Have you ever been at a restaurant and been enjoying your food and the atmosphere and the person you were with complained the whole time about theirs? Did it get on your nerves? Did it take away from your meal? Did you wish you had left them at home? I’ve been there!
Much like our experiences at our favorite eateries, smoking cigars with other lovers of the leaf can be very similar. With so many cigar options to choose from, there will naturally be times when a selection will be made that doesn’t quite meet the liking of the consumer. Our cigar experiences are greatly impacted by the combinations of “ingredients”, beverage pairings and sometimes the people we choose to partake with. Just like with any choices we make, one can either live with it or make another selection, but one’s unhappiness with theirs shouldn’t be transferred to everyone in earshot!
It’s human nature to judge. Because of physical characteristics, backgrounds, other people’s accounts and experiences…we use all types of factors to form opinions (everyone has the right to have them) and to decide whether or not we will engage someone or something.
Taking into account that every person has different tastes and preferences, I find it very important to remain as impartial as possible when it comes to sharing experiences with cigars. While I’ve smoked a few, there are still cigars that I have yet to try for whatever reason. It’s important to keep in mind that people around you may either like a particular cigar or be interested in trying the one that you may be speaking ill of. So if you are going to say you don’t like it, be considerate enough to say why, so others can make up there own minds whether they will continue to seek that cigar out. Saying that “you don’t prefer it because…” gives others the info they need to make an assessment based on their preferences.
In the same vein, we never know who we’re sitting next to while we’re smoking a cigar. It could be a representative from that company or the blender themselves. If we’re able to specify what it is we don’t like, that person may have something else for us to try (maybe even for free) that fits what it is we’re looking for. Even if we don’t care for or agree with it what someone has created, they still put their all into that cigar and those efforts shouldn’t be disrespected.
Etiquette Tip #2
If you can’t articulate what it is you don’t like about something, it’s probably best not to say anything.
Believing that anyone considering him or herself to be an expert has to be a student of the game as well, we must always remember that every cigar can teach us something with every puff. It is with these lessons that we increase our knowledge and sharpen our palettes. This knowledge not only increases our enjoyment of cigars, but also helps us to gain a greater appreciation for the life cycle of every cigar.
Having seen firsthand the care, detail and craftsmanship that goes into every single stick, I’d be hard-pressed to say that any cigar is bad. Just like when people have differing political, religious, lifestyle or ideological views, it’s important for us all to know and understand that it’s these differences that make life, and cigars special…and it’s these that make our pastime a great one. While a cigar might not be for me, it may very well be for me at another time. It may very well be for me in a different setting. It may very well be for me after it has had time to age. If that cigar never becomes my cup of tea, I realize that it is someone’s favorite…and I don’t want to alienate that brother or sister of the leaf by discounting his or her palette and preferences.
Seldom does a blender randomly throw various leafs together and say, “That’s it!, that’s my new release.” Months and sometimes years go into selecting which variations and the amounts of tobacco go into the cigar you’re smoking as you read this. On top of that, millions of dollars go in to market research to determine what segments of the population want in their cigars. If a cigar is selling, someone somewhere likes it, as they wouldn’t keep investing in them.
We must also be careful not to completely write off companies because we have a less than perfect experience with their product. It’s for this reason that most have vast catalogs in all ranges of flavor, strength and body to cover ranges of personal preferences. The only way that we should be able to tell if we wouldn’t enjoy a cigar is because we’ve tried it for ourselves, and it’s in this process that we learn what it is we like and don’t like, not just by relying on someone else accounts.
Etiquette Tip #3
Respect the process, even if you don’t care for the particular blend or company.
Enjoying cigars is not just about our personal space, but about respecting the spaces (and ears) of those around you that are having the time of their life with their cigar. And why should we take away from what they are experiencing just so we can give my unsolicited opinion?
Enjoying cigars is not just about being cool, different or smarter than the next person, but about pleasure, respect and decency. It’s a lifestyle where people can discuss differences and tastes intelligently. Let’s bring classiness back to being an aficionado. Let’s be considerate and engaging, not overbearing and loud. Let’s be accepting and willing to listen and learn, as it’s in the constant pursuit of learning that we’ll all become better consumers and a stronger family of the leaf.