The Experience - From the Beginning

Hi, folks.  I'm fairly new to the cigar hobby, and I would like to chronicle my experiences.  I've seen some cigar dossiers available; I've even tried to mimic one in a notebook, but so far I've been unable to maintain my interest in the record-keeping.  It's quickly becoming apparent that I need some manner of record-keeping or I will keep retracing my steps.  My memory, unfortunately, is not what it should be.  That is where this thread comes in...  I figure that I could share my experiences with everyone else, particularly others that are new to the hobby, and maybe that will keep me involved.

I've read some great reviews by other members of this forum.  I'm not trying to live up to the quality of their work; I only hope to give my honest opinions in a format that will help me catalog what I know.  With any luck, maybe others will enjoy the read.

*The Occasion:  Wednesday 5/14/09 1:45a
*The Smoke:  Oliva Serie G Cameroon robusto
*The Research:  West African Cameroon wrapper.  Nicaraguan filler.  Medium body.  Box pressed.
*The Scoop:  j0z3r gets the credit for recommending this cigar to me.  This cigar was only $4.50 at my local cigar shop.  I was a little concerned when I took a whiff before lighting up.  This cigar had a pretty strong aroma.  Imagine a raisin-like sweetness with a little bit of spice.  I licked the cap because I've read about other reviewers doing that; I'm still not sure what I was supposed to gain - for now, I'll call the taste bright.  After lighting, the cigar was much more mellow than the pre-light smell led me to believe it would be.  The draws were comfortably loose, and the cigar felt great resting in my mouth..  Lots and lots of rich creamy smoke.  The flavor was woody at the beginning, then bit by bit a little spiciness crept in.  The first ash dropped about an inch into the cigar.  The burn was a little uneven, maybe because I lit it with a new torch.  I did a couple of minor corrective lights.  I smoked this one down to just about nothing because a curious thing started happening over half way through; the closer I got to the end the more the flavor profile matched the initial pre-light smell.  The smoke definitely has some spicy moments, and periodically the smoke aroma would become a bit more biting.  The Oliva Serie G Cameroon robusto lasted for just under an hour.
*The Score: 6/10  I have to be honest about not really having a baseline yet.  I wouldn't mind smoking this again, but I won't be running out to pick another one of these up either.

*Question(s) for the Pros:  Is there a most desirable method of lighting a cigar?  How much does the light affect an even burn?

That's it for now.  I know this helped me, hopefully it helped you as well.  I welcome comments, questions, and suggestions.  While I'm at it, I also welcome the chance to smoke any choice cigars you want to send me!  LOL

Comments

  • gmill880gmill880 Posts: 5,947
    Biggin:
    Hi, folks.  I'm fairly new to the cigar hobby, and I would like to chronicle my experiences.  I've seen some cigar dossiers available; I've even tried to mimic one in a notebook, but so far I've been unable to maintain my interest in the record-keeping.  It's quickly becoming apparent that I need some manner of record-keeping or I will keep retracing my steps.  My memory, unfortunately, is not what it should be.  That is where this thread comes in...  I figure that I could share my experiences with everyone else, particularly others that are new to the hobby, and maybe that will keep me involved.

    I've read some great reviews by other members of this forum.  I'm not trying to live up to the quality of their work; I only hope to give my honest opinions in a format that will help me catalog what I know.  With any luck, maybe others will enjoy the read.

    *The Occasion:  Wednesday 5/14/09 1:45a
    *The Smoke:  Oliva Serie G Cameroon robusto
    *The Research:  West African Cameroon wrapper.  Nicaraguan filler.  Medium body.  Box pressed.
    *The Scoop:  j0z3r gets the credit for recommending this cigar to me.  This cigar was only $4.50 at my local cigar shop.  I was a little concerned when I took a whiff before lighting up.  This cigar had a pretty strong aroma.  Imagine a raisin-like sweetness with a little bit of spice.  I licked the cap because I've read about other reviewers doing that; I'm still not sure what I was supposed to gain - for now, I'll call the taste bright.  After lighting, the cigar was much more mellow than the pre-light smell led me to believe it would be.  The draws were comfortably loose, and the cigar felt great resting in my mouth..  Lots and lots of rich creamy smoke.  The flavor was woody at the beginning, then bit by bit a little spiciness crept in.  The first ash dropped about an inch into the cigar.  The burn was a little uneven, maybe because I lit it with a new torch.  I did a couple of minor corrective lights.  I smoked this one down to just about nothing because a curious thing started happening over half way through; the closer I got to the end the more the flavor profile matched the initial pre-light smell.  The smoke definitely has some spicy moments, and periodically the smoke aroma would become a bit more biting.  The Oliva Serie G Cameroon robusto lasted for just under an hour.
    *The Score: 6/10  I have to be honest about not really having a baseline yet.  I wouldn't mind smoking this again, but I won't be running out to pick another one of these up either.

