Of course, you have. This particular ‘how to’ is everywhere.
If you’ve surfed multiple tobacco-related websites, there is a very high chance you’ve read something that in some shape or form guides you on smoking a cigar. This being said, it is also likely you’ve already smoked a robusto or twenty-seven churchills, because most people who visit these pages are into cigars.
Nonetheless, there are potential readers that may actually want to learn about cigar-smoking 101, even though we may be writing for a total of twelve individual readers. Cutting to the chase, there’s not one way to approach a cigar, but many. There isn’t one particular cigar everyone should begin with or a specific position the stogie should be in when held, because we’re all different; but there are guidelines and parameters that will make you look better and enjoy the experience more than if you weren’t aware of them.
WHAT TO SMOKE
Is your stomach full?
What are you drinking?
How often do you smoke?
What time is it?
Where are you? No, seriously your mother is asking.
These are just a few crucial factors that come into play when selecting a cigar, but if you’re an experienced smoker, you will already know which of these roles play which part when selecting the next smoke.
Non-experts, listen up. Generally speaking, if you’ve fed yourself heavily you are more likely to tolerate a stronger cigar, but will have this recent palate infliction affect your perception of the smoke itself. This is not necessarily a bad thing, some meals enhance the performance of the flavors and strength of a cigar, while others neutralize them.
The same concept applies to what you’ll be drinking (not necessarily alcohol). Try to understand the relationship of your drink vs. the information you can obtain from your potential cigar candidates, in order to make a more concise decision. In other words, if your palate enjoys sweet tastes, try to drink something sweet while selecting a cigar that the internet or your shop’s vendor will say contains sweet notes (maybe a cigar that has a Maduro wrapper), and see if that enhances the complimenting flavor. If you don’t enjoy this, well, go for something that will contrast the sweetness of your drink, like something with earthy flavors. This is all very subjective, so a/b testing will be your best friend here.
General thought, if you’re new to this world, go for cigars that are on the milder side, work your way into those strong-dynamic sticks with time, some people escalate quickly, some enjoy milder cigars forever. Let your palate and your mind dictate what you like and can tolerate. We know cigar industry veterans that have been smoking since JFK was president, that won’t go near something that’s not a mild and creamy Connecticut-leaf-wrapped cigar.
HOW TO CUT
Cut, snap, pinch the cigar if you want to. Do as it most pleases you, but do it respectfully because you may break it. Please, do not put the cigar in your mouth before cutting it if you will borrow a cutter, others don’t want your drool all over it.
There is no better way of cutting a cigar. Carlos Fuente Jr., Litto Gomez, Jochy Blanco, and many other renowned manufacturers will use their mouths, nails, a cutter, or anything that’s on hand, as long as they’re respecting the cigar.
Make sure the cap is not too dry (you can tell by looking at it). If so, place one drop of water on it (the cap) and spread with your thumb, this will slightly moisturize the cap and reduce the chances of cracking, which would likely unveil the wrapper and ruin the smoke. If you will go for the cutter, make sure you understand it is not a guillotine, cut the least amount of cap you possibly can.
Matches, butane or pure Isobutane (common Bic-type lighter fluid) only; that’s it. Naphtha, Kerosene, and other lighter fluids/gasses will ruin the cigar, simple as that.
How? Start a fire (lighter, matches, a flame thrower), bring it close to the foot of the cigar without touching the flame directly and slowly rotate the cigar in a way that the heat may connect with all of the foot’s surface equally. This is quite dramatic and somewhat artistic, but there is a science behind it. On a technical level, keeping the flame at a distance will avoid toasting the wrapper (the direct placement of fire on the wrapper will toast and neutralize/harm the natural oils), and on a chemical level, the gradual and distanced warmth of the foot with a friendly oxygen flow will activate the natural compounds in the tobacco in a more efficient manner than through an immediate and direct approach, therefore enhancing flavors.
HOLDING A CIGAR
Hold the cigar however you feel comfortable. Nonetheless, there are certain standards under which cigar smokers (“should”) operate, it’s like an implicit code of conduct. These medians include not holding the cigar under the waist level, not twisting it inside an ashtray, rather taping the ash gently on it, and just avoiding other actions that people would normally do with a cigarette. Cigars are definitely not cigarettes.
Smile. Enjoy cigars. Live life.