Introduction to Cigar Smoking
Cigar smoking is one of those hobbies you can commit to on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. I actually prefer to only smoke a cigar on the rare occasion due to health risks, but I smoke them none the less. I believe in the “everything in moderation” philosophy.
It’s also a hobby that you can spend $5 or you can shell out $500. In either case, there’s nothing better than having a couple of buddies over and sitting on the back porch and smoking cigar reminiscing about old times. Many times people smoke cigars in celebration of a new baby or because you landed a big account. Whatever the reason cigar smoking has peaked your interest – Welcome!
As with all the hobbies here at NotSoBoringLife we provide you with enough information to get started in a new hobby. Cigar smoking is no different. In this series you’ll learn how to cut, light, and smoke a cigar. We’re also providing you with several places to purchase cigars online to save a ton of cash. Lastly we’ve provided you with some other resources should you choose to take your hobby to the next level. Lets get started.
What is a cigar?
Unlike cigarettes, cigars are made completely from pure tobacco. They are made of 3 parts the filler, binder, and wrapper. The filler is what will define the strength of the cigar. High quality cigars have a long filler which are long strips of tobacco which tend to smoke more evenly which results in a smoother, thicker smoke. The binder is what holds the filler tightly together. Lastly the wrapper is the tobacco you actually touch while holding a cigar. These outermost leaves affect the cigars flavor.
Some terms you may hear during your encounters at the local tobacconist shop are Double Claro, Claro, Natural, Maduro, Oscuro. All these terms refer to the wrapper and vary from lightest to darkest. Lighter colored cigars, like the Double Claro and Claro, are made by picking the tobacco before it reaches maturity. This makes the cigar quite mild and a great choice for beginners. The maduros and oscuros are extremely dark and have a very strong taste and unique aroma. These full bodied cigars will knock a cigar newbie flat on their ass.
Choosing Your First Cigar
Here are a few things to consider when choosing your first cigar.
The Size: The length and diameter of the cigar is directly related to the intensity of the cigar. When you’re first starting out you’ll want to smoke a skinner and longer cigar. These will provide a cool smoke that is truly enjoyable. If you go for something that fatter then you’ll likely be in for a full bodied cigar that will smoke for over an hour. Starting out you need to develop your pallet for tobacco smoke. Take on cigars that are a bit smaller in diameter and longer in length to fully enjoy the stogie.
The Quality: Since you’re on here looking for a new hobby I’m guessing you’re not planning to stop by your local drug store to pick a 99 cent special. You’re probably ready to enjoy the finer things in life like a premium quality cigar. Cigars over $10 in price are likely 100% tobacco. That’s exactly what you want. No fillers and no impurities. Squeeze the body of the cigar to ensure there are no lumps and inspect the wrapper for discoloration. These are 2 red flags when looking for a quality cigar.
I highly recommend you find a cigar you feel is the right size for you. You don’t want a monster stogy hanging out of your mouth that is just uncomfortable. You also don’t want the darkest cigar you can find. Hold off on those full bodied cigars until you’ve developed your pallet a bit. Find a nice mild or medium bodied cigar (lighter in color).
Here are a couple great choices when considering purchasing a cigar.
Cohiba: These are about $10 a stick but are a high end cigar that is sure to please. Be sure to pick up an extra for a friend.
Romeo y Julieta: These are also a great choice for a beginner however most beginners are scared off by the price tag. They are also priced similar to the Cohibas.
Cutting Your Cigar
Now that you have you cigar picked out you need to cut it, light it, and sit back and relax. Let’s discuss the cutting of your cigar. This is vitally important as an improper cut can will absolutely ruin your cigar. A bad cut will normally cause the end of the cigar to split or allow the wrapper to unravel leaving you just a pile of tobacco leaves to look at.
