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The Proper Care and Feeding Of Cigars

Apr 8, 2008
Picture this: You're going to have dinner at the home of a famous wine collector - somebody famous for the quality and discrimination of his or her palate, perhaps a wealthy person who can afford to buy those vintages the rest of us can only dream of savoring.

You arrive. Your companion asks you if you'd prefer a prewar - that's World War II - French Cabernet Sauvignon or an exotic white from a monastery near the Alps. You choose the red. Your companion reaches into his refrigerator for the bottle, which is already open, capped with tinfoil. He pours this bottle of rare, expensive wine (half-ruined from being open for the past week) into two plastic cups and hands one to you. "Bottoms up," he says, and drinks the entire cup in one swallow, barely pausing to taste it. What's wrong with this picture?!

No one would treat a collection of great wines like that, of course, but too many new premium cigar smokers handle their collection of smokes with an almost equal disregard. They fail to properly store their cigars, light them carelessly, or smoke them too hastily. Here are some tips on getting the most out of your cigars.
First of all, give them a place to live! While some smokers think they don't need to invest in a quality humidor - a temperature- and humidity-controlled box specifically designed for storing cigars - these boxes are the best way to ensure that your cigars maintain taste and richness.

The reason has to do with the way cigars are constructed. After the tobacco leaves that a cigar is made of have been cut, dried, cured and fermented, they must be kept at a slight level of moisture. An entirely dry cigar loses its taste, while a too-wet cigar molds.

Thus an atmosphere that replicates as closely as possible the natural environment in which tobacco flourishes - warm temperatures, around seventy percent relative humidity - keeps cigars just wet enough without allowing that wetness to give rise to mold-producing microorganisms. Good humidors are made from a relatively porous kind of wood (such as Spanish cedar or Honduran mahogany), and include a hygrometer, a device that indicates the internal humidity.

Cigars shouldn't be overpacked in a humidor (allow a little air to circulate between them to prevent mold), and the temperature in the box shouldn't exceed seventy-five degrees. (A species of beetle known as the tobacco beetle, which preys on tobacco and can bore through some kinds of humidors, is able to survive at temperatures over seventy-five degrees.) A new humidor should be "seasoned" with a moist cloth against the interior wood, and tested by leaving a closed container of water inside it for twelve hours. If the humidor drains most of the water, it's too dry; repeat the process until the humidor leaves the water more or less intact.

Then there's cutting the end of the cigar (the end that you put into your mouth). This is something most beginners aren't inclined to overthink - and they shouldn't - but it is worth a moment's reflection. Don't cut the end of the cigar until you're ready to smoke it. Use a cigar-cutter - don't try to use your household scissors or a kitchen knife; a careless cut may endanger the body of the cigar or cause the wrapper to unravel, which you do not want. Don't use your teeth, either. You may be able to get away with a very sharp knife and a cutting board, but it's probably easiest to just buy one of the several types of cutters on the market - this is what they were designed for, after all. Guillotine cutters (which cut straight across the end) are the most popular. As writer Gary Manelski puts it, "If the cigar costs more than $5, do not cut it until you have a cigar cutter. It will be worth the wait."

Finally, there's the issue of lighters. Again, though this may seem like a simple enough operation, there are in fact right and wrong ways to go about lighting your stogie. Paper matches won't do the job - they stay aflame just long enough to get a small portion of the cigar lit. What's needed is a full flame that covers the entire end of the cigar. Butane and "torch" lighters come highly recommended, since they leave no aftertaste. Turn the cigar as you light it (the mantra of experienced smokers is "turn and burn"), so as to ensure that the cigar is lit evenly and entirely.
About the Author
CigarFox provides the finest cigars that include cigar brands like Cohiba, Montecristo, Gurkha, Macanudo, Rocky Patel, Romeo, Drew Estate, and many more. Other cigar products include cigar humidors, cigar boxes, and cigar accessories like Zippo Lighters.
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