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The Good Life: Up in Smoke

Sometimes, a cigar is really good

Sep 1, 2014

by Alberta Venture Staff

The Good Life Car & Driver Happy Hour On Trend
Bolivar, Fonseca, Vegueros: if it’s Cuban, it’s among the best
Photograph Ryan Girard, wood provided by

Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar. But sometimes, it’s a Cuban – and then it’s really good. Just ask Jason Holt, the owner of Calgary’s Epicure Cigar & Pipe and a walking encyclopedia on the origins of the Cuban cigar and why it remains the best in the world. He compares a Cuban to a French Bordeaux, both defined by their terroir and deep historical roots. But, he says, unlike Bordeaux reds, there’s not much that differentiates one Cuban brand from another. “No one brand is any better than the other, although we might want to think that perhaps Cohiba is the flagship brand and Montecristo has a lot of cachet.”

And the very idea of wanting to spend more than $100 on a cigar misses the point entirely, he says. While it may carry the reputation of a status-oriented prop, Holt says cigars are really an exercise in slowing down a busy world. “The people that smoke Havana cigars and use pipes, unlike the rest of tobacco users, are consciously going out of their way to clear up an hour or so of time. They’re doing that thing we all say we’re going to do but hardly any of us manage to, and that’s deflating for an hour or so.” The payoffs from that, he says, might be bigger than we think. “Where we’re at right now with stress as a disease is probably where we were with heart disease and cancer in the 1950s: we know it’s serious, but we don’t know how serious. How do we explain the Bismarcks and the Castros and the Milton Berles – how do we explain these centenarians that smoke cigars? Well, maybe they had something that nobody else had: stress relief.”

WEB EXTRA: Getting into Cigar Culture


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