What is a cigar you ask? Here are things you must know when you are venturing into the cultured world of cigars.
Looking to move on from the everyday cigarette? Cigars are the next step in that road. You will step into and experience a whole new culture that will stimulate your senses in a way that a cigarette will never be able to do. Cigars have this sophisticated aura about them. People do not smoke it as a source of tobacco (that is where cigarettes come in), but they do it for the exquisite taste that comes with the roll. It is all about the experience. This extensive guide will provide you the information needed to begin your journey into the world of cigars.
Let us begin.
Before purchasing your set of cigars, you might want to look more into what makes a cigar…well, a cigar. A cigar has three parts: the cap, the body, and the foot.
The cap is the head of the cigar and it holds the wrapper in place. It is the end you will smoke from after you cut the piece off.
The body is 80% of the cigar. This body consists of three parts: the filler, the binder, and the wrapper. Those parts will be addressed shortly.
Finally, the foot. This is the other end of the cigar. You will light the cigar on this end.
We are bringing the attention back to the body of the cigar. The parts of the body is what makes the cigar.
A lot of a cigar’s flavor comes from the tobacco leaves within the filler. A lot of factors go into creating the taste of tobacco leaves. One must consider the location of the tobacco plant’s growth, how it was fermented and aged, and for how long. This just the surface of the intricate operation of producing tobacco leaves for cigars. It is interesting to note that countries are known for growing characteristically-specific tobaccos, such as Nicaragua-grown tobacco is known to have a spicy flavor to it.
Although the binder does not really add to the taste of the cigar, but its function is vital for a healthy cigar. It helps keep the filler together. It is a tobacco leaf that is placed between the filler and the wrapper.
The wrapper of the cigar is made of specially grown and cared for tobacco leaves. The process of care is different from the leaves used in the filler. The color of the wrappers will add another layer of complexity to a cigar’s taste.
Now heading into the purchasing portion. Keep these tips in mind when perfecting your cigar purchase. It will make the procedure smoother than going in without any knowledge.
Do not lavishly spend on large quantities of cigars. This is the first, and probably, most important tip. Like trying anything new, you want to test the waters first and this is what you will want to do when you are taking your baby steps. At least three to five cigars is a good starting point. Look to spend at least $10 for a single roll of tobacco.
Purchase your first cigars at a B&M. A B&M is a brick and mortar. It is the term used to refer to a local cigar shop. A B&M is a great place to start as you can converse with the tobacconist who can help make suggestions for you when it comes to your first cigar purchase. Other than that, the difference between buying cigars at a B&M and online is very minimal. Online being more of a convenience once you know what kind of cigar you have taken a liking to.
It is okay to start small. Cigars come in differing sizes. The longer and wider the cigar, the longer it will take to smoke from start to finish. Cigars on average last from 30 minutes and can go for even longer. The time it takes to smoke a cigar is heavily dependent on the its length and width. Smoking cigars for an extended amount of time can tire your jaw out, even more so since you may not be used to the methods and technique required for cigar smoking. A corona is the signature size of a cigar, coming in at 5 ½ to 6 inches long and a ring gauge (the diameter of the cigar in terms of 64ths of an inch) of 42 to 44. If you think the corona may be a little too big, there is a smaller version of the corona called the petit corona, about 4 ½ inches in length and a ring gauge of 40 to 42. Do start small, you do not want to link cigar smoking with any sort of physical pain or discomfort.
Do not buy the same tasting cigar in your first set. Remember that cigars are smoked for their taste, not for the fix. Cigars come in a wide variety of tastes and that is due to the treatment of the tobacco in the fillers. Buying different tasting cigars to start will decrease your chances of enjoying cigar smoking. Why is that? Is the cigar too sweet? Too bitter for your palette? You do not want to buy three of the same cigars where you cannot seem to enjoy the taste of. At that point, you will be smoking because you do not want to put your money to waste. Buying different varieties will give you the opportunity to find out what your preferences are.
Do not overpower in taste. As I have stated previously, the art of smoking cigars is all in its taste. Taste is the main attraction of cigars. Starting anything new you do not want to head straight to the most complex of objectives. You do not want to be the person who cannonballs into an abnormally cold pool, cramps up, and fear the pool from now and forever. It is okay to dip your feet to prepare yourself for the plunge. This same rule applies when it comes to buying cigars. It is recommended to start with a mild-flavored cigar. There is no shame to it. Starting with a strong-flavored one may be too much on your palette. Do not ruin your experience with this mistake. Cigars containing tobacco grown in the Dominican Republic are usually the starting choice for beginners for the flavors are usually mild.
