How to Step Up to Full Bodied Cigars

How to Step Up to Full Bodied Cigars

So you’ve been smoking cigars for a while now, but still haven’t decided to take the plunge and dig in to smoking stronger cigars. You know who they are: Camacho Triple Maduro, Padron 1926, Oliva Serie V, Joya de Nicaragua…maybe you even have a La Gloria Cubana Serie R or two in your humidor, but you’ve been avoiding them – because, well, you think it might just be “too much cigar.”

Fear not, my brothers and sisters: you can do it. And enjoy it.

First, however, we have to note the difference between strength and body – as they are not the same, but often confused or used interchangeably. The examples I noted earlier are strong and full bodied cigars: higher in nicotine content, and rich with flavors from the individual leaves used in making them. But as I noted in a previous article, the term “body” is not absolute; Erik Espinosa taught us, “’body’ is the ‘stamp’ or ‘footprint’ of a cigar. It’s the end result of when flavor, strength, aroma and feel all meet and meld, with the end game being the impression and experience it gives you while you burn away at it.”

Or more simply, strength is strength – but

Acquiring a Taste for Stronger Cigars

In a word: experience. While some cigar smokers take to the heavy stuff right away, it generally takes some time to appreciate the rush of forces that come together when smoking a stronger cigar. And as many of those strong cigars are also full bodied cigars, you’ll discover some very interesting flavors as you navigate these uncharted waters.

Try, try, try: smoke a wide variety of cigars, and over time your palate will become accustomed to picking up on some of these new-to-you flavors imparted by more powerful blends. Typically, the mix is thick with leaves from higher primings of the tobacco plant – the part of the plant that has soaked up more sunlight and more nutrients, which in turn produces thicker leaves and more sugars – and more potency. As you tune your senses to these stronger tobaccos, the strength within a full bodied cigar should smooth out for you and the smoke as a whole will actually taste more flavorful.

Related: How to choose the right cigar for you

Too Much of a Good Thing? Don’t Overdo It.

Free advice: ease into these Vitamin N-rich heavyweights. If you often smoke mild to medium cigars, you might find yourself occasionally hotboxing your smoke in an effort to pull out more flavor. Do this with a milder cigar, and you might get a little buzz; hotbox a strong or full-bodied cigar, and you’ll pay the price.


Hotboxing occurs by drawing on a cigar so often that the tars and nicotine don’t have time to dissipate. This can lead too much nicotine to get into the bloodstream and may result in nausea or dizziness. It can also cause the smoke to turn harsh and create burn issues.

The symptoms can get ugly ranging from the sweats, a warm rush, shaky hands and dizziness, all the way up to a full-blown “reversal of fortune.” So how do you start smoking stronger cigars – without getting sick? Or if you do start feeling a little green from your cigar, how do you reverse the effects?

  1. Pace Yourself. The wisdom is to let a cigar rest between puffs, about a minute or so. If they’re new to you, that one bad run-in with a strong or full-bodied cigar might turn you off to what is actually a very enjoyable experience.
  2. Drink something with it. I usually enjoy water or coffee, especially to balance the intensity of the smoke.
  3. Keep a sugar packet on hand. Easy to do if you’re drinking coffee with your cigar. Seriously – watch this trick and see:

John Pullo

John Pullo

Managing Editor at

This is not his picture, nor does John even have a beard. Interestingly, his Social Security number is all ones. All we can say is " "You will know him by the mullet he wears." "

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