Cigar smoking is an experience that is both relaxing and sophisticated, offering a world of flavors and aromas to those who partake in it. Whether you are new to the world of cigars or a seasoned aficionado, this guide will provide you with everything you need to know about how to properly smoke cigars, from choosing the right cigar to understanding the nuances in flavor. Let’s dive right in!
How to Choose a Cigar
To truly enjoy a cigar, it is essential to choose the right one for your taste and preferences. A visit to your local cigar shop can provide you with expert advice on the best types of cigars for your palate, as well as the opportunity to explore a variety of options.
Examining the Wrapper
The wrapper is the outermost leaf of the cigar and plays a significant role in its flavor. A well-constructed wrapper should be smooth, shiny, and have minimal veins. The color of the wrapper can indicate the flavor profile, with lighter wrappers tending to be milder and darker wrappers typically offering a more robust cigar taste. When you’re ready to smoke a cigar, make sure to examine the wrapper for any imperfections, such as cracks or mold, which could affect the smoking experience.
Understanding Size and Shape
Cigars come in various shapes and sizes, which can influence the smoking experience. Common sizes include the corona, churchill, and torpedo. Larger cigars will burn longer and typically have a cooler smoke, while smaller cigars may offer a more intense flavor but burn quicker. Consider what type of experience you are seeking and select a cigar accordingly.
Preparing the Cigar
Before you can enjoy your cigar, you must properly prepare it. This involves cutting the closed end of the cigar, toasting the foot, and lighting it.
How to Cut a Cigar
The best way to cut a cigar is to use a cigar cutter, such as a guillotine, straight cut, or punch, to create a clean cut on the cap (the closed end) of the cigar. The key is to make a clean, even cut to ensure a proper draw. If you don’t have a cigar cutter, a sharp knife can be used as an alternative.
Toasting the Foot
Toasting the foot (the open end) of the cigar before lighting helps to create an even burn. Hold the cigar at a 45-degree angle and use a lighter or torch to gently warm the foot, taking care not to scorch the wrapper. Rotate the cigar to ensure an even toast, and blow on it gently if needed to promote an even light.
How to Light a Cigar
Now it’s time to bring your cigar to life.
Using the Right Lighter
The best lighters for cigars are butane torches, as they provide a clean, odorless flame. Avoid using fluid-based lighters or matches, as they can impart undesirable flavors to the cigar.
Rotating the Cigar
As you light the cigar, rotate it to ensure an even burn. Hold the flame about half an inch away from the foot and gently puff on the cigar until it is evenly lit. Make sure not to let the flame touch the cigar directly, as this can cause it to burn unevenly.
The Right Way to Smoke a Cigar
With your cigar lit, it’s time to enjoy the experience.
Drawing and Puffing
To draw smoke from the cigar, take gentle, slow puffs. Avoid inhaling the cigar smoke into your lungs; instead, let it linger in your mouth for a moment to savor the flavors before exhaling. Over-puffing can cause the cigar to overheat and become harsh, so aim for a puff every 30 seconds to one minute.
Holding the Cigar
Hold the cigar between your index finger and thumb, rather than pinching it between your fingers. This allows for better control and keeps the cigar from overheating. Avoid holding the cigar between your index and middle finger like a cigarette, as this can cause it to burn unevenly and affect the flavor.
Savoring the Flavors
A key aspect of cigar smoking is appreciating the nuances in flavor. As you smoke, pay attention to the tastes and aromas that emerge, and consider how they change throughout the smoking experience.
Identifying Flavor Notes
Cigars offer a complex array of flavors that can include notes of earth, wood, spice, and sweetness. The composition of the tobacco, the wrapper, and the way the cigar is constructed can all contribute to the unique flavor profile of each cigar. As you smoke, try to identify the different flavor notes and how they develop as you progress through the cigar.
Pairing Cigars with Beverages
Many cigar enthusiasts enjoy pairing their cigars with beverages that complement the flavors. Common pairings include whiskey, cognac, and red wine, as well as coffee and tea. Experiment with different pairings to find the ones that enhance your cigar smoking experience. Keep in mind that personal preference plays a significant role in determining the best pairings, so don’t be afraid to try new combinations.
Proper Cigar Etiquette
To fully enjoy your cigar, it’s important to follow proper etiquette. Some cigar beginners may not know how to properly smoke a cigar. This not only enhances your own experience but also ensures that those around you can appreciate the art of cigar smoking as well.
Ashing the Cigar
Allow the ash to build up on the end of the cigar, as it helps to maintain a consistent temperature. Gently tap the cigar against an ashtray when the ash becomes too long, usually about an inch in length. Be careful not to tap too hard, as this can cause the cigar to go out or damage the wrapper.
Knowing When to Stop
A cigar is considered finished when it’s about two inches long or when the flavors become too harsh. To extinguish the cigar, simply set it down in an ashtray and let it go out on its own. Avoid crushing or stubbing it out, as this can create an unpleasant odor.
Smoking a cigar is an art form that requires attention to detail and an appreciation for the subtleties of flavor. By following these guidelines and making use of the provided keywords, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a satisfying and sophisticated cigar smoking experience. Whether you’re starting with your first cigar or you’re a seasoned smoker, there’s always something new to learn and discover in the world of cigars. So, take your time, savor the flavors, and enjoy the journey.
How long does it take to smoke a cigar?
The time it takes to smoke a cigar depends on its size and your smoking pace. Generally, a smaller cigar may take 30 minutes to an hour, while a larger cigar could take up to two hours or more.
Should I remove the cigar band while smoking?
There is no strict rule for this, but it is generally best to leave the band on until the cigar has warmed up. The heat can loosen the glue, making it easier to remove without damaging the wrapper.
What should I do with a cigar that has gone out?
If a cigar goes out, simply tap off any excess ash and gently re-toast the foot before relighting it. Avoid puffing too hard, as this can cause the cigar to overheat.
How should I store my cigars?
To maintain their freshness and flavor, cigars should be stored in a humidor at a temperature of 65-70°F (18-21°C) and a humidity level of 65-72%.
Can I smoke a cigar that has been cut for a few days?
While it’s best to smoke a cigar immediately after cutting, if it has only been a few days, you can still enjoy it. However, the cigar may have lost some of its freshness and flavor, so it’s always best to cut and smoke a cigar within the same day if possible.