I subscribe to numerous cigar publications, blogs, and newsletters and ran across an interesting article the other day. It was titled “Smoking a Wet Cigar” and showed someone holding a cigar under running tap water! My first thoughts before diving in and reading the article were, “What on earth is this person doing?!” All I could think was that this person was destroying a perfectly good cigar (and in this case a Cuban Ramon Allones!) by soaking it in water. So I read the article and found out this has been an ongoing discussion among cigar aficionados for a long time. Some say that this treatment enhances the smoking experience. Curious person that I am, I decided to try this myself.
I grabbed 2 identical cigars from my humidor, Romeo y Julieta Habana Reserves, and headed to the sink. I soaked one of the cigars and kept the other dry to see if there is any noticeable difference – or to see if I had possibly destroyed one of them in the process! The key, it turns out, is to not wet the filler or the cigar is ruined, so the recommendation is to hold it under running water for maybe 8 seconds with the cap towards the pouring water and open foot facing down. I accomplished this and yes, the wrapper was dripping water and definitely absorbed some but it seems like I succeeded and did not get the filler wet.
I clipped the cap and noticed that the wet one does take a bit more effort; I might try to use a punch next time! Lighting the wet cigar proved to be a bit difficult at first so I decided to let it rest about 2 minutes and try again… this proved to be successful! One noticeable result was the wrapper appearance. The dry wrapper had a nice oily sheen to it whereas the wet cigar had lost the sheen and lightened in color but also gained a very smooth and velvety feel.
I saw no noticeable difference in flavor other than a slightly cooler smoke on the wet cigar. The dry cigar had a much sharper flavor than the wet cigar and the wet cigar was just a tad more mellow without losing any flavor. The draw was the same on both cigars and the burn was very similar with the wet cigar having just a slightly more uneven burn. Both produced a good ash of similar colors that held on well and both produced a similar amount of smoke. So other than a slightly cooler smoke and a tiny bit of mellowing of flavors, the wet cigar was very much like its normal and dry companion.
An interesting test and another method for smoking cigars and perhaps useful if you have a cigar that is maybe a bit harsh for your liking and you’re looking to smooth out the rough edges. I may try this method in the future on some brands that I feel are a bit ragged and rough but for the majority of my cigars I will stay dry!
Steve Mungeer, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits Category Manager: Premium Cigars and Craft Beer
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