JEFF WALLACH By
Sure you can smoke a 460cc driver off the tee, but do you know the intricate fundamentals of smoking a good cigar?
I’ve had all the golf lessons I could
ever want (no, they didn’t help). but for
a primer on choosing the best cigar to
enjoy between lousy shots I turned to
bill Shindler, manager of the downtown
portland, oregon, rich’s Cigar Store,
who has been selling smoke for more
than 30 years.
Shindler is the david Leadbetter of
cigar smoking, though if you ask him
about his golf handicap he’s likely to re-
tort, “You mean other than my temper?”
Nattily dressed in a leather vest and
cigar motif necktie, Shindler begins
my stogie education by describing the
construction of a cigar, which consists
of the wrapper, binder, and filler. eighty
percent of the taste and flavor comes
from the wrapper, which is named after
its place of origin. the best wrappers
are grown in Connecticut (yes, really),
though Cameroon wrappers are also
quite good. a fine cigar wrapper will
exude a light, oily sheen and feel firm
yet pliable when squeezed.
just inside the wrapper lies the
binder—a thicker, coarser leaf that holds
the filler together and affects the burn
rate of the cigar. thicker binders equate
to a slower, cooler smoke.
Inside the binder, a good hand-rolled
cigar will contain long or whole-leaf fill-
er, which should produce ash at least an
inch in length. Most of the best tobacco
currently comes from three places: Ni-
caragua, Honduras, and the dominican
republic. although Cuban cigars still
carry a mystique because you can’t buy
them in the United States, Shindler as-
serts that other nations have developed
better crops. He adds that comparing
cigars is much like comparing french
and California wines—products from
different regions can be equally good.
In fact, cigars and wine share much
in common as both are influenced by
climate and soil and induce aficionados
to speak in a language that may sound
like utter frippery to outsiders.
the skills of a psychiatrist, a detective, and an accountant to find the
right smoke for you—whether a dainty,
inexpensive café crème or a swaggering,
once you’ve chosen a cigar you’ll
want to make sure to use it properly—
and by that I don’t just mean not lighting up in yoga class. all cigars feature a
cap on the end meant to hold the wrapper together, but which must be pierced
so that smoke will draw through into
Shindler warns smokers not to
clip below the cap line to ensure that
the cigar won’t unravel. He prefers a
punch or plug cut as opposed to using
a guillotine cutter (or your teeth). In an
emergency you can always poke the
sharp end of a golf tee through the center of the cap.
“Cigars can also be lit a thousand
ways,” Shindler says. “and this is a crucial part of the ritual.” although using a
piece of burning cedar (included in many
tube-enclosed cigars) is traditional, he
prefers a butane lighter.
to light a cigar, “hold it at a 45-de-
gree angle and slowly roast the tip so
that the gases burn off and the cigar can
acclimate to the heat. It’s like warming
cognac. Hold the flame away from the
tip and draw to it with a soft, gentle pull.
rotate to get an even burn.”
He lights a fuente don Carlos to
demonstrate, and immediately becomes calmer, more reflective. “take a
moment to savor it. waft it under your
nose,” he practically drawls.
after that, it proves difficult to get
Shindler—who seems lost in a cloudy
reverie— to answer any more questions, but he does offer the following
n Don’t judge a cigar until you’re ½ inch
into it. As you smoke the taste and flavor
n Never put a cigar on the ground while
golfing; you’ll end up smoking fertilizer.
n On a windy day, rotate the cigar or it
may burn unevenly up one side.
n Puff once every three minutes. Golfers
often smoke too fast because they’re
walking and may experience an
adrenaline rush from hitting a good shot
(a good shot?).
n If Shindler had one cigar to smoke
before he dies, he’d choose the Padron
Anniversario, the richest,
most fulfilling available.
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