Uncategorized

How to Select and Season Your New Humidor

How to Select & Season a New Humidor

An Introduction to Cigar Humidors

A cigar humidor is a box (or room) designed to store and age cigars within the optimal humidity range of 68 % to 72% at room temperature. A humidor must contain a humidification system or device to add(or remove) moisture from its int

My Humidor

erior space to maintain the desired level of humidity. A humidor usually contains a hygrometer to measure the humidity level inside the box. Most personal humidors are made of wood, with the inside usually constructed with Spanish cedar.

Cigar Humidor – More Than Just A Box

In addition to its main purpose of storing, preserving and aging cigars for a number of years, a humidor can also be an attractive piece of furniture, and even a family heirloom. For most cigar connoisseurs, a humidor is a small investment that will protect a much larger investment of valuable cigars for many years.

Seasoning a New Humidor Before Storing Cigars

Do Not Put Cigars In Your New Humidor.

Now that you have a new humidor, the first thing to do is not put cigars inside. First and foremost, you must season a new humidor before storing your beloved stogies. This is also true for an old humidor that hasn’t been used in a while.

The cedar inside of a humidor is part of the humidification system, and acts to provide humidity (and flavor) to the cigars, along with the humidification device. If the cedar has not been seasoned, then the wood will actually rob moisture from the cigars, and dry them out. This effect is the exact opposite of what you wanted when you purchased the humidor.

A new humidor, or one that hasn’t been used in a while, must be properly seasoned before storing cigars inside. Our step-by-step instructions include pictures of how to condition a humidor prior to use.

How to Season Your New Humidor

Do NOT put cigars in your new humidor.

Now that you have a new humidor, the first thing to do is not put cigars inside. First and foremost, you must season a new humidor before storing your beloved stogies. This is also true for an old humidor that hasn’t been used in a while. The cedar inside of a humidor is part of the humidification system, and acts to provide humidity (and flavor) to the cigars, along with the humidification device. If the cedar has not been seasoned, then the wood will actually rob moisture from the cigars, and dry them out. This effect is the exact opposite of what you wanted when you purchased the humidor.

Wipe the inside of the humidor with distilled water.

To season a humidor, all you need is some distilled water, a clean unscented sponge or cloth, and some patience – at least for a few days. IMPORTANT – Do not use tap water in place of distilled water. Start by dampening a clean sponge or cloth with distilled water, then wipe down all the cedar wood inside of the humidor, including the lid and any trays.

Then place a sponge inside the humidor.

Put the wet sponge on top of a piece of cellophane (or plastic bag) and place inside the humidor. Make sure that the sponge is not overly saturated, and not touching any wood.

Fill your humidification device.

Fill your humidification device with either distilled water or a humidifying solution according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure that the device is not overly saturated by letting any excess water drip out (into a sink), then wipe off any drops of water on the outside of the humidification device, and place the device inside the humidor.

Wait 24 hours, then repeat this process.

Now comes the hard part, close the humidor for 24 hours and wait. The next day, repeat the wipe down procedure using distilled water and the sponge, but do not leave the sponge inside this time, and wait another 24 hours.

Before placing cigars in humidor, check of dampness.

On the day after the second treatment, it should be safe to use the humidor as long as you cannot feel any dampness on the cedar. If so, then wait one more day before storing your cigars. If you have a hygrometer inside the humidor, ignore any higher-than-normal readings during the seasoning process. However, if the humidity is lower than 72% on the day after the second treatment, then repeat the wipe down procedure for a third time (you may also need to test your hygrometer or recharge your humidification device).

Happy Smoking!

Standard
Uncategorized

Exhale

We brothers (and sisters) of the leaf know that a cigar can serve many purposes: it can be relaxing or invigorating, celebratory or consoling.  We can smoke something so strong it makes our eyes cross, or mellow enough to compliment a sorbet.  There are cigars that are made to last 2 hours, and those that are only a 15-minute smoke.

We talk a lot about what our cigar says about us, but rarely do we listen to what our cigar is saying TO us.  Is it telling us we need to slow down by burning harsh and uneven?  Are we lounging with a lancero, or striving with a salomon?  Are we at peace, with smoke curling straight up to the sky, or are we waving it around like a magic wand, embiggening ourselves with grandiose gestures?

