5 Things You Need to Know About…Long Cigar Ash
By Fred Lunt
Look at that ash.
Getting that big long ash on a cigar has always been one of the most fascinating parts of smoking cigars. If you’ve spent enough time at your local herf then I’m sure you’ve noticed that one fella, guaranteed to have an ash that looks like it’s about to fall off the edge of the world – onto his lap. I know this because I typically am that guy. Why do I do it? I take it as a personal challenge to see how far I can take it – it’s a game within itself and the best part, I always win.
But for those of you who want to go pro, there’s some serious competition out there. What started as small gatherings and friendly bets has now grown into a worldwide event. Cigar Club Mareva, for instance, hosts the Cigar Smoking World Championship in exotic locations everywhere from Macedonia and Montenegro to NYC and Nashville, TN. Whether you’re seeking to be the best in the world or settle a bet between gentlemen – this info will help to guide you there.
While having a big ash has a lot of benefits to your smokes, there’s certainly some little-known facts about a long cigar ash that might surprise you.
Firstly, be prepared to be asked why you won’t ash your cigar. Cigarette smokers are notorious for asking this question and it’s one of those areas where cigars and cigarettes differ immensely. Those wimpy wrappers on cigarettes combined with the machine processing has made them far too brittle to build up any kind of ash – leading them to break apart at the faintest fart of a fairy. If you try for a long ash on a cigarette you’re basically asking to ash on yourself. Cigars, however, have undergone the delicate process of fermenting, bunching, rolling, and aging – combined with a nice beefy binder leaf and a thick long filler leaf, cigars can put on a hefty ash display.
“Why shouldn’t I ash my cigar?” This question poses a soft spot for most smokers. The general consensus is that a long ash, to a degree, helps your cigar burn cooler by filtering out the incoming air. This ash-filter keeps the cigar from burning too hot and helps build flavor, keeping in mind that taste and flavor are highly subjective.
A long ash is also an identifier of the quality of your cigar: the longer and tighter the ash, the better it was rolled. Others look at color of the ash. While ash color was never historically an indicator of quality, the trend caught on in the cigar boom in the 90’s. A nice white-ash, while having no effect on flavor, is an indicator that the tobacco leaves were grown in mineral rich soil. Once consumers started picking out this quality, many cigar companies pushed their farms into fitting this new trend. For example, Nicaraguan cigars are renowned for their mineral-rich soils. I guess it’s good that the plants are nice and happy before priming them, right?
Selection has everything to do with the longer ash you’re craving. There are several factors to take into consideration when making your selection for that big-ash ash. First, pick a quality brand, something that YOU know is made by some primo rollers with a good burning tobacco leaf – who smokes cigars they don’t like?
Does size matter? Absolutely. The thicker the cigar, the stronger the ash. The ash will get more structural support from those big ring gauge cigars because they use more long filler than your typical Robusto. I personally wouldn’t recommend anything over a sixty gauge; it’s a perfect amount of long filler and anything thicker can get pretty awkward to hold. As always, be certain the cigar has no soft spots or you’ll be touching it up – sacrificing that beautiful ash you’ve been working on. Be sure it’s at the right humidity as well, if it’s too wet it’ll go out and once again you don’t want to be relighting and touching up every other inch. To sum it up – pick a good, thick cigar that you know you’ll like.
It takes a steady hand to wield an ash the size of a sword – seriously. While you may be tempted to look at and admire your ash, all of this movement and turning can throw the balance off and drop it flat on your face. It’s important to keep things slow – both your puffs and your movements. Try not to set down the cigar too much, it’s just one more movement that adds to the drop risk. Keep those puffs down to about once a minute – just enough to keep the cherry going and let the cigar ash really accumulate. While we’re talking about a steady hand, let’s not forget about proper rotation. This should be something that comes naturally anyways, but if you’re really looking for that circus-sized ash then you should pay a little extra attention to rotating your stogie, friend.
A Bonus Long Cigar Ash Tip
It’s all about the angle! A little trick you’ll see most guys do, especially in long cigar ash contests, is to tilt their cigars upwards. I don’t need to tell you how gravity works, but it will lower the risk of ashing and help you attain that prized ash. There is, however, the inherent risk of ashing in your face, so be careful out there!
So there you have it, 5 things you need to know about long cigar ash, and a bonus tip. Keep these little knowledge tidbits up your sleeve the next time you’re in an ash contest and you might be walking home with that sweet prize!
Got a long ash pic? Send it to us – we might even share it.