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A cigar is lit by drawing the heat of a flame through the body of the tobacco. Unavoidably, along with the flame are drawn the not-so-great by-produts of that fire. The type of fire used dictates what those by-products are, and how they affect taste and aroma.

The best tool to use is another cigar, which allows you to draw only pure tobacco smoke through your cigar, without unfavorable flavors or aromas. Next best is lighting up from a loose piece of tobacco, but loose tobacco leaves are not easy to find.

The most reasonable alternative is to use a flaming piece of cedar wood or a cedar punk. The flavor of the cedar will enhance (not detract from) the tobacco taste. Many smoking bars and quality cigar stores offer cedar punks or cedar matches.

Way down on our list of lighting tools are matches not made of cedar. Ordinary matches add a harshness to the first few puffs off your cigar, and a disagreeable smell.

Use a lighter only in a dire emergency! Expect a fuel-like taste and aroma. If you must use a lighter, butane or gas lighters are preferable to any liquid fuel lighter.

“CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR!”

Bet you’ve heard THAT phrase a few times. Ever wondered about its origin? This old expression comes from the past practice of giving cigars as prizes for winning games involving good aim at fairs and festivals.

Take a Close Look at this Month’s Cigar Selections . . . Featured Countries of Origin from your Favorite Cigar of the Month Club: NICARAGUA, HONDURAS and THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

1) ROMEO y JULIETA VINTAGE  Nationality: Dominican   Appearance: MILD bodied, 6.25; 54 ring; Bound in an oily, silky, hand-picked Connecticut cloak

Personality: Larger than many, this lovely smoke is in limited supply, sought after for her natural smooth flavors and perfectly fermented tobaccos. Expect notes of cedar, a slight pepperiness, and natural tobacco sweetness. She will not disappoint you.

2) GRAN HABANO ZULU ZULU MAZ PAZ BLACKNationality: Honduran Appearance: MEDIUM bodied, 5.0; 54 ring; Sporting an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper

Personality: This little Honduran long-filler beauty offers soothing notes of vanilla, cedar, earth and sweet cream. Any time of day, her balanced complexity is notable, but never overwhelming.

3) CULT OMETEPE GRANDE CHURCHILLNationality: Nicaraguan Appearance: MEDIUM-FULL bodied, 7.0; 54 ring; Beautiful in an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper

Personality: This boutique-crafted big girl will have your attention from first glance. Bold, hearty and highly unique, she produces a truckload of warm, chewy flavors baked into every puff—red pepper, rustic roasted nuts, leather, earth, spice & cedar.

4) EL PRIMER MUNDO LA HERMANDAD MADURO EMBAJADORNationality: Dominican Appearance: FULL bodied, 6.0; 52 ring; With a maduro Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper leaf

Personality: Aged Nicaraguan long-fillers and binder add depth to this cigar’s complexity, promoting notes of cocoa, spice and coffee. She’s a home-town girl, from the Pinar del Rio factory in the Dominican Republic.

5) E.P. CARRILLO CARDINAL MADURO 52Nationality: Dominican  Appearance: FULL bodied, 5.0; 52 ring; Enticing in a dark, oily CT Broadleaf maduro wrapper

Personality: Sports a savory array of hearty flavors, starting with the enticing dark wrapper, then her long-filler core, hugged by a Nicaraguan binder. Spicy-sweetness take center stage, with added notes of earth, cedar, coffee and cocoa drawing you in.

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Tracie Burket
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