I have a ton of cigar accessories, some of which are pretty specialized. You are probably already familiar with Screwpop; these guys are well-known for their keychain cigar accessories including punch and scissor cigar cutters. I have always enjoyed their products, so I was stoked when I found out about the new Screwpop Ashtray, “the world’s first cigar centric ashtray”, which I'm very a happy to have a chance to try today.
The Screwpop Ashtray is very sleek-looking, and designed out of melamine. Melamine offers a couple of advantages: it is lightweight, and it can stand up to high heat. The tray is pretty compact, and features a perpendicular orientation for the cigar. This allows you to get a nice view of your cigar while you are smoking, which is quite handy if you write a lot of cigar reviews and want to constantly check up on the ash and burn line and so on.
Functionally, there are some other cool features especially for cigars. For example, there is a ramp which the ash slides down from the holder into the bowl. There is also a cylinder which protrudes from the tray which you can use to knock ash off.
All in all, the Screwpop Ashtray is a very cool tray which functions well and is a lot sturdier than it feels (it is rare to find a lightweight material this strong). About my only complaint is that it cannot hold a whole lot of ash, so it can fill up a little quickly - which means that during a gathering, you either need to empty it regularly, or make sure everyone has his/her own ashtray. Aside from that, it is awesome and knocks the socks off of any standard cigarette tray.
Courtesy of Screwpop Tool, we are giving away 3 Screwpop Ashtrays! To enter, all you have to do is comment. We will pick the winners randomly by next Tuesday and post their names on the blog.
Brrr… can you believe that winter is already here? There is a lot I love about this time of the year, especially holidays and spending time with family and friends. But I pretty much dread it from a cigar smoking perspective. I can’t smoke in the house, and there are not many cigar-friendly lounges anywhere near where I live. That means I have to smoke outdoors. And it gets cold here.
You can’t really enjoy a good stogie when you’re just sitting there shivering and wishing you could go inside. And it can take a couple of hours to get through a cigar, unless you're smoking something really short like the Romeo y Julieta Petit Churchill or a Nub, so you have to find a way to stay warm if you’re going to get through the winter. How do I do it? I stock up on winter accessories. Here is what I recommend!
1. Pick up some fingerless gloves or heated glove liners
Keeping your hands warm is a must! But at the same time, you need to be able to actually use your fingers to hold your cigar. For that, heavy-duty gloves are obviously not going to cut it.
So what I recommend is that you pick up some of those fingerless gloves which keep your hands warm, but give you all the dexterity you need. A pair of such gloves will set you back around $10. You can even buy gloves with flaps that go over where your fingers are. Another alternative is just to buy heated glove liners. These have fingers, but they are made of thin material since they are designed to fit inside your actual gloves. So they offer you a perfect compromise between a full-glove and a fingerless glove in terms of warmth and dexterity.
2. Grab some heat packs for your gloves
I am also a fan of those little heat packs you can fit inside your gloves (some gloves have a special pocket for the heat pack). If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, these are packets which are popular with skiers and snowboarders. They contain a safe, inert mixture of chemicals that react and generate heat when they are exposed to the air. Once you activate them, they can provide you with hours of warmth. You can even store a half-used pack in an airtight container, and it will give you more heat later. These things rock!
3. Get some tubos for your cigars
Not all outdoor challenges in winter involve your own comfort. Both the dryness and the sharp drop in temperature outdoors can cause your cigar to split open. For this problem I have a few suggestions:
Keep your cigar warm as long as possible. If you have to carry it around outside for a while, make sure it is in one of your inner pockets or in your hand.
Consider keeping your cigar inside a tubo if you’re going to be out for a while before lighting up. This will help to lock in the moisture.
Cut the cigar indoors where it is warm so that you don’t shatter the cap.
Usually I bring a tubo with me if I’m going on a walk or taking my cigar somewhere during the wintertime. Otherwise, I just cut it while I’m indoors and then carry it outside in my hand and smoke it right away.
4. Buy an outdoor heater
If you have a dedicated smoking spot outdoors in the winter, consider investing in a patio heater. Some are small and portable, and many of them include wheels. You can set up the heater wherever you need it and enjoy a smoke in real comfort. Depending on your patio config, you might need a bigger "restaurant" model. Keep in mind that they tend to consume propane tanks like crazy, so this will require a further investment.
5. Make sure you are equipped with a lighter that can handle winter weather conditions
Some lighters struggle in cold temperatures. Butane lighters need to be kept warm to work. If you use one of these, hold it in your hand or carry it in an inner pocket until you are ready to use it. A triple or a dual flame lighter is preferable because of wind. If you find the butane lighter unreliable, consider instead opting for a Zippo-type lighter. You should find this more dependable in winter temperatures. Make sure you choose one which will be able to perform even in harsh, windy conditions and won’t blow out.
