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Cigar 101

The Best Advice for New Cigar Smokers

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

New cigar lovers frequently turn to us for guidance when they’re learning the basics of cigars. There’s a lot to consider when you’re deciding on what brand or size to smoke first. There are thousands to choose from, but don’t be overwhelmed. We’ve already covered questions new cigar smokers ask, like what are the best cigars for beginners, how to cut and light and cigar, and how to smoke a cigar.

Here are 5 quick tips all new cigar smokers should follow. Some might seem obvious, but we’ve all been novices before.  

1. Smoke a Premium Cigar

What, all cigars aren’t “premium”? No, not by a long shot. As a matter of fact, the most readily available cigars you’ll encounter won’t be classified as premiums by the least-stringent standards. That’s because cheap machine-made cigars like Black & Mild and Swisher Sweets can be found at almost every 7-Eleven or gas station you’ll step foot in. Mass-produced, or mass-market, cigars are a far cry from premium handmade cigars.

Premium cigars are made by hand by skilled cigar-rollers from 100% long-leaf, or long-filler, tobaccos (meaning no chopped-up tobaccos). Premium cigars are blended by cigar-makers, with many years of experience, to deliver a consistent taste in every cigar. Well-known premium cigar brands include Arturo Fuente, Ashton, Padron, My Father, Oliva, and Macanudo, as well as a number of Cuban-legacy brands like Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, and Cohiba. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a high-quality premium cigar, either. For under $5 per cigar, you’ll encounter numerous premium options, especially if you’re buying a brand that’s on sale.

2. Smoke a Milder Cigar

Strong cigars possess more nicotine than mild cigars. When you’re not accustomed to the potentially dizzying buzz a nicotine-heavy cigar can deliver, it’s better to smoke a more approachable cigar. That doesn’t mean you have to smoke a bland or less-flavorful cigar. Ashton Classic, Montecristo, and Arturo Fuente Chateau Series are all examples of mild but flavorful cigars that won’t overwhelm you if you’re new to smoking and have a lower nicotine tolerance.

3. Choose the Right Size

If you’re a new cigar smoker, it can be intimidating picking out a cigar. That’s why so many folks gravitate toward small-format cigars when they’re trying a brand for the first time. While most premium brands produce small cigars and cigarillos, you won’t experience the same taste, aroma, or pleasure a traditional format offers. Thinner, shorter cigars burn hotter, faster, and intensify more quickly on your palate.

Classic shapes like a Robusto, Toro, or Corona intensify at a more gradual pace and they take more time to smoke. A little extra thickness in a cigar’s ring gauge will cause it to burn at cooler rate. Take your time smoking and try a traditional shape before downsizing to a ten-minute cigar.

4. Don’t Smoke on an Empty Stomach

It’s no secret. You can get woozy if you smoke too fast or on an empty stomach. Chow down on an energy bar if you don’t have time for prime rib. Nicotine has a latent effect which can creep up on you. Your body will synthesize its effects when you’ve got something in your system. You don’t want to wind up hunched over a trash can at the local smoke shop just because you stood up too fast. Munch on some nuts or snacks if you don’t have time to eat before you smoke.

Also, if you start to feel a touch nauseous from a cigar, eat a piece of chocolate or a teaspoon of sugar from a sugar packet. Sugar neutralizes the nicotine in your system and will cause your nausea to recede. And of course, don’t inhale cigar smoke! Gently draw the cigar smoke into your palate when you puff on your cigar, but expel it from your mouth and nasal cavity without inhaling it into your diaphragm.

5. Drink Water

Keep your palate hydrated. Smoking a cigar naturally dries out your mouth. Sip on a glass or bottle of water while you smoke. Your cigar will be much more enjoyable when you’re not fighting off the chalky texture of a dehydrated palate, and you’ll avoid any unwanted cigar aftertaste when you’re done smoking.

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