The world of cigar smoking can be very complicated. From facing endless options of cigar brands, styles and flavours, to the etiquette of cigar smoking, there is a lot for first-time cigar smokers to understand. Cigar Club have created this guide to help you get comfortable with the cigar-smoking lifestyle.
1. Cutting and lighting techniques
In general, cigars are not sold ready to smoke. They need to be cut and lit before you can start smoking, which can take some practice.
When it comes to cutting your cigar, it is important not to cut off too much. Most cigars have a taper at the head, which is known as the shoulder and this line is a great guide to follow when cutting. If you cut too much off, it can result in a firmer draw and build-up tar in the cigar head.
Top tip: the cigar wrapper unravelling after you cut the top indicates that you have cut off too much so if this happens to you, remember to leave more next time.
In terms of lighting your cigar, you need to be very delicate and avoid direct contact with the cigar. Lighting it too closely to the flame can leave your cigar tasting like charcoal. Some of the most popular cutting techniques include the ‘straight cut’, which gives a bigger draw and ‘punch’ and ‘v’ cuts, which are much more intense and concentrated on the palette.
2. The age of cigars matters
The ageing of tobacco is essential both during and after cigars are produced. Before cigars are rolled, tobacco leaves are aged. To do this, the leaves are packed into tight packages and undergo a slow breakdown of carotenoid which enriches the desirable properties of tobacco. Once the cigars have been produced, they are dispatched to an ageing room.
Ageing tobacco also removes any vegetal flavours, so if your cigar tastes ‘green’ it probably hasn’t been aged for long enough. A perfectly aged cigar has an orange, almondy taste without any bitterness.
It is important to note that an aged cigar might show tiny white specks known as plumes. Plumes can sometimes be mistaken for mould but they just mean the cigar is well-aged. It’s also important to note that cigars can be overaged, causing loss of flavour and body and resulting in a stale and dusty taste.
3. Don’t inhale cigars
Although cigars may look similar to cigarettes they must be treated differently – cigar smokers should never inhale cigar smoke. To properly smoke a cigar, draw the smoke into your mouth and let it hit your palate so you can taste the aromas. Then, release the smoke from your mouth or push it out from your nose.
4. Smoke on a full stomach
Beginners often do not realise that smoking on an empty stomach can have some unpleasant side effects including nausea. Even if you don’t have time for a full meal, having a snack before smoking and filling the hole in your stomach helps prevent the feeling of sickness.
5. The impact of a cigar size
Choosing the right size cigar for your smoking habits is important when buying cigars. One of the main things to consider is how long you would like to enjoy your cigar. If you have a long time, opt for a Churchill cigar as they take longer to burn out. However, if you want a more timely smoke, Corona cigars might be better suited.
The size of a cigar can also impact its taste. Longer cigars give off a stronger finish because they have a larger quantity of tobacco whereas shorter cigars often have a more intense flavour as they heat up much closer to your palate.
Getting to grips with exactly what is involved in cigar smoking will put you in the position to master this premium hobby. From knowing which cigar is right for you, to perfecting your smoking skills.