In this initial article, "Cigar Smoking 101", I’d like to share some advice with my novice smokers. I'll teach you how to select a good beginner’s cigar and some of the basic equipment used to enjoy your new passion. I will introduce you to the different parts of a cigar, give you instructions on how to light your cigar and most importantly, how to smoke it. I want your first experience to be a memorable one!
Buying your first cigar - Cigar purchasing is not an impulse buy. Never purchase cigars you see next to cash registers, gas stations or retail outlets. They are simply no good! You should purchase your cigars from a cigar shop that is run by a tobacconist. Cigars need to be maintained at the proper temperature and humidity, which is why tobacconists who know what they’re doing keep them in humidors. Buy purchasing your first cigar at a local tobacconist; you’ll get a higher quality product and some good advice, too. Cigar novices should begin buy purchasing mild-medium bodied cigars or maybe even an infused flavored cigar when you are beginning your cigar journey. Full bodied cigars will be extremely strong and you won’t be able to handle it on your first try.
What makes up a cigar - The body of a cigar has three basic parts: The
wrapper, the binder and the long filler. The wrapper is the outermost leaf which holds together the binder and filler. The wrapper is mainly for show and doesn't contribute much to the complexity of the tobacco blend. The wrapper leaves are the leaves that come from the top of the tobacco plant and are the prettiest leaves of them all. The binder leaf is inside the wrapper and is used to hold together the long filler. Binder leaves are typically harvested closer to the bottom of the tobacco plant and add to the flavor profile of the cigar. The filler comprises most of the cigar’s contents. Filler leaves are the innermost component of the cigar and are harvested from the lower portion of the tobacco plant that is closest to the soil. Filler leaves absorb all of the nutrients and flavor from the soil and are the most important part of the cigar.
Once the cigar is constructed, it will have a cap, which covers the head of the cigar. The head of the cigar is the part you put in your mouth. The foot of the cigar is the part that you light. Finally, your cigar will have a label around it. This part is called the band; you might want to remove it if it’s possible without damaging the cigar. Also, it is important to not purchase a cigar because of a fancy label. You need to ask about the strength, origin, and blend before you purchase any cigar.
Cutting A Cigar - When you begin your journey into cigar smoking, I would strongly suggest that you invest in a cigar cutter when you purchase your first cigar. Start out with a single/double guillotine cutter. This type of cutter is inexpensive and will get the job done. Cutting should be done moderately because you only need to cut off enough that you get a good draw. The draw is the amount of smoke that is inhaled. A good cut can control the draw and make the cigar smoking experience more enjoyable. When using a guillotine cutter, you should place the cutter on a table and place your cigar vertically in the cutter. This will give you the right positioning to make the best cut. If you are more advanced, you can use a sideways cut using a guillotine cutter, or you can you a V-cut or punch.
Lighting A Cigar - This is one of the most important elements of cigar smoking. Equipment is important! Never use a regular cigarette lighter or a Zippo – the fluid will affect the flavors. You should use either wooden matches or butane torch lighters. I would personally recommend butane torches. When lighting your cigar, you should hold the cigar away from you so you can see what you’re doing and light it carefully and evenly. once you have the cigar slightly lit, then you can place it into your mouth for the final light. This will ensure an even burn and also you won't singe the wrapper leaf at the foot, which could lead to an uneven burn.
Smoking A Cigar - Rule 1 - DON'T INHALE. I cannot stress this enough. If you inhale the smoke, you will be overwhelmed and may become nauseated. Don’t smoke it too fast, either—it’s designed to burn slowly so you can really unwind and enjoy yourself. You should relax, and take in the notes of the cigar. If you smoke too quickly the cigar will burn too hot, but make sure not to smoke too slowly either because the cigar will burn out. When you’re done smoking, don’t crush your cigar in the ashtray like a cigarette. Simply put it aside and it’ll go out itself. Remember, cigar smoking is an excellent compliment to an elegant lifestyle!