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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1 Comment

  1. Jay Strange said,

    May 12, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    …stumbled upon your blog while searching for cigar flavor descriptions. Your writing style makes for an entertaining read!
    I didn’t see, to my surprise, in your list of flavours, ‘leather’, also, If I may suggest another, inspired by a friend’s naieve assessment of a wine’s characteristic as “grapey” …tobacco-ey!
    …And while doing what we both appreciate equally, (pondering the imponderable) perhaps in keeping with your knack for maintaining the freshness of a subject, a list of adjectives describing cigar books may be in order! …seriously, thank you for your insightfulness! I’ll check back!
    Jay Strange


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