We are traveling this week, visiting some cigar stores in the Tidewater area of Virginia while we take a week off. We went to a local Herf last night where we introduced our Panacea Cigars to a group of about 20 of the regulars. To a man (and woman) they found them to be impeccably constructed and the only complaint was that they were too mild. The strongest cigars we got were rated as "Medium" to "Medium-Strong" by this group.
I spent the summer introducing the cigar in Virginia and found that one of the best ways to get this stick in people's hands was at some of the local festivals. At the end I found that wine festivals and Pirate/Renaissance/Celtic festivals were the best ones for us. One of the reasons, I think, is because we are a milder strength cigar and do appeal to the more casual cigar smoker. This shows itself in our ability to pair our cigars very effectively with wines and our Panacea Pairings have become quite popular.
I smoked little else beyond the Panaceas this summer, I was smoking 6 to 8 at festivals -- you have to keep your bait in the water -- but I have been smoking some of the more popular cigars to get a sense where we land. I found that the San Lotano Oval, the Savinelli Vintage Reserve and the J Fuego Origen were three that fit my palate. These would combine with some of my old favorites, the Montecristo #2, the Pleides Envoy, The Greycliff, the Diamond Crown and the Temple Hall.
Brian Tate, owner of our newest store, Pop's Tobacco and Coffee in Yorktown, admitted to having a taste for milder cigars as I do but most of the regulars that I smoke with or speak with tend to favor the big peppery sticks. How many of you consider yourself to be a serious, long-time cigar smoker (I have smoked for 30 years) but still enjoy the milder to medium bodied cigars?
I sometimes get the sense that the stronger cigar smokers feel that they have graduated to the stronger cigars. Do you feel that you are stuck with training wheels? I certainly don't. I love the subtle flavors especially when I am drinking wines that have a similar complexity and that have been properly paired with the cigar that I am smoking.
What is your experience?
Meh. I see that kind of attitude amongst cigar smokers pretty regularly. I smoke a very wide range of cigars - I'm a nicotine wimp, but I enjoy a lot of "stronger" smokes as well if I'm prepared for it. I wouldn't tackle some of them on an empty stomach/low bloodsugar. To be honest, I couldn't care less about the nicotine strength of a particular stick - I look for pleasant flavors (pleasant to MY taste preferences), and good construction (I can't enjoy a cigar I have to fidget about with constantly while trying to smoke it). Following that, any number of factors could come into play before strength - I can honestly say I've never sought out (nor avoided) any cigars on the basis of strength. As I said, I witness folks who feel superior if they smoke what they deem "stronger" cigars, but I don't get it. I imagine some degree of machismo is at play. Just like anything else in life, there are tons of myths and misconceptions - and plenty of folks who think they have it all figured out. I think we should all like what we smoke - and smoke what we like. I don't smoke cigars to please a crowd.