We discuss how to cut, how to light, how to puff, and even how to enjoy.  But there’s a key part that we rarely discuss, because it’s as natural as breathing.  Exhaling.  We puff in, and then just blow out.

This is where we really differentiate ourselves from the cigarette smoker.  Exhaling for them is just necessary so that they can fill their lungs with oxygen again.  Since we don’t inhale, we aren’t forced biologically to react the same way.  Also because of the social nature of our hobby, we rarely have to re-arrange our faces like so much clay to avoid blowing smoke into someone else’s face.  We can choose to exhale at our own pace and pleasure and this action speaks volumes about how we’re feeling.

I know that when I’m absent minded, I tend to just blow the smoke out of my mouth as if I was inflating a balloon- a large jet of smoke straight out.  But I’ve seen those smokers who can pick apart the taste of a cigar all the way down to “hints of melba toast” who stare at the ash and gently eject a slim stream of smoke slowly and carefully, as if blowing an eyelash off a baby’s cheek.

Then there’s the old timers- those that can’t taste the tobacco unless they exhale through their nose and get the whole essence of the smoke.  Others prefer to simply lounge with the cigar in their mouth and exhale around it, like a rocket on the launch pad.

As for me, I use my exhalations as a gauge of how I’m feeling.  Am I really relaxed?  Or just acting like it?  My tell is smoke rings- if I’m in a lounge, relaxed and at peace, I blow smoke rings.  To me it’s playful and fun- trying to get one last bit of pleasure from the essence of the cigar.

And please, remember to go to www.CRA.org and join the Cigar Rights of America.  They’re currently lobbying to keep the FDA from regulating cigars- they could restrict artwork on boxes, advertising, nicotine content, special and limited editions, not to mention the increased taxes and costs.  So join today- together we’re as strong as ligero.

Standard
Uncategorized

Science!

The great thing about us being alive here in the 2010’s is that we have a wonderful opportunity to watch
progress in motion.  If you’re old enough to want to read this, you’ve seen amazing progress in technology-

WiFi, cellular phones, push-button start cars and hip hop music.  Everything straining forward as fast as our
fleshy monkey-brains can push it.

Much of this is a good thing, but some of it really grinds my gears.

We have razors with 37-blades, but my only other option besides scraping all the hair off my face and head is to chemically melt it off, or have it ripped out
with wax.  Not exactly progress if you ask me.

Driving is the same- hundreds of multi-ton missiles fly past us at 88 feet-per-second, and we have nothing to protect us but our own spider-senses and reflexes.  Not exactly a fair fight.

Sometimes you find yourself stuck between times.  Maybe the A/C goes out, but you still have your internet access.
Or your cell phone doesn’t get reception, but the TV at the bar has ESPN.  An odd juxtaposition.

One thing that doesn’t seem to move that much is… you guessed it… cigars. Ancient peoples aged, cured and rolled tobacco to smoke much the same
way we do today.  The difference- besides quality control- is mostly religious.  Many native peoples once viewed tobacco as a gift from the gods- a medium to be used to help their prayers reach heaven.

It was a sacrament- something to be cherished.  A tradition passed down through traditions from generation to generation.

We’ve lost a great deal of that- advances in medicine have taught us that tobacco smoke isn’t exactly as healthy
as tofu, and laws to “protect the innocent” have pushed us from the center of any social occasion to the fringes (well, except at our events!).

As for me, none of this “progress” makes me happy.  But it’s somewhat of a necessary evil if we want bridges that don’t collapse, a system
of rules that ensures our safety, and water to be clean and drinkable.  A small compromise if you weigh the pros and
cons, I suppose.  But it doesn’t make being ostracized right.  I think that if everyone had the opportunity to connect with one of the few lost arts that was
never really lost- that’s still available to people with no formal training or direction- our advanced culture might realize that we’ve advanced past the point of
usefulness in some areas.

** A PERSONAL NOTE FROM THE EDITOR**

It has come to my attention that there are some very petty,
negative people in the world.

Unfortunately, a few of those are in the cigar business.

This message is for that person in particular.  No matter who you call, what you write or what
you say… you cannot stop us from succeeding in everything we do.

