Cigars 101

Should I Take Off My Cigar Band Before I Smoke?

We get this question pretty often, actually. And if you’re wondering too, here’s your answer in a word: no.

I keep a book at home of all my cigar conquests. All of them: even the lowly yard gars whose bands look like they were drawn by a hyperactive 3rd grader. Is it a hoarding thing? Maybe. I tried keeping notes next to each of them; but given my narrow attention span, that lasted all of 5 minutes – so instead, my “little black book” has become a trophy case of sorts, showcasing the “honorable mentions” and “thanks for participating” smokes side-by-side with the Best in Show blue ribbon-winners.

Cigar Journal Cigar Band Book
The binding of that book is starting to scream in agony.

Every one of ‘em, I smoked myself. But critical to building my band book is patience: reminiscing over the fine works of cigar band art by Fuente and Flor de Las Antillas doesn’t happen if you shred the paper in a hasty maneuver to get it off the smoke! So as I recently flipped through the classics – past the Partagas, Punch and Hoyo de Monterrey, and through just about the entire Perdomo lineup – I got to thinking about roller’s glue, and why I recommend you wait to remove the band from your cigar…because it matters. Not so much because you’re thinking of saving the band, but because of what ripping it from the cigar’s wrapper can do to your smoke.

There are a couple schools of thought here:

  1. Take it right off. Even before you light it. Mmmmmm, nope. I get the idea, maybe you don’t want it to touch your lips; or maybe you’re a modest and unassuming smoker who thinks that keeping the band on throughout the smoke is akin to flashing your Super Bowl ring around the lounge. I, and the rest of the patrons, appreciate your humbleness (and really hope we don’t make you feel that uptight) – but I have also seen my fair share of pissed-off folk who immediately peeled back the paper nameplate, only to have the wrapper crack and the cigar suck. And your experience is all downhill from there. Sometimes – and I stress sometimes – you can peel the band off a stick that’s been resting or aging for a significant period of time, due to the glue drying up. But don’t count on it.
  2. Smoke right through it. Really? People do this? Whatever gets you through the night – but I enjoy the taste of burning tobacco, not burning paper and ink. I have seen this done accidentally, however – you just get distracted and the next thing you know, all that’s left of the band says “LA A   OM UBA.” Oops. Of course, there are some unique cigars that have smokeable bands – such as La Gloria Cubana Trunk Show, which features a band made of a different wrapper leaf, die cut and applied to the cigar. That’s pretty cool.
  3. Let the cigar do the work for you. As the burn line gets closer and closer to the band, the core tobaccos between the burn and you have already warmed and/or ignited. Because of the nature of roller’s glue (and most organic adhesives, for that matter), the warm tobacco heats the glue making it soft; the adhesion is lowered and you can peel the band’s end up and away from the cigar and remove it. Crack-free. And though your smoking buddies may give you the eye because you’re showing off your band, tough darts – it beats a wrapper tear.

There’s a little bit of science at work here, friends – but if you don’t believe me about letting the cigar do the work for you, take Nick Perdomo’s advice instead:

 

John Pullo

John Pullo

Editor in Chief

This is not his picture, nor does he even have a beard. A solid 'B' student and occasional low-fi musician, John is a medley of cynicism and sarcasm crammed into a wrinkled Oxford shirt who makes it nearly intolerable to watch reality television with him in the same room. Interestingly, his Social Security number is all ones.

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