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Cigar 101

How Long Should It Take to Smoke a Cigar?

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

Slow down, son! There’s no need to rush when you’re smoking a premium handmade cigar. Generations of expertise is passed down to the tobacco farmers, blenders, and cigar rollers who assemble your cigar like it’s a precious work of art. The tobaccos that comprise the recipe in a premium cigar are patiently aged and fermented for many months if not years. And the cigar is often laid to rest for another period of months or years after it’s rolled. Why rush through smoking it?

How Often Should You Puff?

We’ve already gone over how to cut and light your cigar. Once you’ve fired up, how often you should puff is a common question from new cigar lovers. While there isn’t an exact science to smoking your cigar, there are subtle techniques that will improve the taste, the draw, and the finish of your cigar.

Generally speaking, one or two puffs per minute is an acceptable pace. Remember – don’t inhale. Smoking a premium cigar is all about enjoying the taste and aroma. Gently draw the smoke into your palate, swish it around and release it. You can push some of the smoke out through your nose as well. Premium cigars require time to develop correctly. Huffing or puffing too quickly can cause your cigar to burn hot, taste bitter, and burn unevenly.

The size and shape of your cigar matters. Not all cigars are rolled with the same density. A well-constructed handmade cigar won’t go out if you set it down momentarily. Giving your cigar a chance to rest at regular intervals ensures it won’t burn too hot. Blasting though a Toro or a Churchill in under 30 minutes can result in too much intensity. Set your cigar in an ashtray rest or hold it in your hand without drawing on it for 30 to 60 seconds.

Rotate Your Cigar as You Smoke It

Spinning your cigar around in your mouth encourages an even burn. You don’t have to spin it like a pinwheel, but casually rolling your cigar around in your lips can prevent the head of your cigar from crimping and will promote an open draw. Avoid chomping on the end. You’ll pull more air from one side of the cigar and that side will burn faster than the other.

Know Your Tolerance

Regardless of how fast or slow you like to smoke your cigars, be aware of your tolerance for strength. Stronger, more full-bodied cigars should definitely be consumed at a slower pace than the milder blends you may be accustomed to. Smoking a full-bodied, spicy cigar like a My Father Le Bijou 1922 or a La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero can cause a rush of nicotine to overwhelm your system and make you nauseous.  

Adjusting the frequency of your draws gives your system enough time to digest your cigar’s strength. Even creamy and mild cigars like an Ashton Churchill can be overpowering if you smoke them too fast. If you crave more intensity and kick from a cigar, smoke a shorter size. Shorter formats deliver a cigar’s tasting notes with more intensity because the heat is closer to your palate when you first light up. The heat is also more intense with thinner ring gauges. But you’ll still want to pause between puffs. The closer the heat from the end of your cigar gets to your palate, the more time you should wait between each draw.  

Smoking Too Fast Creates a Hot, Bitter Taste

While it’s fun to be dramatic and fill up the room with a big cloud of smoke, puffing on your cigar in a series of quick successions will deliver a hot, bitter taste – not what the cigar maker intended. A precise ratio of binder and filler tobaccos is blended beneath the wrapper leaf in every shape for a given blend. Upon ignition, a cigar is designed to intensify as you smoke it down, but not to a point where the flavor is undesirable. Smoking your cigar at a measured pace – a couple puffs per minute – is critical to enjoying it.

Smoking Too Slow Causes Your Cigar to Go Out  

If you wait too long between puffs, your cigar will go out. Sometimes you’re having a lively conversation with a friend or you get distracted on your phone and the next thing you know, your cigar goes out. It’s okay to go ahead and relight it. However, repeatedly relighting your cigar can also interfere with the taste. Continually injecting the end of your cigar with butane from a torch lighter can negatively affect the taste with a charred, fuel-like taste. Try to draw on your cigar regularly enough so that it doesn’t totally stop burning.  

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