Why? Because everything we do is to promote brick & mortar cigar lounges, help to build the cigar
industry, develop new smokers, assist cigar shops by driving customers to their business (check out The Cigar Guys Lounge Reviews at www.thecigarguys.net) and have fun doing it.
This may be self-serving, but hey… it ain’t  and never will be about you.

Happy Puffing!

Standard
Uncategorized

One Week with Lars Tetens

The funny thing about business is that certain businesses seem to attract certain people.  Attorneys
are usually driven, intense people.  A CPA is reserved and introspective.
Salesmen are boisterous, and cigar manufacturers… well… they’re a different breed.

Lars Tetens is the most different of them all.

We first learned of Lars Tetens and his cigars in 2007 at The Cigar Lounge in Granada Hills where the owner Ash told us we had to smoke
these cigars.

Smelling them through their individually zip-locked bags, we wanted to decline due to the intense smell
that seemed as if no plastic could hold it.  He insisted, and we lit up.

What we discovered that day would change our cigar paradigm.  A clean, delicious taste; a powerful aroma; and a crisp finish with no residual taste on the palatte.

We were sold 100%.  Years later, we revisited Ash’s lounge and were greeted with bad news- he had no more Lars Cigars.  A subsequent conversation with Lars revealed he had temporarily shut down his distribution network in order to focus on his East Coast business.  Oh well- easy come, easy go.

Lars Tetens has been a mysterious figure in the cigar business- wrapped in half-truths and conjecture, no one seems to know anything
definitive.  What long-time smokers know is that he had been on the scene for as long as they could remember (since
1979), that his cigars were hard to find, expensive and unique, and that no one
ever seemed to really know what was going on with his companies.  A modern-day Leonardo DaVinci, Lars
manufactures cigars, olive oil, chocolates, steak sauces, spices, sausage,
cheese, skate boards, paintings, leather goods, furniture and perfume.  What sort of man spreads himself so
thinly?  Takes on such different ventures?  We were, to put it mildly, intrigued.

So, when we heard that Lars was going to make an appearance
at The Cigar Lounge in the spring of 2011, we knew we had to meet the man behind the legends.  We were greeted by
Lars’ right-hand-woman Musashi, who introduced us to more blends than we had ever seen from a single manufacturer.

Ash had 30 different blends, and Musashi told us that there were another 30 to 40 varieties that he didn’t stock!
We settled in with strong, flavorful, unique cigars and waited for Lars to arrive.  And arrive he did.

Cutting a swath through the lounge, Lars seemed to glow- 5’9 with a pot-belly, red Mohawk and pink beard, there was no losing the man in a
crowd.  And since he seemed to draw people into his wake, it was equally difficult to get close.  In the humidor, we chatted and traded
stories, and became friends.  That’s when he invited us to visit him in Pennsylvania to learn his business and to get to
know the man behind the legend.

On a Sunday in July we landed in Pittsburgh and found Lars waiting to pick us up.  After a bear hug,
we loaded up the car and set off for Allentown.  I’ve been in a lot of smokers’ cars, including my own, but never smelled
one like this.  The smell was like the combination of exotic sweetness with fine perfume.  An unusual odor, but a very pleasant one.

We pulled into Allentown, and went to a new boutique that was going to feature Lars’ products exclusively.  Shamrock Custom Luxury is minimalist, but
full of high-end products that Lars produces in Upstate New York, such as sausage in olive oil, leather purses, paintings, furniture, and of course, cigars.  Lars cracked open his travel humidor and told us to pick something- preferable something expensive.  There was no hesitation- we knew exactly what to go for.

The SCP (Stone Cold Pimpin’) – the pinnacle of the line- is legendary.  People who know the products talk about it and ask others if they’ve ever smoked it.
What’s it like?  Is it really worth it?  How can it be that much?  We’ll tell you.  The reason there’s so much buzz is that the SCP carries a retail price point of over $180 per cigar.  Per cigar.
Why so much?  That’s how much it costs him.  The core of Lars’ cigar philosophy is aging.  Every cigar manufacturer uses aged tobacco, but what happens after the cigar is rolled is
where Lars takes a different path.

