Cigars entered my list of hobbies when I was in high school. I would buy them for friends when headed to random parties. Now, when I say “cigar”, I’m talking about Swisher Sweets and other machine-made sticks that one might purchase at a gas station. I never got into White Owl and their odd flavors. I would stick to the fancy ones in the tubes! I suppose this is how many people were introduced to the world of cigars.
It wasn’t until I was about 22 that I really became interested in the world of premium, handmade cigars. Real cigars! My best friend’s dad was enjoying a cigar on the front porch one time when I visited. It smelled much different (and better) than the crap I’d been smoking for years. I got curious. The attention to detail that he showed while smoking sparked a serious interest in me. He showed me his humidor and how he liked to keep the cigars at a certain humidity and temperature level. What? That was all new to me!
Fast forward a few years and here we are. I have my own ritual of smoking that I go through with each and every premium cigar. If I know I have to be somewhere, I don’t risk rushing through one. I take the time to relax, ponder, and enjoy.
Step 1: Inspect The Cigar
The first step is to inspect the cigar. Some people don’t pay much attention to it. Look at the veins, color, and construction. A properly wrapped cigar is something of beauty. The passion in the roll stems from the passion of the culture. Some other things to consider during your inspection:
- Is it soft to the touch?
- Does it have soft spots? What about blemishes?
- Any weird anomolies that stand out on the wrapper?
- Is the tobacco rolled tight when looking at the foot (the part you light)?
- What does the cigar smell like before lighting?
Amazing how much you miss when you don’t take the time to notice!
Step 2: Cut The Cigar
Once my initial inspection is complete, I like to grab my favorite cutter; Xikar MTX Multi-Tool. Some people bite off the cap, some use scissors. Some people take a huge chunk of the cap off and the damn thing starts to unravel on them. This step is important and should not be rushed. With the Xikar, I can take off the exact amount of the cap so that it doesn’t unravel. Precision!
Once the cigar is cut, it’s time to light.
Step 3: Light The Cigar
Lighting a premium cigar takes time to master. Some people like matches, but I prefer a triple-flame torch lighter. Toasting the foot of the cigar prior to drawing air through it can help create an even burn. Some people just hold the flame to the end of the cigar right off the bat and start puffing. In my opinion, that causes the cigar to burn too hot and become bitter.
Step 4: Smoke The Cigar
Over time, my palate has matured. In the early stages of smoking, all premium cigars just tasted like smoke. After a few years I started tasting flavor profiles like dark fruits, wood, nuts, and coffee. Your palate is uniquely yours. What I taste isn’t necessarily what you’ll taste. That’s the beauty.
Take time to enjoy the smaller things in life. Details can enhance the most satisfying hobbies on the planet.
Mike Dean is a guest blogging assistant with expertise in cigars from Famous Smoke Shop. Mike loves reviewing cigars and helping beginners become aficionados. Visit Famous-Smoke.com for information on winning the cigar lover’s trip of a lifetime!