Cigars 101

Cigar Q&A: Ash Length and Firmness

What does a cigar's ash length & firmness mean about its quality?

Q. I am new to premium cigars. In reading about them I have learned that the length of the ash (1" minimum) indicates that they are handmade. In my pre-premium days I smoked the 29-cent-a-stick Swisher Sweets. I just went back and smoked several others and paid attention to the ash. On these "El Cheapo's" I get a 2" ash. Am I not understanding something? No big deal, but, I'm sure that they are not handmade.

- Charles S.

A. The length, or more to the point, the firmness of the ash has more to do with the minerals in the soil as well as the tobacco leaves themselves. Whether they are handmade or not has nothing to do with it. If there is a lot of Ligero in the blend, usually the darkest filler leaf, which also burns the slowest, it can cause the cigar to ash more firmly, too.

I've smoked plenty of pricey cigars ($10 and more) where the ash falls off within half an inch and vice versa. Presuming your "El Cheapo's" are not handmade, I suppose you could say, "go figure." However, machine-made cigars, most of which are made with short-filler tobaccos and homogenized binders, tend to be more uniformly packed, thereby also having the capability to produce a firmer ash.

Gary Korb

Executive Editor

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.

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