After the cigar is a cigar, Lars sets it aside in a special aging room, where the temperature is lowered to 40 degrees, and the humidity to
5%.  These extremely cold and dry conditions cause the cigars to lose all their moisture, and the only thing left
in the leaves are the natural oils.  Tobaccos from the United States (Kentucky, Georgia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania) as well as Puerto Rican, Cameroon, Dominican, Honduran,
Pilipino and  Mexican tobaccos all have unique charateristics, and in their complex blends and high-stress conditions,
the oils mix and blend over a period of 2 to 25 years.  The SCP sits in these rooms for over two decades, and the result is extraordinary.

A dark cigar, SCP burns slowly and evenly, leaving a multi-shaded ash with vein tracks clearly visible.  The flavor is rich, nuanced, complex, and
absolutely delicious.  If you can afford it, you should smoke it.

Next stop was lunch. At the Chinese restaurant next door we decided to let Lars order, where
we learned something that would be important for the rest of our trip.  For the three of us, we ordered 3 appetizers
and 6 entrees.  And rice.  You’ll never be hungry hanging out with Lars.

Our second cigar was the Annuit Coeptus- an $85 cigar.  Using the same aging process and time, the
Annuit Coeptus was darker and stronger than the SCP.  The ash was full of beautiful little balls-
something we’d never seen.  Rich and flavorful, we were confident that there was a market for these sticks.

A little later on Musashi arrived with Travis, the distributor who covers the North-East.
After a while we went to visit one of Travis’ clients- a cigar lounge that occupied, what used to be a gas station.
It was surreal to park at a pump and walk in to what we expected to be a
mini mart, but had couches and floor-to-ceiling humidors.  We thought it was brilliant- how many gas
stations have you seen that were abandoned?  And what a great location- the corner of a major intersection in their
own building!

Monday broke, cloudy and humid.  We were excited because we were going to spend the day on the golf course at a charity event, handing out cigars.  Our natural habitat!  We met up with Travis and Musashi, as well as a handful of promo models, and prepared to spend the day chatting with golfers and handing out cigars.  It seemed as if
our reputation did not precede us, since the girls didn’t listen to our advice and didn’t know anything about cigars.
Oh well.  The tournament ended with a rainstorm that made it seem like we were standing under a waterfall-
huge, heavy drops of water arrived en masse, and turned everything that wasn’t covered into a sloppy mess.  A brief jog
to the car (10 seconds) and we were wetter than we’ve ever been in a California rainstorm!  I was impressed at the
locals’ ability to take it in stride.

That night, Lars cooked for us.  We heard him say over the phone shortly after picking us up at the airport “Yes… uh huh… good.  And wrap it in bacon.”  Sounds like my kind of meal!  We started with a mozzarella and grape salad, with long slices of perfectly seared beef laid over the lettuce- a light olive oil dressing finished it off.

The second course featured stuffed green peppers, wrapped in bacon.  Stuffed with red beans, red rice
and tuna, the peppers were wrapped in bacon and baked at 180 degrees for 30
hours.  Sunday morning they were put in the oven, and Monday night we ate.
Topped with a country gravy, the peppers were not mushy as one might
expect, but tender.  The bacon was chewy and smoky, and the gravy thick and rich.
Somehow… it worked!

While waiting for the main course, we lit up the Taino cigar.  A blend of West Cameroon binder,
Georgian and Kentucky filler and a rich, pitch black Puerto Rican wrapper, Taino was the first time we were ever able to taste the naturally sweetness of
a true maduro cigar.  Sweet and earthy, the cigar changed flavors 3 times before we finished.

Our main course was chicken and plantains over wild rice.  Under the inedible skin of the chicken, the meat was perfectly done- tender and moist.  Much to our surprise, since the chicken had
cooked as long as the peppers!

That night we stayed up late, drinking scotch and listening to Lars hold court with the stories from his life.  A world traveler, Lars is personal friends
with high-ranking members of the Armed Forces, teaches combat techniques to Navy SEALS, and finds time to age cheese in the caves his family owns in
Upstate New York.  We could have talked all night, but sleep and the promise of the next day beckoned.

On Tuesday we travelled with Musashi to visit a few of their clients, and see the variety of stores that carried their products.  We saw cigars in beer distributorships, steak
sauce in liquor stores, and olive oil in clothing boutiques.  To say there’s a wide array of products and clients would be quite the understatement!

