There are truths in life that we are forced to swallow, no matter how much they might make us choke. For cigar lovers, one of these truths can often be found lurking in the darkness, peering out from behind fire hydrants and rose bushes in hopes of not being seen. Yet, it cannot hide forever; every person who smokes on a regular basis is bound to discover this dismal reality: there is such a thing as a bad cigar.
I know this is hard to hear for you, the cigar lover. A person who reveres cigars, placing them on pedal stools and allowing them to ride shotgun in your car as your family crams in the back seat, you might find yourself in shock at this fact. But, before you begin rocking silently in the corner, keep in mind that bad cigars are pretty easy to find: faulty stogies don't need to be placed in a police line up in order to be spotted. The following are some tips to help you know when a cigar isn't worth being lit:
You bought it at the local grocery store: It's important to keep in mind that good cigars are not typically sold at the local market, placed in between the Juicy Fruit gum and the double-A batteries. They are also not sold for only two or three dollars. When you purchase a cigar for 2.50 from a Piggy Wiggly's, that cigar will taste like a cigar for 2.50 from Piggy Wiggly's. To avoid this, splurge a little and only purchase cigars from places that don't also have an entire aisle dedicated to incontinence.
Your cigar is so dry it makes the Sahara look damp: Does your cigar ever have that not so fresh feeling? If it does, one reason maybe because it does not contain enough humidity, a problem that leaves a cigar dry and stale. When a cigar dries out, it's hard to save. This is because the cigar has lost many of its essential oils, losing its flavor in the process. However, if the cigar isn't too dry, it may be possible to revive it by placing it in a humidor and gradually increasing the humidity. If the cigar is so dry that the wrapper has begun to crack and peel, the only thing you can really save is time, by throwing the cigar away. To avoid this dryness from happening, be sure to keep your cigars stored properly inside a balanced humidor.
Your cigar smells bad: When things smell bad, they usually taste bad; these two senses just kind of go hand in hand. For this reason, smelling a cigar before lighting it is a good way to prevent a bad smoking experience. If you notice something off about the odor - it smells stale, moldy, or just plain awful - chances are the cigar will be a bad smoke. This is a great trick to use before purchasing particular stogies: listening to your nose can prevent you from spending money on a cigar not worth buying.
You suspect they are imitations: Nearly every city has a vendor selling cigars whose authenticity they will attest to, swearing on a stack of tobacco leaves. While they can promise all they want, the proof is in the pudding, or in this case, the puffing. Nothing will ruin a cigar tasting experience like an imitation cigar; it will do to smoking what "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" did to toast. Luckily, fake cigars are usually fairly easy to spot. There are three main things to watch out for: cigars with an inexpensive price that seems too good to be true, cigars that are damaged, or a cigar vendor that seems overly eager to make a sale. Watching out for these three things can help keep you from purchasing an imitation cigar, thus keeping you from inhaling bad smoke.
Your Cigar Tastes Like Dirt: Cigars can embody several different flavors. They can taste like Earth or spice. Perhaps they can even taste like chicken. But, no matter what, they should never taste like dirt. Dirt is just not a popular flavor. If a cigar happens to taste stale, musty, or like you are scoping soil from the garden and placing the shovel in your mouth, you will know you are smoking a cigar that has gone bad or a cigar that is was born bad.
Most cigars are not faulty. But every now and then a bad one may pop up. Sometimes you may be able to spot them, other times you may realize they are flawed a puff too late. When this happens, the only solution is to get back up on the horse: find another cigar, and try again.