Gift subscriptions require no shipping, email sent straight to their inbox. Gift Now
SUBSCRIBE TODAY

SELECTING A CIGAR

SELECTING A CIGAR

SELECTING A CIGAR

STORY BY
PHOTOGRAPHY BY

SELECTING A CIGAR

STORY BY
PHOTOGRAPHY BY
‘‘

Many times during my years as a cigar store owner, I was asked by customers if a particular cigar was good. Invariably, this request came from customers inquiring about an unfamiliar cigar they were interested in trying. My typical response was to point out that I might love it, but that didn’t necessarily mean the customer would. The answer, after all, is a subjective matter of personal taste. Then I usually suggested that the only way to know if a new cigar was going to appeal was to purchase a couple and give them a try. With that said, I would point out that selecting a cigar and trying it for the first time should be more than simply firing it up and sampling a few puffs.

Properly determining if a cigar, especially an unfamiliar cigar, should be added to one’s smoking lineup is a process requiring a little time and all your senses. But evaluating a new cigar is not complicated or mysterious and is easily accomplished, even by those new to the cigar lifestyle.

It all starts with a visual inspection. Gently hold the cigar in your fingertips and inspect it. The wrapper leaf should be smooth and free of blemishes and cracks. Cracks in the wrapper often indicate cycles of over-humidification and excessive dryness. These cycles harm the internal construction of the cigar, which results in a poor smoking experience. Tobacco secretes oil at 70 to 72 percent humidity, so a properly humidified cigar will have a slightly oily texture that is silky to the touch. The cigar should feel firm and resilient—neither too hard nor too soft and spongy.

Next, take a deep whiff of the foot end (the end that you light) of the cigar. There should be a strong, earthy, tobacco aroma indicating well-cared-for tobacco and a cigar ready for smoking. A weak or nonexistent smell usually identifies a cigar suffering from improper care that will be a disappointing smoke.

Now it’s time to smoke the cigar. Pierce the cap on the head of the cigar and place it in your mouth. Taste the tobacco and take a dry puff or two. There should be slight bitterness, and sometimes even mild sweetness, indicating a good smoke. Taste for any acidity or saltiness. The test draws on the cigar should be easy and nearly effortless; if not, widen the opening in the cap. If that doesn’t improve the draw, unfortunately the cigar is probably plugged. You’ll have to discard it because it’ll be nearly impossible to smoke—certainly not enjoyable.

If the cigar has successfully passed these initial inspections, light it and take a few unhurried puffs. Begin the tasting process by letting the smoke linger in your mouth for several seconds. Remember that tasting requires engaging the sense of smell, so there is no point in trying a new cigar with a head cold or clogged sinuses. You’ll smell the cigar when the smoke is in your mouth, but the best way really to smell the smoke is to use a technique often called the retro-hale—exhaling through your nose, thereby bringing the smoke up through your sinuses. If you’ve never tried it, retro-haling will definitely provide a new tasting experience.

While smoking the cigar, make sure it burns evenly—keep it touched up with your lighter, if necessary. A cigar contains different tobaccos that are deliberately positioned to create a desired flavor, so an uneven burn consumes the cigar tobacco irregularly and improperly distorts the intended flavor of the blend.

After several minutes of relaxed smoking, stop and take a moment to concentrate on the finish or aftertaste of the cigar. That flavor lingering throughout your mouth should be enjoyable and long-lasting. Sit back and unwind, take your time with your cigar, and really focus on its taste.

Here are a few further points to consider. First, be sure to smoke the whole cigar from beginning to end before forming a final opinion. Sometimes complicated, delicious flavors take time to be revealed. Also try to test a new cigar on a fresh palate that hasn’t been overwhelmed by prior cigars. Because strong drinks can also influence a palate, many cigar lovers recommend drinking only water with a new cigar in order to discover its true tastes. Finally, you might be surprised to find that your initial opinions about a cigar, both good and bad, can change over time. This may occur because of something you eat or drink immediately before smoking, or perhaps simply because your taste preferences evolve. So to test a cigar’s worth to you, truly, smoke more than one—often several.

It’s easy to judge if a cigar is right for inclusion in your regular smoking collection. Simply look at it, handle it, feel it. Then treat yourself to a relaxing interlude during which the entire cigar is leisurely smoked and thoroughly tasted. Finally, wait a few days and test it again—and do that again. Follow these simple steps to discover whether or not you have a new favorite addition to your smoking lineup.

After several minutes of relaxed smoking, stop and take a moment to concentrate on the finish or aftertaste of the cigar. That flavor lingering throughout your mouth should be enjoyable and long-lasting. Sit back and unwind, take your time with your cigar, and really focus on its taste.

SELECTING A CIGAR This article is published in the issue.
Click here to purchase this black issue
Intrested in buying other back issues?
Click here
ARTICLES FROM THE OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015 ISSUE
Life in Bronze

Filed In: ,

Liz Lewis employs several foundries in the Bozeman area to cast her lost-wax-style work. Recently, she has begun exploring the use of colored patinas to reproduce the coloration of sporting......

Being at Brays

Filed In: , , , ,

Located outside of Savannah, Georgia, and proximate to the charming coastal town of Beaufort, South Carolina, and within a short drive of Charleston—the current capital of Southern lifestyle—Brays...

Curated Fashions

Filed In: , ,

After spending more than eight years in the UK running retail shops, Ramona Brumby of Atlanta’s The London Trading Company came home. “My passion is anything to do with décor,......