    *Question(s) for the Pros:  Is there a most desirable method of lighting a cigar?  How much does the light affect an even burn?

    That's it for now.  I know this helped me, hopefully it helped you as well.  I welcome comments, questions, and suggestions.  While I'm at it, I also welcome the chance to smoke any choice cigars you want to send me!  LOL

    Well biggin I think you did a pretty good review and as always there just our opinions anyway ...
  • betasynnbetasynn Posts: 1,249
    As far as lighting, I generally use my Xikar Element torch lighter to toast the end, that is not to light it as much as to just start to catch the end. Then I rotate the cigar as I light it evenly around the edge of the wrapper.
  • BigginBiggin Posts: 52
    Unfortunately, I had a not so good experience tonight.

    *The Occassion: Thursday 5/15/09 12a
    *The Smoke:  Oliva Sierie G Maduro robusto
    *The Research:  Dark Maduro wrapper.  Heavy Nicaraguan filler.  Medium to full bodied.  Box pressed.
    *The Scoop:  This cigar cost me $4.75 at my local shop.  The pre-light draw was not particularly loose or tight and tasted like a little like the pleasing and complex taste of a really good Long Island Tea.  The taste of the wrapper was a lot more rich and dark than the Oliva G Cameroon that I got to try yesterday.  This was a bizarre smoke.  It started off great with a rich toasty kind of taste.  I don't think the cigar tasted choclate or coffee like, but the depth of the taste and the roasted nature of it it reminded me of those flavors.  The burn was very uneven.  From about halfway in, it seemed like I was constantly trying to fix the way it was burning.  For a while the cigar seemed to be burning from the inside out.  The cigar completely went out at one point.  From then on the taste was a little ashy.  I have to admit that I eventually gave up on the cigar.  I was too frustrated to truly enjoy the experience.  The Oliva Serie G Maduro robusto would have lasted about an hour, but I cut the experience short at about the 45 minute mark.
    *The Score:  5/10  Brutal.  I loved the flavors initially, but burn issues destroyed things for me.

    *Question for the Pros:  Has this ever happened to you?  I'd like to think that I just got a bad stick or something.  I'd also like to think that what happened wasn't my fault.  Nothing about the cigar or the circumstances of the evening led me to believe that I would have troubles like this.

    Oh, well.  Better luck next time.
  • Garen BGaren B Posts: 977
    Well, you just had your first experience with Tunneling, this may be due to a few things, first off, your wrapper may have been too moist and just wouldn't burn as fast as the inner tobacco. Can't really do anything about it if you just bought it from a B&M, the solution is to stick it in your humi and wait a week or two before you smoke it.

    The second reason is the filler and binder aren't rolled tightly enough, giving the inner parts of the cigar too much oxygen and since the binder and filler are designed to burn well, they burned at a faster rate than the wrapper. Since you say that it wasn't loose or tight, but somewhere in the middle, then it probably wasn't this.

    The final reason is, you lit the cigar unevenly, you toasted the inner stuff well, but didn't light the wrapper properly. Easy fix, since you smoked this at midnight, light as usual, then before you take a puff, lightly blow on the end of the cigar, just enough to get the lit portions to glow red. You'll be able to see the unlit portions a bit easier and correct the light as needed (FYI, the glowing end is called the cherry).

    Sounds like it was either the first or third reason, the first is out of your hands, the third isn't anything to fret about, everyone has done this at some point, heck I still catch myself doing it and I'm two years into this hobby. Don't let this one time totally jade you from the Oliva Serie G, give it some time, it's a good smoke.

    Happy smoking!
  • BigginBiggin Posts: 52
    Thanks for the feedback, guys.  It matters a lot to me, and is probably the best reason for me to be doing this online catalog of my experiences.  Not only can I get to keep track of the details, but I get to hear from more experienced smokers how their exploits relate to mine.

    Please keep the feedback coming.  If I'm missing anything that I should be commenting on, tell me about that, too.
  • kaspera79kaspera79 Posts: 7,259 ✭✭✭
    Hey Biggs.. Both fair concise reviews..well done. Try an Oliva V Maduro if you find one. They run about 12-15 bucks but once you smoke one, you will know why.
  • j0z3rj0z3r Posts: 9,403
    Biggin:
    If I'm missing anything that I should be commenting on, tell me about that, too.
    Well there's one comment I have about that. In your reviews, as long as you comment on construction, burn quality, and your overall impression, you're not really missing anything. To expand on that, any flavor, tastes and aromas you get will not be wrong and you haven't missed anything if you don't get what others get. Tastes are subjective, where I might get espresso, you may see that as a cocoa or dark chocolate flavor, I get light cedar, you may interpret that as nutty. There are no absolutes when it comes to flavor.

