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Tips for Novices on How to Smoke Cigars

Jan 18, 2008
Many novice smokers have embarrassed themselves trying to smoke a cigar with the same frantic, huff-and-puff energy that goes into cigarette smoking. But cigars aren't cigarettes, any more than cheap beer is fine wine, and just as you'd never guzzle a fine Cabernet Sauvignon, you shouldn't just inhale a cigar.

The first question to consider is, of course, the quality of the cigar. Handmade cigars are generally considered best. Machine-rolled cigars use scraps and bits of tobacco, rolled together, while handmade cigars use entire leaves, blended with specially-picked filler leaves to create a rich, full, subtle taste. Otherwise, remember the "wrapper rule": cigars wrapped in darker paper will tend to be sweeter, while lighter wrappers often denote a drier taste.

The second question for many cigar smokers is whether to smoke with the band on or off. The bands, which wrap around the cigar and give the cigar's brand name or manufacturer, was first introduced in 1850 by manufacturer Gustave Bock to set his high-quality Havana handmade cigars apart from knockoff brands. If you're smoking in the UK, where smoking with the band on has long been considered gauche, a form of bragging, you'll want to remove the band. Some smokers also collect bands, as a way of remembering all the different experiences they've had with cigars. Otherwise, it's up to you.

The next step is to cut the cap of the cigar, which must be removed so that air can flow through. Most cigar fans have small guillotines, which cut right across the top of the cigar. (You can usually purchase one from the same place where you buy your cigars - or bum one from a friend.) Some smokers still bite off the top of cigars, an unappetizing and possibly unhealthy alternative. Cigar "punches" and "piercers" (or V-cutters) are also available. Choose the method that's best for you, and keep your cutter sharpened.

How to light? Steer clear of paper matches, which will only stay live long enough to light a small portion of the cigar. You need a full flame that will cover the entire head of the cigar. Wooden matches may work, though it's recommended that you let the sulphur burn off the tip of the match before lighting.

Butane lighters are free of odor and taste and are the favorite method for many smokers, as are "torch" lighters. Whatever you prefer, make sure you turn the cigar as you light it ("turn and burn," experienced smokers say), so that the entire cigar is lit. Some aficiandos believe it's a bad idea to let the flame touch the cigar and prefer to use a lit cedar strip, but many American smokers argue that this is just a bit of unnecessary European pretension.

Inhaling the smoke is unnecessary and dangerous. Once again, cigars are not cigarettes. You pull the smoke into your mouth and, like a wine taster, allow its flavor to saturate your palate, without allowing the smoke into your lungs. For this reason, cigar smoking is more taste-oriented and less harmful to your health than cigarette-smoking.

The taste of the smoke varies depending on the tobacco type and the sorts of flavors added by the makers, as well as the age of the cigar, the conditions in which it's been stored, and many other factors. Regardless, the taste is richer, fuller and subtler than that of cigarettes, and many people who don't enjoy cigarette-smoking have found that they like the taste or odor of cigars.

The cigar can be stopped from burning and "finished" later, though its taste quality quickly declines (like that of an open bottle of wine) the longer it's left half-smoked. It's a better idea to wait until you have time to fully savor the taste, beginning to end.

As for the aftertaste, try a drink containing citric acid (such as orange juice or lemon-flavored liqueurs), followed by a hard cheese and, eventually, a good tooth-brushing. (You'd be brushing your teeth anyway, right?) After-dinner mints can help, too.

Most of all, remember what worked this time. Cigar smoking - again, like wine - is a pleasure that should improve with age.
About the Author
CigarFox provides the finest cigars that include cigar brands like cohiba, gurkha and many more. Other cigar products include cigar humidors, cigar boxes, and cigar accessories like Zippo Lighters.
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