The idea to cutting a cigar is to let the smoke freely flow through the end of the cigar. Cut it to much and it cigar unravels. Cut it to little and the smoke is hard to pull into your mouth. To properly cut a cigar you’ll probably only need to cut 1/16th of an inch off the head. To give you some perspective that’s about the thickness of a quarter. With lots of different shapes of cigars it can be tough to cut
If you plan to smoke any number of cigars you’ll want to pick up a good quality cutter. They only cost a few bucks but it will making cutting your cigar a breeze. You want to find your mark and make the cut quickly so the cigar isn’t disfigured once you’re done cutting. If your cigar tears or gets smooshed its time for a new cutter. On the next page we have several different types of cutters you can choose from, however the most popular is the guillotine cigar cutter.
Lighting Your Cigar
There are several choices of flames to light your cigar. A butane torch is probably the best choice but a match or standard lighter are also completely acceptable. Make sure if you’re using the latter two that you allow the chemicals to burn off before bringing your flame to the cigar.
When lighting your cigar try not to puff on the cigar. This could ruin the taste of the cigar. Instead hold the cigar to the flame until it starts to smoke. Then puff on the cigar to determine if its adequately lit, if not simply repeat the process until you’ve got a good light.
Smoking Your Cigar
With your cigar cut and lit it’s time to sit back and relax. Savor each puff as if its your last and revel in your accomplishment or celebration. If you take a puff once a minute or so you’re right on track to enjoying your cigar to its fullest extent.
Do not inhale your cigar. Cigar smoke is only meant for your mouth, not your lungs. Once you’ve got a few cigars under your belt you can experiment with retrohaling (smoke in the mouth and out your nose).
Lets take a look at some proper cigar smoking equipment like humidors and cutters.
Where to Buy Your Cigars
In the 1990’s, before cigar smoking saw a major increase in popularity, there were only a few major brands to chose from. Since then cigar smoking has seen some major growth and now boasts over 1000 different cigar brands to chose from. If you’re brand new to cigars the best place for you to visit is your local tobacconist. These guys are catering to you the cigar smoker, and are more than happy to spend time with you explaining and recommending different cigars they have stocked in their humidors. It can be intimidating walking into a humidor to see and endless supply of cigars. Generally you’ll be asked what the occasion is and if you’re familiar with cigars. From their you’ll be recommended a dozen different options from which you can chose.
Once you’re familiar with you options you begin to develop a taste for what you like. From there you can continue to support your local tobacconist, or you can go online to save yourself some cash. There are a few major players in the online cigar market and we highly recommend any of them if you know exactly what you’re looking for.
- Cigars International – A Pennsylvania retailer offering plenty of variety, sampler packs, and weekly specials.
- Thompson Cigars – Thompson promotes their own line of cigars which are great quality cigars. They also offer a wide range of cigar accessories.
- JR Cigars – JR Cigars is a North Carolina based retailer and specializes in machine rolled cigars. However they have exceptional prices on hand made imported cigars and are often as cheap as their machine rolled competition.
Remember when buying your next cigar to pick one up for a friend. No one wants to smoke alone.
If you plan to smoke more than a handful of cigars you’ll probably want to pick up a few essential cigar accessories to ensure every smoke is a pleasurable one.
Cigars will absorb moisture or dry out based on the environment they are kept in. Store your cigars in a humidor and you’re guaranteed an environment specifically design for a cigar. A humidor’s whole point in life is to keep a steady humidity in the box so you’re cigars are fresh. They can vary greatly in price based on size and quality.
Being able to light your cigar is essential. You have several different choices here. None really being better than another. Most importantly let the flame burn for a few seconds to eliminate any chemicals being used to reach the flash point of the material being burned.
Matches – Matches are a great choice, but not very wind resistant.
Torch Lighters – Torch lighters are the cat’s meow, but the most expensive flame.
Zippo Lighters – If you’re looking for a flame with a bit of character the zippo lighters are a popular choice.
Straight Cigar Cutters – A single blade guillotine is the most basic type of cutter. A double blade guillotine is also an options for a cleaner cut.
Wedge Cutters – Very similar to the guillotine cutter, this cutter removes a wedge from the cap of the cigar.
Hole Punch – These type of cutters will put a hole in the cap of the cigar, instead of completely cutting it off.
Cigar Smoking Resources
We’ve already given you a couple of great resources for buying cigars. If you’re looking for more information, reviews, or discussion here are some other great resources to check out.
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