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Cigar 101

How to Retrohale & Blow Smoke Out of Your Nose

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

What is Retrohaling?

“Retrohale” is a term cigar lovers use these days to characterize the process of blowing smoke out through the nose. Perhaps “expelling” smoke out through the nose is a better descriptor. Since we don’t technically inhale cigar smoke, we’re essentially pushing it out through the nasal cavity in the process of retrohaling.


This process is also called retronasal olfaction and is technically a blend of taste and traditional smell. While the five basic dimensions of taste (sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami) are in play, the olfactory sense introduces a new component of perception when the scent or smell of what you consume enters the nasal cavity from your palate as opposed to simply smelling something directly with your nose.   

Why Retrohale?

Why retrohale? A more comprehensive sensory experience occurs with retrohaling. By channeling cigar smoke from your palate out through the nasal cavity, you’re exposing your olfactory senses to an entirely new level of perception.

How to Retrohale

To retrohale, draw the smoke into your mouth. With your mouth closed, simply push the smoke out through your nose with pressure from your lungs. It’s important to keep in mind, you’re not inhaling the smoke into your diaphragm further. You’re relying on air pressure from your chest to force the smoke out through your nasal passage while it resides in your mouth.

Like taste itself, retrohaling may not produce exactly the same results for every cigar lover. One aficionado may pick up a greater intensity of leather and spice from an Ashton VSG, for example, while another may perceive an elevation of raisin and espresso bean notes on the retrohale. You don’t have to retrohale the entire draw, either. You can push a small or a large amount of smoke out through your nostrils and release the remainder of the draw out of your mouth. Inevitably, you’re unlocking new layers of richness and complexity from your cigars, whether you do it in small, measured doses or in an unrestricted capacity.

How Often Should I Retrohale?

It’s not necessary to retrohale every draw. For many cigar lovers, it depends on the cigar and on his or her preferences for taste. Some are more likely to retrohale more often with creamier, milder cigars, while others enjoy the spicy intensity of a full-bodied My Father Le Bijou 1922 when it hits their nostrils. Give it a shot with a cigar you know you like and taste the added dimension retrohaling offers today.

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