    So keep up the good work with the reviews, it will only serve to benefit you as a cigar smoker.
  • BigginBiggin Posts: 52
    I have a ton to talk about.  First things first...
    Garen, I'm happy to be able to put a term to what happened the other night.  Tunneling is a ***.  kaspera, thanks for the advice; it may take me a while to get to that one, but I certainly won't hesitate when I'm ready to get some new smokes.  j0z3r, I'll try to pay more attention to construction.  Generally speaking, if I don't comment much on construction, it has to be because it wasn't a problem.  I see burn issues from time to time, but I haven't witnessed a construction issue yet.

    OK, after my last review I smoked quite a few cigars.  I splurged and spent a little more money on my birthday.  Unfortunately, I never had an appropriate chance to get on here and review them and the experiences aren't particularly fresh on my mind.  These ones will be short and sweet.

    *The Occasion:  5/15/09 1p
    *The Smoke:  Oliva Serie O (Not sure about the size, but it was bigger than a robusto)
    *The Research:  All Nicaraguan tobacco.  Nicaraguan Colorado wrapper.  [LOL.  I've been thinking it was a Cameroon.  In fact, I think I even made a comment to that end on another thread.  I'm a newbie!]  Medium body.  92 rating from Cigar Aficionado Magazine.
    *The Scoop:  This cigar cost me about $5.25 at my local shop - maybe it was $6.25.  Finally, after some average smokes I get a good one.  It really is too bad that I waited so long to reveiw this cigar so I can't be more specific.  This cigar had a really good burn.  I smoked it while I was at work so I had to leave it a number of times.  No issues at all.  Good construction.  Great aroma both before and after the cigar was lit.  Not overbearing in any way.  The draw was just right.  This cigar was more like a meal than a smoke.  Lots of flavor, a little woody, hints of spice on the back end.  I was out in the wind, and can't remember much about the ash or if it had a chance to develop in the wind.  I smoked this one down to the very last.  I was imagining burning myself, and then the cigar kind of told me it was time to put it down.  Excellent cigar.  I think the Oliva Serie O took about an hour and ten minutes to smoke, but I can't be sure.
    *The Score:  8/10  Great.  Just great.  When my humidor starts behaving, I will definitely buy more.

    *The Occassion:  5/15/09 11:30p
    *The Smoke:  Oliva Serie O Maduro (Not sure about the size, but it was bigger than a robusto.)
    *The Research:  Medium body.  Nicaraguan filler.  Maduro wrapper (obv).
    *The Scoop:  This cigar cost about $5.75 at my local shop - maybe it was $6.75.  I found a lot of hype about this cigar.  Something must be wrong with me because I found it completely unremarkable.  Pre-light draw was tight with very earthy flavors.  I could not keep this cigar lit.  In the cigars's defense, it was very windy.  the burn was all over the place.  There is a lot going on in terms of complexity of flavors.  Like the other maduro I tried, it was a very deep and rich.  I'm beginning to the that maduros aren't for me, or alternately, may be I just haven't found the one for me yet.  I only smoked about half of this cigar, partly due to circumstance and partly due to lack of enjoyment.  The Oliva Serie O Maduro probably would have taken me about an hour and fifteen minutes to smoke if I had given it the chance.
    *The Score:  5/10  I'm guessing this is because of my inexperience.  Maybe I'll revisit this when I'm not such an ameteur smoker.

    *The Occassion:  5/17/09 7p  My birthday dinner, a day late.
    *The Smoke:  Don Pepin Garcia blue label  (No idea on the size.  It was bigger than what I typically smoke.)
    *The Research:  Full body.  Nicaraguan long filler.  Corojo wrapper.
    *The Scoop:  I spent $9.00 on this cigar at my local shop.  I'm beginning to see what people mean by "oily wrapper."  The wrapper looked oily and had a really lush color, so I licked the cap and found it to be...oily and rich.  The wrapper was really cool and I'm confident that the majority of the spicy flavor was derived from the wrapper.  The pre-light draw was spicy and a little earthy.  The burn was good for about a third of the cigar and then it started to run a fair bit.  This cigar tasted spicy with some leather notes.  The aroma was very pleasing and again, spicy.  I really enjoyed getting the spicy flavors without the cigar having a really heavy taste.  I had to cut my smoke short a little bit because of the event I was at and the fact that I was the guest of honor.  The Don Pepin Garcia blue label lasted about an hour and 15 minutes.
    *The Score:  8/10  I'm waffling on this score.  The taste was great, but the burn bothered me.

