Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Limits of Manliness

Quote from on online vendor:

Cain Maduro (Nicaragua)
Strong and complex, Cain cigars are a blend of 100% Ligero tobaccos. That's 25% Esteli, 27% Condega, and 30% Jalapa. Because these cigars feature a blend of some of the strongest tobaccos in the world close attention is placed on the fermentation process. Triple fermentation allows flavors and strength to fully develop and makes these 100% ligero cigars rich and complex.

Okay. As I said before, summertime is cigar time. A couple of days ago, my beginning-of-summer cigar order arrived and some of these sticks pictured above were amongst the purchases. As with many cigar smokers my tastes have matured over time, and I have worked stronger and stronger cigars into my rotation. ‘Strength’ in the case of cigars doesn’t typically mean intensity of flavor… it means more the ‘richness’ of the smoke… the amount of nicotine and other particulate matter that make up other aspects of the smoking experience. So it is analogous to the alcohol content in a drink. You can have a strongly alcoholic drink but the taste could range from very sweet to very dry.

As you can see from the description up top, these cigars are made to be potent. Ligero tobacco is usually used as just a fraction of the mix in most cigars. Being oily and super-fermented it doesn’t burn as well as the viso and seco tobaccos that dominate most cigars. More or less ligero doesn’t typically make a huge difference in a cigar’s price, but it can affect flavor and it most definitely affects strength.

So I was game to try one of these babies. MY cigar vendor’s catalog description suggests a really big meal before trying one (probably for the same reason having food in your stomach helps you handle strong booze). But did I pay attention to that? No. No I did not.

I was thinking: y’know, I’m up for a good challenge here. I’m a seasoned man of the world. Let’s move on to a new level. Let’s BE a connoisseur.

I had a normal, not-really-big dinner, then about an hour later I poured myself a glass of port, went outside and fired one of these up. Oh it tasted good. Not the best ever, but pretty decent.

But now I’ve discovered a limit I’m not set to go beyond. Certainly not yet. Despite my bravado, I am not equipped. I could only manage about two-thirds of this toro-sized (four of its six inches) before putting it down.

A lot of men have stories of when they were boys and had their first experience with tobacco. For me it was chewing tobacco when I was in Little League Baseball. Other dudes it’s cigarettes with edgier friends in the school bathroom. Along with the gagging on tobacco juice, or coughing your lungs out on smoke, there is a nausea, dizziness, or headache component that usually accompanies your first time. The pain, as it were, of losing your tobacco virginity.

Cain cigars made me feel like a virgin again. And not the cinematic, two-tears-of-happiness, sighing-on-her-pillow kind either. I’m not proud saying that, but wow. Not only was I made dizzy during the smoking, but I had something of an upset stomach and mild vertigo for almost an hour after I quit. I felt like a complete pussy. I had a cigar hangover.

I’m not going to just throw them away or anything because they are good, and quite different to other cigars I have. But these are going to need a little caution and experimentation before I settle on the best way to enjoy them. Part of the issue is that ligero tobacco doesn’t stay lit quite as well, so you wind up puffing on it a bit more than other cigars. Lightening up on how big my draw is each time would probably help. And the big goshdamn meal thing too.

I might just have to resolve that these are cigars I smoke halfway down and then exit. There’s no way I’m going to smoke enough cigars to just ‘condition’ myself to be able to handle these the same way as other smokes. I’d have to be one of those big Italian or Latin American guys who always has a giant Churchill sized motherfucker in hand.

I think the adline should be: Cain. The cigar that makes you its bitch.


  1. You get those in town, or do you know a place online to try them. I'm cigar man myself.

  2. In my link column to the right there's an entry for Cigar Advisor. It is a blog/advice/'review' site, BUT it is connected with a shop called Famous Smokes out of Easton, PA. If you look at Cigar Advisor there are multiple ways and links to get to Famous Smokes. Or you can just Google Famous Smokes obviously. I go with them because prices are good, they let you buy just about everything in 5-paks, they have a great, regular print catalog they send to me (though it is repetitive), they have awesome deals on samplers, and they are fast as hell, with a great return policy.

    YMMV since you are in Canada, of course.

  3. Yeah I saw that after posting le comment. Nice link, and it quickly went into my bookmarks. I'll try ordering off them soon, which, barring any unforeseen border issues, shouldn't be a problem.