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The Cigar Smoking Ritual: How to Smoke Cigars

June 10th, 2010

cigar-smoking-guide.jpgMedia portrayals of cigar smokers have long been far from correct. Many people have seen films in which a character chomps into a cigar and spits away a wad of tobacco before lighting it with frantic puffs that instantly fill the room with a haze of smoke. Both of these acts can ruin the flavor of a cigar permanently, however, and have little in common with the proper method of preparing and smoking a cigar. A premium hand-rolled cigar can often be smoked for more than an hour, so there is little reason to hurry through the process of lighting it. Approach every aspect of preparing and smoking a cigar with care to maximize the enjoyment of the experience.

Cutting the Cigar

All premium hand-rolled cigars must be cut in order to allow air and smoke to pass through them. The cut is made in the “cap,” the circular segment of tobacco that is glued onto the end of a cigar to hold the rolled tobacco in place. In cutting the cigar, an incision is made in the cap to allow air and smoke through without taking the cap itself off, which would cause the cigar to begin to come apart. Cigar cutters are used by smokers to make the proper cut without destroying a cigar. Cigar cutters are available in two main varieties: blade-style and bullet-style.

Blade-style Cigar Cutters

Depending on the design, a blade-style cutter will have either one or two blades, positioned aside a central hole. Place your thumb and index or middle finger into the small holes on the sides of the cutter, then expand the cutter to open the center hole. Line the cap of the cigar up with the tip of the blade so that the blade will cut a small hole into the cap. Squeeze the cutter closed with a quick, firm motion.

Bullet-style Cigar Cutters

Bullet-style cutters tend to cost slightly more than blade-style cutters, which are often given away for free by tobacconists. However, because it is more difficult to use a bullet-style cutter incorrectly, they tend to be a superior choice for new cigar smokers. Use a bullet-style cutter by placing it on the end of the cigar and pushing it directly down while twisting. The cutter will create a circular hole in the end of the cigar with the proper width and depth for adequate air flow.

Lighting the Cigar

Although the act of smoking a cigar requires burning the tobacco, a high-temperature flame is the enemy of a premium cigar. Great care should be exercised when lighting a cigar with a butane lighter, as the cigar can quickly become overly hot, causing a foul taste. Likewise, lighters containing naphtha tend to impart an undesirable flavor to cigars. Sulfur-free wood matches, available from most tobacconists, are the best tool for lighting a cigar without overheating it or affecting the taste and aroma. Hold the cigar at a 45-degree angle, and slowly bring the flame of a lit match toward it. With the flame touching the cigar, turn the cigar to slowly create a toasted ring on the end. When the ring is complete, bring the cigar and match to your mouth and take a puff. Take slow, even draws on the cigar, rotating it between puffs until the end of the cigar has an even orange glow, indicating that it is fully lit. The process of lighting a cigar is a slow one, and several matches may be consumed before you have completed the process.

Smoking the Cigar

A properly-smoked premium cigar is one that is on the verge of going out. Keeping the cigar just lit results in a cool smoke that allows the full complexity of flavor in the tobacco to come through while avoiding the harshness that comes with high heat. It is equally important, however, not to let the cigar go out. A cigar that has been extinguished never has the same taste after being relit that it did prior. Smoke the cigar by taking a long, slow draw about once per minute. Let the smoke linger in your mouth as the full flavor develops, then exhale. Cigar smoke should never be inhaled. If one side of the cigar begins to burn more quickly than the other, bring a lit match up to the slow-burning side for a moment. In most cases, this will correct the problem.

Finishing the Cigar

As tar and moisture accumulate in a lit cigar, the flavor begins to change. After the cigar is half-smoked, you may find that this adds a bitter flavor note that eventually overpowers the taste of the tobacco. When the cigar stops being enjoyable, it is time to stop smoking it. A cigar should not be put out by being crushed as a cigarette would be, as this tends to release unpleasant odors into the air. Instead, place the cigar in an ashtray until it extinguishes itself, then dispose of it.

Where to Buy Cigars

In the offline world (outside of the Internet), cigars can be purchased at specialty tobacco shops which are located in most large and medium-sized cities. Sometimes you can also find them at supermarkets and corner grocery stores, but the selection tends to be limited and the prices may not be to your liking due to various factors such as state tobacco regulations or local sales taxes. A more convenient option would be to buy cigars online from venues such as the Famous Smoke Shop, which carries a good selection of popular types and brands such as Cohiba, Backwoods, CAO, Padron, Dominican, and many others. Cigar accessories and humidors are also available.


This article was supplied by Gabriel Morgan from Constant Content.

Somewhat related article: Roll Your Own Cigarettes


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