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Cigar 101

How to Enjoy a Cigar Properly

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

We’ve been recommending cigars for newbies and teaching them how to smoke for generations across our 120-plus-year history. Premium cigars mesmerize the senses the second you step foot in a walk-in humidor, even if you haven’t mastered the art of how to smoke a cigar just yet. Smoking cigars isn’t rocket science, but practicing some cigar-smoking etiquette is guaranteed to maximize your experience if you want to know how to enjoy a cigar.

Choose the Best Cigar

Choosing the best cigar has a lot to do with taste, which is subjective. But taste isn’t the only factor. Strength, size, country of origin, and brand are important. Factoring in a cigar’s strength is essential when you’re deciding what to smoke. New cigar lovers often learn the hard way when it’s best to smoke a mild, medium, or full-bodied cigar by smoking something too strong or smoking on an empty stomach.

Aside from smoking a cigar you can handle, you want one that tastes great too. Deciding on what cigars taste the best takes some trial and error. Keep track of the cigars you’ve smoked that you really like, as well as those you don’t care for. Pull out your phone and snap a photo of the cigar with its band so you can easily find the ones you like most again.

Pay attention to what tobaccos go into the cigars you smoke, which countries they’re rolled in, and who the cigar-makers are that blend them. Use these details to influence your purchases. If you develop a preference for creamy and mild Dominican cigars, brands like Ashton, Arturo Fuente, and Montecristo should be on your radar. Or, if you like strong and spicy Nicaraguan blends, My Father, Padron, and San Cristobal are ideal.

Select a size that you have time to smoke. If you’ve only got twenty minutes, pick out a Rothschild or a Petit Corona. Bigger shapes like a Churchill or a Double Corona are perfect when you want to smoke for an hour or more.

If you need help figuring out what cigars to start with, contact your pals at Holt’s. Chat online, give us a call, or visit one of our historic smokeshops in person if you’re in the Philly area. We have a dedicated team of cigar experts who can make great recommendations and answer all your questions.

Cut Your Cigar Correctly

To get a good draw on your cigar, cut it with a proper cigar cutter. Don’t try to slice the cap off with a steak knife or a kitchen scissors. You can control how tight the draw is by cutting your cigar with a straight cutter, punch cutter, or a V-cutter. Your cigar will be far more enjoyable with a clean precise cut because you’re less likely to get loose tobacco in your mouth or worry about your cigar getting plugged from the moisture from your palate.

Light Your Cigar Correctly

How hard can it be to light a cigar? It’s not. But there are plenty of aficionados who’ve never mastered the technique. Whether you prefer a soft-flame butane lighter, a high-performance torch, or wooden matches, keep the flame at least a few inches from the end of the foot of your cigar. You don’t want to engulf the end with a potent blast of fire. Gently toast and rotate your cigar as you begin to puff on it. Make sure the entire circumference is lit evenly so that one side doesn’t burn hotter or faster than the other.  

Don’t Inhale Your Cigar

This may be the most repeated advice when it comes to smoking cigars: don’t inhale. Smoking a cigar is all about enjoying its taste and aroma. You don’t have to inhale cigar smoke into your chest to taste it and doing so will make you cough. Cigars are not like cigarettes which are loaded with thousands of addictive artificial chemicals and burning agents. Premium cigars are handmade from whole-leaf tobaccos only. Because cigars are humidified, they burn slowly and produce heavier smoke, but it’s purely for the taste which you can fully access when you draw the smoke into your palate. It’s common to push some of the smoke out through your nose, too. But, you shouldn’t suck it into your diaphragm.

Ash Your Cigar

There’s nothing like looking down at your lap or your buddy’s sofa at a powdery mound of ashes fluttering and onto your shirt and the floor. Your next move is to ask for the vacuum. Better yet, avoid the situation altogether by ashing your cigar at regular intervals in between puffs. The ash is likely to stay intact on a high-quality cigar, sometimes for four or five inches or more, but you run the risk of making a mess if you fail to gently tap the ash off in time. And do be gentle – don’t whack your cigar against the ashtray or you can crack the wrapper.

Let Your Cigar Burn Out Gracefully

When you reach the end of your cigar, don’t grind the butt out in the ashtray. Let your cigar burn out naturally. Because the tobacco is humidified, your cigar will stop burning after a few minutes. Smashing or smooshing out the end only turns what’s left of your cigar into a smoldering mess that will linger in the room.

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