La Aurora mater blender, Manuel Inoa, is passionate about his work and the art of smoking a cigar. In the conversation with him in this video, he shows his love for tobacco and offers tips on how to smoke a cigar.
Normally, when you’re about to cut a cigar, what do you do before?
Well, normally before cutting a cigar I will use my sense of sight. When enjoying a cigar all five senses come into play. So, I observe the craftsmanship that went into the cigar and then I proceed to cut. One should take care not to cut too low. This can cause the wrapper to unravel. So, I cut. I like to use my sense of smell too, also perorma a cold draw. The cold draw gives us hints of things to come. I can take these flavor notes and later observe how they develop into the smoke once we finally light.
How does one start with a tasting note of cigars? Does one go off the four basic flavors or should one try to dive straight in?
Okay, the first thing we need to establish is that your palate really only works to identify five basic flavors. And for cigars, it really goes down to only four, the fifth we use for food almost exclusively, more specifically, meat. Our palates can really only identify is something is sweet, spicy, bitter or salty. By incorporating our sinuses to the equation we have the ability to identify thousands of flavor notes every single one of these flavor notes is tied to a memory in our past. That’s why I usually say you don’t choose a cigar to merely smoke it, it’s more about flavor. How do you do that? Well, you focus on all the sensory cues that can be traced back to your infancy and specific moments and it’s purely memory-based. When we mention an earthy note, it’s probably not because we have eaten dirt before but because in our memory there’s probably a sensory cue about a time you walked along a dry, dirt road. And then suddenly, you remember how the earth’s smell changes when it rains, and you can perceive that. I find it pleasant. It’s all in our senses tied to emotions in our past. Since our memories already help us identify the flavor notes, it makes it very easy to classify as earthy, leathery, spicy, etc. It will always depend on which cigar we’re smoking.
Do they evolve in the same cigar?
Yes, of course they do! I’ve always said that a good cigar should evolve as it goes. That’s why we divide the cigar into thirds or fourths, whichever you’d prefer. A linear cigar is a boring cigar for me. Imagine getting only a wood flavor throughout the smoke. Or smoked wood, even, like some whiskies; it’s rather exhausting. Your cigar should evolve, and most importantly, get better throughout the smoke. When it comes to format, in theory it should not change. When it comes to format, in theory it should not change. The format is just a way to accommodate the blend to a variety of smokers. A smoker who does not want to open their mouth widely, will probably prefer a Corona or Figurado over a Churchill. What you often will note is that smaller ring gauges have more concentrated flavor; allowing more pronounced flavor than in thicker cigars. It’s an effect of having tighter airflow. With a wider ring gauge, the higher airflow will water down the flavors from the tobacco slightly. In general, the format aims to accommodate the cigar to different people.
So, one can say they can prioritize format over blend when pick cigars?
It’s not particularly the case. First of all, if we bring up format, it has to be one you like. Let’s say your favorite is Corona Gorda with a 47 ring gauge. That’s what you smoke. That does not mean that a cigar from X producer will be of your liking or not just because it is your favorite format. So now you’ve decided you have a favorite format, it’s time to try a large range of cigars to decide which one you like best. And this time, it won’t be the format you’ll be favoring, but the blend of tobaccos that make the cigar; and you’ll see that one thing does not have to do with the other. 47 ring gauge, 6 inches. That’s my format, great! Now I try everything. The competition and my own, in that format. As a point of reference. Right. Preference for format has little to do with the brand, and all about comfort. After you’re comfortable with a format, you look at brands and their blends and what you want. What would I like to smoke? Strong? Light? How long you have to smoke it, that sort of thing. For example: there are many kinds of rum. And you can try pairing them with your cigars. I have my personal choice…