A couple of final items of advice. First, bundle up when you are smoking outside! I usually am wearing several layers and a heavy coat. Putting a couple of those warm glove packets in my shoes also helps a lot. Also, wear a hat. You lose most of your heat through your hands, feet, and head, so if you can avoid that, you will feel a lot better.
I also tend to stick with petit coronas and short robustos. I usually steer away from stogies that are going to take two hours, and stick with those that are ideal for a shorter span of time. That way I can really enjoy myself and not worry about whether I’m going to get tired of the cold in an hour (that would just be a waste of a good cigar).
Staying warm and enjoying your cigars outdoors in the winter can be a challenge, but for me it’s definitely worth the effort! Hopefully you find some of these tips and tricks useful. But I know I can always use more suggestions. What are your favorite outdoor winter cigar accessories?What are your tricks for staying warm?
If you’re just getting into smoking cigars, a lighter is one of the essential items you’ll need. And if you’ve been smoking for years? Then you know that there’s a lighter for every occasion. Readers often ask us about our favorite lighters or those that we'd recommend.
The five cigar lighters featured in this article were designed for ease-of-use, functionality and style. They’ll make a statement wherever you go, and they’ll get the job done flawlessly!
We didn't include luxury ($100+) cigar lighters in this selection because those we've owned were often inferior in terms of reliability (Dunhill I am looking at you). And if you're looking for a tabletop cigar lighter, don't forget to check Robustojoe's extensive guide published a few months ago.
You may remember our reviews for a few other Screwpop Tool accessories, like the Screwpop Cigar Punch. They’re a great company that makes some handy and innovative cigar supplies, and recently we received their newest product to try, the Screwpop Cigar Cutter.
The Screwpop Cigar Cutter is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a gadget designed to make it fast and easy to cut your cigars. It’s a tiny thing, not much bigger than a straight razor, and not too far off in appearance either. It’s small enough to fit on your keychain, doubles as a bottle opener (because really, why not?), and is flat enough to go inside your wallet. You can take it with you on the go. It’s perfect for the golf course or anywhere else.
Is it the sharpest cigar cutter we’ve ever seen? No, it’s not, and there may be times when you would want something a little more heavy-duty. But it is easy to use. It’s almost effortless to cut tapered cigars. As for the rest, even those with higher ring gauges aren’t too tricky to deal with. You set the cigar upright and hold it steady with one hand while you fit the cigar cutter over the end with the other. Once you have the fit just right, you just pinch the sides together, and the end usually comes right off. It’s easy to make adjustments if you have to. Incidentally, we tested it on bottles too, and it’s a cinch to use for that purpose as well.
What’s the ring at the bottom for? That’s just a handy attachment you can use for your keychain and so on. It makes it easy to carry the cutter with you wherever you go. You never know when you’ll need a cigar cutter handy, and this way, you’ll always have one.
All in all, it’s a great little gadget, sleek, simple, sophisticated, and very affordably priced—just $14.95.
Excited to try it? Courtesy of Screwpop Tool, we’re giving away three of these cutters to our valued readers! Entering is easy. Just leave a comment on this post! Tell us about your favorite cigar accessory or any Screwpop Tool products you’ve had the pleasure of trying.
This contest is open internationally. In one week, the winners will be randomly selected. Thank you for entering, and good luck to all our entrants!
Today we've got another article from Nikki Glenn, a cigar aficionadafrom St. Louis and a violinist entertainer for private, corporate and special events worldwide. She loves learning about and smoking cigars as much as possible.
[Scroll down to the bottom of the article for a video review, and to see the cedar spills in action!]
One of the aspects I love best about cigar smoking is that it is an activity that can be supremely sophisticated, or extremely down to earth. Cigars go just as well with blue jeans as they do evening wear, and enhance the look of both. In my mind, the cigar spill is a throwback to another time, when everyone dressed for dinner; using one to light a cigar is, by its very nature, an exercise in elegance and enjoyment.
Cigar Reserve, located in Lake Oswego, Oregon, creates a very unique-looking cedar spill for aficionados. The spills are made from grade A Spanish cedar logs from Portugal, then shipped to North Carolina for cutting to the specified thickness, then cut into the striking saber shape. The spills can also be laser-engraved for customization. According to Cigar Reserve, using their spills is of great benefit to the smoking experience: a soft, clean, butane-free flame, and an increased enhancement of the cigar's flavor.
