April 2007

Island Cigars: A Premium Experience

Author: NancyLee Honey

The most difficult challenge for Carl Hess, owner of Island Cigars is conveying the truth to the public. “There are so many misconceptions surrounding the cigar business,” he said, “and people continue to propel the myths.” Having been associated with the industry for over fifteen years, the New Jersey native is smoking out “untruths” with pertinent facts in his immaculate store located in the Village at Wexford.

The fresh aroma and bright spaciousness of the relaxed sitting area in the store immediately dispel the dark, smoky atmosphere normally associated with cigar smoking. “This is a place to escape the chaos of our everyday lives and enjoy the finest imported, aged cigars on the island,” said Hess. “We do not carry domestic cigars, only the premiums, which means they are pure tobacco from cap to foot. Often the public is sold a cigar, consisting of more fillers than tobacco. Many contain addictive chemicals, and because the tobacco leaves have been sprayed with certain flavors, people are fooled into thinking they have a good cigar,” he explained.

An important feature is the way the cigars are stored. Many people make the mistake of storing them in the refrigerator or a crisper. This will easily ruin the flavor, as relative humidity must remain consistent to keep the flavor intact, Hess said. “This is why you see all our cigars enclosed. It keeps them from going into shock and gives them the necessary controlled environment.”

According to Hess, the most effective way to store premium cigars is in a humidor lined with Spanish, hand-sanded cedar. “This is something which will give excellent service and can be passed down for generations,” he noted. “When visitors drop by for a relaxing smoke, we discuss the variety of humidors and the benefits of ownership.”

Hess has had the distinct pleasure of knowing Alfons Mayer, considered a master tobacconist and an industry legend for 46 years. The longtime tobacco buyer for General Cigar Company spent a lifetime studying and mastering tobacco. “His knowledge gave those of us in the industry a solid foundation,” said Hess.

Cigars became popular in the United States during the Lincoln years, and factories sprung up in New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. The cigar industry did well until the 1960s, when the United States imposed an embargo against Cuba, making it illegal for U.S. citizens to import goods. Although Cuban cigars, considered the finest because of soil and climate, are not available, the cigar industry staged a comeback with the assistance of other countries. Today the puffing experience is enjoyed not only by men, but women as well.

Carl Hess, proprietor of Island Cigars

Island Cigars, blending a little of London, Manhattan and Hilton Head Island, also carries Jack Black skin products and is the only local authorized representative for Kaenon sunglasses. Besides a relaxing, fresh environment with the finest imported cigars, you will also discover unique lighters and cutters in the store, open Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m.-7p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Stop by for a puff of truth.

Island Cigars
The Village at Wexford
(843)785.6633
www.island-cigars.com

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