    Well, that catches me up to today.  Today was a great day.  I received my Pay It Forward package from brc81.  I got six new sticks just waiting for me to enjoy and review.  After a little internal debate over whether or not I should let the cigars rest after transit for a few days, I let me id take the reigns and I smoked one.  Wow, it was awesome!

    *The Occassion:  5/18/09 6p
    *The Smoke:  5 Vegas Gold (This stick was huge.)
    *The Research:  Honduran blend.  Connecticut wrapper.  Mild to medium body.
    *The Scoop:  This cigar was absolutely fantastic!  It seemed a little dry; I assume this was due to it being in the mail for a couple of very hot days.  The cigar looked flawless and was well built.  The lick on the cap was light and creamy.  The pre-light draw was a little tight and nutty in flavor.  This cigar had a grreat burn with any minor inconsistancies correcting themselves.  I smoked this cigar in two different sessions - one for about an hour and then a later one for about 40 minutes.  The smoke had a nutty and creamy aroma.  This cigar had a very satisfying flavor.  The taste reminded me of that smell you get when you open a box of Cracker Jacks.  Very smooth smoke.  The 5 Vegas Gold was an hour and 40 minutes of pure heaven.
    *The Score:  9/10  I think this is my favorite cigar I have smoked to date, and I'm not just talking about the ones I have reviewed.  I guess I will have to start buying cigars online.  I can't thank brc81 enough for this cigar.

    *Questions for the Pros:  There are a lot that have been coming up that I need your comments on.  First, I really need to get this cigar size thing figured out.  I know what a robusto is, but that's just about it.  Is there a good resource that would help me?  I don't want to just stare at numbers because they wouldn't mean anything to me.  Second, I've noticed that of all the cigars I have reviewed so far, only two have burned the way I want them to.  Is this a common problem?  Is everyone else as picky about this as me?  Third, I can't get my humidor to work right.  I've had it for years without using it appropriately, but I seasoned it the other day.  I can't maintain humidity over 64.  Obviously, with me getting more serious about the hobby, this is a problem.  I need some cheap solutions to get it to work.  Do I just keep re-seasoning it until it takes?  Will my cigars go back to perfect if they are put back in the humidor once it is working?  Also, the puck won't stay in place on the lid.  Will it hurt to just let it rest on the bottom surface of the humidor?
  • Garen BGaren B Posts: 977
    Heck, I still don't have all the sizings correct, and it's partly due to every cigar company having a different version of what a certain size is. So, say company "A" has a cigar they call a Churchill, and it measures 6 1/2 inches with a 48 ring gauge, but company "B" also has a cigar in a Churchill that is 7 inches with a 46 ring gauge. There isn't a hard and fast rule to sizing, it kinda sucks, but you do get used to it.

    Now, what those numbers mean, the first number your going to be getting is the size of the cigar in inches, pretty easy, it's how long your stick is. The next is a bit odd, it's called the ring gauge, this is the diameter of the cigar in 1/64ths of an inch, so a Nub Cameroon 460 is 4 inches with a 60 ring gauge, so it's going to be listed as 4 X 60 (another lesson in here, the number after the name of the Nub cigar is the dimensions, took me 6 months to finally wake up and figure that out.). Here's a chart of common cigar sizes:

    Corona
    5 ½ to 6 42 to 45

    Panatela
    5 ½ to 6 ½ 34 to 38

    Lonsdale
    6 to 6 ½ 42 to 44

    Churchill
    6 ½ to 7 46 to 48

    Robusto
    4 ½ to 5 48 to 50

    Toro
    6 to 6 ½ 48 to 50

    Presidente
    7 to 8 ½ 52 to 60

    Torpedo (Cone Shaped Head)
    5 ½ to 6 ½ 46 to 52


    Again, these aren't hard and fast sizes, just a basic guideline.

    Unless it really messes with your smoking, like the tunneling and canoeing, don't worry about it, in the end, it'll burn straight.

    As for your humi, you might want to check the seal on it, take a one dollar bill and close it in between the lid and box of the humi, if it doesn't come out easily, your seal is good. Another test, stick a small flashlight that's turned on in your humi and turn off all the lights in the room, if you see light, you have a bad seal.

    As for your last question, if it stays on, cool, if it doesn't, that's cool too, as long as it's in there your in the clear.
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