Cigar Reserve Cedar Spills & Cigars

Today we've got another article from Nikki Glenn, a cigar aficionada from St. Louis and a violinist entertainer for private, corporate and special events worldwide. She loves learning about and smoking cigars as much as possible.

One of the aspects I love best about cigar smoking is that it is an activity that can be supremely sophisticated, or extremely down to earth. Cigars go just as well with blue jeans as they do evening wear, and enhance the look of both. In my mind, the cigar spill is a throwback to another time, when everyone dressed for dinner; using one to light a cigar is, by its very nature, an exercise in elegance and enjoyment.

Cigar Reserve, located in Lake Oswego, Oregon, creates a very unique-looking cedar spill for aficionados. The spills are made from grade A Spanish cedar logs from Portugal, then shipped to North Carolina for cutting to the specified thickness, then cut into the striking saber shape. The spills can also be laser-engraved for customization. According to Cigar Reserve, using their spills is of great benefit to the smoking experience: a soft, clean, butane-free flame, and an increased enhancement of the cigar's flavor.

When I was offered the opportunity to try the cedar spills offered by Cigar Reserve, I had a great deal of misgivings. I'd never actually used one to light a cigar, so I had visions of setting either my hair, my clothes, or my house on fire. (Please understand that I'm so paranoid about fire that when I first got an outdoor fire pit, I only burned teeny, tiny pieces of wood in it because I was afraid of a spark setting the house on fire). So, I decided it would be best to attempt this in the company of others (with a fire extinguisher at the ready in case things went terribly wrong). I also really wanted the opinions of other smokers, to get other perspectives than my own, so I took some to my usual hangout and shared them with a few of the veteran smokers.


It was unanimous that the design is eye-catching, and it was quite a conversation starter when I arrived with them. The most appealing aspects of the spills were the saber shape, and the smell of the cedar; it smelled great in the box, and also as it burned. Directions are very simple: to light, hold the spill with the curved tip down at a 45 degree angle, light the tip, then use it to light your cigar. Hold it upright like a candle to extinguish or place in an ashtray to burn out. In practice, it was somewhat different. I found that the most effective way to light it was not with the usual torch lighter, which burned the tip right up, but rather with a match – you don't need a blowtorch to light these.

I liked that the flame was soft and even, and it allowed me to really toast the foot gently. I sometimes get my cigars a little more extra crispy than strictly necessary, I had a lot more control over the flame with the spill. One caveat is that you may want to be very gentle in your ignition puffs, and also if you're planning to blow out the spill – I made it snow ash flakes more than once by blowing too hard. It's very carefully engineered to create a consistent burn as it progresses, but you can make a flaky mess if you're not careful. One thing to note: you may have had the experience of lighting a cigar and feeling the urge to spit after the first puff. Perhaps you were a philistine like me and used an inferior source of ignition? Maybe a Bic? I can't be the only one. At any rate, the spill makes a very, very clean flame and I definitely tasted the difference from using a torch or other methods.

The spill produced an enjoyable smoke. I didn't get much of the cedar-enhanced flavor when I was smoking a fairly strong cigar. However, I did get a small amount when I switched to a lighter-bodied cigar. What I really enjoyed was that it appeared to extend the smoking time for me – it seemed that my cigars burned slower and more evenly. I'm guessing this is due to my ability to control the flame when lighting so I didn't char it quite so much. Even though the smoke seemed to be cooler than I get with a torch, it never had to be retouched.

However, there were some potential drawbacks mentioned by some smokers in using the spills. There were concerns about letting the spill burn out in an ashtray – if one was part of a large group of people, it might not be prudent for everyone to use them at the same time, because they do produce a substantial flame as they burn out; I strongly suggest having a large, deep ashtray as a safe place to let the spills burn out. Additionally, I think they'd be very challenging to use in an outdoor situation if it were windy – this is where the torch definitely has the advantage. There was also the reminder to take extra care when using the spills around liquor – I know this kind of goes without saying, but I'm saying it – just be safe.

My conclusion is that this is a very stylish and elegant solution for lighting your cigars. The clean flame and even burn are a great benefit, plus I have to admit there's a cool, classy, old-school feel to using them. I felt SO cool using them! You may want to save this for special occasions or when you want to impress, but you could certainly use them all the time. The majority of the smokers who I shared the spills with saw them as more of a unique or novelty item, but I think that there is a large group of passionate smokers who this would appeal to. I really love the contrast between the high-tech jet engine lighters we have now, and the appeal of the gentle, open flame. I encourage you to give them a try!

Cigar Reserve cedar spills are available online at and in 50 stores nationwide. The 25-spill box retails for $12.95, and the 50-spill box retails for $19.95. Cigar Reserve is giving away two engraved boxes to readers, please comment on this post to enter (just let us know what you think about this concept) – the winner will be announced in one week. Happy smoking!

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Written by Cigar Reserve — April 28, 2015

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