As the needle on the thermometer drops, enjoying a cigar in comfort can become increasingly challenging. Drawing in cold air changes the way you perceive your cigar, and it’s undoubtedly harder to relax if you’re quivering as your body temperature drops.
When our bodies are cold, our mind becomes increasingly fixated on regaining warmth. This mental survival tactic tends to dull our sense of taste and smell and detracts from the sensory pleasures of a cigar.
While many choose to scale back on cigars during the colder months, others decide to strategically tackle the elements, cigar in hand: “Cigars, like any great love, is a year-round, all-time thing” says Canadian cigar lover Taylor Matthew. Matthew, who regularly attends outdoor tailgate gatherings for his favorite NFL team the Buffalo Bills (the football season runs as late as January), is no stranger to cold-weather smoking.
“If you can minimize factors such as cold, wet, and wind while dressing accordingly, I have found no reason to avoid a cigar or pipe during the winter months”.
Cigar or pipe, Matthew is prepared for smoking on a brisk day
With that in mind, here’s 5 ways to maximize cigar enjoyment in colder weather:
1. Get Your Mancave On
From a makeshift garage setup, to a pop up tent with walls, to a fully tricked-out lounge, personal mancaves come in many different forms and allow you to escape the outdoors to some degree. This of course depends on your budget, the space that you have available to work with, and your overall devotion to the hobby.
For most, a simple garage, tent or shed with some heaters will do. From small space heaters, to freestanding heating lamps, to large wall-mounted heaters, finding the right heat source to keep you and your friends comfortable in these spaces is key.
The tricky part to this approach is striking a balance between proper warmth and proper ventilation. In a garage, things can get real smoky in no time flat, which can quickly seep into the house – if attached.
Though heat will inevitably escape, plan to intermittently open a door to let some smoke out. Other options include a gently blowing fan that pushes the smoke in the opposite direction of the house, or taking measures to install some proper ventilation.
Alternatively, if you’ve decided to drop a decent chunk of cash into a properly heated and ventilated lounge space, I recommend building a space that is NOT attached to your house. Despite the inclusion of seriously expensive ventilation systems, smoking spaces that are physically connected to the house somehow always fail to eliminate smoke from seeping into the living areas.
If you’re going to spend all that money, do it right the first time and keep it fully detached.
2. Dress the Part
Though it seems to be common sensical, there may be a few key clothing concepts that you are unaware of. These include aiming to layer heat-trapping fabrics that do not hold onto odor and are easy to clean.
Polar fleece is a warm synthetic material that doesn’t hold on to odor like cotton or wool does. With the exception of maybe wool socks, wool is seldom a good option, as odor clings to it and it is also complicated to wash. Cotton holds on to odor like wool does, but is easier to launder.
Keep a go-to rotation of a few warm polar fleece sweaters and be sure to do the same with some washable fingerless gloves and a solid toque (a beanie or watch cap to our American friends). The fingerless gloves will keep your hands warm while affording you the dexterity to cut, light and smoke your cigar, and the toque will prevent valuable heat from escaping from your noggin.
If it’s cold enough, a solid parka coat and thermal underwear can greatly aid in providing necessary warmth.
Dressing strategically will allow you to focus more on the flavor and aroma of your cigar and less on staying warm.