As some of you may have noticed, the past few weeks The Cigar Nut has been a little – quiet. Nothing wild or extreme but instead, an attack in the form of a head cold. It always amazes me that how no matter what we do – a head cold has the ability to completely halt our hobby. This is especially true if the dreaded sinus issues come into play and we are left with a void of smell and flavors – two of the main and essential components to our habit, if you remove the whole nicotine aspect from the equation.
Well – with that being said – I decided to use this ‘down time’ as a way to really push and test my palate and honestly I suggest everyone make the mental note and try it for themselves – if nothing else but why not. As we know – the human palate while extremely useful has a huge varying degree of acceptable and dismissible flavor combinations that we each prefer but have we ever sat down and thought ‘why’? Without getting too much into the science behind it – lets jump down the rabbit hole and see what kind of an experience I noticed.
Personally – I am one of those people who do ‘stop to smell the roses’ or will swish a beverage around my mouth and tongue before finishing the sip – not out of any contemporary or elusive ‘way of looking at life’ but simply because I think somethings smell good and other things taste good. They are two of our senses that really are ‘tied together’ and are the first two we get and the last two we lose. While you can hear and not see, feel and not hear – it is another situation entirely when we try to taste without being able to smell. Remember as a kid when we had to take that nasty cough medicine and we could plug our nose first?
Using this little bit of ‘oh yeah’ knowledge, I decided to run a few tests of my own – partly to write this article and partly because I just wanted the son of a bitch to go away! It all started when I took some cough medicine before bed and 100% could not smell or taste the medicine if my life depended on it. Then – as head colds have a tendency to cause – I blew my nose and was shocked to have a slight, lingering sense of the ‘nasty’ medicine but only for the duration of my exhale. Interesting.
Over the next week or so I repeated this process with various foods – doughnuts, salad with dressing, fish sticks with hot sauce, pizza, fried chicken, lasagna and even chocolate candies. Without fail, every single time I would blow my nose after taking a bite, I would get the same slight – lingering but faint flavor of the item. First it was the deep down, dark and bitter flavors, then the sour and tangy aspects. A few days into ‘getting better’ it became more of the sweet and salty flavors that shined while the bitter, sour and tangy ‘evened out’ ( the tang of a Jalapeno was more overpowering than the heat/spice of it ) and now that I am nearly healthy – the spice and some of the complexity are starting to shine again.
I am sure you are asking yourself where the hell this is going – great, he told us that he got sick and he is getting better. Relax – there is more to the scenario and a point to everything.
How can we take this and use it in our world of cigars? Of course – the retrohale which has become more and more popular where the smoker will take a draw from their cigar and exhale some or all of the smoke through their nasal cavity. Some report that by doing this the spice, pepper and ‘heat’ of the cigar really shine and perhaps would be missed all together if one did not perform the retrohale. Just by doing my little experiment I can vouch and say that yes – flavors are more easily identified and noticeable when exhaling through the nose – simply put.
I personally do not retrohale on every draw and I definitely do not retrohale on every cigar – some of those pepper bombs or the heavy maduros just burn like someone is sticking a hot iron through my nose. Now – that being said – I am going to try to ‘do what I say’ and slowly work my way up to that point. Just getting myself mentally prepared to start pushing a % of each draw through my mouth and the rest through my nose will be a challenge unto itself. Watery eyes, an increased appreciation of ‘the burn’ and maybe even the occasional cough as I mess up are all worth it in the end result – being able to appreciate the cigar more than I previously did.
Of course there are a handful of different ‘tips and tricks’ on how to pull the most flavor out of your cigar – from changing your toothpaste to ‘chewing’ the smoke while some even swear by the long puff followed by a short puff. Personally I fell into the ‘chew your smoke like you were chewing a hamburger’ and it really brought out a lot more enjoyment from the cigars that I was previously missing – and now that I have been doing it more I don’t look like a cow chewing cud – – well, not as much. Now that I took the time to sit down and really focus on ‘exhale through nose= taste’ I am really looking forward to focusing this form of smoking a cigar into my habits and sharing my experiences.
One of the greatest things about cigars – no matter how long you’ve smoked them or how many different sticks you’ve had – we all have the ability and the responsibility to learn as much about our hobby as possible and if we can just ‘go with the flow’ of how our bodies operate, maybe – juust maybe – we can experience our cigars the way the growers, manufacturers, blenders and retailers intended.
Till next time
~ The Nut Himself