Inside the October-November 20...

Filed In:

This month’s cover photo of the German shorthaired pointer was taken at Pheasant Ridge by Terry Allen during our June-July 2015 feature coverage of Ferrari. As we traveled to Pheasant......

Bertuzzi Gullwings

Filed In: , , , ,

Bertuzzi shotguns have the unique design characteristic of ali di gabbiano, Italian for “the wings of a gull” as the sideplates spring outward like wings, revealing the lockwork inside. ...

Stealthy Ghosts

Filed In: , , ,

Judy Balog, who owns and runs Silvershot Weimaraners in Michigan with Jerry Gertiser, has owned Weimaraners for more than 20 years....

You may also like

Sturdy Brothers Waxed Canva...

This portable piece is handcrafted to last a lifet...

Viski Solid Copper Shot Gla...

These shot glasses are hand crafted and feature an...

Filson Desert Iron Knife

This Filson Folding Knife is handmade in Seattle w...

SELECTING A CIGAR

Many times during my years as a cigar store owner, I was asked by customers if a particular cigar was good. Invariably, this request came from customers inquiring about an unfamiliar cigar they were interested in trying. My typical response was to point out that I might love it, but that didn’t necessarily mean the customer would. The answer, after all, is a subjective matter of personal taste. Then I usually suggested that the only way to know if a new cigar was going to appeal was to purchase a couple and give them a try. With that said, I would point out that selecting a cigar and trying it for the first time should be more than simply firing it up and sampling a few puffs.

Properly determining if a cigar, especially an unfamiliar cigar, should be added to one’s smoking lineup is a process requiring a little time and all your senses. But evaluating a new cigar is not complicated or mysterious and is easily accomplished, even by those new to the cigar lifestyle.

It all starts with a visual inspection. Gently hold the cigar in your fingertips and inspect it. The wrapper leaf should be smooth and free of blemishes and cracks. Cracks in the wrapper often indicate cycles of over-humidification and excessive dryness. These cycles harm the internal construction of the cigar, which results in a poor smoking experience. Tobacco secretes oil at 70 to 72 percent humidity, so a properly humidified cigar will have a slightly oily texture that is silky to the touch. The cigar should feel firm and resilient—neither too hard nor too soft and spongy.

Next, take a deep whiff of the foot end (the end that you light) of the cigar. There should be a strong, earthy, tobacco aroma indicating well-cared-for tobacco and a cigar ready for smoking. A weak or nonexistent smell usually identifies a cigar suffering from improper care that will be a disappointing smoke.

Now it’s time to smoke the cigar. Pierce the cap on the head of the cigar and place it in your mouth. Taste the tobacco and take a dry puff or two. There should be slight bitterness, and sometimes even mild sweetness, indicating a good smoke. Taste for any acidity or saltiness. The test draws on the cigar should be easy and nearly effortless; if not, widen the opening in the cap. If that doesn’t improve the draw, unfortunately the cigar is probably plugged. You’ll have to discard it because it’ll be nearly impossible to smoke—certainly not enjoyable.

If the cigar has successfully passed these initial inspections, light it and take a few unhurried puffs. Begin the tasting process by letting the smoke linger in your mouth for several seconds. Remember that tasting requires engaging the sense of smell, so there is no point in trying a new cigar with a head cold or clogged sinuses. You’ll smell the cigar when the smoke is in your mouth, but the best way really to smell the smoke is to use a technique often called the retro-hale—exhaling through your nose, thereby bringing the smoke up through your sinuses. If you’ve never tried it, retro-haling will definitely provide a new tasting experience.

While smoking the cigar, make sure it burns evenly—keep it touched up with your lighter, if necessary. A cigar contains different tobaccos that are deliberately positioned to create a desired flavor, so an uneven burn consumes the cigar tobacco irregularly and improperly distorts the intended flavor of the blend.

After several minutes of relaxed smoking, stop and take a moment to concentrate on the finish or aftertaste of the cigar. That flavor lingering throughout your mouth should be enjoyable and long-lasting. Sit back and unwind, take your time with your cigar, and really focus on its taste.

Here are a few further points to consider. First, be sure to smoke the whole cigar from beginning to end before forming a final opinion. Sometimes complicated, delicious flavors take time to be revealed. Also try to test a new cigar on a fresh palate that hasn’t been overwhelmed by prior cigars. Because strong drinks can also influence a palate, many cigar lovers recommend drinking only water with a new cigar in order to discover its true tastes. Finally, you might be surprised to find that your initial opinions about a cigar, both good and bad, can change over time. This may occur because of something you eat or drink immediately before smoking, or perhaps simply because your taste preferences evolve. So to test a cigar’s worth to you, truly, smoke more than one—often several.

It’s easy to judge if a cigar is right for inclusion in your regular smoking collection. Simply look at it, handle it, feel it. Then treat yourself to a relaxing interlude during which the entire cigar is leisurely smoked and thoroughly tasted. Finally, wait a few days and test it again—and do that again. Follow these simple steps to discover whether or not you have a new favorite addition to your smoking lineup.

After several minutes of relaxed smoking, stop and take a moment to concentrate on the finish or aftertaste of the cigar. That flavor lingering throughout your mouth should be enjoyable and long-lasting. Sit back and unwind, take your time with your cigar, and really focus on its taste.

You may also like