Q. I smoke most of my cigars while walking the golf course. With few exceptions I find that the wrapper does not burn properly – the filler burns but the wrapper does not. The result is the cigar loses the flavor of the wrapper and the cigar continually goes out. I know that I tend to smoke them fast but even when I smoke them slowly – drawing only every one to two minutes the cigar still goes out. It does not seem to matter the brand of cigar. I smoke cigars that include Excalibur, Hamilton, Padron, Arturo Fuente Curly Heads, Bauza, Sancho Panza, El Rey del Mundo, etc. Any suggestions?
A. The problem you describe is called “tunneling.” And since up to 60% of a cigar’s flavor comes from the wrapper, that would account for the poor taste.
First, make sure that when you toast the foot of the cigar you start with the outer edge so the wrapper and binder ignite first. Then blow gently on the cigar until the entire foot is glowing. The foot should not be over-lit in the center or it will burn too hot and the wrapper may stop burning. Improper lighting of a cigar – any cigar – can cause lots of unusual problems.
There may also be too much moisture in the wrapper, but outside, unless you’re playing in very humid conditions, like courses in the south and the Caribbean, that would dissipate rather quickly. Drier, and windier climates sometimes cause the wrapper to unravel or “canoe,” meaning the cigar burns at a angle. If you smoke Maduros or other dark-colored wrappers, their natural thickness may be affecting the burn.
An important thing to consider is when you’re in a situation like on the links, where you’re often putting the cigar down, or it’s just hanging in your mouth, the wrapper may have a tendency to go out because the filler contains a Volado leaf, which by its very nature has better burning qualities. So the volado is doing its thing and taking the other filler leaves with it. That’s why the cigar remains lit on the inside while the wrapper and binder go out. This also applies to over-lighting the center portion of the foot I mentioned above.
This has happened to me on occasion, too, like when I have to take a phone call, or put the cigar down to type, etc. Since you’re smoking some very well-made cigars, it’s hard to put my finger on it, but without smoking one myself, that’s the best theory I can give you.