Friday, May 11, 2012

Cigar shopping in Cyprus

Last week I went on vacation to Cyprus and since I heard that the Casa del Habano in Nicosia (which is the capital and named Lefkosia in greek) had good prices on cigars and a good selection, I decided to check it out.

I didn't take a picture of the upstairs humidor.

So here's what I bought :












I also visited the duty free cigar shop in the Charles-de-Gaulle airport on my way to Cyprus and pick up a box of French REs:



Saturday, January 7, 2012

Next generation of cigars beads

This is a new kind of silica cigar beads that will soon be for sale on eBay.

Cigorange humidifier beads© (silica gel cigar beads)

Why pay more for lesser quality and potentially dangerous beads ?
Cigorange humidifier beads© are made with pure amorphous silica and a safe activating coloring agent that turns from orange to dark green as the humidity level rises. No more guessing the humidity level of your humidor or when to add distilled water. Just by looking at your Cigorange beads you will know when to add water: when they start returning to orange, it's time to add water.

Lesser quality blue activating coloring beads contain cobalt chloride, which has recently been discovered to possibly cause cancer by inhalation. Why risk your health with anything but Cigorange humidifier beads© ?
Cigorange humidifier beads© are the same silica gel beads that have been used with confidence for many years by specialized industries in medical, electronic, optical and communication instruments and devices. They are now available for the first time to cigar enthusiasts to help maintain and protect their precious collections.

No more fiddling with propylene glycol solutions, gel humidifier jars or humidifier pads and the constant additional costs of maintaining them.
With Cigorange humidifier beads©, an occasional addition of distilled water is all you need to keep your humidor’s RH. They’ll last for years !
All you have to do is place your Cigorange humidifier beads© in a shallow dish or in a fine mesh bag and spray around 70% of the beads with distilled water and you’re good to go !
(adding anything else than distilled water to your beads will ruin them)

Cigorange humidifier beads© are available in ½ pound and 1 pound bags.
½ pound will regulate up to 2.5 cubic feet (4320 cu. in.) of volume
1 pound will regulate up to 5.0 cubic feet (8640 cu. in.) of volume

We suggest using double the amount of beads needed for the size of your humidor, for added stability and a quicker return to optimal humidity after your humidor has been opened.
Cigorange humidifier beads© use the same technology as museums do to preserve precious artifacts.
Every cigar smoker knows that a constant and proper humidification is crucial for the storing and aging of cigars. Improper humidity can lead to mold problems and/or draw and burn issues.

The Cigorange humidifier beads© will start to work as soon as you put them in your humidor.

Is your RH too high ? Cigorange humidifier beads© will adjust it.

Is your RH too low ? Cigorange humidifier beads© will adjust it.

Once your preferred RH is reached, the Cigorange humidifier beads© will constantly regulate and maintain it. Simple and effective.

The Cigorange humidifier beads© will BOTH absorb AND release moisture to help maintain a constant  level of humidity. They will last many years,  and do not use messy or costly propylene glycol solutions. They are VERY low maintenance.

Simply add a little distilled water and let the technology do the rest! When the Cigorange humidifier beads© begin to turn from green to orange*, all you have to do is add a little distilled water.

What could be more effective and simple?
* : the color of your beads will depend on the RH you decide to maintain.

What is included with your purchase :
-       Cigorange humidifier beads©
-       Instructions

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cigar aging experiment - first tasting

I waited a long time for an occasion to smoke one of my experimental cigars by no fault of mine (almost), with winter in Canada making it difficult to find a place and time to smoke.

First off, here's a pic of all ten experimental cigars. The original 8 as in my original post and 2 more sent to me graciously by SeeGar from the the CA forum, which have been naturally aged.

Just as a reminder :

Cigars 1-2 : high temperature, low humidity
Cigars 3-4 : one month in the freezer at -17.9°C/0°F
Cigars 5-6 : MSG added
Cigars 7-8 : control group, left in my main humidor with the remaining cigars of that box
Cigars 9-10 : aged cigars

So of course, which cigar did I pick to start the second phase of the experiment ?

#5 full of MSG goodness ! Or as others would say, full of &#@$?% ...

As you can see in the picture on cigars 5 and 6, a part of the MSG that the wrapper was exposed to did form a kind of salty residue once the solution evaporated. When putting the cigar to my lips, it gave off a kind of salty/meaty taste, almost the same as tasting MSG directly from the jar.

I used a punch cutter and tested the cold draw : deep tobacco flavor that was very pleasing, the kind of cold draw aroma you get when you know you're in for something special.

I lit the cigar with my trusty 7$ Ronson torch lighter and started slowly puffing away. Right away it was very noticeable that it was a different taste compared to the regular Cremas I've smoked before.

It tasted the same as the cold draw, deep, satisfying tobacco with no bitterness. In the first 1/4 to 1/2 inch, I'd say it was medium/full. As I continued to smoke, the intensity of flavour went to very full and stayed like that up to the half way point or so. After that it went back down to medium/full and then medium, though it stayed a little bit stronger than a "unmodified" Crema. The fullness of flavor reminded me of a good non-cuban cigar, but with cuban flavour. I haven't smoked all the "popular/classic" cubans yet, but I've smoked enough of them to say that it was as strong or stronger than a great majority of them. As for the aroma of the cigar, it stayed pretty much the same all the way through to the end, no change there, as a Crema doesn't have a rainbow of flavours to begin with. It still remains the best cheap and cheerful cuban cigar for me (I do like all Jose L. Piedra's, but the Crema is my favorite)

For the draw/burn/smoke characteristics, the draw was spot on (though I'm pretty sure the MSG had no impact on that), the burn was very good (I didn't have to relight or do some touch ups) and the amount of smoke was very good. I don't think the MSG had something to do with the amount of smoke, but it seemed to me that there was more of it than usual.

 As I was thinking about that cigar today, I was wondering why the surge in intensity after half an inch or so and then less of it. Usually in a cigar, when the strength builds up the more you smoke it, it never goes down, to the point that pretty often you have to stop smoking it because it's too strong and/or bitter. Than I remembered how I applied the MSG : a little bit all over the wrapper and a lot in the first third or so with the syringe. So when the burn line reached the MSG inside the cigar, the intensity of flavour went up and when it passed it, the flavour went down. So I guess the MSG has a real impact on the tobacco or more precisely on the way we perceive it as it heightens the sensitivity of taste buds and/or olfactory receptors.

So the mellower, more refined taste of an aged cigar (if I can describe it like that) wasn't there at all, quite the contrary. It was more like a Crema on steroids, but still very good. I'd say that the MSG improved somewhat what a Crema is, regarless of strength, but not much. But if you go for a stronger cigar, than the addition of MSG is something to consider, because I would smoke that cigar again since it was pretty good !

Now would I or will I try again to add MSG to different cigars to improve on the fullness of flavour, meaning the deepness of the aromas and overall strength ? I don't think so. I'd rather just buy a more flavorful cigar if that's what I'm looking for instead of adding something to one. It's not because I don't want to add a nasty chemical to my cigars, as MSG is naturally occuring in a lot of food we eat, I just want to taste the cigar in it's natural state.

So what about the freezing or heat treatment I've done to other test cigars, would I do that again if it turns out that it's something wothwhile doing ? Yes I would as it's just changing what's already there. 

I still have one other MSG modified cigar to smoke, but that one will be smoked in the double blind part of the experiment. I will have however to clean off the MSG residue on the wrapper so I can't recognize it.

So that's all for now, I'll try post an update as soon as I can.

In the mean time, HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OF YOU !!!