Celebrating Cigars

Updated: Apr 30 2004, 05:30am hrs
If cigarette smoking was made macho by Marlboro Country and its cowboy, cigar smokers think of themselves as their own icons, doffing their hat perhaps only to Fidel Castro and Winston Churchill. On Wednesday evening, Hyderabadi connoisseurs set out to enjoy the mystique, intrigue and adventure of a good smoke at an exclusive (invite-only) tasting session.

The occasion was the launch of Don Diegos anniversary edition, quite simply called Anniversario. This is the 40th year of Don Diego and the city of Nizams was chosen for the all-India launch of these Dominican Republic cigars. Don Diegos manufacturer Altadis has joined hands with Godfrey Phillips India to market them here.

Altadis USAs Eric Piras was among the 40-odd people who freaked out on the shape, the aroma, that groovy flavour in that mouth. The whole thing about a cigar revolves around about fermentation which removes the bad parts of the tobacco. A cigar needs great balance, a nice draw and an earthy flavour, he emphasises. Visibly thrilled about his smoke which he combines with a glass of whisky, Mr Piras enlightens you about the status that goes with cigar smoking.

A quick look at the crowd confirms that some are trying very hard to enjoy the moment. It doesnt always work out, though, because you dont smoke a cigar like a cigarette. Its very different from a cigarette because it is an acquired taste, adds Navzar A Bengalli who works for Thomas Cook. Ask him what flavour he likes and he quickly says, the woody kind. What then is the best way to savour it Its great to twirl it around with your drink. Besides its great to have some pipe music in the background, he says with a little smile.

Eric Pira
Even the heavy smokers find cigars delightful. I used to be a heavy smoker myself. The best thing about cigar smoking is that it is not habit forming, points out Bearing Points Edgar P Balbin. Much to ones amusement, he says there are more people who approve of smoking cigars than cigarettes.

The crowd is eclectic and one soon catches up with fashion designer Sanjay Taneja who is clearly enjoying himself. A cigar has its own style and if it has a good aroma, then there is a manly feeling about it. You feel inches taller and inches broader, he gushes.

Cut to Godfrey Phillips Arun Joshi who tells you that India has the best of everything today. So why not the best of tobacco he asks you. Sure, cigar smokers are a different breed who look forward to that tingling aroma with a fine single malt. As you leave the hall, you also bid adieu to Jim Morrison. Hes been rather appropriately belting out Cmon baby, light my fire.