pepin Garcia cigars to the mix, I realized that I had no idea where I picked up the a good percentage of the cigars looking back at me.

The forgotten cigar stats bugged me. But that wasn’t the only thing getting on my nerves. A bit later I was enjoying a cigar and trying to analyze the flavor, and I couldn’t put my finger on what the flavor was. The flavor seemed to play heavily the sides of my tongue, but it was a complete mystery. Not a I’ve never-tasted-this-before thing, more of a where-have-I-tasted-this-before. And that’s when it hit me. I need a cigar book. And a list of all the crazy flavors that have ever been rumored to have come from a cigar for the next time I draw a flavor unknown. A book with that list. And check marks next to each item. (Of course, a few fill in the blank lines too, because you never know.)

It would also be extremely interesting to know the composition of the cigars. Knowing that, I might be able to get an hint of whether or not I’d like a cigar by knowing the attributes of its contents. For example, I suspect that I might not like tobacco leaves from Cameroon. It was a major attribute of one cigar I smoked that I found somewhat unpleasant, but it could have just as easily have been another part of the cigar that I found unpleasant.

So I headed over to the nearby Borders to have a look through my options. Simple enough right? Not quite. I found the shelf between spirits and food clearly labeled “cigars”, but there wasn’t a single book about cigars on it. It was full of books on smoothies. (Can you think of a topic less appropriate for a cigar shelf? :???:) I checked the nearby shelves to see if the books had shifted as supplies change. Nothing. I won’t drag it out. They didn’t have a single book in stock on cigars, but they did try to sell me an issue of Cigar Aficionado. The same was true in the next book store I tried (admittedly, it was a mall book store). Since I was in the mall, I tried the chain smoke shop, and all they had was a book on cigar related quotes and anecdotes.

It became clear then that this would have to be an internet purchase. I just hate to buy a book like this, sight unseen, online. Most online book retailers do a rather poor job of giving you any idea of what is contained between the covers. Even those that try (Amazon) are have very limited glimpses inside the book if at all.

So I have a favor to ask of you, fellow cigar enthusiast– Can you tell me if you own a cigar book? If you do, which ones do you have, and what do you think about them?

I’ve seen numerous recommendations, the most common is Perelman’s Pocket Cyclopedia of Cigars (the guys from Stogie Review mentioned this one) and The Ultimate Cigar Book (a guy in a chain tobacco store recommended this). Heck, I’ve even seen people online recommending The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cigars. (Aside from not wanting to be seen reading the book, at least you can be sure that they make no assumptions about your cigar knowledge.)

UPDATE: Oh the delicious, maduro-smoky irony. I write this, and then only a day later I’m watching the Your Questions My Answers #7 at Stogie Review, and I see they have a whole segment on essential books, magazines and movies for cigar smokers. In the course of the video they again recommend Perelman’s Pocket Cyclopedia of Cigars, and Walt even flashes an older copy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cigars. They had mixed reviews for Cigar Aficionado, which doesn’t surprise me, it really is more about lifestyle than cigars. (I only have a subscription because I was able to pick it up with some “award points” I had.) This doesn’t mean I’m not still interested in your opinions, the case isn’t closed! :)

Now I don’t want to go asking a favor without doing anything in return. Starting this very moment, I am compiling a list of all the cigar flavors I can find, both real and imagined. Once I’ve created something that seems reasonably thorough, I’ll make it available for download, probably in a handy format like the one I mentioned earlier.

At this point, the list consists of:

  • Coffee
  • Caramel
  • Black Pepper
  • Spice
  • Cocoa / Chocolate
  • Peat / Moss / Earth
  • Nut
  • Wood
  • Berry

(A portion of this list came from wikipedia.)

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The Only Weather Gadget You’ll Ever Need

Brookstone Wireless 5-Day Weather StationEver since I first saw it, I knew I had to have it. But before I get into the details, some quick background. For nearly 4 years I’d been using a cheap gadget I bought at Walmart to keep track of the weather indoors and outdoors. The base unit had a digital readout the communicated with a chunky brick (with a small flashing red light) that you had to put somewhere outside. For a while, it was great. I had the current temperature inside and out. But then I moved into a condo without a balcony.

While I was working out a way to hang the chunky wireless brick outside without sending it crashing into the people on the sidewalk below, the said chunky brick decided it was tired of talking.

I considered going without, but I forgot how fickle the weather in Atlanta can be. I found myself outside without a coat during a cold snap, or wearing a heavy jacket on the recent freak 75 degree winter days. I kept forgetting to go online to check the weather before hand. So I was in the market for a new unit. And then I saw this “5-day wireless weather watcher” (seriously, that’s its name) and it blew my mind.

As its overly verbose name implies, it gives you a full 5 day forcast, complete with high and low temperatures, and a cool little icon to clue you in on the expected conditions (sunny, partially cloudy, snow, rain, etc.). The current day’s information is prominently displayed and you get the supremely handy current weather reading in your area. And did I mention, no chunky brick to hang precariously outside?

How is this possible you ask? Like the cool clocks you see these days that automagically set themselves, this little 4 inch by 4 inch unit uses radio it receives from AccuWeather to set itself appropriately for your region! Don’t believe me? Take a closer look at the picture. See “BOS” under the current weather reading? That means this unit was photographed somewhere in Boston (BOS is the airport code for Boston Logan Airport). I see “ATL” on mine. (Apparently it uses airport codes, which makes me wonder how well it works away from major airports.)

Ok, so now you’re wondering how much the subscription is for the service. It’s free. That clinched it for me. The only reason I didn’t buy it on the spot was because I knew I was traveling soon to a sales tax-free state. And while it isn’t the most expensive weather gizmo I’ve seen, $85 does generate a fair amount of sales tax.

I keep trying to come up with some negatives about the unit and all the things I come up with are really not that bad. It is $85, which is a good chunk of change, but I’ve seen others that are spendier. It doesn’t tell you the day of the month, or the month for that matter, but I rarely used the old unit for that. Unless this thing abruptly dies in the next week or so, I’d say it was an awesome buy.

UPDATE: I still think this is a great gadget, but I’ve noticed it’s gotten mixed reviews online, specifically regarding its accuracy. This morning I noticed what seemed to be an inaccuracy: I saw thunderstorms, and while it was overcast and with a bit of precipitation, there were no such storms. However, checking the weather map this evening, there do appear to be some small storms rolling in. I think what’s happening here is that you get an icon for the day, the same way you get a high and a low temperature. The icon doesn’t change to reflect the minute-by-minute current conditions the way the current temperature does, it’s intended to be an indicator of the weather prediction for the entire day. Which means that if it was going to be sunny all morning and tornadoes all afternoon and clear the rest of the evening, you’d probably see a tornado icon (if it has one). And as it happens, weather predictions are often wrong. Today, it appears the forecast was right on.

If this sounds as cool to you as it does to me, you can pick it up online here.

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