Cigar 101: Basic Tips for the Cigar Novice

Many of you, for different reasons, are having a love affair with cigars, rendezvousing in sidewalk cafes, coffee shops, and restaurants for a few joyful moments. Perhaps you like the flavor, perhaps you like the aroma, or perhaps you just like to tell people who smoke skinny cigarettes, “My cigar can beat up your Marlboro.” For whatever reason, the cigar is a luxury many of you choose to use.

However, for some of you, the above statement might not be true. You may, never having gone beyond the pink or blue bubblegum cigars handed out in hospitals after the birth of a child, be a little leery of cigars. They might seem scary, or intimidating, and you might find yourself with a variety of questions: How should I hold a cigar? How should I cut a cigar? How do I know which cigar to choose? Do I need to take some sort of Lamaze class to learn how to puff?

What’s What

Some say, “Potato,” some say “Po-taught-o,” some say, “Filler,” some say, “Huh?” If you’re not used to having a cigar in your mouth, some of the jargon – the Filler, the Binder, the Wrapper – may have you scratching your head in confusion.

In sum, the Filler is the cigar’s soul, stuffed in the middle; it is essentially what the cigar is filled with. The Binder is made up of thick tobacco leaves and used to bind the Filler together. The Wrapper is the outside leaf of the cigar. Basically the cigar’s wardrobe, the Wrapper is an extremely important outfit for two reasons: it holds everything together and it provides a lot of the cigar’s flavor.

Stogie Selection

Buying a cigar from a reputable dealer, such as What’s Knot to Love, will guarantee your purchase is premium. Once you’ve chosen a dealer, the art of cigar buying becomes a bit free form: there are very few set rules. It is, however, good to keep in mind that the darker the tobacco, the stronger the flavor.

Make the Cut

There are a million different ways to cut a cigar – use a knife, use cigar scissors, use a V-cutter, or, if your cigar has been found guilty of crime during the French Revolution, use a guillotine cut. It’s your cigar, so cut it anyway you want – even use a circular saw or your teeth, just make sure no one is watching.

After deciding how you’re going to cut your cigar, you need to know where to cut it. Cutting off the cigar’s head, the general rule is to slice the cigar just past the shoulder (where it stops being round).

Puff, the Magic Dragging

To light a cigar, simply hold it out and allow the flame of the match or the odorless lighter to meet its end. Turn the cigar, rotating it so that the end becomes evenly charred.

Once the cigar is lit, and take off has commenced, let the smoke wallow near your mouth, drinking in the aroma and the flavor. Gently puff on the cigar, instead of inhaling like a cigarette.

Holding Time

Most people recommend that you don’t hold your cigar like a cigarette, unless you are European (I know, it doesn’t seem fair that the Europeans got sexy accents, the Spice Girls AND cigar holding). For the rest of you, a cigar should be held between your index finger and thumb.

Size Matters

When it comes to cigars, the length of the ash is important. You should allow your ash to grow to around three quarters of an inch long, which will inevitably turn into two feet during locker room talk. A lengthy ash is vital to a good smoking experience. The ash creates an air block, which helps decrease the temperature of the smoke and results in a slower burning cigar. These factors intensify the taste and make the experience more enjoyable.

Once a cigar is smoked halfway, let it die: it’s served its purpose so bid it a fond farewell with a tip of your hat and a “It’s been nice smoking you.” Then, go on your way.

Now rest, and smoke, assured, just knowing these few tips will have you looking like Groucho Marx in no time, except with better trimmed eyebrows.

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