The Ultimate Cigar Book
SPOILER ALERT: Female roleras did not roll cigars on their inner thighs, but some workers do sort tobacco leaves by color on the tops of their legs to this day. I know, kinda disappointing, right?
If you’re passionate about cigars, you probably already own a dog-eared copy. If you’re NOT the least bit interested in learning more about cigars and are perfectly happy with what you know about that stogy in your maw, more power to you. For those who want to dig a little deeper and learn more about the Zen of cigar smoking, have I got a treat for you.
I hate when someone mentions something about cigars that I’ve never heard about. It sounds official. It sounds authentic. Then why the hell haven’t I heard about it? Out pops the phone, or I execute a perfect dismount out of bed and make a bee line to the computer.
I thought I’d heard it all. Seen it all. Knew it all. I came to the crushing realization that my knowledge, and thus my appreciation, only scratched the surface. I was giving advice to friends. Not bad advice, just advice lacking a thorough understanding and any meaningful perspective.
Its embarrassing when you’ve imparted wisdom to someone about cigars and its inaccurate and sometimes just plain wrong. It costs you credibility and hinders those you honestly meant to help. Even harder is admitting to yourself that you need to do your homework to manage your own cigar awareness and, potentially, enjoyment.
I just needed to buck up and understand there were A LOT of holes in my knowledge. I resolved to do my due diligence. I still make a few mistakes here and there and it’s usually due to bad information I came across from someone who hadn’t done THEIR due diligence. What comes around goes around.
Well, part of my learning curve involved both getting back to basics as well as getting into the weeds of a fascinating industry. Subconsciously, the more my passion for cigars grew, the more I needed to sort out all manner of things about cigars.
I read magazines, forum discussions and social media posts. I researched all about the people and cigar industry on the web. I chatted with friends, folks at the local B&Ms and even a few industry icons. It wasn’t enough. If anything, it just raised more questions and fueled my curiosity further.
I concluded that all the information I’d gleaned over the years just simply wasn’t connecting all the dots. One day, I’d read some reviews on some books that might help. Everyone seemed to be hailing one book in particular: The Ultimate Cigar Book by Richard Hacker. I liked the superlative nature of the “ultimate” part and I thought to myself, hey that must mean it’s all-encompassing, right? The jury is still out on the all-encompassing part, but as it turns out it was just what I needed.
Hacker uses his wit, experience and wisdom to cover a lot of ground that includes a concise history, geography, manufacturing and storage, smoking etiquette and accessories. There are almost limitless practical observations and insights and a thorough listing of the current cigar brands offered.
He has amassed numerous international accolades for his writings on various forms of tobacco and has been hailed by many as the “Cigar Czar.” The first edition was published in 1993, but Hacker has updated the book periodically. The most recent 4th edition was released in 2015 and includes 20+ years of updates that the evolution of cigar smoking demands. The book is very well written and is quite engaging. He is NOT a snob, but more of a down-to-earth mentor. He’s just a BOTL, like me, who loves cigars and wants to share what he’s learned. Any cigar lover should own this book. I find myself returning to the book fairly often to check up on various things. For example, I found his step-by-step cure for a Lacioderma beetle infestation fascinating…and useful!
The Ultimate Cigar Book is not just a learning experience but is also a vehicle for getting more enjoyment and appreciation out of your stick collections. Whether you’re a bargain basement kinda smoker or one who likes the crème de la crème of the ultra-pricey vintage cigars, this book will satisfy your itch. Need help on pairings? Check. Want to choose cigars based on strength? Check. Want to hone your skills on busting bogus Bolivars? Bingo. Need advice on dealing with militant anti-cigar soccer Moms? He’s gotcha covered there, too. This book is popular so be prepared to shell out $20+ for even a used copy in great condition. Personally, I found the best deals on Thriftbooks.com (https://www.thriftbooks.com/). – In Fumo Pax!