Once you have successfully completed your purchase your next step is, of course, smoking the cigar. The details are what makes this process a little difficult for starters. First, find a comfortable place to settle in. People often begin smoking within the confinements of their own abode and quietly enjoy the experience, but it all comes down to preference. Just make sure your body and mind is relaxed as you prepare for this experience. Cigar smoking should be a calming activity that stimulates the senses.
Cigars come uncut when you purchase them. The first matter is to cut the cap of the cigar as that is where your mouth will go when you smoke it. Do cut it with something sharp, like a knife or a pair of scissors if you do not have a guillotine (which is designed for this specific purpose). Refrain from using your teeth or your hands as it may break the wrapping. A quick and simple snip to the cap is all that is needed.
Lighter choice is crucial for cigars. Most common lighters, such as paper matches and fluid-filled lighters, highly discouraged because they are known to influence the taste of the cigars. Do not ruin the pure taste of the cigar with this mistake. Consider investing in a butane lighter or long wood matches to light your cigar as there will be little interference with the taste of the tobacco. A butane lighter being the preferred option out of the two for most cigar smokers. It is important to note that when lighting with a long wood match light it with just the wood part, wait for the chemical head to run its course before lighting your cigar with it.
Now it is time to light your cigar and take your first puff. Do not have your cigar sit in the fire source for it will affect the flavor of your cigar. Place the cigar between your lips. Holding your cigar slightly above the fire source. Rotate. Rotate. Rotate. It is important that you slowly rotate the cigar as it is collecting the flame. This will even out the burn of your cigar. Keep an eye on the foot as you rotate your cigar. You must take a few short breaths, not inhales, during the rotations before the cigar lights. If you see flames randomly jump with each breath, you are on the right path. For extra measures of evenness, blow the foot of the cigar to ensure that the light is uniform. Do not inhale the smoke. A cigar is smoked for its taste. You will bring in the smoke into your mouth and hold it there for a few seconds. This is how you can taste your cigar. Cigar smoke was not meant to be inhaled. After it has sat in your mouth for a few seconds you can then puff it out of your mouth. Repeat this process as much as you want, but remember to really taste the cigar so take it nice and slow. As ash builds up at the foot-end, lightly tap the ash off of your cigar with your index finger.
Have you had enough of your cigar for now? Putting your cigar out is not as difficult as lighting it. Simply just place your cigar down on the ashtray and let the burn subside for a few minutes. The absence of puffing prevents the flame from continuing.
Your cigar may be unfinished with its first use. The cigar can be relit. Be prepared though, the taste might not be the same as the first time you lit it. To salvage whatever is left of the flavor after putting it out the first time, you may want to purge it. Purging a cigar means to blow out the leftovers of the previous lighting out of the filler. You are essentially dispelling the old smoke from the cigar. This course of action is completely optional. To purge your cigar, lightly blow the cut end of the cigar. You will then see small amounts of smoke come out of the foot end. Once that part is taken care of, go ahead and follow the original steps for lighting a cigar. Remember to rotate at all times for that nice and even burn.
If you bought multiple cigars you might now wonder how you will store them for future use. Tobacco, being a tropical crop, will want to be preserved in a similar climate. A warm and humid climate is the best way to store your unused cigars. You have different alternatives here. If you see yourself continuing with the hobby of cigar smoking, you might want to invest in a humidor. The humidor is the ideal way to store a cigar as it will recreate the tropical climate needed to keep the cigar in tip-top shape. If you do not see yourself using the humidor for future storage, you will have other alternatives. One of the easiest forms of cigar storage with the use of the everyday Ziploc bag and a warm and wet towel or sponge. If you plan to use a towel, cover the entirety of the bag’s mouth with the wet towel. If the sponge is what you want to use, your options open a bit in terms of the container used. With as sponge, you are not limited to just a Ziploc bag but other containers, such as Tupperware. You will pace the sponge inside whatever container you will use for storage. It is important that you wet the sponge with distilled water. If tap water is used mold will begin to develop, and this will lead to the change in the taste of your cigar or cigars.
You have reached the end of the beginner’s guide. It is lengthy for a beginner’s guide, but it just shows you that there is so much attention and detail that is put into this craft. Cigar culture is so vast. I hope that your very first experience was enjoyable and you continue pursuing it.