One of the seven cigars we smoked that day is called Bassmaster.  A big 7×54, it smokes smooth and clean, with a mellow character.
Musashi, proud of the blend (it’s hers), told us to watch the pilot of “The Bernie Mac Show”, since Bassmaster was Bernie Mac’s favorite cigar.  Sure enough, if you watch the opening
monologue of the pilot you’ll see him light a cigar and equate cigars with raising children.  And if you watch very
closely, you’ll see the trademark “LARS TETENS” blue-and-red band that used to adorn every cigar.  The Tetens cigars are not without their share of celebrity admirers- a few days earlier they were
backstage with Def Leppard, and Lars has several photos of him with Steven
Tyler.  I guess when you can afford whatever you want, you tend to smoke what you like!

Dinner was another extraordinary affair- for the five of us, we ordered 5 appetizers, six entrees, 5 side dishes and 5 desserts.  As we said, when you’re with Lars, you’re
guaranteed to not be hungry for long.

A tour of Allentown was on the agenda for Wednesday- we had lunch at a brewery with Musashi and learned about how Lars had helped her
family and how they came to work together.  A savvy business mind in her own right, Musashi runs the day-to-day for
all of Lars’ companies- a job that no one who needed sleep could do!  She talked about their leather and food businesses with a passion typically reserved for artists.

That’s when we came to realize that they are a crew of artists.  Their mediums are varied- cigars, perfume, chocolate and others, but the passion, craftsmanship and
ideals they embody are evident in every product they make.

Dinner was at the Suburban Tavern and Restaurant in the cigar lounge upstairs (see our review), followed by a delicious gelato/shave
ice at the Mayor’s ice cream stand.

Our nightcap was at a local bar that Lars and Travis’ bands perform at from time to time.  Lars is an
institution in Pennsylvania- people stop him on the street and constantly seek him out to sit at his feet and learn from the entrepreneur’s entrepreneur.

The bar, for example, boasted a jar of his Italian food spice on every table, and had barbecue sauce on the menu.  Several of his paintings hung from the walls,
and his name was on the marquee.  “Performing Friday and Saturday”- as if he didn’t perform every day.

Our last breakfast with Lars was fried eggs and potatoes, featuring Lars’ barbecue spice, with a side of sesame-crusted bacon.  We would highly recommend adding sesame seeds
to your bacon, fyi.  A mild cigar- the Cubagua- was the last one we smoked while digesting the trip and our breakfast.

The lessons we learned over the week were, for the most part, simple ones.  As far as business, we
had learned that just because we don’t know about a brand, it doesn’t mean that it’s not a thriving, vibrant business.
We learned about the passion and dedication that one person can pour into their life’s work, that they can stand tall on their principles, even if
some people don’t understand them.

As for the man behind the myth, we learned that Lars Tetens is more than the sum of his rumors- he’s a singular human being.  One capable of being the center of attention,
while remaining humble and approachable.

A multi-talented, multi-disciplined artist, Lars stands alone.  If you get a chance to try one of his products – whether it’s chocolate with espresso grounds, a habanero barbecue sauce, or one
of his cigars, try and think of it as his gift to you.  And if he were there personally, it would be.

Standard
Uncategorized

The IPCPR 2011 Wrapup

Today is a sad day in the cigar industry- the 79thIPCPR trade show comes to a close, and tobacco professionals will have an
entire year to wait before getting the opportunity to socialize with thousandsof others in their trade.

Encompassing nearly 1,500,000 square feet of booth space, 2011’s IPCPR was a step back towards the way things were before our global
economic collapse.  Of the 125 cigar vendors- not counting multi-line aggregators, pipes, accessories, apparel,
cigarettes, humidors, leather goods, etc.- we counted 3 empty spaces.  Pretty good attendance for a show this size.

People always ask us how IPCPR- the industry-only trade show- compares with the Big Smoke, which is more consumer focused.  The main difference is in the pace and the
patience.  Retailers slowly meander from booth to booth, asking questions and spending time learning about lines.  Others frantically race across the floor from
appointment to appointment- their eyes locked on the deal in front of them.  There’s 7 hours a day of time to investigate- after two and a half days we were still stumbling on corners we’d missed and
friends we thought couldn’t make it.