When I was offered the opportunity to try the cedar spills offered by Cigar Reserve, I had a great deal of misgivings. I'd never actually used one to light a cigar, so I had visions of setting either my hair, my clothes, or my house on fire. (Please understand that I'm so paranoid about fire that when I first got an outdoor fire pit, I only burned teeny, tiny pieces of wood in it because I was afraid of a spark setting the house on fire). So, I decided it would be best to attempt this in the company of others (with a fire extinguisher at the ready in case things went terribly wrong). I also really wanted the opinions of other smokers, to get other perspectives than my own, so I took some to my usual hangout and shared them with a few of the veteran smokers.
If you’ve bought a humidor, why would you need to add a secondary humidification system? It may sound counterintuitive, but if you’re in this situation, you know that humidors don’t always do their jobs perfectly. Sometimes they simply are not very efficient. As a rule, you want your humidity level to be somewhere around 68-72%.
Some humidors will run a little lower than that, and may need a boost. Other times, they may run around the lower end of that range, and you might prefer a bit more humidity (72% instead of 68% for example). Or you might have a humidor with a seal that isn’t perfect, and lets some of the humidity leak out. Perhaps you have an older humidor that you bought or inherited, and it simply doesn’t work as well as it could. You also may have dryness problems if you suddenly add a big batch of dry cigars to your humidor. Those cigars will suck all the humidity right out of the air, which can then ironically cause all your stogies to dry out.
Whatever your situation, you can give your humidifier a boost (or simply a replacement...) by adding a humidification system. There are a number of low-cost products you can buy which will help you to maintain the humidity level that you want. These are all cheap, easy solutions, and they can save you money if you don’t want to replace your humidor. Let’s take a look at some popular products and their pros and cons.
Finding the right cigar lighter is a personal matter. We all have our preferences, and there are lots of lighter styles from which to choose. But ultimately, what we cigar smokers require from a lighter is universal: a solid flame that lights each and every time we pull the trigger. That’s not a lot to ask, but over the years I’ve been amazed at how many pocket lighters fail within the first few months of use. The only such lighter I’ve been satisfied with is the S.T. Dupont MaxiJet. Although relatively expensive ($150 street price), it’s an investment worth making.
But everyday cigar smoking lends itself more to a tabletop lighter. One popular model is the Vector Megapump. I’ve used this lighter and it seems to works well. Not having owned one, I can’t attest to its reliability. And at prices above $100, it too is an investment. But there are two lighters I’ve been using, literally for years, and both are my workhorses for everyday cigar smoking: the Blazer Piezo Micro Torch and the Blazer ES-1000. These run in the $50 range.
The secret to the reliability of these lighters is the fact that neither is actually a cigar lighter. They are jeweler’s torches, designed for prolonged use and ruggedness. Yet they make the perfect cigar lighter. The torch flame is strong and pointed, directing the heat exactly where you want it. And with huge fuel tanks, they require infrequent refueling. I’ve become so dependent on the Blazer that I carry one in my cigar bag. The poor little MaxiJet doesn’t get much use anymore.
If you want a solid, dependable, and economical cigar lighter, I recommend getting a Blazer. Either unit is terrific, although lighting the Piezo Micro Torch requires first turning on the gas, then pushing the ignition. The ES-1000 is a one-touch operation. One caveat is that some newer ES-1000 units have a locking mechanism that is a pain to operate. My friend got one of those and we immediately broke off the annoying plastic lock. I can’t say enough about these invaluable cigar accessories. I hope this bit of information leads you all to a better cigar smoking experience.
Recently I was sent a free copy of a new picture book called From Seeds to Cigars by William R. Miller. If you’re interested in learning how tobacco is grown and processed and manufactured into cigars, this is a great pictorial step-by-step which goes into cigar manufacturing in-depth.
Who is William R. Miller? He’s a cigar enthusiast who has been smoking since the 70s. In 2006, he began working at Famous Smoke Shop as a graphic designer. This gave him a lot of inside insights into the industry, and of course plenty of time to smoke cigars. During his time at Famous, he had the chance to take a trip to Estili, Nicaragua, and Danli, Honduras, where cigars are made. While he was on his trip, William realized he wanted to write a book, and started snapping pictures and researching.
What’s the book like? Available from Amazon at $12.99, it’s short (only around 25 pages), which may be a detractor at the price point, but it still makes for a nice coffee table book with the bright, colorful pictures and simple explanations (it’d also be a great choice for a table at a cigar lounge). From Seeds to Cigars does a wonderful job illustrating the manufacturing process so that you can easily understand how certain processes (like curing or fermenting) affect the final product. It’d make a great gift, especially for a cigar newbie who wants to glean a better understanding of how cigars are made. The design of the book is very nice, and reflects an appreciation for craftsmanship.
Courtesy of William, we’re giving away three copies of From Seeds to Cigars to our readers! To enter into the drawing, just post a comment below.
Contest open internationally. We'll announce the winners in one week.