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Issue 5 - The start of a habit

Whisky Magazine Issue 5
August 1999


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The start of a habit

Does Ardbeg go best with a Bolivar? And what might happen if youbegan a corona gigantes before dinner? Chris Orr provides a whisky lovers' guide to a good smoke

It must be a pretty depressing time for your average movie mogul or bank president. Despite the fact that business in general appears to be doing well the world over (give or take the odd country), they have managed, inadvertently, to lose control of that most potent symbol of rampant capitalism, the cigar. A decade ago it was the preserve of the great, the good and the downright disgustingly wealthy. Fat cats in pinstripes could be seen chomping down on their huge stogies, content that they were, literally, chewing on the butt of a Communist country.

Ten years on, and not even Castro could have dreamed of such a widespread appreciation of his most endearing habit. And how has this come to pass? It's the fickle hand of fashion yet again. Spurred on by supermodels such as Kate and Naomi – who have appeared, robusto in hand, their faces ringed in a haze of blue smoke – cigars have become the latest thing. To add fuel to the fire, we are increasingly encouraged by an ever-growing number of bars and restaurants to indulge in our filthy habit. Delightful. Fidel, and countless of his ex-countrymen in Miami and the Dominican Republic, must be laughing their heads off.

The problem with cigars, however, especially if you are a relative newcomer to this thoroughly anti-social habit, is where do you start? Like wine or whisky, there is a staggering choice available, and it gets bigger every day. Do you, for instance, go for Cuban (expensive but great quality)? Do you opt for the...

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