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Cigar 101

How Long Does it Take to Smoke a Cigar?

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

One of the biggest factors to consider when you’re choosing a cigar to smoke is how much time you have to smoke it. Fitting a Churchill into twenty minutes isn’t practical unless you’re planning to get sick from smoking too fast. A premium handmade cigar can burn from fifteen minutes to over two hours, but it all depends on the length and the thickness, or ring gauge. How fast you smoke also plays a role. Cigars are all about flavor, aroma, and relaxation. No cigar lover ever wants to rush through an Ashton ESG or a Padron 1964 Anniversary, regardless of its size. If you’re new to cigars and unsure how long a cigar should last, here are a few tips for smoking a cigar for the right amount of time.

Size Matters

Cigar size plays a major part in how long a cigar lasts. A classic Robusto, 5 inches by a 50 ring gauge, will burn for about forty-five to fifty minutes. A 7 by 49 Churchill lasts about an hour, and a Double Corona, at 7.5 by 52, can burn for over an hour and fifteen minutes. Toros, at 6 by 52, smoke for around fifty-five minutes to an hour. Coronas clock in at around forty minutes. You can squeeze in a Petite Corona that’s 4 inches long with a 42 ring in around twenty minutes, an ideal size if you have to smoke in cold weather. Small cigars, like cigarillos, can be smoked in five to ten minutes because they’re made from dry-cured tobaccos which burn hotter and faster.

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A cigar’s shape affects its taste too. Thicker cigars burn cooler and slower than thinner cigars. That’s why you can smoke a short, fat cigar like a Nub for nearly an hour if you want to. In a longer cigar, like a Churchill or a Double Corona, the smoke is traveling a longer distance, allowing it to cool, before it reaches your palate. The taste is lighter throughout the first half of the cigar as a result. Shorter shapes, like Robustos and Rothschilds, intensify more quickly because the heat is closer to your palate when you light up. It’s better to choose a cigar size that you like based on how the flavor intensifies and smoke it when you’ve got enough time available to enjoy it without rushing.

Smoke Slower and Taste More

Puffing on a cigar too fast and too frequently will cause it to burn hot. The taste becomes bitter as a result. As a rule, you should pause for about thirty seconds in between draws so that the taste of a cigar has time to resonate on your palate.

Smoking faster can cause you to get a buzz from a cigar, but you can become nauseous in the process. Cigar lovers smoke for the taste, not the effects of nicotine. Allow yourself more time to enjoy a cigar than what you think you’ll need to avoid rushing at the end.

How You Cut Your Cigar Matters

If you want your cigar to smoke longer, cut it with a punch cutter or a V-cutter versus a guillotine. How you cut a cigar impacts the way it burns. Punches and V-cutters create a more constricted draw which make the cigar burn slower. A guillotine, or straight cutter, provides a bigger, looser draw, and your cigar will burn faster.

Let the Ash Grow

As the ash forms on the foot of a cigar, it serves a purpose. It insulates the cherry from exposure to oxygen, which raises the temperature of a lit cigar. Pausing in between puffs and letting the ash form for an inch or two improves a cigar’s taste by keeping the smoke cool.

When Does a Cigar Taste Best?

Whether a cigar has a sweet spot or not is subjective. Some connoisseurs enjoy the first five or ten minutes more because a cigar is mildest in the beginning. A good cigar will taste better as you continue to smoke it, though. Other cigar lovers enjoy the very end of cigar, or the nub, the most because that is where the flavors are emphasized due to the culmination of heat and oils.

Smoke the Same Size Cigar with Friends

When you’re smoking with a companion or a group of friends, choose cigars that are approximately the same size if you want to finish at the same time. Smoking the same size cigar with an experienced aficionado is a great way to learn to smoke a cigar at the correct pace.

Humidity Level Affects How Long a Cigar Burns

Premium cigars should be stored at 70% RH (relative humidity) and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If you store your cigars at an elevated humidity, they will smoke slower. Some cigar lovers deliberately dry-box their cigars before they smoke them. Dry-boxing is simply removing cigars from a humidor and placing them in an empty cedar cigar box for a day or so, giving the box time to absorb some of the cigar’s moisture to ensure it burns easy and consistently when it’s lit. Store your cigars between 65% and 72% humidity for the best flavor and performance.

You Don’t Have to Finish the Whole Cigar

If don’t know how far you should smoke a cigar, you should smoke it until you want to stop. You don’t have to smoke a cigar past its band, but if you’re enjoying the crescendo of flavor at the end of a good cigar, smoke it until it’s all gone. If a cigar becomes too strong for your taste as you’re smoking it, set it down and stop. Technically, you can save a half-smoked cigar and come back to smoke it later. If you let a cigar burn out and come back to finish it after a few hours or the next day, it’s not going to taste the same as when you started, however. The oils in a cigar crystalize when they cool, and the flavor will be affected when you light it back up. If you were enjoying a cigar and ran out of time to finish, it won’t hurt to salvage it for later. Just don’t store a half-smoked cigar in your humidor.

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