This article will
give you enough basic information so you can start smoking cigars
right away and not make any "newbie" mistakes. I'll cover
the essentials on how to choose the right cigar, prepare it and
smoke it for maximum enjoyment.
If this is the
first time you are smoking a cigar, I recommend going to a specialty
cigar retailer so you can see, touch and feel the cigar before you
buy it. After you get accustomed to the different varieties and
brands, then you can be safe purchasing cigars on the Internet, as
well as from brick & mortar stores.
There are hundreds
of different cigar brands, and different cigar lines within those
brands. There are different cigars within the product lines. How do
you make the right selection from the thousands of cigars that are
available? Let's consider the aspects of name brand, body or
flavor, and construction, and then I will give you some
Cigars are an organic, handmade product, just like wine. Tobacco,
just like grapes is susceptible to and influenced by soil, climate
and weather. Premium cigars are hand-made, which adds another
variable into the mix. All of these variables make it challenging to
maintain consistency. The successful name brand cigars that have
been around for years owe part of their success to maintaining
consistency in the quality and flavor of their cigars. This is why
it is important for you to choose one of the major name brand cigars
to make sure you have a good first experience. You can take risks
"Body" refers to the taste, and how strong it is. For
example, a light-bodied cigar could be compared to drinking tea with
cream and sugar. A medium-bodied cigar could be compared to coffee
with cream and sugar. A full-bodied cigar would be like black
espresso. Keep in mind that these comparisons are to give you a
rough idea. Even if you like to drink black espresso, I still
recommend that beginners start with a light-bodied cigar.
Since we are looking at well-known name brands, the construction
should be good. However, this is a hand-made product and people are
not perfect. A cigar roller might have a bad day. When choosing your
cigar, hold it in your hand and lightly, carefully squeeze it in
different areas to make sure there are no soft spots. A soft spot
means it's not rolled correctly and it will not burn properly.
Some good brands
that offer a quality, mild-bodied smoke are Macanudo, Don
Diego, Cuesta Rey, Baccarrat, Montesino and Licenciados. Try
one or a few of these, and choose a few different sizes to see which
you like best. As a newbie, you should not buy a full box of cigars
for a while. Even if you buy a single cigar that you like immensely,
just buy a few at a time and try some other cigars as you get more
experience. As time goes on, your tastes are likely to change. Many
people move on to medium-bodied and/or full-bodied cigars. Your
first favorite cigar may not remain your favorite.
Now, lets cover the
basic anatomy of a cigar. As you can see from the graphic below, a
cigar has four different parts, plus the band. I talked about the
band and when to remove it in my article on Cigar Etiquette.
Let's start at the
"Cap" is the small piece of tobacco that closes off
one end of the cigar. It makes the cigar look better, prevents the
wrapper from unraveling, and gives the cigar a better feel in your
mouth. The first step in preparing your cigar to smoke is to
"open" the cap. You will need a cigar cutter or a punch. I
recommend buying a cutter as a punch won't work with pointed caps
found on some cigars. If you really want to be on the safe side, ask
the tobacconist to clip the cigar for you and watch how he does it.
When you clip the cap, instead of thinking like you are cutting it
off, think that you are "opening" the cigar. You should
not cut the entire cap off or the cigar will unravel. You just need
to open a little air hole.
"Head" is the part you put in your mouth to draw the
"Foot" is the part you light. Use wooden matches or
a regular disposable lighter.
Do not use paper matches or a lighter that uses liquid fuel. Both of
these have chemicals that will contaminate the flavor of the cigar.
For a better burn
and flavor, you first "toast" the foot. I hold the cigar
vertical, just like in the picture above, and hold the flame just
far enough away so it does not touch the foot of the cigar. I rotate
the cigar and swirl the flame. The heat will start to make the foot
have glowing embers. When you have glowing embers and smoke coming
off the cigar, remove the flame and gently blow out through the
cigar. Then puff the cigar and put the flame back to it to finish
You do not inhale the smoke into your lungs like a cigarette. You
pull it into your mouth to taste it and then blow the smoke out of
your mouth. A cigar is often accompanied by a drink. The top winners
in our poll on the subject of drink accompaniments are scotch,
coffee and beer. A coffee martini goes well, and rum is one of my
personal favorites too.
Courtesy of Cigar-Review.com