Some of those toughies rent humidified cigar lockers, and a peek into one storage closet earned me a look into them from the back. I saw as many liquor bottles as cigar boxes.
“You can’t come in here drunk,” Audi explained, “but you can leave a little drunk.”
Which is interesting, considering Colorado’s 18-year tobacco age limit and the 21-year drinking age. Much of the relationship-building that goes on at Cigars on Sixth targets young cigar smokers who are just getting their feet wet. For the record, I was in the shop at 3:30 p.m. on a Friday and I didn’t see anyone mistaking the time for Happy Hour.
“What we’re trying to do with the inventory is bring in a draw of younger people — between the ages of 22 and 30. they’re really starting to crave cigars and be interested in them. But we find they like a more mild cigar, or flavored cigars. Their big drivers are Punch, Macanudo and ACID.”
Training wheels cigars?
“Exactly,” he said. “We always make sure they keep the band of whatever they’re smoking and bring ‘em back. And we grade them up through a natural, more mild cigar like the Rocky Patel Connecticut, the San Cristobal by Ashton, or any of the better Ashton cigars.”
“Some of my best conversations are with the younger people,” Audi explained, “where I get to watch them go into the humidor, and then they grab a cigar that’s wrapped in plastic, and they put it under their nose and sniff it.”
“And I say ‘You know what? It smells even better when you take that plastic off.’ Like, you see the novices come in, and it’s fun to help them and make them feel comfortable. Because it can be very intimidating to come in here.”
What was definitely not intimidating was the hum of the shop’s many conversations. It was quiet, murmured, pleasant. Despite the tattoos in the room, no one ws looking to brawl. Audi said Cigars on Sixth has considered banning cell phone conversations during certain hours, like many of Denver’s coffee shops have already done. It didn’t seem necessary.
We lit up Mr. Gomez, and the 5-3/4 x 46 smoke didn’t disappoint. It’s an aggressive smoke that never gets acrid. The shop comped me on the cigar, and I didn’t argue.
The Litto Gomez line dates back to 1999 when La Flor decided to try and make a tenth anniversary cigar solely from leaves grown on its own plantations in the Dominican Republic — including the wrapper. That’s no small feat.
It’s hard to think of many truly good cigars in this category. The Fuente Fuente Opus X comes to mind, and the La Aurora 100 Años. But most everything you buy these days has at least one ingredient from Nicaragua, Honduras, Connecticut, Ecuador or Cameroon.
“We tested this blend month after month for three years,” the company says of the fermentation process. The tobacco is aged for four years, and the shade-grown wrapper leaf is warm and chocolatey. “Toothy” wrappers — those with lots of raised pimples that contain oils — are usually associated with sun-growing, so this was also a pleasant surprise.
The cigar itself was firm and the draw excellent, but the burn was uneven. Ash dropped off when I least expected it, and it needed relighting a few times. Audi and I smoked for about an hour and a half, and mine still had two inches to go.