A Resource for People Who Just Discovered Cigars

Cigar smoking isn't rocket science; however, there are a few cigar tips to follow before grabbing a cigar and lighting up. In fact, there are certain steps to consider before even purchasing a cigar. This is especially true for novices in comparison to cigar aficionados. The cigar smoking experience begins with the basics, such as properly storing the cigar for premium quality, properly lighting the cigar for a high-quality burn, and properly smoking the cigar to fully reap the benefits of the cigar smoking experience. Fine cigar etiquette begins with a tutorial. Use these pointers as a guide to smoking a tasty cigar.

Cigar Storage

It is important to properly store cigars. If you improperly handle cigars, then you may face the consequences, such as harsh or bitter taste, tunneling, broken wrappers or binds, and difficulty light the open-end of the cigar. Some cigars may even show tiny holes, a sign of tobacco beetle infestation. Storing cigars in a humidor at a maximum temperature of 73 degrees Fahrenheit, and between 68 to 74 percent humidity is the solution. Always keep cigars sealed in a plastic bag at a maximum of two weeks if kept outside of a humidor. Most humidors include a hygrometer and a humidifier to ensure an accurate environment for cigar preservation.

Lighting the Cigar

After obtaining the cigar maturity necessary for a fulfilling cigar smoking experience, a beginner should learn the correct way to a light a premium cigar. In order to acquire the best of the tobacco taste, light the open-end of the cigar with a butane lighter. Butane lighters produce an odorless and tasteless flame. Conversely, fluid lighters leave an aftertaste and smell that interferes with cigar's overall taste. You can also use a wooden match, but make sure the sulfur burns off the stick's end before lighting the cigar. Hold the cigar at a 45-degree angle with the foot (open-end) facing down. Hold the flame's tip ½-inch away from the foot without placing the cigar against your lips. Slowly rotate the foot over the flame. This warms the cigar and releases the oils within the tobacco leaves, which gives you full flavor right from the first drag. Do not char or blacken the open-end of the cigar. Wait a few seconds and then gently rotate the cigar between your fingers with the flame's tip 1/2-inch below the cigar's end. This time-tested procedure will slowly light the entire diameter of the cigar for an even, steady burn.

Smoking the Cigar

Finally, it's time to sit back, relax and smoke a delicious, fine cigar. A gentleman sits back and slowly “sips” on his cigar as if it were a glass of high-end wine or brandy. Enjoy the rich tobacco flavor. In fact, experienced cigar smokers rarely inhale because the satisfaction lies in the tobacco’s taste. Do not smoke in a windy place as this will adversely affect the overall taste of the cigar. Allow the cigar to go out by itself. Ashing the cigar will create a strong, unpleasant char odor. Dispose of the cigar butts immediately in order to avoid a potential fire hazard.

Cigar Glossary:

Amarillo: A yellow cigar wrapper grown under shade.

Band: A ring of paper wrapped around the closed end of the cigar. Allegedly invented by Catherine the Great to keep their prestigious gloves from getting stained.

Blend: A mixture of various types of cigar tobacco, including five types of filler leaves, outer wrapper, and binder leaf.
The smell, or “nose” of a fine cigar.
A blend of four types of tobacco held together with the “binder.”
The cigar's wrapper.
The most common size and shape for premium cigars. These straight-sided cigars have an open foot and a closed, rounded head, usually 5 ½ by 43.
The intense process of drying harvested tobacco.
Double Corona:
A large cigar measuring 7 ½ to 8 inches by a 49 to 52 inch ring gauge.
The process of gather the tobacco leaves after harvesting, moistening the leaves, and allowing them to ferment in excessive temperatures of 140 degrees. This process will release ammonia from the bulk.
Filler leaves are used in the body of the cigar. Typically, most cigars use roughly four to five different types of filler tobacco.
The pre-cut end of the cigar, lit for smoking.
Gran Corona:
A large cigar measuring 9 ¼ inches by a 47 ring gauge.
Habana is the Capital of Cuba, but it also refers to the tobacco grown from Cuba seed in the Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
The closed-end of the cigar used to smoke.
A room or storage box used to preserve aging cigars by maintaining levels of humidity ranging between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
The mark of well-humidified cigars that secrete oil at 70 to 72 percent relative humidity
Smoking Time:
A five-inch cigar with a 50 ring gauge that provides anywhere between 20 to 30 minutes of smoking pleasure.
The process where the cigar's open-end refuses to ash causing the core to burn up. Tunneling can occur due to improper lighting, or if the wrapper is moist and the filler and binder are too dry.
Vintage refers to the year the tobacco was harvested and not the year the cigar was made.
Wrapper (capa):
A high-quality wrapper leaf wrapped around the the finished bunch or binder.