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Take a Whiff...
Walk into a cigar shop any given day and within minutes you’re guaranteed to see at least one customer with a cigar to his nostrils, sniffing the foot. This is a common practice used by most cigar enthusiasts. What exactly is he looking for, and can you really determine anything just by smelling the foot? In many cases, yes. By smelling the foot, one can quickly determine several characteristics which could sway your purchase. Here’s a short list of some of the most common trigger-scents:
Firm White Ash...
There is a common misconception floating around the cigar world that a good cigar is denoted by a solid, white ash. While a solid ash does signify a well-made cigar, the latter does not. The color of a cigar’s ash is a product of the soil in which the tobacco was grown, and more specifically, the amount of magnesium within the soil itself. For example, Nicaraguan soils are high in magnesium. Because of this, most Nicaraguan cigars burn to create a bright white ash. On the other hand, the soils of Honduras and Cuba are very low in magnesium, resulting in cigars that produce a dark gray or black ash. So the next time your buddy that “only smokes Cubans” brags about the solid white ash his pricy Canadian-bought Cuban counterfeit produces, put him in his place with your newfound knowledge.
Attack of the…Mold?
Seeing white spots form on some of your cigars? Before resorting to drastic measures, take a deep breath, count to 10 and take a closer look. Your handmades may have developed plume (or bloom), a natural phenomenon in the cigar aging process that occurs when the oils exude from the wrapper leaf. This is a sign of proper aging, and will not happen with every cigar. It’s actually quite rare, and as a result, enthusiasts often chalk this up to the more serious problem of mold, and erroneously trash them. So how does plume differ from mold? Plume is a white powdery substance that can be brushed away. Mold is usually bluish or greenish in color and cannot be brushed off your cigars without staining the leaf. Just like that tricky barnyard scent, plume is good, so enjoy!