Cigars 101

Why does my cigar start to turn strong and bitter

Q. I smoke a lot of different cigars in all different price ranges and strengths. Why is it that cigars tend to get much stronger to the point of turning bitter in the last couple of inches?

- Lou from New Jersey

A. This is actually a naturally occurring phenomenon which is caused mainly by the buildup of tar, moisture and nicotine as you smoke your cigar. It's not unlike what happens with a pipe after a while. As you get down toward the bottom of the bowl, the juices are often sucked up through the stem.

Basically, every time you puff on a cigar the same thing happens; tars build up in the tobacco. Add the build-up of moisture to the mix and the flavors are intensified in "the last act."

According to one of my resources, the way you cut your cigar can actually positively or negatively affect the concentration of flavor in those final inches. By cutting a narrow opening at the head of the cigar, like that made by a punch cutter or a V-cutter, the tars and moisture will naturally build up more at the head. This also speaks to why tapered head cigars like torpedoes and pyramids tend to be stronger. However, a wide cut - one that shears off the top of the cap as a double-blade cutter would do - can actually help suppress the buildup of tars and moisture. Try it yourself and see.

Finally, try not to draw too hard or too often on your cigar. That will only increase the buildup of tars, nicotine and moisture that much faster.

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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