Cigar Reserve contacted Erin quite some time ago with an invitation to review their product. It was clear that they strongly believed in it, as they worked hard to connect us with it despite daunting shipping rates to Canada. But I was skeptical. Cigar spills?
I had come to the conclusion that cigar spills were, essentially, pretty but meaningless window dressing to sell cigars. Lighting a cigar with a cedar spill is supposed to be easier and make it taste better since it prevents any of the inevitable gasses of a lighter from polluting the tobacco. I’m certain it’s also better for you in terms of risks to your health!
But practical experience had taught me to disdain the pieces of cedar that come wrapped around some cigars. First of all, they always break into a million little splinters when you peel them off. If you actually manage to prevent that, they don’t stay lit long enough for you to light anything but a cigarillo properly; and even saying you’ve managed that, it’s awkward to use them without burning your fingers. Not to mention that if you use a cigar torch lighter on them they will disintegrate into ashes in a few short seconds without lighting anything.
So I failed to understand the purpose of cedar spills; but, since they’d been sent to us as a sample, I thought I would give them a fair try.
Cigar Reserve’s spills arrived in a sturdy box that was about the size and shape of a box of incense sticks. “Light your next couple of cigars off of those,” Erin urged; and so I carted that box around in my work bag, my car and my computer bag for about a week, waiting for the right opportunity to light a stogie. Now, do you see any damage on that box in the photo? No, me neither.
The spills themselves are fun. First, they smell of pleasant Spanish cedar. Second,they’re shaped like little sabers, including a hook at the end of the “blade”. I like the saber shape because it suggests the connection cigars once had with the cavalry and the nobility. They are 22 cm (out 8 and two thirds) inches in length from tip to pommel. Third, they’re amazingly tough! They’re a good three mm thick (about the equivalent of a thick big toenail), and I managed to bend one entirely in half and it didn’t break. As a matter of fact, it bounced out of my fingers the first time I did that! The manufacturers obviously cut it with, rather than against, the grain. I would say that if you stuffed one into a suit pocket for later it would survive the experience. It might even survive the rigours of my jacket pocket, which suffers numerous indignities, including about a dozen receipts, my keys, my gloves, a pen, my portable cigar case, possibly some makeup, and my cell phone, and often all at once!
Encouraged by their durability, I tried them on three different cigars that I recently reviewed; two robustos and a toro.
I discovered that the little hook was entirely intentional, as opposed to a design quirk. It takes a flame more easily and gives it time to get up a good burn before it reaches the narrower blade point.
I was cautious because the last thing I wanted was for what was essentially a pretty piece of kindling to whoosh into flames and burn my hand; but it didn’t. Just like a match, you tip it up to hold and control the flame, and down to provide the flame with more fuel so that it will burn bigger and brighter.
Holding it at about a fifteen degree angle I was able to spin my stogies around and puff away merrily, facilitating – I do not exaggerate – the most pleasant and even cigar light I have ever experienced. I am a light puffer with a small mouth and I often struggle to get a good even burn going on a full-sized cigar. Not an issue. And the length of the spill provides more than ample time to make sure that your cigar is well and truly lit from wrapper to fillers. When you’re done, just put it in your ashtray and it will burn up in a few moments without making a big mess of ashes or causing any other sort of nuisance. And it leaves the pleasant scent of burning cedar behind.
I am also pleased to report that the assertion that it will make for a cleaner light is true. There was no trace of off-gasses in the flavour of my cigars; indeed, I was able to enjoy the smoke in a way I don’t believe I ever had, because you can always taste some essence of lighter-gas acrid or match sulfur. I even lit the last spill specifically with a Bic just to double-check. And I was right; it was still a perfectly clean, unpolluted smoke!
In short, Cigar Reserve’s persistence and faith in their work has paid off, because I’m a new fan. I like them enough that I asked Erin to order me some more because I am going to keep them around the house, and I just might stick a couple into my portable cigar case because I am certain they’d survive the experience. I would say, with no doubt in my mind, that they have significantly improved the cigar experience for me.
Cigar Reserve does this almost exclusively, and you can get a pack of twenty-five for $12.95 USD or a pack of fifty for $19.95 USD. They have a helpful retailer locator on this site but as of the time of the writing, there was no tobacco shop in Canada. So Canadians, you may have to pester your local tobacconists and cigar shops, since the shipping for single boxes to Canada runs $25 (that’s the USPS due to the odd size of the package, not the company!) and it may only be worth your while to acquire them in bulk, I’m sorry to say. So maybe you should order some of their rare, limited edition and vintage cigar samplers while you’re at it to make it worth your while. And they do send you a free box of 25 when you order four boxes (of any size). They offer free shipping on orders of $40 or more but I’m not sure if that applies outside of the US.
Personalized engraving on the spills is also available for an extra fee. What a great way to promote your business, or what a fine birthday present for the cigar aficionado in your life who already has everything!
I have chosen not to rate the spills with a “star rating” because I have nothing to compare them to. But needless to say, I recommend them. In this lady’s perspective, they make the cigar experience even better and are a good value for the money, and that’s why I’m going to keep some next to my humidor.