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Cigar 101

Should You Use a Cigar Holder?

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

The term, “cigar holder,” can refer to three different items. Each holds a cigar, but in a very distinct way and for a different purpose. When we answer the question of whether you should use a cigar holder or not in this article, we’re talking about the kind of cigar holder you put in your mouth, also called a “cigar mouthpiece.” First, let’s identify all three types of cigar holders.

Cigar Holder (or Cigar Golf Clip)

The first and most common cigar holder by today’s standards is a cigar grip or clip, often used by golfers. Examples of this type of cigar holder include the Get A Grip Cigar ClipDivPro Golf Tool, and the Stage V Clinger Cigar Clip. Each of these devices is ideal for cigar lovers who like to smoke while they are golfing, fishing, or doing yard work. A cigar clip secures your cigar when you need to set it down in the absence of a proper ashtray.

Cigar Holder (or Cigar Tube)

The second type of cigar holder is a tube designed to protect your cigar while you’re transporting it. This device is usually called a “cigar tube,” but, “holder” is also customary. Cigar tubes are made of metal or wood and you can slide one into a breast pocket easily without the worry of damaging your cigar.

Cigar Holder (or Cigar Mouthpiece)

The third type of cigar holder, and the one we’re discussing today, is also called a “cigar mouthpiece.” This kind of cigar holder is an apparatus that fits over the head of your cigar so that you can smoke the entire nub without burning your fingers. Cigar mouthpieces can be made of wood, briar, amber, tortoise shell, Lucite (acrylic), or meerschaum, a soft porous claylike material used to make tobacco pipes. Some cigar mouthpieces are manufactured with a sharp metal spike designed to puncture the cap of a cigar to create a draw when it’s inserted.

Cigar holders, or mouthpieces, are considered antiquated by most modern aficionados. You can still find them for sale in a handful of traditional brick and mortar retailers and online, but it is a very niche audience who uses a cigar holder these days. Here are few pros and cons of smoking your cigars with a cigar holder or mouthpiece.

Pros of Smoking with a Cigar Holder

A Bit of History

Like cigarette holders, cigar holders were more popular from the 1800s and up through the Roaring 20s to the 1960s. Picture an image of elite white-gloved smokers fancifully tapping their cigarette or cigar holders to knock the ashes off while they puff away. Today, cigarette holders are routinely used as costume props, especially among women, who want to dress up as classic actresses like Rita Hayworth, Marlene Dietrich, and Audrey Hepburn for Halloween. When cigarette holders were in fashion, they were used to prevent stray ashes from falling on one’s clothing and to keep smoke away from the smoker’s hair and face. Go figure.

Never Waste the Nub

Cigar holders, because they are much shorter, serve a simpler purpose. You can smoke your cigar down to the bitter end without burning your fingertips or lips. A cigar holder also prevents loose remnants of tobacco from getting in your mouth. Two of the world’s most famous cigar smokers, Winston Churchill and George Burns, have been captured in countless photos smoking their cigars with a cigar holder.

Cons of Smoking with a Cigar Holder

Cigar Construction Has Improved

Because the construction of premium handmade cigars is of a far higher quality and consistency today, getting loose tobacco in your mouth is much less an issue than it may have been for George Burns, who smoked thrifty short-filler El Producto cigars. Unless you cut your cigar incorrectly, a cigar holder doesn’t offer a big advantage in preserving the neatness of your cigar’s draw.

Too Much Moisture

Moisture and oils can also accumulate in a cigar holder, which isn’t a welcome effect while you’re smoking. A bitter and sometimes harsh taste results. If you’ve ever smoked a pipe, you’re likely familiar with “bite,” a term used by pipe smokers to characterize the buildup of moisture and heat when it stings the tongue.

Lack of Tangible Taste

The biggest drawback to a cigar holder, though, is that your cigar does not come into direct contact with your palate. You miss out on a wealth of tasting notes when you smoke with a cigar holder because the wrapper leaf isn’t in direct contact with your taste buds. You’re left with the heat from the draw and the sterile texture of the mouthpiece in lieu of the more complete, complex, and natural profile you perceive when the cigar is in your mouth. The effect is similar to drinking a nice glass of wine through a straw.

One Sizes Does Not Fit All

Finally, if you decide you enjoy smoking cigars with a mouthpiece, you’ll need to invest in a collection of holders to accommodate different cigar sizes. Each cigar holder is designed to hold a specific ring gauge. Cigars that are too thin or too thick won’t fit. If this sounds too complicated or costly, you can always flex your frugality and smoke your cigar nubs in a corncob pipe.

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