“Smoke, Lies and the Nanny State” by Joe Jackson

A few days ago, my friend Daize sent me a link to Joe Jackson's (the musician) essay about smoking called "Smoke, Lies and the Nanny State". I just read it and thought I should share it with you.

The article tackles the issues of statistics used by antismoking zealots to back their arguments (it is very hard to actually prove that the lung cancer is directly linked to the smoking, let alone other 'smoking-related diseases'), it explains the hysteria of wide-spreading smoking bans and tells us who are the people behind the movement. Overall, a very well-written and informative article.

You can download the essay from here.

What’s your favorite cigar forum?

There are dozens of cigar-related forums out there and it is impossible to be an active member everywhere. I know that some of you are regular users and I would like to hear your opinion - what is your favorite cigar forum and why?

If I were to answer this question I would probably select Cigar Outcast. If you are looking to promote your own site, it's probably not the best choice (its 300 members are nothing compared to giants), but I really like the fast loading speed and the 'no-frills' attitude. The forum is by invitation only, if you'd like to get an invite let me know in the comments area.

What is your favorite cigar forum and why?

Bloggers who like cigars

Today, I would like to share a few links with you. These are great blogs run by people who enjoy a good cigar but blog about something else, like wine.

Wine by Benito


Benito writes about affordable wine and deliciously-looking food. You can also find a cigar review from time to time.
Visit the site...

Jacob Grier's Blog


Jacob Grier posts about coffee and alcoholic beverages. You should follow his regular updates on smoking bans.
Visit the site...

A Good Time with Wine


A Good Time with Wine is a relatively new wine blog. Matt, who's a hyper-active Twitter user, is a cigar smoker but doesn't post much about cigars (yet! you promised!).
Visit the site...

If you know other bloggers who enjoy sparking up a stogie, share the links in the comments area below.

Your preference sucks!

Today I saw a man buying a country music CD at the mall. “Country music?!?!”, I asked him, with a look of disgust.

Later, a lady at the grocery store was buying cherry Pop-Tarts. I explained to her that the strawberry-flavored Pop Tarts are far superior in every way, and that she definitely needed to make the switch.

Finally, I went to a friend’s house for dinner, but later refused to eat once I found out that he served a brand of ham other than the brand I prefer.

What kind of person acts this way? Unfortunately... Cigar smokers do.

Lately I’ve been noticing more and more acts of snobbery being committed by members of the cigar smoking community online and in my local shops. The comments I’m hearing range from polite to downright insulting, but the underlying message is the same: “your preference sucks.”

For those of us in the United States, 2009 will likely be the toughest, most oppressing year ever, in terms of our ability to enjoy a cigar. The poor economy will make it tough to justify the purchase, and even make it harder for local shops to remain in business. The restrictions on where we can smoke will reduce our opportunity. Upcoming tax increases could put cigars out of our financial reach.

Let’s not make it even tougher on our fellow brothers and sisters of the leaf by insulting their preference. Just like coffee or tea, Coke or Pepsi, people have taste preferences that can never be boiled down to a right or wrong choice. Even the cheapest cigars have a distinct flavor that somebody loves. Even the most expensive and highly rated cigars taste horrible to some people.

The bottom line is that the only person who should tell you what you like is... YOU.

So whether it’s a Montecristo or Macanudo, Acid or Aurora, Fonseca or Fuente, enjoy your cigar, respect your brothers and sisters of the leaf, and have a safe and happy 2009!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

In this short message I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. This was a great year and I am confident that the next one will be even better despite the current economic situation and smoking bans :) God bless you and your family.

Denis AKA Inspector

PS We've got some cool stuff planned for the next year, stay tuned! Thanks for your continued support.

Photo credit: Toni Blay

Top Non-Cuban Cigars of 2008

Oliva Serie V Torpedo

To continue our "best cigars of the year" series, here goes the list of top non-Cuban cigars of 2008 (you can see the best Cuban cigars of 2008 here). This time, it is a group project - I did a simple survey among my followers on Twitter. The results were as follows:

  1. Oliva Serie V. It got the most votes and I completely agree on the fact that this is one of the best non-Cuban cigars I smoked this year.
  2. Rocky Patel Decade. Exceptionally elegant. Again, this one would be on my own top 5 list as well.
  3. La Riqueza. I definitely have to familiarize myself with Pete Johnson's cigars... It seems like La Riqueza line is the one that really deserves some attention.
  4. Cubao. Can't imagine a "best of" list without Don Pepin Garcia's creations. Cubao finished in front of DPG Blue which also got a decent score.
  5. Padron 1926. This Nicaraguan classic is still a great smoke.

Runners-up: Rocky Patel Sun Grown, Ashton VSG, Illusione, Cruzado, Tatuaje Taino & Noella.

What are your non-Cuban cigars of 2008?

Top Cuban Cigars of 2008

Ramon Allones Specially Selected

Well, it's that time of the year. People are buying gifts, students are getting ready for their exams and cigar blogs are publishing their top & best lists. This is the first time we are doing this, hope you enjoy it.

  1. Ramon Allones Specially Selected. This must be the best Cuban cigar of the moment. Everytime I need a great smoke I can count on, I reach for a RASS, as well as many other smokers that I know. Let's hope they will manage to maintain high quality standards.
  2. Cohiba Seleccion Piramide. It is simply the most delicious cigar I smoked this year. Too bad it's a limited edition...
  3. Montecristo No. 2. Another torpedo. Thanks to better quality control, these are once again reliable and flavorful.
  4. Montecristo Petit Edmundo. Combines looks, flavor and drive. A must-try for real men :)
  5. H. Upmann Magnum 46. This cigar is completely different, but also earns its place in my rating. Elegant & perfectly balanced, this is the best corona gorda of this year.

Please add your favorite Cuban smokes of 2008 below. Non-Cuban top list is coming soon, stay tuned!

Pairing cigars with chocolate?

Pairing cigars with chocolate

We often discuss what is the best way to pair cigars with a drink. For my part, I've found a lot of different combinations that I like - they are red wine, cognac and port (as well as variations of port such as banyuls or riversaltes). There is less information however about pairing cigars with food. The House of Grauer has created the concept of chocolate and cigar combination and introduced the "Aficionado Collection" which is supposed to enrich the ties between the cacao bean and the tobacco leaf. Thierry at Grauer was kind enough to send me a sampler of the chocolates - I tried the pairing out.

This is definitely a high-end product. The chocolates are 'grand cru', which means that they originate from delimited geographic areas (similar to wine labels). The products are crafted and wrapped by hand. Of course, the good life comes at a certain price, the 'petite aficionado collection' (110 g, 14 pieces) is sold at $65.

A leaflet that comes with the box guides you through - it actually indicates what strength and flavor profile of a cigar should be paired with different chocolates. I found that the indications worked for me - for example, I really felt that French Organic Bee Pollen chocolate gave a lot of roundness to my full-bodied smoke (it was a Montecristo Edmundo) whereas Italian Lime (a chocolate stick filled with lime) acted as a counterpart because of its acidity - a very special experience.

I feel that it can be a nice gift idea to somebody who is a seasoned cigar smoker. I had a lot of fun reading descriptions for different chocolates and trying to detect what resulted from those pairings. A special product for a special moment.

You can browse and order the chocolates at the House of Grauer website.

Disclaimer: this is not a paid review.