This site may be titled, A Gentleman’s Word, but let me assure you it is not only for the men. Good friend and cigar aficionado, Christine Morgan has been making a name for herself in the cigar industry. Her unique talent of creating hybrid cigars quickly became famous across the industry. Unlike so many so-called experts out there, Christine really knows more than a thing or two about the tobacco leaf. I first ran into her on Twitter (@ladyofthestick), grilling her about cigar choices and basically trying to learn what wouldn’t make me gasp and puke. I envy her passion and drive as a woman going after her piece of the cigar industry, that is most commonly known as “a man’s world”.
Over the past year, we have become good friends and talk on a daily basis. Although she has been amazing at helping teach me how to choose the right cigar, how to educate my palette, and all about the do’s-and-don’t of smoking a cigar, part of me feels like she is probably yelling out “newb” more often than not when my text messages come across her phone. Her dedication to the industry is also something not often found for someone who didn’t come from cigars, has never officially worked for a brand or had any formal training from a master blender. When we first met, Christine was living in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma. I only refer to it as that because, well, she always did. Currently, she is in Maryland and traveling across the country on a constant basis to reach out and hit every industry event she can. 14 plus hour road trips are not uncommon for her to get to what she loves.
I have asked Christine to become a contributor to this website. Hopefully, she will accept when she has the time and will be reporting on a number of cigar related and “female point of view” topics. Below are a couple of posts from her website (http://thelovelyladyofthestick.com).
This week, I decided to do a hybrid that has turned out to be somewhat controversial: a Padron Serie 1926 with a maduro and candela barberpole. Some may ask why I would even want to attempt this. My response? Because I can. But seriously, I wanted to see what adding a candela wrapper alongside the original maduro would do to this fabulous blend.
I used the 4 3/4 by 50 maduro wrapped beauty and while I was destroying it I noticed a few things. I already had my candela wrapper set out and ready to go and had removed the cap off the Padron. I was ready to remove the wrapper and had a difficult time. Not because the maduro was thicker than the candela but because there was fruit pectin on every inch of the inside of the wrapper. Yes, it was kind of a pain in the butt when doing this experiment and you may wonder what the significance of this is, but it actually makes sense. Padron has such a wonderful reputation for the quality control of their cigars so adding a little extra of the flavorless, odorless “glue” would help keep the wrapper in place during so many conditions that may otherwise cause tearing or unwrapping (handling, temperature etc).
The other thing I noticed was they used just enough wrapper to cover that exact cigar with maybe about an eighth of an inch overlap. So what is the significance of this? Nothing really when it comes down to it. But as I have unwrapped cigars over the last two years, I have been able to use wrappers from say, a robusto and place is on a lancero perfectly because the unwrapped leaf of the robusto was the same length and width as the unwrapped leaf from the lancero. This is simply something that I find intersting. However, I do think this exemplifies the skill of the Padron rollers in being able to eyeball the exact length and width needed to cover their cigars.
After I had the cigar rewrapped, I let it rest over night and lit it up the next afternoon. The candela added a sweeter aroma to the wrapper and the taste of the cigar on my lips. The cold draw was woody with bits of cocoa, which is normal, no change there. Once lit there was no immediate change. My palate got notes of wood, spice and was wonderfully rich. After a quarter of an inch I started to pick up a sweetness as well as notes of hay, some sweet floral notes and citrus zest. Each puff finished warm and spicy with undertones of oak. The retrohale was spicy with floral notes and was very aromatic.
Moving into the second third, the spice backed off slightly. The oak, floral and citrus notes were noticeable on the back of the palate, the finish of each draw. At the halfway point, coffee started to become apparent in the complexities of the draw, which was a great contrast to the earthy and floral notes.
The final third of the cigar was rich in coffee, spice and the sweet floral. The finish left an aftertaste of coffee and spice on the tongue. As the burn progressed to the end of the cigar, the spice started to pick up with more heat again and at the same time the citrus became prevalent once again with a more woody and spicy retrohale.
Although there were some new flavors noticeable on the palate, the changes the candela made to this experience were not dramatic. They added some wonderful subtle complexities that made this hybrid a very unique experience. There was the floral, sweet, citrus notes from the candela juxtaposed on the palate with the earthy, rich and spice of a maduro wrapper, which was absolutely wonderful.
Of course, a Padron is still a Padron and an incredible cigar on its own. Even more, they will continue to be one of my favorites.
DO NOT snub out your cigar by grinding it in the ashtray, on a brick wall or under your foot. This releases a far from pleasant odor. If you leave a cigar alone for several minutes it will discreetly go out on its own. Once out, place it in a trash can or leave it in your ashtray until you are ready to dump out the entire contents. I see so many smokers, new and seasoned that use the grinding method to ensure the cigar is out. Although I love the smell of cigars, the acrid, foul burning smell is not something enjoyable. Please be courteous.
This Isn’t Nike, Don’t Just Do It
Smoking Sin Number 2: Mucus infused cigars
I do not want to smoke your mucus.
I am not a fan of booger infused cigars.
DO NOT pick up a cigar, place it right under your nose and sniff! Not only does this transfer your germs to the cigar wrapper but the oils on your hands can be damaging to the wrapper and therefore effect the taste.
I see this time and time again in shops and it makes me want to run for the industrial size bottles of Germ X. It is one thing if they are your own cigars that you have purchased and you will be the only one smoking them. ( It still makes my skin crawl, but hey at least its your choice!) But to see a supposedly educated cigar smoker, pick up a cigar out of a box and drag it under his nose, taking a deep breath in and then placing the cigar BACK IN THE BOX… No, No, No! The unsuspecting patron that picks up that cigar for purchase probably will not notice the slime skidmarks on the wrapper and the experience of such could damage his or her opinion of the cigar for a lifetime.
There is a reason why some cigars have cello; to protect the wrapper of the cigar. The constant touching, moving, picking up of a cigar can cause the wrapper to crack, flake, break down. That is not limited to the oils of the hands. I have seen many cases of someone digging a cigar out of a full new box using the leverage of their fingernail. This is like pulling on a loose thread of a sweater. It can all fall apart with one small piece missing.
Please, respect the shop patrons, shop owners and yourself by keeping your ooze off the oscuros (and every other wrapper)! And remember to double the check the next cigar you pick up. There might be someone else’s cold waiting for you. Karma does apply to the cigar industry and they say Karma is a…. well, you know.
As you can read, she really knows her smoke. I thought it would be good to also share a couple of her videos from her YouTube channel. She has quickly gained a large and loyal following and her video reviews are definitely a hit!
The Odyssey Continues: Partagas 1845
JC Newman Brickhouse/La Flor Dominicana Hybrid
Please take a minute and checkout her site and Twitter account. Aside from her site, she is contributing to a number of online radio programs and video blogs. If you would like to see more from Christine on the website, please leave a comment and let me know!