I’ve visited many smoke shops throughout the country and let me tell you, you see and hear some pretty funny things on the road. Sometimes it’s little habits that guys have picked up throughout the years; maybe they mimic something they saw in a movie, or learned from a cigar-smoking friend. Other times it’s a well-meaning misconception about cigars or cigar tobacco that took root and spread.
A lot of it is excusable, especially among people who don’t smoke cigars that often. But some of it is folks (I’m looking at you, men) being afraid or reluctant to ask when they don’t know something.
As cigar smokers, I think it’s incumbent on us to help educate our Brothers and Sisters of the Leaf. When we meet a new cigar smoker, let’s take the time to introduce ourselves and talk cigars. We should ask questions, and help clear up any misconceptions.
Spread knowledge, and spread the love…know what I mean? Here are some cigar smoking pro tips you can give to newbies.
- Thinner doesn’t mean less-strong.
- Experiment with smaller ring gauges. You’ll thank me.
- Don’t inhale, and learn to retrohale.
- I’ve seen more than one guy light a cigar with the cedar sleeve still on and/or remove the outer wrapper tobacco. Don’t be that guy.
- If the bevel on the foot is bulging or bubbling as the cigar burns, it’s a sign of under-fermentation
- A properly-made cigar should have a flat or cone-like ash.
- If your cigar is plugged, you’re pretty much f*cked.
- There’s a “sick period” 7 to 30 days after rolling, so if you get a fresh-rolled, smoke it then and there, or plan to rest it for at least a month.
- When relighting, purge the cigar by blowing through it, and brush away all the ash (or cut behind the burn line, if possible).
- Don’t smoke too fast. This will carbonize the sugars instead of caramelizing them (think burnt onions vs. caramelized onions).
- Don’t brush your teeth right before smoking a cigar.
In the Humidor
- It’s okay to gently check if a cigar is under-filled, but don’t squeeze the cigar too hard.
- For that matter, don’t roll the wrapper in your fingers listening for a crackle. You won’t find out anything, and you’ll probably crack the wrapper.
- If it doesn’t have cellophane, handle it with care. They’re usually more expensive, and we want to showcase the wrapper.
- If you see little hairs on the wrapper, it’s a sign that the tobacco is under-fermented.
- Checking if a cigar is dyed requires handling and/or wetting the cigar, and even then, it might be inconclusive. Your best bet is to ask the tobacconist.
- Mold stains the wrapper and your fingers, and occurs in patches called colonies. Plume wipes cleanly and covers the length of the cigar. Know the difference.
- Occasionally you can look at the foot of a cigar and predict a burn issue. The darker tobacco should be toward the middle, and lighter tobacco, toward the outside.
- Cigar tobacco is very absorbent of odors, so don’t put your cigar in your pocket after you spray yourself w/ cologne.
- Likewise, don’t store flavored cigars with non-flavored cigars. Ever.
- Never leave a half-smoked cigar butt with unburned cigars.
- Like a variety? Get at least two humidors, or two zones in the same humidor. Stronger cigars need less humidity than milder cigars.
- Be careful with condensation, which often happens to cigars left in a car overnight. That moisture will quickly become musty-smelling.
- Under-fermented tobacco won’t benefit from “more time in the humidor.” As a consumer, you can’t recreate the heat and pressure necessary for fermentation.
- A cigar should be ready to smoke when you buy it. Don’t waste your time aging most cigars, and then, only stronger ones, for no longer than 2-3 years.
- Thin wrappers like Connecticut shade or Cameroon will crack in dry climates. Avoid smoking them outside in the desert heat, or winter in the northeast.
- Darker doesn’t mean stronger. Darker tobacco has more starches, but basically it will be sweeter. Strength comes mostly from the ligero in the filler blend.
- Avoid tangy, acidic drinks (OJ, most sodas) – they don’t pair well with cigars.
- Coffees, scotches, and beer are all natural cigar pairings.
- Be careful pairing wines, because a cigar can easily overwhelm most wines.
- Certain cigars pair better with certain foods. Fattier foods tend to pair well with cigars, although this also depends on the sauce.