Cigar smoking is something which many people see on the television and in films and think they can buy cigars online and replicate it just as Hollywood shows us. However, there’s a lot of history behind this age-old practice, with an entire dedicated to the sophisticated art.
With this in mind, we’ve looked at a beginner’s guide to smoking cigars, along with a bit of history, and some tips and tricks, so next time your friend passes around a cigar at the next special occasion, you’ll be able to smoke it like a pro.
History Of The Cigar
It is often said that Christopher Columbus discovered cigars, but they were around way before he supposedly discovered them. It is probably more accurate to say that he helped to introduce cigars to mainstream culture.
The explorer and his sailors were said to have witnessed local natives in the Caribbean rolling up and smoking dried tobacco leaves, which was a foreign concept to the explorers at the time. Upon trying this primitive form of cigar, the adventurers discovered they really enjoyed the experience, so they loaded up on the leaves and returned to Spain. It didn’t take long before cigar-rolling techniques were perfect and cigar smoking spread throughout the world.
Eventually, cigar smoking became a popular activity amongst men in the early 20th century. Mark Twain was a well-known stogie smoker, reportedly smoking as many as 22 cigars a day! He was supposedly quoted as saying, “If smoking is not allowed in Heaven, I shall not go.”
Before you go ahead and grab the biggest, fattest cigar you can find, chuck it in your mouth and light it up, just slow down a minute… If it is your first time, find a nice, mild cigar as some flavors might be a bit too strong for a first-timer and ultimately ruin the experience.
You will also find that mild cigars are slightly cheaper, which will make it easier to ease into the hobby. You also won’t have to worry about lighting an expensive cigar incorrectly, or cutting off too much of the cap of an expensive cigar.
Once you have picked your cigar, give it a thorough once-over for any imperfections. Check the wrapper for discoloration or cracks, and search for any soft or hard spots by gently squeezing the cigar. Soft spots may indicate that your cigar has less tobacco in it than you would want, whilst hard spots may indicate it has been packed too tightly, resulting in a plugged cigar which is much harder to smoke. Although many cigar enthusiasts would rather replace the plugged cigar, gently massaging it to relieve the plug can sometimes solve the issue.
Cutting The Cigar
If you don’t have a cigar cutter (chances you won’t on your first run out), you will need another way to remove the end of it. You’ve no doubt seen cigar-chomping characters such as Wolverine bite the end off the cigar and lighting up, but this is a major no-no! Instead, you should use some scissors or a sharp knife to remove the end, or you can poke a hole in the end of the cigar. This will provide a passageway between the tobacco and your mouth without unraveling the cigar or getting little bits of tobacco in your mouth.
However, if you are going to make cigar smoking a regular thing, you should buy a cigar cutter, which is the easiest way to remove the end of your cigar and provides the best smoking experience. The most traditional form of a cutter is the guillotine, which works exactly as you would expect a guillotine to!
To use it effectively, hold your cigar in one hand and the cutter in the other. Insert the head of the cigar (the closed end) roughly an eighth to a sixteenth of an inch into the cutter, then simply cut the cap off in a clean, smooth action. Avoid cutting into the body of the cigar, as this will cause it to unravel.
Lighting The Cigar
For the best smoking experience, you should light your cigar using a butane lighter or a wooden match. Never use a candle to light your cigar, especially scented ones! You might have seen someone do it before and they look cool, but a mouthful of Cherry Blossom is never cool.
While lighting, without inhaling, puff, and rotate your cigar while holding the flame just below the other end of it. You should be careful not to let your cigar touch the flame, rather let the heat from the flame do the work.
Continue this process until the tobacco around the outer rim of your cigar begins to glow from the heat. At this point, the smoke should be easy to draw and you should be ready to enjoy your cigar. Keep your matches or lighter to hand just in case you let your cigar die out.
Now you just sit back, relax and enjoy your cigar. But remember, do not inhale the smoke! Allow the smoke to fill your mouth, taste it and blow it out. Continue to puff and rotate your cigar occasionally, and be sure to smoke it at a consistent rate. If you smoke it too fast, your cigar will burn quickly and ruin the flavor. If you smoke it too slow, you’ll have to frequently relight it. You should also flick the ashes off once they’re down to about half an inch.
We’ve left this section until last, as we initially wouldn’t recommend heading out and purchasing a humidor, as chances are you are just getting started in the art of cigar smoking. Just don’t buy more cigars than you can smoke within a few days, and keep them safe in their cellophane packaging to prevent them from drying out. A dried-out cigar burns quicker and will peel or crack more easily and will lose its flavor.
However, if you plan on committing to the past-time, investing in a humidor is a must. A humidor is essentially a box which optimizes the humidity surrounding your cigars, keeping them fresh and worthy of smoking for an extended period of time.
Simply follow these easy guidelines to ensure you will be smoking your stogies like a pro in no time!