As a relatively new cigar smoker, I was immediately intrigued by and drawn to these incredibly dark cigars. This was my first time seeing the La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Chisel, and the near black wrapper leaves seemed to almost drip with oil. It was on the humidor shelves of a local B&M, and after the attending tobacconist relieved me of my concerns that dark wrappers always indicate more nicotine strength or spice, I eagerly picked one up for my evening smoke. The experience was sublime! The cigar did in fact have a good amount of strength (that ligero leaf will do that!), but the accompanying sweetness and depth of flavor was what stood out the most.
Up to that point I had not much experience in premium cigars, having only been smoking cigars about once or twice a month for about a year. I knew I liked cigars, but this one ushered me into a realm of tobacco taste that I had been longing for. The flavors were dark, sweet, rich and supple. The oily texture was almost syrupy. There was chocolate syrup, espresso, cedar, chocolate cake, and so many other things that reminded me of enjoying dessert. And not the way I enjoy now as an adult, but the kind of dessert enjoyment I had as a kid, when dessert was more amazing, magical and satisfying. “This,” I thought, “is the cigar of cigars!”
Thus began my quest to smoke as many dessert-like cigars as possible. Fast forward about year, and something dreadful happened. Dessert cigars started to lose their savor, for lack of a better term. They were not tasting or performing any different than before, but they weren’t bringing back lucid and vivid memories of my youth. What had happened?! Then it occurred to me, this has actually happened to me before, but with actual desserts. As a kid, as I am sure many will relate to, I was a glutton for sugary foods. Couldn’t get enough of ‘em! Donuts on Sunday morning were the best. German Chocolate cake with that awesome chopped nut and coconut topping, hell yes! Ice cream for dinner, why not! But, after overindulging on them for years, my body adjusted as did my tastes, and I just could not tolerate the same level of sugar intake as I did as a child.
I then started gravitating to spicy foods, savory foods, foods with lots of umami. I started liking the burgers and the spareribs at family BBQ’s more that the pies and strawberry shortcake. I fell in love with Italian and French cuisine and marveled at how good Indian take out could be. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed dessert, but I found that I would not enjoy it as much unless I first partook in all the other wholesome food groups first.
AHA! It hit me, this what was happening to me! My palate, like my appetites, were finally beginning to mature and become adult. Now I started picking up more cigars with other flavor emphases. Cigars with a Sumatran wrapper really started to appeal to me. Green Candela wrappers and their amazing grassy nuances all of sudden seemed very appealing. Sun grown wrapped cigars that have sat in my humidor for over a year, because I found them too woody or spicey earlier, now well aged and mellowed down a bit were outstanding with dark rum. Dessert cigars thus also started to regain their magic, but it would only have been possible if I ventured into other blends and gave them their due attention.
Much like diet, a well-balanced palate only improved my overall cigar “health” as it were. And much like what you eat at certain times of the day, or year for that matter, different cigars will taste and smoke better. I love chowders, for example, but do not give me one in July. A perfect example in the cigar world is the Oliva Master Blends III. I love this stick, but I find it tastes best in the crisp autumn temps, preferably near a firepit in the evening. I love Dominican cigars, but I almost always like them more with a cold drink like a rum and coke in the summertime instead of with hot coffee. These of course are personal preferences, and many will disagree, but the point is that variety and exploration are key to enjoying cigars to their fullest. You just can’t do that if you only smoke one brand or type of cigar.
Even cigars that have left me dissatisfied serve a valuable purpose. If I don’t like a cigar, I really think about what it was that was not enjoyable. Was the flavor unbalanced or harsh? Was the texture too thin or dry? Was the draw or burn simply crap? Was there an element on the finish that lasted way too long or seemed out of place? Once I discern what it was that I didn’t care for I come to appreciate the good ones all the more. Often times another thing will happen. I discover a new “cuisine” of tobacco blends that does something for me that just cannot be replicated by anything else, satisfying cravings I did not even know existed! Dessert cigars will always have a special place in my heart, and my humidor, no matter how old I get. They are totally unique in the experience they afford me. But then again, many other kinds of cigars are unique too for different reasons, and I would be doing myself such a disservice to not at least try them.
I am always willing to try something new, in fact I very much look forward to it now. Cigars utilizing more unconventional tobaccos from places like Brazil, Costa Rica and even Pennsylvania or Florida get me excited for the future. I will always have cigars that I revere and enjoy more than others, and dessert cigars definitely fall into that category. But gone are the days when I think a cigar (unless it’s rolled poorly) is just simply bad. They all have a place and special role to play, and now that I am no longer a “cigar child” I am ready to smoke them all!