It’s Friday, or Freitag as they say in German, which is appropriate as today is the start of the InterTabac Trade Fair in Dortmund, Germany. But besides that, it’s time for another rendition of Ask halfwheel, this time featuring responses from all four reviewers at halfwheel.
Reader Chris has a question that I’ve been asked a few times:
What do any/all of you do to reset your palates after a long week of smoking or simply between cigars on a weekend afternoon?
Without further ado.
I generally take two days off per week from smoking. They aren’t really planned and change week to week. I rarely smoke three cigars in a single day, but if I do, or if I’ve smoked multiple cigars per day for multiple days, I will certainly have a day off before I try to review another cigar.
If I need to review or score a cigar it will always be my first cigar of the day.
I can’t say there is a set pattern for me; a lot depends on my day-to-day workload and subsequent availability. My general rule or goal is to have two cigars a day that are intended for review, one in the morning and one in the evening, but no more. The days off or other breaks from smoking seem to find themselves, so I don’t often have a streak of more than two or three days of that pattern.
On the days I do smoke, I adhere to the trio of club soda, bananas and coffee for cleansing the palate and senses, the latter particularly for the nose. If you’ve been to a perfume or cologne bar, there’s usually a bowl of coffee beans present as it helps reset the sense of smell.
I take the whole “rest your palate” notion with a grain of salt, since our palates are constantly involved in the day; everything you eat and drink crosses your taste buds, and even the environment and air you breathe can have an affect on your senses. I think you should always be actively tasting and smelling what you are consuming to add to your memory bank and expanding your reference points for flavors and smells. While you can certainly oversmoke your senses into diminished returns, I think that gets a bit overhyped at times and be rectified fairly quickly, and if anything is what I encourage others to do — refresh your senses throughout the day and I think you’ll find a marked improvement in their receptiveness.
I don’t smoke near as many cigars as most people probably think I do, mostly due to the fact that we can’t smoke at the office, and I don’t have as much time as I would like at home due to an active five-year old son. Having said that, if I am smoking for a review, it is always the first cigar of the day, and I very rarely smoke more than one cigar per 24-hour period.
While I have smoked more than that before — say, the final cigar of one review in the morning and the first cigar of my next review in the afternoon — it is so rare as to be almost statistically insignificant. There have also been a few times when I have smoked multiple cigars a day for a couple of days (not for reviews), and in that case I have always given myself at least a day before smoking another cigar for a review.
There are a few things I do to make sure review cigars are smoked on what I would call a fresh palate.
While I didn’t choose this one directly, my life schedule currently dictates that usually the days I get to smoke are Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. I don’t really find smoking cigars on back to back days affects my palate that much, unless I smoked a particularly high number of cigars the day before for some reason. Normally that’s not the case, so by the time I wake up the next morning I can’t even tell if I smoked a cigar the day before. Having said that, on four day holiday weekends where I’m smoking cigars every day – I certainly experience palate fatigue by the last day. Regardless, I’m not smoking review cigars on the third or fourth day, so it isn’t an issue.
Second – I usually smoke in the morning, and it might seem counterintuitive, but I always make sure to brush my teeth beforehand using a small amount of toothpaste. I find doing so cleans my mouth and gives it a fresh start. I tried doing it with just a toothbrush and no toothpaste, but it didn’t seem to do as good of a job as using a small amount. Just a touch of toothpaste means I get my mouth as clean as possible and don’t overwhelm it with minty freshness either.
Lastly, I always make sure the first cigar I smoke is the review sample. Smoking cigars back to back will affect your ability to detect minor notes, however if I’m crunched for time I might smoke another of the same cigar on the same day. It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally it’s necessary.
If you’d like to have your question answered by the halfwheel staff, submit it here.