Getting the right technique when smoking a cigar is essential if you want to extract the most rewarding flavours from the premium tobacco leaves.
Both Cuban cigars and those from the rest of the world require the same process when they are lit and smoked; their differences are mainly to do with how they are made and where the tobacco is grown.
Cuban cigars and the main ‘rest of the world’ cigars (most commonly from Nicaragua, Honduras and Dominica) are generally handmade and result in an enjoyable smoke.
The most important thing to do when lighting and smoking a cigar is to ‘savour it, don’t inhale it’.
Let’s dive into the key things you need to know to smoke a proper Cuban or World cigar.
Smoking a Cuban or New World Cigar
First, give the cigar a clean cut. This creates airflow during the smoke. There are many different cigar cutters with different cutting shapes to choose from according to personal preference. These include straight cut / guillotine cut, diamond cut, and punch cut.
Cut off just over 1/8th of an inch (4mm) and take care not to remove too much wrapper to avoid unravelling the cigar (which may dampen the head of the cigar when in the mouth).
The second step, after the cut, is to ‘toast the foot’. This is an important step to guarantee the cigar is lit and burns correctly from start to finish. The primary purpose of toasting a cigar is to have an even burn of the wrapper, binder, and filler.
To obtain a proper toast, hold your cigar between your thumb and middle finger while keeping the palm of your hand at a forty-five-degree angle to the floor.
With your opposite hand, ignite your lighter and slowly bring the flame closer to the foot of the cigar. As you move the flame to the foot, watch for any discolouration or smoke coming from the foot of the cigar.
Once the flame is at the correct distance from the foot, slowly rotate the cigar between your thumb and middle finger. This will help you avoid overheating spots on the foot.
As you rotate the cigar, move the lighter to evenly darken it. Place the head of the cigar in your mouth and repeat the toasting process as you take gentle puffs.
Be sure to rotate the cigar in your mouth as you puff; this will help with an even light. When you feel that the cigar is evenly lit, remove it from your mouth and gently blow on the foot to see if you do have an even burn around the trim of the foot.
Using a jet-flame lighter or cigar matches will give a neat toast and blowing on the foot of the cigar is an excellent way to make sure the flame spreads evenly across the cigar.
Once toasted and lit-up, let the cigar sit for a minute and then start enjoying your smoke.
You can also do a gentle purge before taking your first puff to remove any smoke from the body of the cigar.
How to ‘ash’ Your Cigar
Finally, you need to know how to ‘ash’ your cigar. Ash in a cigar naturally insulates the burn and should be allowed to fall off naturally.
Handmade cigars are crafted from long-filler tobacco, which holds a far larger and sturdier ash than a cigarette. The best advice is to be patient and wait till the ash is about one inch long, or a crack in the ash develops before disposing of it in your ashtray.
When it is time to ash, rest the cigar against the side of the ashtray and gently tap the end of the cigar. You can also gently press the edge of the cigar against the side of the ashtray, turning and rotating it at the same time.
A curious note about Churchill is that he used to smoke his cigars until the ash fell off and onto his lap. If it was good enough for Churchill, it’s good enough for us!
Buying your cigar from a reputable licensed cigar and tobacco retailer, or a specialist like Taylors is important and will ensure your cigar is 100% genuine, passing the checks and selection process and then stored in special humidors at the optimum temperature to create the perfect smoke.
Our selection of fantastic cigars is safely stored in our walk-in humidors - and we’ve been going since 1989 so know what we are doing!
We inspect each and every cigar to make sure that each customer will benefit from the perfect freshness and fragrance.