Are you a sharpener or a leveller?


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Friends,

Recent discussions about complexity of flavour and what we search for in a good cigar tied in with an article I was reading in the Melbourne Audio Club newsletter. Yes, oddly enough. What impressed me was how easily this would apply to the world of CCs.

Briefly, and I think I got this right, the source article at

http://www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/are_y...r_or_a_leveler/

says that a Sharpener personality perceives subtle differences as significant. The Leveller personality perceives differences as hardly worth mentioning. The leveller listens to the same piece of music through two different systems and decides the cheaper one is just as good. The sharpener believes he has got good value from spending the extra X thousands of dollars on the more expensive hi-fi that delivered that tiny but important extra something.

Ok, well and good. (And g’day to any other audio enthusiasts on FoH). Just as some people can hear subtle differences between hi-fi gear that others cannot, some of us are able to taste more subtle flavours in a cigar than others can. And so, food, wine, etc

Does it matter? There is the issue of personal taste and I thought there was an interesting caution made – it is possible to be too critical and focus on subtleties that distract us from the overall enjoyment of the music. Applying this to CCs, I take this to mean perhaps that it is desirable to be in sharpener mode when trying the first few sticks of a box. If they deliver as expected then its time to back off and take the leveller approach for the rest of the smokes. Simply enjoy them, decide they might benefit from more rest or whatever.

Food for thought?

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. . .

There is the issue of personal taste and I thought there was an interesting caution made – it is possible to be too critical and focus on subtleties that distract us from the overall enjoyment of the music. Applying this to CCs, I take this to mean perhaps that it is desirable to be in sharpener mode when trying the first few sticks of a box. If they deliver as expected then its time to back off and take the leveller approach for the rest of the smokes. Simply enjoy them, decide they might benefit from more rest or whatever.

Food for thought?

Very interesting.

Thanks for the food for thought.

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I'm an audio nut from waaay back... and I have always been a sharpener.... till recently.

My audio system grew from Yamaha... to Krell... to Levinson... and I always chased 'premium' brands. I loved it. Having the best of the best made me feel special. But in reality it was probably making up for other shortcomings and "little man syndrome" at work.

Last year my preamp / processor died and was pretty much unrepairable.... Losing a $20k investment overnight has since turned me into a leveller.

So, my heart wants one thing... but my brain has grown up to accept that my heart does not always have to win. It also helps in making better decisions.

And to tell you the absolute truth... I'm becoming more comfortable with no longer needing the most esoteric of everything. For instance, where once I needed every EL cigar release that came out - now I only buy what is priced well, tastes great and represents good value. The recently discounted Czar Upmann Magnum 48 sale is a perfect example. I bought them because they met my new purchasing criteria - I smoked one this afternoon... and had my socks blown off at how good they were.

I still spend good coin on selected items... but 95% of my purchases are 'Levelled', not 'Sharpened'.

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I'm a part-time sharpener.

There are times when I'll choose a cigar to smoke when I want the focus of my experience to be on the subtleties, changes and evolution it imparts.

There are times when something tasty while playing cards, chatting or reading will suit me just as well.

Blimey, we do have a lot of thinkers around here. :lol:

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For me...if I plan on reviewing a cigar, I tend to be more of a sharpener. When I am smoking for sheer leisure...I am a leveler. I guess that would make me predominately a leveler. Interesting...

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it is possible to be too critical and focus on subtleties that distract us from the overall enjoyment

Bingo!

Like most, I enjoy a great cigar, but I'm not necessarily actively searching out each and every nuance while I smoke.

I love the subtleties and complexities, but I'd like to think that I try and let the overall experience wash over me.

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Bingo!

Like most, I enjoy a great cigar, but I'm not necessarily actively searching out each and every nuance while I smoke.

I love the subtleties and complexities, but I'd like to think that I try and let the overall experience wash over me.

This is why I don't really like to do reviews, I get so involved with trying to figure out the flavors, that it's difficult to enjoy the cigar. I'm probably a sharpener as I like to seek out the nuances in a cigar, but run into trouble when I try to describe them in words. For me, it's just sitting on the porch and enjoying the flavor and complexity while chilling out that works best for me..
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This is why I don't really like to do reviews, I get so involved with trying to figure out the flavors, that it's difficult to enjoy the cigar.

I guess it can be a bit of a balancing act. I will jot down notes on a cigar which I think I might want to post a review of. And while I do focus

on what's happening with the cigar, I think I also try and let it come to me. I allow myself to ponder all the elements just as I would let my

mind wander without pen and paper.

Another thing is that I tend to smoke alone most of the time, so I normally have no other distractions either way. In thinking about it, I feel

I'm able to focus on individual elements as needed, but enjoy the overall picture at the same time.

