If you’re fresh on the cigar scene and exploring this ancient pastime for the first time there are probably a few things you want to know. We’re here to help both the novice and the experienced cigar lover enjoy their cigar smoking experience to the utmost. So if you’re exploring cigars for the first time here are six things you need to know.
1. How Cigars Are Made
Completely natural long leaf tobacco, typically from the Caribbean or Central America, is cured after harvest, divided into wrapper, binder or filler, then fermented for a time to ensure smooth and rich flavor. Every aspect of preparing the tobacco for the end product is done naturally. A fine cigar is free from any chemical additives. The rich and unique flavors are achieved through natural processes.
Once the tobacco is ready the artisans take over. Cigar rollers have honed their craft for many years. They blend the tobacco until the desired taste is achieved and hand roll the perfect stogie as only they know how. The cigar is truly a work of art, created by nature and man coming together with a single purpose.
As with any handmade product each cigar is unique. Much like a fine wine, the premium cigar takes on the flavors of the environment in which the tobacco was grown. And we know climates are not consistent therefore the taste of cigars varies slightly from year to year. However, just like the vintner strives for perfection, a dedicated cigar maker also takes pride in bringing you the very best flavors each time.
2. Understand There is Order to The Ritual
Apologies to Dr. Sigmund Freud, himself an avid cigar aficionado, but a cigar is really much more than “just a cigar.” Smoking a fine cigar is a ritual to be enjoyed. If you have fun when you indulge, if you feel a sense of gratification as you smoke your cigar then you get it.
The pleasure of a good cigar is that it relaxes you when you’ve had a rough day, celebrates with you as you achieve a goal, allows you to reflect on accomplishments or simply reminisce with good friends.
3. How to Cut or Punch
As with most of life’s best pastimes there is an order to the ritual. Because they are handmade premium cigars don’t come ready to smoke. You must prepare your stogie beforehand. The cap is the closed end of the cigar and the end from which you will smoke. In order to allow smoke and air flow through as you draw you need to remove the cap.
You can do this one of two ways. You can use a cigar cutter to cut the cap, as many longtime smokers do. However, this needs to be an exact operation so it may take practice. Your cigar cutter must be razor sharp so make sure you use the right tool intended for that purpose only. Cut your cigar no more than 1/16th of an inch from the end of the cap. Any more and you risk your cigar unraveling.
The punch method has its fans as well and is a bit easier for the newbie to get right. You simply insert the blade end into the cigar using light pressure. Rotate the punch tool back and forth to loosen the tobacco and allow an easy flow of smoke and air to enhance your pleasure.
4. The Proper Way to Light Your Cigar
The preferred method for lighting your cigar is the butane lighter. Butane burns clean and will not impart a chemical flavor, ruining your smoking experience. You also need to use the right lighter for the job. There are several versions of cigar lighters available at various price points designed to allow you a proper light for your cigar.
After cutting your cigar, but before you put it in your mouth, hold your stogie at a 45° angle with the foot (the lighted end) a few inches from the flame. Now slowly rotate the foot as you move the lighter to toast the end of your cigar. By following this method you’re ensuring the entire area is toasted in order to unleash the full flavor. You want to make sure the wrapper (outside leaf of the cigar) is lit, as well as the inner filling. The wrapper is the most flavorful tobacco. Simply putting the stogie in your mouth and firing it up results in only the filling being lit and you miss out on the superior flavor profile.
Next, blow on the foot to help the orange glow permeate and become evenly spread across the foot. Once you’ve ensured the foot is evenly lit allow your cigar to rest a minute or two.
5. Ahhhh, Let the Smoking Commence
So now you’re ready to smoke your cigar. Pick up your stogie and examine the foot. If it is unlit, re-toast but this time draw gently after the foot glows orange. Never inhale your cigar as you would other smoke. The pleasure of a cigar is found in the rich, deep flavors. Keep them in your mouth and never draw into your lungs. You’ll end up in a coughing fit at the very least and may actually become ill.
Draw the smoke gently, taste the flavor then slowly blow the smoke back out. Don’t ever draw too hard or the air you bring in could cause the cigar to burn hot, destroying the flavor experience and, possibly, causing your cigar to come apart. Slow and gentle is the key to enjoying every moment to the fullest.
6. Some Caveats to Aid in Your Enjoyment
- If you’re very new to smoking, in general, you will want to take breaks while enjoying your cigar. The amount of nicotine may cause you to feel dizzy or nauseous. Try not to smoke on an empty stomach. A prime stogie is best enjoyed after a good meal.
- Don’t ash your cigar as you would a cigarette. The build-up of ash helps to regulate the amount of air drawn in with each puff. Burning your cigar at a low and slow rate helps prevent overheating and scorching your tobacco.
- Keep a firm grip on your cigar. Don’t hold it like you would a cigarette or you could drop it and ruin your day. Instead hold it gently but firmly between your thumb and fingers. This also allows you to rotate your stogie and keep the burn even.
Remember the Right Accessories Make or Break Your Experience
As someone who enjoys a fine smoke you will also need to investigate the proper gear. Lighters, cutters, punches and, of course, humidors to keep your cigars in perfect condition until you’re ready to pause and enjoy, are necessary to the experience. Northwoods Humidors carries a full line of cigar accessories to ensure a great smoke every time.