Can “dry drawing” on your cigars lead to bitterness?

Gary KorbOne of the more familiar elements of smoking cigars is that some tend to taste bitter in the late innings. Bitterness can be caused by any number of factors. It could be the blend itself, or it can come from drawing too hard or too often on your cigar while smoking. The latter tends to draw the tars up the length of the cigar, which can lead to bitterness. So, as I’ve noted in previous posts, take it easy when you draw, and let your cigar rest for a minute or so between puffs.

Another thing that often happens when you’re smoking cigars is they will go out on you. Speaking for myself, even when my cigar goes out, perhaps just out of habit, I tend to pick it up and draw on it. Moreover, those first few draws are usually a bit harder just to see if there’s any live smoke still in there. After that, I tend to let it sit in my mouth until I realize nothing’s happening, and at that point I put it in the saddle of the ashtray until I’m ready to relight. For lack of a better term, I’ll refer to this as “dry drawing” a cigar that’s already been lit, as opposed to “cold drawing” or pre-drawing on a fresh, unlit cigar.

When I relight, sometimes I find that the cigar tastes bitter, even if it went out in the first inch. My theory is, by pacifying on a cigar after it’s gone out, you could be drawing tars into the core. One solution may be to cut the cigar far enough behind the ash to expose fresh tobacco. But to be perfectly honest, sometimes I just don’t feel like shortening the cigar, or I’m just too lazy to bother and I’ll take my chances.

So, for those of you who also do this, I’ll put the question to you. Would you agree that sucking on your cigars between relights has a negative effect on their flavor? Please let me know by leaving a comment.


Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for since its debut in 2008. An avid cigar smoker for over 30 years, during the past 12 years he has worked on the marketing side of the premium cigar business as a Sr. Copywriter, blogger, and cigar reviewer. A graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, prior to his career in the cigar business, Gary worked in the music and video industry as a marketer and a publicist.


  1. Scott Silva says:

    I find that if I blow a bit to clear the stale smoke, it cleans up… Sometimes even re-toasting while blowing…

  2. craigor says:

    I do agree with your idea of “cold drawing” making a cigar more bitter on the relight. And, although I also tend towards laziness when it comes to re-cutting before the relight, I have found it is often the only way to salvage the smoke. Additionally, I have also tested letting the cigar cool before relighting, but this has produced mixed results, which I think is more or less a function of how much of the cigar is left before relighting.

  3. Dean Harris says:

    I agree with you. Scott’s remedy usually works for me too. I think it is that first hard draw or two trying to breath life into a cigar that is out that does it.

  4. Rob says:

    I have a different theory. I think that when a lit cigar goes out, the cigar doesn’t stop burning as evenly as it may have smoked. Often, the hotter inner core of the cigar will burn longer than the outer binder and wrapper, and the fact that some of the inner tobacco has been charred when you attempt your relight is what mucks up the flavors. I don’t believe dry drawing has a significant impact on taste, especially compared to letting a cigar go out and needing to relight, that’s your bigger issue here.

  5. Gary Korb says:

    I think Rob has an interesting point here. After all, I did say it was only a “theory,” so perhaps a better word would have been “hypothesis,” because I’m not entirely sure it’s the drawing on the dead cigar that contributes to bitterness. Moreover, there are only a handful of cigars I’ve smoked that have truly survived one or more relights with regard to maintaining their “first light” character. Thanks for chiming in.

  6. Jeff P says:

    I have a nasty habit (no…not smoking cigars), of allowing my cigars to go out. I find that dry or cold drawing does not affect the cigar as much as expected. When I notice that my cigar could be out, I don’t draw on it. Instead I give it a couple of quick blows out to see if reignites. If it doesn’t I’ll re-toast it while blowing out, then lightly draw a few times. I find this method to work most of the time, even with most of the cigar smoked.

  7. Gary Korb says:

    Hi Jeff P: Sounds like a sensible solution. Maybe I should call it “dead drawing.” Whatever, I guess I’m doing the opposite out of habit. Sometimes I’ll blow out as you do if I have no luck drawing in. I’ll usually wait until it’s completely out before re-lighting, and in some cases, I’ll cut back behind the ash to expose some “clean” tobacco, as long as the cigar isn’t too short at that point.

  8. John M says:

    I tend to let my cigars go out allot at tailgates and parties, the only way I have found to save the cigar flavor is to blow out on it a few times and cut it back to unburned tobacco.