Ash length and color

Q. What is the bottom line regarding the length and color of the ash on a cigar. I’m curious because I have smoked some fine cigars whose ash falls off and others not so fine whose ash lasts a lot longer. Can you provide some insight about this?
– Jonathan in Catonsville, MD

A. According to a recent poll CigarAdvisor posted on this subject, most cigar smokers believe that the firmer, longer, and whiter the ash, the better the quality of the cigar. However, what you have experienced is actually the norm.

Like many other properties found in premium cigars, the ash varies from cigar-to-cigar, blend-to-blend, and has a more to do with the amount of magnesium and other minerals in the soil than how well the cigar is made. The more magnesium, usually the whiter and flakier the ash. Lower magnesium levels tend to issue a firmer, grayer ash. That said, one isn’t necessarily better than the other, since some of the finest Cuban cigars have dark gray ashes.

You can smoke a $10 cigar that has flaky ashes, or a budget-priced bundle cigar that has long, firm ashes, and they can both be excellent smokes. So, go figure. The bottom line is really the cigar’s overall consistency in construction, appearance and flavor.