There’s a growing market of women who enjoy a good cigar. According to The Washington Times, there are at least 3 million of us in the United States, or about 2 percent of the population. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you compare it to the 9 percent of US men who smoke cigars, we’re really not that far behind. Some high profile celebrities have taken up the hobby, including Angelina Jolie, Demi Moore, Claudia Schiffer and Heidi Klum, to name but a few. The Canadian Olympic women’s hockey team was chastised thoroughly by the Olympic committee in 2010 for celebrating their gold metal victory with an impromptu cigar, beer and champagne party on center ice. Here’s the news clip:
Some companies have begun to recognize this growing market and have finally stopped treating cigars like a boys’ club. They’re beginning to market to women as well as men. Hoping to win more of us over, they’ve begun offering flavoured cigars with targeted marketing techniques. Take, for example, the CAO Flavours pack, which contains everything listed at the link except for the “Caramello Joe”.
The box display is a pretty, white and lavender, well-organized and colourful presentation that suggests class and style. The cigars are cigarillos so you aren’t overwhelmed by the smoke if you’re new to the hobby, and they come with a handy introductory card describing each of the flavours. In case you doubted they were marketed to women, here’s the “Cherrybomb” description:
Cherrybomb ignites the palate with an enticing blend of cherry and black currant extracts, mellowed by creamy vanilla. These flavours are combined uniquely with grade ‘A’ Cuban seed tobaccos to create an unforgettable aroma that tantalizes the senses. Let cherrybomb excite you with an explosion of flavor.”
Doesn’t this sound like a passage from a romance novel to you? Well, cigars and sex seem to go together after all . . .
If there were any further doubt that this product is marketed to women, the Surgeon General’s warning choice might have been a clue:
SURGEON GENERAL WARNING: Tobacco Use Increases The Risk Of Infertility, Stillbirth, And Low Birth Weight.”
I am generally in agreement with Barbara Munchel, owner of Cigar Haven in Fishers, who was quoted in the Washington Times article as saying:
To me, those are non-cigars. The cherry, the vanilla, the honey-flavored cigars. That’s not cigar smoking. I drink my coffee black and I want my cigars to be authentic.”
So I decided to try the Cherrybomb first, figuring it for the likely candidate for “most disgusting.”
The cigarillos are about four inches long and as big around as my index finger (I have small hands). They are sold with brightly coloured ribbons binding the foot and cedar shavings to light with. The wrapper note, which I expected to be revoltingly sweet, was more faint than I anticipated, and the quality Habano-seed tobaccos (Cameroon wrapper and Dominican binders and fillers) were discernible underneath. I began to have some hope that this would be better than projected. One of the big problems with aromatic cigars is that many cigar companies (especially over-the-counter drugstore brands) add flavouring to poor-quality tobaccos to make them more palatable and maximize their stock usage. Apparently CAO does not do that. Definitely a point in their favour!
Unwrapping the ribbon and the cedar, I found this “petite corona” to be a perfectly constructed miniature cigar, with all the trappings. It was rolled seamlessly with a pleasantly veiny Colorado wrapper, with a perfect double-cap that punched easily with my bullet punch. The pre-light draw was, somewhat like marachino cherries, but again, not overwhelmingly so. There were even hints of coffee and cedar underneath. It suggested cherry pie. Toasting the foot produced a room note that is definitely friendly to the in-laws. I thought of Christmas; cherry pie baking in the oven, and a hint of cherry candies.
The cigar lit evenly; but I confess, I’m not used to cigarillos, and I burnt more of it than I intended, with my torch lighter and technique honed for stogies! And the initial draw was great. A rich latte with a touch of vanilla and black cherry flavouring at the Starbucks; this is what I was reminded of. Mmm, good! I like cherry flavouring but can’t drink the artificial stuff because it gives me heartburn. Maybe I should just have a smoke instead.
The first third took about ten minutes to smoke. I was quite happy with it, compared to what I had expected, so I shared it with Jamie; who pronounced it disgusting, like cherry cough syrup! I must admit, however, that at this point, the beginning of the second third, it took on a bit of that element. Like if you smoked a cigar after sucking on a cherry cough candy a while before.
The second third took about twelve minutes, and then I purged it. But by this time, the cherry had burned hot enough that the cigar had taken on a bit of that acrid flavour that I find in cased tobaccos and it never quite went away. It was still good, however; don’t get me wrong here. I smoked it down to the nub, which took me another twelve minutes, before I let it go out in the ashtray. But I admit, part of that was also because it was a mild cigar and I didn’t feel the charge I’m used to. I am guessing this will be typical of the Flavours line.
So; yes, it’s rather sweet. Yes, it’s an aromatic. Yes, you can definitely taste the cherries. But it wasn’t at all what I expected; indeed, it was a very pleasant smoke! It wasn’t that long ago that I was brand-new to cigars, and I would have found this a pleasant introduction. If someone offers me one, I won’t turn it down; but for now, I’m still going to spend my cigar money on the big boys!
You can get the Cherrybomb at Neptune Cigar for $4.05 USD each or $65.75 for a box of 25. And I’m sure your favourite tobacconist can get them. If you’re in the US, you can even use CAO’s Where to Buy resource to find a CAO merchant near you.
So that’s a lady’s perspective on a lady’s cigar.
A word to the wise: don’t introduce these kinds of things to minors. You’ll have confirmed lifetime smokers. But if you’re looking to get into the hobby, this might just be the way to pop your cherry! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist . . .) 😉