There’s nothing as manly as choosing the perfect cigar, firing it up, and puffing away while sipping a nice Scotch. The first half of this equation can be befuddling to anyone who has never picked up a stogie before. I mean, sure – you’re supposed to light one end of it and puff the other, but is there more to it?
Yes and no. While light and puff are the basics of cigar smoking, there are a few subtle tricks that will help you make the most of the experience. The next time a friend brings out the humidor, here’s a quick guide to smoking a cigar that will have you looking like a pro.
Price Doesn’t Necessarily Equal the Best
To start out, you’ll need to choose a cigar. Especially if you’re just starting out in the world of cigar smoking, you shouldn’t drop a load of money on a cigar thinking that you won’t enjoy it unless you smoke the most expensive one. Cigars are a lot like wine – it’s important to try different ones and figure out what you like, regardless of price. In time, you’ll develop more expensive tastes, but when you start out, all of that will be wasted.
Shopping for cigars online is great because you can read reviews and learn about the flavors and aromas you can expect from each kind. Find a reputable online cigar sales shop like Holt’s Cigar Company that has an extensive selection.
If you’re choosing from a friend’s humidor, a good tip is to (with permission) check out a few and gently roll them between your fingers. A good cigar should have a firm feel throughout. Choose a different one if you notice soft areas or lumps as you roll it around.
Cutting and Lighting
If it’s your first time and you’re smoking a cigar with friends, resist the urge to bite off the end of the cigar. Only rubes (and characters in movies) do this. A cigar clipper will help you trim the end off cleanly. Don’t cut too far into the cigar, as this could tear the wrapper. Next, light the cigar – preferably with a torch lighter. The butane from regular cigarette lighters can affect the flavor of a fine cigar.
To light it, with the cigar in your hand, hold the tip just above the flame and rotate it to toast it and get the end burning properly before you puff. Don’t let the end of the cigar touch the flame. Once it’s glowing orange, you’re ready to go. If you can’t get it going, give it a few puffs to help it along.
Making the Magic Happen
The most important thing to remember is that smoking a cigar isn’t like smoking a cigarette or…er…OTHER things that one might smoke. Never inhale. Pull the smoke into your mouth and then slowly exhale it, enjoying the flavors on your palate. Sit back, puff, and experience the taste and aroma. From time to time, gently tap the ash off into an ashtray to keep it from spilling onto your shirt or pants.
One question newbie cigar smokers often have is whether or not to remove the band. Why remove it? The band tells everyone what brand of cigar you’re enjoying. Besides that, when you remove it, you risk potentially tearing the cigar wrapper. Just leave it in place and enjoy.
Putting Your Cigar Out
All good things must come to an end, and when it’s time to put out your cigar… don’t. Do not “butt out” your cigar like it’s a cigarette. Simply place it in the ashtray and once you stop puffing on it, the cigar flame will go out on its own.
That’s it! Now that you’ve got a leg up on the other cigar novices out there, which brand will you choose to try first?