Written by Staff

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

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Mike Carroll was clerking in 1996 for a Kansas City law firm when one of the firm’s partners gave Carroll his first cigar.

Now, the senior vice president and general counsel for Saddlebrooke Development owns 2,000 cigars and keeps them in an armoire humidor.

“It’s incredibly relaxing,” Carroll says of his penchant for puffing tobacco. “It’s kind of a singular experience – you don’t need anything else.”

Fuente Fuente Opus X by Arturo Fuente is one of Carroll’s favorites, and he describes its taste as “a sharp, kind of spicy flavor.”

Relaxation and taste are the key reasons people smoke cigars, according to Christian Hutson, tobacconist and cigar manager for Just For Him, 1334 E. Battlefield Road in Fremont Center. He said many cigar aficionados also enjoy wine or other high-end alcohols.

“It’s kind of exploring your palate and how different tobaccos affect your palate,” Hutson says. “(On) your palate, you taste bitter, sweet, salty and sour … and you’re able to get different sensations from different types of cigars.”

Just For Him has more than 50,000 cigar brands in stock.

Other stores in Springfield that sell high-end cigars include The Humidor, 2728 S. Glenstone Ave.; Don Johnson’s Tobacco World, 1420 S. Glenstone Ave.; and Brown Derby International Wine Center, 2023 S. Glenstone Ave.

Top cigar accessories are cutters, lighters and humidors. Cutters range from $2 to $400, lighters go up to $100, and humidors range from $40 to $2,000, Hutson says.

Premium cigar prices at Don Johnson’s Tobacco World generally range from $2 to $20, but the store has some Partagas 150 cigars made in 1995 that sell for about $150, says manager Eric Johnson. Customers must ask for the Partagas 150s because Tobacco World doesn’t display them, Johnson notes.

Cigar smoking is a hobby that appeals to “a broad and large cross-section of Springfield,” and cigar clientele includes everyone from “dishwashers to neurosurgeons,” Hutson says.

Even smaller cigars can cost about $5 and take 30 minutes to smoke, so they’re not something to be burned in haste.

Buck Van Hooser leads a group of more than a dozen businesspeople who meet monthly at J.Buck’s restaurant to smoke cigars, have a few drinks and enjoy each other’s company. Van Hooser, who works in sales development for Prestressed Casting Co., has been a cigar smoker for about 30 years.

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