Q. I have seen some “aficionados” gently roll a cigar between thumb and index finger while holding it close to their ear prior to lighting up. I assume this is a test of freshness or proper humidification. It also seems this could really stress the wrapper. Can you shed some light on this?
– Ben G.
A. Yes, it’s supposed to indicate freshness. I don’t know how this practice originated, but for the purposes of this response, allow me to quote Steve Saka, noted cigar writer extraordinaire, president of Drew Estate Cigars, and creator of the Liga Privada No.9 cigars:
“Do not ‘listen’ to your cigar by placing it beside your ear as you roll it, as all cigars make that crinkle sound even when at their perfect moisture content – so, all you are accomplishing is making yourself look plain silly.” (Cigar Magazine, Spring 2008)
The best way to tell if a cigar is fresh is to very gently “pinch” it at the foot, middle and near the band. If it has a little “spring” to it, the cigar is fine.