Novice and Aficionados alike all go through the same process when going about smoking a cigar. Today we will be sharing a little information on the process and how to turn that process into a ritual, setting yourself up for and enjoyable and relaxing smoking experience every time.
First, you must make your cigar selection. This is arguably the most enjoyable step. With so many cigars to choose from ranging in body, strength, and flavor profile your choices can be overwhelming at times. Here are some questions you can ask yourself when selecting a cigar.
Have you eaten yet?
This is a critical question as it will dictate whether or not you will be able to withstand the strength of a cigar. Choosing a stronger cigar on an empty stomach is not a great situation for anyone. The nicotane can turn your stomach and leave you with shakes and sweats. Likewise, a cigar too mild after a full and rich meal can leave you underwhelmed.
How much time do you have to smoke?
Throwing away half a cigar is a waste of money. It is more appropriate to select a cigar for the time you have allotted yourself. Generally speaking, a Robusto (5” by 50 Rg) will last roughly 35-40 minutes, Toro (6” x 50 Rg) will last about 45-55 minutes, and a Churchill (7” x 50 Rg) will last roughly 50 minutes to an hour. Larger formats like Double Coronas, Double Toros, and Gordos will last well over an hour.
What kind of flavor profile are you looking for?
Cigars can be sweet, spicy, earthy, nutty, smooth, or complex. If you are unsure about what a particular cigar tastes like, there are plenty of resources on youtube, blogs on the web, or publications that focus on cigars. Also, your local reputable tobacconist should be able to walk you through their humidor and answer all the questions you may have.
After you have made your selection, now it is time to cut your cigar. While there are a few different ways to cut a cigar, the most popular cut by far is a straight cut from a double guillotine cigar cutter. This cut offers a fuller draw, more smoke from a cigar that is. Another popular cut is that of a V-Cutter. The V-Cut takes a slit across the top of a cigar, leaving less tobacco to fall into your mouth. This cut also restricts the draw making for a longer and essentially a higher concentration of flavor from the cigar drawn onto your palate. Finally, a Punch Cut is very popular amongst beginners and veterans alike. A Punch Cut punches a small hole at the head of a cigar, removing part of the cap allowing for a smooth and consistent draw. This cut is the cleanest as less tobacco will fall into your mouth while smoking. This cut also promotes a higher concentration of flavor on the palate. The biggest benefit is that this cut is hard to mess up, as double guillotines allow for users to cut more than is necessarily required. Although, it should be noted that is impossible to correctly punch a torpedo or belicoso shape.
After making your preferred cut, it is finally time to light your cigar. The tried and true method of lighting a cigar is cedar stemmed matches. Cedar stemmed matches offer a clean burning solution as opposed to butane or lighter fluid that can leave a taste throughout the cigar. Simply strike your match against the friction strip, wait for the sulfur to burn and proceed to light your cigar. Use two matches together to form a larger flame. At this point, toast the foot while slowly rotating the cigar. Once all the edges are lit, you may begin puffing until a full red cherry is present. In windy or rainy situations, a lighter can offer a better solution. Popular on boats, gold courses, and cigar shops, lighters come in many varieties including soft flame, jet, or multi-jet. A softer flame is less aggressive and allows the user to patiently toast the foot and continue to light as normal. Jet lighters are efficient but burn hot. Be sure to exercise restraints and patience as to not smolder or char your tobacco. Regardless of the lighter you choose to use, be sure to use only the most pure and clean butane you can find. Cheap butane will ruin your lighter over time and render it useless, as well as give your cigar a horrible taste that will not go away.
The final step is to relax and enjoy your cigar. Whatever methods you choose, you now have a ritual to get yourself into a cigar smoking mood. Whether or not you are by yourself, with friends, have a coffee, or your favorite drink in front of you, on the boat, links, or on the porch you have made it to this point in the day. Sit back, relax, and enjoy friends!