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This is why I don't really like to do reviews, I get so involved with trying to figure out the flavors, that it's difficult to enjoy the cigar. I'm probably a sharpener as I like to seek out the nuances in a cigar, but run into trouble when I try to describe them in words. For me, it's just sitting on the porch and enjoying the flavor and complexity while chilling out that works best for me..

Agree 100% -- although I'm probably more of a leveler. I don't try to analyze why I like a cigar, as long as I like it.

...Another thing is that I tend to smoke alone most of the time, so I normally have no other distractions either way. In thinking about it, I feel

I'm able to focus on individual elements as needed, but enjoy the overall picture at the same time.

This is exactly why I rarely focus on the nuances of a cigar. It's a great time to sit and ponder everything that I can't think about when I'm being constantly distracted or focused on other things. Sitting down with a nice cigar that I don't really have to think about lets my mind wander, usually into areas that need to be addressed but never get "scheduled." It's also why I stopped chasing al of the "latest craze" stuff. I just buy what I know I like. Turns out that's still a ton of choices.

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Wonderful thread idea and some nice replies.

I am both a detailed, passionate individual and a pragmatist. My life, like most I would imagine, is a compromise. Whereas some decisions are controlled by pragmatics, budget and forethought... others are motivated by whim, lust and circumstance! My humidor project is an example. One part of me wants the best money can buy, yet another controls my reckless spending and the result I create and invest in is something meeting my needs and my budget.

I tend to be more frugal on food and entertainment. When I can buy a nice steak at a food warehouse for 8 bucks a pound or the same steak at a swanky steak house for $55 bucks... I would prefer to eat the good steak more often at home. I would also prefer to rent a whole months worth of movies from the local video store than go to the movies and catch the swine flu!!! -LOL I prefer narrower gauge, more robust and less trendy cigars to the fatter, newer more expensive and more trendy counterparts.

I am sure that my character flaws and assets are often reflected in cigars and the Cuban cigar marketplace fits my model rather well. Understanding the nature of the "nationalized" industry allows for easy exploitation (from a value perspective) on many fronts as it pertains to great Cuban cigars. My thoughts are well documented here so I won't bore you all with them again. The point being that in the Cuban cigar market, the prudent buyer is only compromised in the arena of 'image' when he chooses smoking high performance cigars over that of the trendy "image footprint" cigars. That pragmatic choice, for me, represents no compromise at all.

-the Pig

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Usually I am a sharpener when it comes to cigars. I Try to distinguish the different flavors, admire the construction and burn...and overall try to enjoy the cigar for what it is. On the other hand, when I am out drinking, and smoking a bunch of cigars then I become a leveller, smoking to enjoy company and not trully focusing on the cigar.

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Interesting to see how we perceive ourselves. I wonder how our friends and families would describe us.

I think I have two personalities. I am a Sharpener when it comes to hobbies and a leveler when it comes to life in general.

I sell HiFi and other high end electronics to other Sharpeners. I'm into the stuff, but don't obsess about my own system.

I buy and smoke as if I am Sharpener. It's a passionate hobby and a reward.

My car is a leveler. My clothes are levelers. Yet, if I have to buy clothes (wife normally does this), I become a Sharpener.

WTF is wrong with me?!? :cigar:

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I am an inverse Sharpener :cigar:

I don't look for flavours and nuances. A great cigar makes me stop what I am doing and takes my attention. I never give it freely, it is earned.

Now to achieve such experience one has to have raw material capable of producing it.

In Hi Fi I have a great Focal Car system because I spend so much time in it. I love great loud music, it relaxes me. Once you have played CD on a great system, listening to it on a lesser one is noticeable. You can quadruple the clarity of sound from a $1000-$5000 car system. To increase quality again by 50% you may need to spend $20,000. I am happy for the $5K.

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Leveler through and through. Although cigars are my one splurge.

I'm a certified accountant by trade so my accounting brain often gets the best of me.

This is especially true when I order boxes and "the man" desides he wants to tax me 120% on that box.

Its excrusciating to turn that box away. Although I have learned to accept it as a roll of the dice.

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  • 1 month later...

Guys, thank you. Responses there both edudite and entertaining - as I have come to expect from this group.

I have to apologise I had wanted to take part in the discussion and not start the thread and disappear like I did. Well, new job... boss is a hassle, blah blah,

No excuse. Must try harder to spend more time on FoH :)

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I can say that as much as I try to sharpen, I am reduced to the status of a leveller, not entirely by choice. My palate is still developing. I can tell the differences between a NC and a CC, and I can tell the difference between high quality and low quality. But, as for the subtleties of coffee, leather, cedar, etc... I am unable to pick out those flavors. I know what I like.

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