Lets face it, you wouldn’t buy a fine bottle of Cognac and take it to the ballpark and drink it with the folks hanging out with you in the upper deck section using paper cups.
The same holds true for maximizing your enjoyment of a premium cigar – it deserves attention and some ritual that recognizes the importance of what you’re doing: paying attention to the proper cutting, lighting and smoking.
The First Step in Enjoying a Cigar starts with the not so Mundane Cutter
Every premium cigar comes out of the box or wrapper sealed at the mouth end (commonly called the “head”) with what is called a “cap of tobacco.”
You can buy a very simple, effective affordable guillotine style cutter that will get the job done for you or more expensive more sophisticated “cigar scissors.” Both will get the job done, with slightly different results that can impact your ability to enjoy the experience.
- You want a cut that is clean and even, not ragged. Ragged cuts run the risk of damaging the wrapper and can even hamper the actual draw.
- If you just pierce the tip this too also impacts flavor, this can compress the filler and also interfere with the draw.
- It’s important to note, the cap of a cigar seals the cigar but it also keeps the wrapper from unraveling – so cut the cap cleanly at the shoulders of the cigar, you won’t ruin the wrapper and you’ll open the cigar head enough to get a free draw.
- In a pinch, yes you can use your fingertips or your teeth. But both of these methods yield an uneven cut and a cigar that will unravel as you smoke it.
- Wedge cutters don’t work well with today’s thicker cigars; they were conceived back in the early days when cigars were much thinner. For a bigger cigar they may be okay; but we recommend and use a standard guillotine cigar cutter.
Just remember, make a clean cut and remove enough of the cap to create a good draw and whether you buy a cutter or not, use something sharp. Never: your teeth, that’s not going to end well for your teeth or your premium cigar.
Lighting a Cigar Properly is the Next Step in the Smoking Ritual
When your lighting a cigar it’s important to remember to take your time and ensure you do a thorough job, lighting the cigar evenly.
You can use butane lighter or a reliable zippo lighter – matches should only be used if nothing else is handy, or if you’ve purchased slow burning matches from a reliable supplier. But, avoid inexpensive matches with a high sulfur or wax content, they can ruin the flavor.
First, cut the cap of the cigar, hold the cigar horizontally and make sure you have direct contact with the flame. Rotate the cigar until the end is charred evenly over the entire surface.
Then, put the cigar in your mouth, holding the flame about half an inch from the end of the cigar and draw slowly. Draw the flame into the cigar, which will give you proper ignition and check the cigar by blowing on it to ensure you have it lit evenly.
Smoking a Cigar Should be done with Some Attention to Detail
An older, higher quality cigar will typically burn more easily than “younger” less expensive cigars. Take your time, savor the flavor and enjoy the experience – a great cigar should not be puffed or dragged on too frequently.
Some just rip a band off casually, this is not going to enhance your experience, as bands are frequently glued to the wrapper and ripping it off will cause damage to the cigar. Smoke about a third of the cigar, letting the band warm up and then you are ready to remove it without damaging the cigar. Just slip it off.
Should you smoke the whole cigar and go all in on the experience? That’s a tough call; some cigar lovers think once they’ve worked through the first one third or half of the cigar the flavor will diminish by smoking more.
A Great Cigar Experience is always a Subjective Process
There is no absolute “right” advice we can give you – it’s up to individual taste. Just remember as you work your way through the cigar the flavor will get stronger the longer you smoke it.
Most premium cigars are made with a lighter end of the tobacco leaf at the end farthest from the stem – as you smoke it you are smoking the strongest part of the leaf, giving you a much more intense, stronger and richer taste.
Remember to keep the tip of the cigar as dry as possible (the Al Capone method of jamming a stick in your mouth and yakking away is never a good thing) – tars and nicotine will build up in the saliva and ruin the taste of the cigar.
Let a cigar burn at it’s own pace – think sipping a glass of great cognac leisurely, not gulping it down. It’s about enjoying the experience.
There’s nothing wrong with a cigar going out, especially if you’ve smoke over half of it. In most cases and if you’ve got a great cigar you can relight it for up to an hour.
But, if left much longer you are not going to have as good an experience and we recommend never ever letting that stick sit around all night and firing it up the next day. It’s a lost cause that’s not going to be a great experience.
Also, never roll a cigar around and hold it up to your ear – anyone who knows their way around a great cigar will think you are a newby and never warm up the length of a cigar – that was necessary back in the “ancient days” when cigars were made using gum and burning it off was necessary. No longer the case.
A Premium Cigar Experience is the Proverbial Sum of its Parts
Take your time smoking a great premium cigar, use a sharp implement to cut the cap, let it burn at its own pace, don’t puff it like a steam engine, only put it in your mouth when you are ready to enjoy the flavor and when you are done, let it burn out and never/ever crush it, let it die naturally.
As always, we hope this post was enjoyable in some small way and educational.