Evenings are very different as well.  The main hot spots- Casa Fuente and Rhumbar- are still packed, but people sit closer together.  Groups are a little more open, and the topic
of conversation is never in doubt. After-parties are a much more intimate affair as well- we were fortunate enough to attend a Blogger Party hosted at a suite at the MGM by Drew Estate
Cigars.  This party was press only- no retailers or other brands were allowed.

We smoked Steve Saka’s Dirty Rat, chatted with Jonathan Drew & Pete Johnson, and got to meet “Cigar-lebrities” (thanks for the term, Cigar Authority!)
from across the country.  Big Smoke parties are about grabbing as much free stuff as you can carry.  IPCPR is about smoking what you take, and making
educated judgments beyond the cost of the cigar in your mouth.

The exhibitors at the show fight to out-do themselves and each other every year.  In previous years
we’ve seen shoe shine booths, caricature artists, and open bars.  This year it seemed that people dispensed
with the luxuries like pens and stickers, but were deadly serious about getting down to business.  Every large booth
(ranging from 2000 sq. ft. up to a pair of 6000 sq. ft. monsters) was set up like its own little world.

High walls kept people either in or out, products were displayed either in walk-through
dioramas or in jewelry-quality display cases, and the use of color patterns and
uniforms made you feel like you were in their factory.  A truly impressive sales experience.

Smaller retailers were the more interesting story- some fought for attention with women in low-cut shirts, others featured bourbon
barrels, live rollers, or men in centurion costumes, and still others seemed as if they’d given up before they started.
Some consisted of nothing but a few leather couches and hanging banners, while others were set up like the set of a vampire movie with red velvet
upholstered, golden gothic furniture.

There were people selling every conceivable type of accessory- from travel suitcases to golf/cigar tools to shirts that featured chest pockets sewn
down the middle to make two separate cigar pockets.

There were some interesting decisions- a meet-and-greet with Dennis Rodman, or a give-away consisting of a five-inch steel spike, but as
always, there was something for everyone’s taste.

Next year the show is in Orlando.  Good news for the Miami cigar industry, bad news for us.  But as always, from 112 and
dry to 85 and humid, we’ll be there to report back to you.

Did you attend the show and see something you liked?  Any brands you think are hot?  Or not?  Any questions for us?

Let us know in the comments section!

Standard
Uncategorized

Let’s Celebrate!

One of my favorite parts of The Cigar Guys’ business is one that we didn’t expect. We first started doing events and we were determined to be competent, polite, respectful,
welcoming and professional.  Basically all the things we’re not in normal life.  After 5 years, we’ve relaxed around our clients, but try to stay on our
better- if not necessarily best- behavior.  We joke and kid with the guests, but try to not be insulting if they don’t deserve it.

We’ve learned the best part of doing private parties- aside from smoking and meeting new people and getting paid- is eating and
drinking.  When we first started our business we were shy wallflowers around the buffet and bar.  Hard to believe, I know.  But now, after helping our guests light up a
few cigars and chatting, one of us hits the refreshments and trucks back a mountain of goodness to share.  Pulled pork sliders, cake lollipops, carnitas tacos, fried chicken, Skittles, fondue,
chocolate-dipped fruit, espresso, chicken soup, hot dogs and mahi mahi- nothing
seems to be unusual at a party.  But, one food stands above all others in terms of expectation and analysis.  Wedding cake.

Cake has a strange place in our culture.  It’s not just something that we expect, but in certain instances we demand it.  You’ve
never heard of someone singing “happy birthday” and blowing out the candles on a pecan pie, have you?  (Note to self-
insist on pecan pie for birthday)  But therein lays the difficulty.  If there’s cake, it’s expected that there will be enough for everyone.  And as we’ve learned from “Man Vs. Food” on
the Food Network, deliciousness is not proportional to size.  If anything, the larger something is, the worse it is.  I’ve eaten wedding cake
that tasted like Styrofoam, or had frosting the consistency of spackle, or had
some vile fruit filling.  It’s rarely something good.  Which made our last wedding something special.

Not all of our events are ritzy and filled with debutantes and businessmen smoking cigars and discussing politics.  We recently provided cigars for a wedding in
San Pedro for a couple that were retail store managers at different big-box stores.  Nice people, pleasant guests, exceptional wedding cake.  It shows that
sometimes you can find unanticipated pleasures in unexpected places.

Standard