Why resting your cigar between puffs will help your cigars last longer and taste better.
It’s one of those things you don’t pick-up right away; generally speaking, it takes a little experience to discover that cigars not only last longer but taste better if you let them spend a little more time in the ashtray saddle, and a little less time in your mouth.
Over the years, I’ve received a number of emails from readers asking me why their cigars were turning bitter, especially early on in the smoke. In some cases, they were active or former cigarette smokers who were used to constantly puffing. Just the other day, I was with a woman—a cigarette smoker—who told me she tried a cigar some years ago and got an instant tummy ache because she inhaled it out of habit. Even those who’d never touched a cigarette were either puffing too hard or too often on their cigars, or holding them too long in their mouths. (I tend to do the latter sometimes when I’m writing.) It may not feel like you’re puffing, but just breathing with a cigar between your teeth can cause it to burn hotter and turn prematurely bitter.
You can teach someone “the proper way” to smoke a premium cigar, but unless it’s someone close to you, like a relative, a spouse, or a friend, the odds are you won’t. So, if you follow this simple rule—letting the cigar rest, either between your fingers or on the saddle of the ashtray,—you’ll find that the cigar will be more consistent as it smokes down. The usual wait time is about one to two minutes, depending on the ring size and length of the cigar.
Larger cigars have more tobacco, which can make them very juicy as you smoke, especially if you draw too hard or too often. By giving them some rest time between puffs, the flavors will caramelize better; it’s when the cigar gets past the halfway mark that you want to extend that waiting time. The same goes for shorter cigars like Robustos (5″ x 50), Coronas (5½” x 42), Rothschilds (4¾” x 49), and Petite Coronas (5″ x 38). Since you have less length to work with from the start, you want to make sure the cigar has cooled down enough so that each puff is smooth and doesn’t bite your tongue. Plus, the further you “nub” your cigar, the longer you want to let it rest. The key is not to let it rest so long that it goes out on you, since relights can make your cigar turn bitter, too.
Finally, you don’t have to sit there holding a stopwatch over your cigar. In time, you’ll know how long to let your cigars rest regardless of their size, shape, or length. I’ve dished-out a lot of cigar advice over the years, but if you want to enjoy more of your cigar, keep this tip handy.